This last week has been tough. Due to holiday's and a vacation I hadn't seen my therapist in 3 weeks and saw him Friday. Somewhere between a good session and a much needed one.
My anxiety started picking up around New Year's Day. I've celebrated 2016 with no nights of good sleep, waking up every few hours and getting up between 2-4. So exhausted by 5 PM its all I can do to keep my eyes open.
Today is my daughters 13th birthday and I am really feeling low. It took all we had to squeeze through Christmas and we have nothing for her today. You...or I...can preach all day long about how great it is she gets such quality time with us, we are a strong family, etc....yada yada....none of it takes away the guilt and pain I feel for not being able to get anything for her first teen birthday. We have $8 in our account and an electricity bill due in 10 days. My mind is so overwhelmed by the rest of our situation that its been too much to try and process today...yet...here we are.
Our situation is bleak frankly. I have begun looking for employment and haven't even come close to seeing anything I can do. There are several mitigating factors facing me.
1- No degree but have spent most of my life in mid to upper level management so
a) No one hires someone w/my management exp into an entry level job- not prudent, rarely works
b) I am about 49. At age 40-42 I experienced my age being a liability...in part to sub point a) above
c) I have no references
d) I have no explanation for the massive gaps of employment
2- Disability issues- With our tax return (not counted as income) we can reach the end of our lease May 1st- MAYBE. Remember I am at the level of appeal that they have 4-6 months and then winning at this level simply sends it back to the same (hanging) judge for a reconsideration...and its pretty clear
that isn't going to be successful. Simply meaning I have no way to go another 6-12 months w/no income
for something that is likely to fail. Again, a whole separate issue worthy of its own post which I have made
in previous entries
3- The working poor syndrome. This is really tough. Disability and Insurance limit us to less than $800/month. That's not a misprint. My disability may not be resolved for 3 years and if in any month
my income exceeds $800/month disability is done. That is the way our system works, its meant to outlast the applicant. In addition at $800/month we lose our medical insurance. We currently receive $600/month for food, down $150/month from last year due to cuts. With rising food costs that barely
feeds a family of 4 and its close each month. Food assistance begins being reduced at about $700/month. What does this mean practically? As soon as I make $800 then to even be able to barely
make it I must earn about $2500-$3000/month to "barely" make it. Benefits are reduced approx 2:1
Now think what you will about assistance but it is the current way we help people. The abuse has led to people who honestly need the help paying the price. You can't shame someone into a minimum wage job when that ends up making your situation no better and in some cases...worse. Debate Gov't assistance on your time is my point.
Perhaps this also gleans insight into why disability, as little as it is ($2000/month but includes insurance) would be enough to keep my family afloat while I continue in my recovery. Perhaps it also gives insight as why I talk a lot about "real time recovery" when you are also the provider....much of my day is grounded in real worry about today and tomorrow...its tough to try and focus on healing and getting better.
The employment has other barriers not listed, including but not limited to no one is looking for someone to work SO part time they make $750/month especially if the reason is disability. Even were that the case by May our need would include our full rent of $1000/month.
During my therapy appointment I was able to talk about some really good progress I have made in 16 months. I know the day will come when I am able to support my family. I know I have some real leadership and compassion skills and I look for ways to utilize those in a way I can earn a living.
So....what have I learned so far on my journey....well I am going to list some things and then next blog I will expand on those
1- It's ok to walk away if I need to
2- Not everything is about me
3- If something causes me pain or to obsess then see #1.
4- Relationships/friendships do end through time and distance and that doesn't impact the positive memories
5- Today is here whether you are ready or not.
6- Part of living in the moment is learning to appreciate what is going on at that moment
My journey also continues. Whatever you do....don't pity me. The greatest impact I can hope to leave with the reader is one of an understanding that we need to be understood if true healing is going to happen. Stigma....is so deep my friends....even sometimes among people who think they are helping by pitying us or thinking "they can help." We can also help, we have a voice and we need to be heard
Are you listening....?