Poverty Isn’t Just a Feeling Anymore

10 10 2011

Don’t mind me here. I’m 40 weeks pregnant as of today! And I woke up feeling awful. Like a failure in life. This recession has been really hard to deal with the last couple of years. But today I woke up thinking of all the ways I’ve failed myself the last couple of years, and it really has gotten me down. So I guess today’s post is just me needing to vent.

I’m one of those “moochers” that the “rich people” are always talking about. I live off of disability, food stamps and welfare. Literally. My life partner, the man I love, is in college full-time. He decided to finally use his GI Bill because the prospects of finding full-time, permanent work through the winter, with a new baby in the house, were close to nil. He has no education right now other than his GED. Do you know HOW HARD it is for a 30-year-old man to find work that pays more than minimum wage if he doesn’t have a college degree? Wanna take a guess? I would say it is about just as hard as a former stripper with no college degree trying to get work that does not involve flipping hamburgers.

We really set ourselves up for failure here, and now we are struggling. I never thought I would be considered “lower class” in this country, especially not a month before my 30th birthday. How are we ever going to get ourselves out of this? Do you have any idea how hard it is to live off of $300 a month? I can tell you it is nearly impossible, it is heart breaking, it is hard and depressing.

We have no one to turn to for help. Our families are both struggling equally hard, and have nothing extra to share. My family is spread all over the West coast, and I can tell you that each and every one of them struggles to make ends meet each month. My partner’s family is all on the East coast. They have nothing to do with my day-to-day life, and as far as I know, they are all struggling too. I would never ever dream of asking for help or for a handout from anyone I consider part of my family.

But listening to people who never have to struggle, that never have to wonder how they are going to pay rent, or find enough gas money to make it to a crucial doctor’s appointment, or choose between feeding themselves or their animals complain about how people like my partner and I aren’t trying hard enough, that we are what’s wrong with our country, well, it makes me want to scream.

I don’t know how we are going to make it. We have cleaned out our closets, we have sold most of the stuff that has any value. It seems we really don’t even have proper Winter clothes, and how am I going to keep my partner and child warm without winter clothes? Most of the things we own that we can’t sell are because they are old and ratty and were given to us or found by us for free. We have the goats, and I have been selling my herd off one at a time as we need the money. But pretty soon I will have no goats left to sell.

I feel like a mooch, like a leech, like a drain on what little bit of family I have here. Being so broke and not being able to do anything about it makes me feels so badly about myself. I watch the man I love struggle with thinking he is not good enough and smart enough to stay in school. I see him struggle daily because no one has ever believed in him before, not even himself. The media tells us daily what bad people we are for being “poor.” That we are bringing down society for having a child we really can’t afford.

I would give anything I could to be able to support my family and no longer be on welfare. It is embarrassing going to the store and having to pay for groceries with WIC checks and welfare. I laugh it off, have friendly conversations with the teller because I know I am holding the line up. But inside, I’m slowly dying.

The welfare people tell me that after I give birth to our child, I will have to spend 20 hours a week in life skills class in order to continue to qualify for $180 that they “give” me each month. Like it is some sort of gift. “Merry Giftmas, here’s your welfare, you bum.” How does that even come out to financially feasible if I will have to pay for daycare while I’m in that class all week? 80 hours of class time each month for $180 comes out to $2.25 an hour. So my time is worth less than minimum wage to them? If I don’t take the class, then my welfare gets cancelled, and I lose 60% of my income.

I wish I knew how to run a business, how to build a website, how to do my finances. I wish I could find a way to work from home. I think being a doula is a great idea, but I don’t know how to run a business. I would end up running myself into the ground. I wish I could have afforded to not let my professional affiliations lapse this year due to lack of income. I will have to become re-certified as a doula if I want to pursue that as an avenue of income.

I am not opposed to accepting charity. In fact, I have been the recipient of some wonderful, generous gifts the last few months in order to keep my animals alive and healthy. One woman helped us out with 8 doses of about to expire Frontline so we could de-flea the cats and dog. Another helped us with goat and chicken feed right when we were about to run out, and had a negative bank balance.

Why are we keeping these animals when we can barely afford to take care of ourselves? It is simple. Hope. I have hope that it won’t always be such a struggle. That we will be able to feed ourselves with the gifts these animals provide us in the form of sacrifice. Our males goats will turn into a freezer full of meat. Our female goats give us milk to drink. Our chickens provide more meat for the freezer and eggs. The cats kill and eat the rats that threaten our animals’ food supply. Believe it or not, animal feed is cheaper than buying these things, because it is spread out over a period of time. But that is the crux. It takes time. It is an investment. An investment of time and patience.

Hope is really the only thing that keeps me going these days. Hope that my partner and I will make it through this struggle together. Hope that we will survive as a family. Hope that I won’t have to sell all the animals in order to make it through the winter. Hope that I will give birth soon. I really want to give birth. I want to meet my baby, hold him or her in my arms. I want to begin the recovery process so I can start building a business. I Hope that I will be able to contribute financially to my family’s well-being, so I can help raise us out of this pit of despair we find ourselves mired in. I want to be tired in the morning from waking up several times a night to feed my child, not because fears of poverty keep me awake. I want to feel like I am not letting my family down. I want to feel like I am not letting myself down.



One response

17 10 2011

hun bigg huggs to you..as someone who just applied for disabilty here in canada i feel for you..my hubby went from working 60-100 hrs a week to a fulltime caregiver to me when iam ill and househubby maid etc..we used to live on 40.000.00 a year plus baby bonus here in canada to us now liveing on less then 20.ooo.00 with baby bonus…we have 7 kids currently at home and two adults liveing on there own.my adult son just filled my pain presc for me because i didnt have the money..we live week to week and we just try to be postive we have been worse off and we have each other..accept whatever help people offer you i like to think its a gift from god..if you need anything for the baby please let me know iam nicole1973 on raverly..

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