I’m here at the office for social security–standing–waiting to be seen. I’m number 459. They are on number 439. Finally, I think, only 20 more people ahead of me. Then I sigh. 20 more people. I’ve already been here 20 minutes. I’ve been standing for 20 minutes because this place is packed. I’m here, though, because they took $400 from my monthly disability check. $400! Friday, when my check went in, I couldn’t reach anyone because the lines were so busy and I had to work. Today when I called on my way to Job and Family Services (JFS) because of issues with my childcare (this gets better), I was told medical was no longer covered and they had to take out two months worth. “That doesn’t make sense,” I said frantic. “My medicade was just re approved.” The foreign operator gave me another number and told me to speak to them. I thanked him without emotion and dialed the other number. “I’m sorry,” an automated voice spoke, “but the person you are trying to reach is unavailable and the voicemailbox is full. Please try again later.” I began to cry–no sob–the rest of the way to JFS.
I didn’t wait too long in the blue painted room designated for childcare. Maybe only 10 minutes, record time. When I went up, I knew what to expect but I tried to hope for better. I explained I had faxed in my recertification papers and it was confirmed but my daughter’s daycare said my benefits expired Friday. Yesterday was labor day so everywhere was closed so herein was Tuesday. I took my daughter to daycare knowing I would have to pay out of pocket if I didn’t get re approved that day.
“There’s nothing in the system. Do you have proof you faxed it in?” I didn’t and admitted this dejected. It was stupid. I knew it was. I should have saved everything. This is how JFS works. This isn’t the first time. I have no excuse other than I thought it would be okay. It wasn’t okay. I had to reapply for benefits, am responsible for paying out of pocket for sending my daughter to daycare today, and have to wait up to two weeks to be re approved. Therefore for the next two weeks I need to find someone to watch my daughter so I can work. I fought my tears burning behind my eyes. Don’t cry here. There’s too many people. I thanked them without emotion and asked where I could find out about medical.
In another room down the hall, I was able to talk to someone immediately. She pulled up my account and confused said everything was approved and good until June 2018. Why then did my doctors office say they couldn’t find my insurance? And why did social security take out $400?? They said it ended June 2017. She printed me off a letter of proof and instead of calling back, I drove here–sobbing the whole way–and now here I am.
At least I have a seat now. Someone got up. I decided to blog again for the first time in months to distract myself from the $660 I owe on my car. The $78 I’m now responsible for daycare. The need for a sitter for free for the next two weeks. My gas and electric bills which are two months behind. My oil change light that’s on and past due. My gas tank that will not last to next paycheck. The two months of monthly offering I missed because money has been tight. My tags that need renewed for my car. “If people only knew,” I texted my friend also on government assistance, “then maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to judge us,” so I write.
I’m back in therapy. My pastor talked to this lady I’ve named Yoda (except everyone but her knows, but she’s so old and short and wise; you know, Yoda) who is retired but still sees clients sometimes. She agreed to see me for free since my insurance made it impossible to find a qualified trauma therapist to deal with a past like mine. This came a week after two back to back flashbacks less than a week apart one with my doctor and one with my other pastor, two very trusted allies, where I was so deep in the flashback, I didn’t know who they were and yelled at both. It’s what sparked me to start being very disaplined with my yoga again and take care of myself. I’ve been working on forgiving myself and meditating and I’ve been doing really well. I’m in such a better place mentally. Thank goodness because these financial burdens are crushing me. I try to stay calm and trust God is in control. What else can I do?
They’re serving number 441 now. 18 people left ahead of me. It’s 11:11. I read somewhere this was supposed to be a magical time. Nothing feels magical about this moment.
Last night the world felt right as I sat next to our fire bowl on my patio with my new good friend and neighbor and other good friend and neighbor and the first’s three children, the youngest of whom we joke is my 5 year olds boyfriend. They’re so cute together. They all roasted marshmallows and the adults talk. We are all on government housing. We all live in poverty. I’m one of the very few white people in the neighborhood but this is where I belong. We talk about places we can get free clothing. I tell them how much I love my church’s food pantry I use each month and vent about needing to reapply for food stamps. I was going to today but $400 is missing from my check and I need that money. We talk about my friend’s bother in jail who she loves and I hurt for her. He won’t get out for another 10 years. Her children will all be grown. My brother is deployed but at least he’ll be home soon and I can hug him. We talk about having to teach our babies to fight because fights happen in this community. While other parents are thinking about what clubs to put their children in, what vacations to plan, what college their children might go to, we sit and discuss finding clothes for them to wear, food for them to eat, and self defense knowledge so they can stay safe. We don’t want them to fight, but living in poverty, we’re always fighting for something.
442. I’ve been here an hour and still have 17 people ahead of me. I’m tired, physically and mentally. I’m hungry and wish I had applied for food stamps. I bought some groceries instead of paying for other things and I partly regret it. However I can’t wait to make beans and rice. It’s nothing fancy but I’m so hungry. I did eat today though. It’s just getting closer to lunch time.
Friday I took a photo shoot with my childhood best friend who was in town. She’s an amazing photographer. I asked her a while ago if she’d help me do a photo shoot showing my scars in a beautiful way. She was in town and asked if I wanted to. I was excited and we went to the park and shot strong yoga poses in revealing clothes. The collection I’ve titled, “Don’t be Afraid to Let Your Scars Show.”
My physical scars are healed, but the scars from my poverty are sometimes gaping wounds pouring blood that no one can see and so many, in ignorance and insensitivity, judge and belittle and condemn. I didn’t choose this, you know. I didn’t choose any of this. Sunday is Suicide Awareness Day. Suicide was the path I had chosen multiple times but survived miraculously every time. I must believe it was for a reason. Right now, I’m still not sure why. Right now I’m still not sure waiting here will result in anything. Right now I don’t know if I’m getting that $400 back or how I will pay any of my bills or who will watch my daughter. Right now I just know I am not going to be afraid to let my scars show because I believe if people only knew they would have more compassion and love. I believe if I have courage to, someone else might too. I believe I have suffered enough and I will not be afraid to speak out. I believe I create the universe around me so I will look at it with love instead of the fear that had been casting a shadow for so long. I believe the darkness helps us understand the light and if I share my darkness with love, light will shine.
443. 16 more to go…
After 3 (yes 3) hours (and 21 minutes because I had the time I got my number on the slip) I was told there was nothing they could do about it on their end and I would need TO GO BACK TK WHERE I WAS and work it out with them. They had no control. So guess who sobbed once again and while making lunch once home and again after momentarily calming myself when calling work to say I needed off AGAIN so I could try to get this worked out. You know, though, it’s okay. Not on the outside, but inside. I fell to my knees sobbing after getting angry and throwing some stuff around my kitchen and prayed. In the past I’ve asked God to fix this, take away my poverty, give me more money. This afternoon I just had a sense maybe it’s not broken. Maybe God is fixing it. I’ve been on a spiritual journey this last month and I’m so sure of the path I am walking, so instead I prayed, “God I don’t understand and it hurts so badly but I won’t ask for money or for you to take this way. I trust You. All I am asking for is peace. Just please give me peace.” You know what? I’m not gonna lie y’all; I kind of feel at peace. I’m finishing lunch and going to go spend some time with the trees and then get my kiddo and keep going with love and light. The darkness helps us to understand the light when we walk in love. Namaste.
I spent 45 minutes holding for JFS and apparently I earn too much money between disability and a part time, entry level job to cover medical deductions. I disagree and so they are having a case manager call me which could take 48 hours. Huge shout out to my daughter’s daycare, who is letting me bring her and working with me throughout this mess. Also at least I don’t have to call off a second day. It doesn’t solve bills but it helps a LOT and I will keep focusing on the light and love in this darkness. The darkness helps us understand the light when we walk in love. I’m going to keep walking in this love. Namaste.
**The Final Update**
I got a call back 24 hours later by an incredibly rude and insensitive case worker who kept sighing and answering me very shortly and condensendingly. The short answer is I apparently make too much with my gross income from my part time entry level library job and full disability check for two people. When I tried to ask questions to understand (it’s what I do; I like understanding) he made me feel so stupid. He also made me embarrassed for how much I make. He kept saying how much I make grossly with the full disability check as if it was so much and I shouldn’t be upset. When I said I hadn’t gotten any notice and two months was taken out at once he brushed me off and said he didn’t do it and he was calling me back because I wanted to talk to a case worker. I am sobbing now again as I write just remembering how humiliated and embarrassed he made me feel. As horrible and counter to my nature it is, I hope he heard the cuss words I called him as I hung up.
I have a real, diagnosed, government proved disability. Yes it is invisible. Yes my scars my hand made, but NONE of this was my choice. And right now I don’t ever want to get out of poverty because I NEVER want to become that and middle class seems to love to judge and cast stones at those in poverty because our scars are easier to see. Are our burdens not bad enough? To cast stones when we’re already at the bottom is the most socially acceptable inhumane act of cruelty that not enough people are angry about and fighting to change. I will fight it. I will use my voice and continue speak out until my last breath. You can humiliate me and judge me and rob me but you will never silence me. You cannot silence me. Namaste.