Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sending the Enemy Within, Out

Over the past two days I have worked out a lot of stuff with my therapist. I cried a lot in session yesterday, sobbed myself to sleep, and proceeded to cry a lot in session today. I'll probably cry a bit more tonight, but it's a good thing.

What I've been working on is this: For years, more than I can count, I have viewed myself as a burden to others. I have convinced myself that friends, family merely tolerate my presence because I believe that I bring so little into their lives.

Time to move out, Dwight.
I have always felt like I've been in debt, that in the balance of life I was severely in the negative. To most everyone. Not that anyone has ever told me I'm in their debt. It's my messed up head telling me that I will never be able to help out as much as others have helped me.

Up until about 5 this afternoon, I had convinced myself that in the race of life all my friends were winners, with their happy families, steady incomes, settled emotional issues, and me, well I was the big loser.

But I found peace today, as I sat in a stuffy room pretzeled up on a chair that was probably swiped from the waiting room of Purgatory.

There's no monetary measurement in friendship. And with my shrink's help, I have realized that I do bring some good things into others lives.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Making a SNAP Decision

My shrinky-dink says that I needed to write out my (numerous) problems because as a writer, I process things once they are written down. I have difficultly judging things that are free floating in my head. This is what came out last night. I put my thoughts out into an open forum where anyone can read because I believe that a burden shared is a burden halved. Even if no one really comes to read this.

It's 11:45pm and I'm writing. I should be in bed, but I've put this off all day as I didn't want Jeremiah to see me upset should I lose control of my emotions. Here's what today looked like: I fixed three meals and washed up after those meals. I folded a load of laundry, did some school work with The Kiddo without him devolving into self-injuring because of an incorrect answer, took him to the park to run out all his pent up nervous energy, and then got him an Epson salt bath so he could detox from the meds he is on. 
In addition, I wrote a letter to his father.

It took me four hours, sometimes I was interrupted by Jeremiah and sometimes I surfed around on Facebook and Buzzfeed because I needed a break from what I was doing.

I was having to swallow my pride and ask Jeremiah's absent father if he could "out of the goodness of his heart" do something extra to help out with expenses. I'm embarrassed because I recall a person telling me, "You really should not be dependent on him or child support. You should be making enough to take care of yourself. You chose this life, not him."

Also yesterday, I started an application for food stamps. And I am filled with so much shame. "[It's pathetic] that you are living on handouts and food stamps."

Have you any idea how degraded I feel? I am doing my best to take care of my son, a child that I never expected, was scared to have, was afraid that I couldn't love. A child that has turned my life around.

Jeremiah is a child with special needs. No, he's not in a wheelchair or is undergoing horrible rounds of chemo. He has an invisible illness. No one sees him freaking out when I move the dish drain to the opposite side of the sink. No one sees him screaming when he encounters bugs or his inability to vacuum because the loud noise hurts him.

He is a child that is constantly worried, no matter how much I try to calm his fears. He always announces when he goes to the bathroom, can hardly stand to have me out of his sight, who tonight worried that he had committed a mortal sin. He still won't tell me what it is that makes him think that because "it's stupid and embarrassing and I don't know how to say it and never mind I'm just a stupid idiot."  This coming from a child that can give you an accurate synopsis of Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and A Winter's Tale.

This is not a child that I can toss into school for 8 hrs a day while I work 40 hrs. Sure, I would be making more than enough money to pay all the bills, but at what cost? Him being bullied about his bug problems? When a friend babysat him last summer while the cicadas were out, a girl his own age threw dead cicadas at him for an hour. When I picked him up, he was twitching and stuttering. He said he wanted to punch her but knew that you can't hit girls and he was too scared to tell the adults in charge because "sometimes they yell at their kids and I don't want them to yell at me."

Maybe I should let him punch himself in the face every time he messes up a workbook problem while I photocopy memos. His OCD demands that he do everything perfectly the first time around. He has trouble making simple decisions, like what he should eat for breakfast, because he's "afraid of making a mistake."

So I try to work from home or pick up odd jobs. I probably spend 75% of the day worrying how much money is in my account, but I can take solace knowing that Jeremiah is in a safer environment.

So I have to sacrifice my pride and deal with some extra anxiety to take care of my son. Isn't that what parenthood is about? I do my best to keep him out from knowing about our money issues.

I know as I write this I am saying it for my benefit alone, that I am trying to reassure myself that I am making  the right decision. So why does it still hurt?
 
Why do I feel so much shame, disapproval, and judgements when news reports showcase people like California surfer and aspiring musician Jason Greenslate. Greenslate, drives an Escalade and frequents strip clubs, shows how he supports his beach-bum lifestyle with food stamps, while dismissing the idea of holding down a regular, steady job. I know I'm not that person.
Media Matters reports:
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, the fraud and waste rate in SNAP is roughly 1 percent, contrary to recent Fox claims that the program is rife with fraud.

Unlike Greenslate, 41 percent of food stamp recipients live "in a household with earnings," and use SNAP benefits to supplement their primary source of income. Furthermore, the USDA reports that most food stamp recipients stay in the program for only a short period of time:
Half of all new SNAP participants received benefits for 10 months or less in the mid 2000s, up from 8 months in the early 2000s. Single parent families and elderly individuals tended to stay in the program longer than did working poor individuals, childless adults without disabilities, and non-citizens. Seventy-four percent of new participants left the program within two years. This is an increase from 71 percent in the early 1990s.
I work. I pay taxes. But why do I still feel like a failure in my own eyes?

It's 1:15am and I'm exhausted.

This fucking sucks.