(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.
This Former Welfare Dependent Single Mother
(It is the small victories that push us forward.)