Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Holidays Kids

Some years are financially tougher than others. Obviously, buying drugs, being too busy doing those drugs to pay the bills, and just plain bad economy was rough on us and our business.  Go figure.  Drug-addicted business owners didn't stand a CHANCE under the Bush administration. Oh wait, I can't blame the president?  Whatever.

I am not trying to make anyone feel bad for me. I've had opportunities to be rich. Money is a HUGE trigger for me. I am not good with money.  It is a lesson I will need to work on, once it is that I actually have some money.  But for the moment, being broke, saves my life.

We had some money last year.  Bob's mom passed away in December of 2010 and left us some cash.  Thankfully, for that, we were able to save our home, and catch up on a lot of stuff.  Then we did stuff like bought another truck, and a pop-up camper.  We took a bunch of little trips. Of course, trying to make up, to the family, the drug years we put them through.  Did it work?  Well, we did create some great memories.  But we weren't super responsible.

Right after we got sober in 2010, and we had already lost our business, Bob lost his job working for my dad, and Bob could no longer work because his mental health took a turn into the unknown, I went down to the welfare office and applied for welfare.  And let me tell you this.  NO ONE is getting rich on welfare.

The folks down at the county welfare office treated me very coldly.  And if you work down there, I am sorry, but you know it is true.  The compassion is out the window.  I grew up living on a lake, in a very nice neighborhood.  Upper-middle class all of the way.  My husband is a veteran.  But does that mean I deserve to be treated better than the folks that have been on their third generation of welfare recipients?  Hell no it doesn't.  I am just saying that it is an eye opener.  How can anyone feel good about themselves, if no one feels good about them?

If you are on welfare, it is VERY difficult to get off.  I can't remember exactly what the deal was, but I remember asking if I could start school right then.  They only had a program for Certified Nursing Assistant.  The training for that was included in the job placement program that is required.  They have you search 36 hours a week, plus use their employment center.  All of that is a good idea, but you can't find work, and earn enough money, to support your family without some training.  There is no hand "up" in that system.   That, my friends, is a very big design flaw.  It should be easier to get training, so people could get a living wage, and get OFF welfare.  But instead, people get talked to and treated like they are trying to take the system.  Welfare is there for people who need it.

I was lucky that we were left money through Bob's mom dying, to get off of welfare.  I mean, someone had to DIE for us to move forward.  That doesn't happen to many.  Also, Bob got on disability through the V.A. because of his mental health.  He is unable to work at this time.   And I am lucky enough to be able to go to school.

And let me say one more thing.  Drug testing welfare recipients is stupid.  I couldn't afford my drugs on welfare.  It doesn't pay enough!  Welfare helped keep me sober because I was too poor to buy drugs.  People down on their luck shouldn't be treated like criminals, they should be treated with compassion.  And besides, if you are going to find that a welfare recipient has trouble staying sober, instead of criminalizing them, get them treatment.  It is a chronic disease, man.

Okay, enough of the welfare rant.  I wouldn't change that experience for anything.  It made me understand what people really have to go through.  It isn't an easy ride.  

Because my kids were not used to being so poor, I was panicking for Christmas.  A friend of mine at one of my meetings told me that she had been selling her plasma for awhile.  Gross.  But I learned that if Bob and I both did it, it would mean $120.00 a week (that is going twice a week, $20.00 each the first time, $40.00 each the second time.)  Tax free and it didn't count against the $700.00 a month I got from welfare (for a family of six), so it was a win/win.  We figured if we started right away, we would have more than enough cash for gifts for the holidays.  So we did.  

It is pretty gross.  The place Biolife is a trip.  It is like a factory of beds and machines.  I always feel like they are aliens trying to steal my soul or something.  All of the workers are super young, good looking and wear white lab coats. It feels like the Twilight Zone.  I figured that all of the people who were donating would look like they hadn't showered and lived under a bridge, but that isn't true.  They were just people like myself, looking for a way to make ends meet.  

It made Christmas so much easier that year.  My kids didn't feel the pinch of the situation or how serious it was.  And I got to say stuff like, "You better like it, I paid for it with my BLOOD!"  

I really didn't say that....much.

My dad thinks it is one step away from prostitution.  But I am pretty sure that it is not.  We found it so easy that we are doing it again this year.  We aren't as down and out as we were two years ago, but people need plasma, and we need money.  So why not make the holiday spending easier?  Plus, they have good wi-fi.  We just both sit there and stare at our phones like we do at home, while the beautiful people steal our souls for space.  

Happy Holidays kids!!!!

One more thing...when you are behind that person in the grocery line, who has the E.B.T. (food stamps) card, don't judge them or act irritated because they take too long.  The clerks at the store already act snotty towards them.  Chances are they don't feel all that great about themselves either.  You have no idea what lead them to the place where they need welfare.  How about instead of feeling pissed, you feel lucky that you haven't had to use food stamps?   And if you have needed them, like I have, be grateful you got off of them. I was only on them for about five or six months.  It is a stressful place to be.  


  1. A long time ago i was down and out, out of work, bankrupt, the whole 9 yrads. It was hard to make ends meet and yeah, the system makes you feel like an animal facing euthinasia in the dog pound. Everyday I am glad that I have a great job, will retire soon and be able to have time for myself. And I never think of those in need as less than me, cause I know how its all so easy to find myself in their shoes.

  2. Love you, Betsey! This was so great to read. Love your honesty and humor. You're brave and smart and funny and so real. Amen to all of those things!

  3. I can understand where the argument for drug testing for welfare comes from, and I know that there are some addicts who sell food stamps to buy drugs. BUT when I was addicted to pain pills we were on food stamps. I never sold them and they paid for food to feed my 4 kids. It's not like, if I didn't have food stamps, I would have quit buying pills and used that money for food instead. I wish I could say I would have done that, but I remember how I was and I know. I wouldn't have let them starve, but what would have happened is that my kids would have had much less, very cheap food. I don't think people are thinking about how drug testing for food stamps would affect kids of parents who are addicted. The system IS flawed, but that isn't the answer. In a perfect world, maybe addicts shouldn't be raising their kids, but most of the time, they are. And those kids have food because their parents get food stamps.

  4. I found your blog via several clicks from other blogs. I am so glad I came. My daughter is an addict. I say she is, she says she isn't. I will come back and read more for sure.
    I hope you have a few minutes every so often to answer my questions about meth and getting better.
    Thanks, please take care!

    1. I am so glad you found me too! I will answer any question you have. If you want to be more private about it, you can email me too;)

  5. My momma went back to college as a single mom. We were on food stamps (before the card let you be semi anon), government cheese and powdered milk. I got free lunch at school. It sucked. But the thing is - she used it for what it's meant for. While she couldn't work - but was getting her degree. And then she got a job and was able to financially support her family.

    Just want to say that your spot on to not judge someone on welfare - you haven't walked in their shoes - and yes, most clerks already make you feel like scum. Jerks.

  6. I'd heard people say that as a traveler, you have to be careful not to get attached. Now that I'd felt it, I'd say that's garbage. If you are lucky enough to find people worth getting attached to, attach yourself with nothing less than all of your heart. Because if you find a companion to walk a stretch of the road with you, a person whose warmth and kindness makes your journey feel much brighter, you have no other choice - you are among the very, very fortunate.
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