Tag Archives: Department of Economic Security

The Air Feels Free Today

(Yes, this is a personal post about an accomplishment that might not mean much to anyone but myself. And Yes, I am posting it anyway. Regularly scheduled programming will resume momentarily.)

 

After a long pause, I offer this brief celebration:

 

This morning, I submitted my withdrawal from Welfare.

 

I’ve never taken a breath that deep in my life…

 

There are many people out there that would find this completely insignificant. To them, it is my duty as an American to stop using their taxes for my well-being. I have been a lazy, good-for-nothing, money stealing, ingrate for most of my life and it’s about time that I learned my lesson…or so some would say. To those people my reply is this: take that opinion, wad it up in some steel wool, and shove it down that contemptuous throat of yours. Those who know me are very aware of how much of a struggle this has been for me. The constant insecurity of having to ask for help has been overwhelming and, while I know that there are far worse things in the world, it has been a kind of slow torture. Welfare has been that thing clawing at my insides as a beastly reminder of my incompetency. It has held me captive for so long by beating my will to a pulp. I have longed for independence and now, by the force of obligatory dissatisfaction, this tireless (often depressing) battle against my suffocating leash has ended. I have never wanted to settle there. I have always wanted more. That, to me, is my duty as an American.

 

I have fought and worked my bones down to their fibers to get here and while I still do not have much of anything financially, I can now say that I do have my freedom. There is no one monitoring my every move besides myself. I can now wipe my own ass without requiring a reason in writing. The most celebratory part of all of this is the fact that I am the sole physical factor in my victory. While I was extremely lucky (and eternally grateful) for the support I received along the way, nothing I have done was coerced or involuntary in any way. I chose to be here, with a job that I wished never to be at again, a forgotten degree, and a mounting debt. Like every other hard working American, I take a step up the ladder. A slow and excruciating step but a step nonetheless. With the few things that I have accomplished in my life, this feels like a big one. 2015 marks the end of my relationship with the Department of Economic Security. I can now teach my daughter the value of independence and self-reliance, from experience. There is no greater gift than the ability to stand tall. I plan on celebrating this moment today by taking in an even deeper breath of free air…

 

…then I will get back to work at reaching the next step.

 

Sincerely,

This Former Welfare Dependent Single Mother

(It is the small victories that push us forward.)

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To The Non-Welfare People

For the people out there that feel their taxes are being wasted on the lazy, drug addicted, good for nothing people that live on government assistance; I felt like writing you a letter this morning so here goes.

I came from a family that lived on welfare. We camped out at DES offices and food banks and our kitchen cabinets spent more time being empty than full. The only food we understood was the bland, nutritionally deficient, overly processed joke of a “food” product. We were having a good day if we got the chance to eat a dollar hamburger from somewhere. Most of the clothes I wore were passed down from my brothers. The shoes on our feet had to be deemed completely ineffective in order to get new ones. Trust me, you don’t understand poor until you can see through the holes in the bottom of your tennis shoes.As a child, I had no problem living this way because it was all I ever knew. Being picked on for being the poor kid eventually just does not matter anymore. At least I didn’t have lunch money to be stolen by the bullies.

As I got older, I realized how hard it is to be here. You grow up expecting to be on your own but end up being met with more demands, rules, and regulations. Like any other young adult, I planned on working from the ground up. I do not want hand outs nor feel entitled to anything. I expected nothing but hard work ahead of me. While that was my intention, life can sometimes have other plans. I did not get the chance to figure anything out for myself because even though I was working I was already getting my label back. People only saw another lazy kid looking to drain the system.

To add to it, I ended up becoming a single mother, the most dreaded of all. Since the birth of my daughter, I have worked whatever job I could get and even graduated from college. I work hard in hopes of, one day, no longer having to be in this building again. I gave her an apartment with the little money I have. I buy her clothes, shoes, and toys before I buy things for myself. Most of all, I do whatever it takes to make sure that she is taken care of.

You see, I write this to you while I sit in a DES office. I have been here for over an hour already and do not expect to leave any time soon. The people around me are complaining about the unorganized system as usual. Kids are crying and I mistakenly didn’t drink coffee before coming here. I sit here while I should be working but I have to take a day off in order to meet the government’s demands. Every movement I make is monitored by them so that they can control how much food I can buy next month. If I attempt to make more money then they threaten to cut my daughter and I off from having medical insurance. So, you see, the next job I get has to be a huge jump in pay in order for me to hold onto my ability to pay my bills.

I dread coming to this place. The feeling of sitting in these chairs is degrading. My ties to the government make me feel like I have failed somewhere. You call me lazy but do not understand my desire to work. You insinuate that I must be taking drugs even though I have never met you. You say that I am a waste of your tax dollars even though I pay taxes just the same. If I am such a waste of resources then why waste your breath calling me useless?

Those that do drain the system have become a thorn in my side. Even if I do receive praise for trying to put these offices behind me it always comes off as condescending. You cry out for drug tests that would only rob me of my last amount of dignity. Do you really think drug addicts don’t have ways around that? I do not have anything to hide but I find my DNA valuable when it comes to my self worth. I dream of the day when I will no longer have to spend my day sitting in an uncomfortable chair in a cold room while my pride catches a bus to anywhere else. For you to say that I do this willingly is a punch in the gut. At this point in my life, I have no other choice.

So, the next time you want to assume that my sole purpose in life is to rob you of your taxes, I want you to remember this letter. Everyone needs help now and then whether we like it or not. I hate being here more than you hate seeing me here. Let’s just call it even and go back to our lives.

Sincerely,
This Welfare Dependant Mother