And while, to a degree, I believe there is a bit too much being "spread around" and that there are some that just need to tighten their belts, there are many who truly need help. Children, especially.
But what I don't understand is the hostility, the anger, the hatred toward those that need help.
I need help. While I am not in a wheelchair (yet), I am unable to work. My condition, which has yet to be fully diagnosed, prohibits me from doing some very basic things and working in any sort of environment where my dissociative episodes might put others at risk. I need help. Part of my help comes from Social Security and Medicare, programs that I paid into for my whole adult life. Those programs are doing what they were designed to do and I am thankful for them.
There is something else, though, something that most people don't understand and most won't in their lifetime. And I am glad that they won't but I wish there were a way to make them understand it without experiencing it.
There is a bottom. A dark, bleak, scary hard bottom. And it is deep. And when you are down there you experience the scariest thing anyone can know.
1 a : having no expectation of good or success : despairing
a : giving no ground for hope : desperate
b : incapable of solution, management, or accomplishment : impossible
If you've been here, you know it. The Bottom. Hopelessness. It's a real place. And it's the scariest thing you can imagine. More than monsters, more than death. It's a place you no longer fear death, and might even welcome it.
And this is what so many don't understand. They don't get that there is such a place that you would rather curl up and die than face another day in this place. The place where people say such stupid things as "why don't you move to a better place" and "just think yourself better" and "you just don't have enough faith" and "if you really cared you'd fight through this and act normal and get a job" and "I understand, really".
The phone rings. And rings. And rings. And you don't answer it. You know who it is. It's someone you owe money to. A lot of it. But you don't have it. Why? Is it because you spent it on an xbox or a new TV or nice clothes? Well, you have some of those, souvenirs of a better time. A time when you did have it to spend. The American dream of a home and a big TV and the nice clothes and the nice car. You lived that for a while and you have these things around you. Worthless now to anyone but yourself. You could sell some of them, sure, but for a fraction of a fraction of what they were worth new. Pawn shops are already flooded with these things and they aren't worth anything anymore. And still the phone ring. You owe hundreds to that one, thousands to that one, and that one is just waiting to cut off the water or the power or the gas.
And you cling to the things because the offer a pittance of escape. Moments when you can forget the dark and the fear, moments when you can almost believe that you're not where you know you are. Moments when the bottom can almost be forgotten.
But then they come knocking at the door. Angry and not understanding. Threatening. And the kids don't understand and you don't know how to explain to them because you don't want them to feel what you feel.
So you smile. And you carry on. And you go to church and tell them "God is good, we're OK". But you're not OK. You're kind of angry at God for making things the way they are. There is no hope coming from the people at church or their God. But you don't know how to tell anyone that.
So you carry on.
And you put all the bills in a pile. It's a big one. But before you can even start on the pile you pay the mortgage and the electricity and the gas because you need those to survive. And then you buy groceries, cheap ones.No treats or fancy meats. Rice. Beans. And fatty chicken. And you live on that every day. Every single day because it's what you can afford to feed everyone. And the kids complain. And you try to jazz up the leftovers, but it's still beans and rice and chicken. And you stretch them into days, a week, until they're gone, before you even think about making a new batch.
And then there's the car. You have to have the car. So you pay the insurance and fill the tank and check the oil. You have to because it's the lifeline. There is no public transportation, you have to have the car. So after you feed the kids you feed that car. And it's barely holding together with baling wire and duct tape, but you have to have it. So you give it as much as you can.
And there's still the pile of bills. Past due. Past due. Last notice. Certified, threatening legal action.
The better times have gone, and now they need to be paid for.
And the money is gone. And then the gas is gone, and the groceries, and it's still more than a week before the paycheck comes. And the kids are hungry. And the phone is ringing. And you fear.
And you feel it. Failure. You are a failure. Not just as a husband or father or a member of society, but as a person, ans a human being, you have failed. Not only are you not producing anything, not making anything, but you are at a place where you cannot even care for yourself. You're worse than an animal, you're nothing.
Nothing. You aren't a writer or a computer programmer or a mechanic or a salesman or a secretary or anything. You are nothing. Nothing defines you. You can't play with your kids so you aren't really a father, you can't take care of the house or do much to help your wife, so you aren't really a husband. You're nothing. You're nearly a vegetable. A plant. Something that just needs to be watered.
And because you're nothing, you are hopeless. Without hope, but also no one has any hope placed i you. There is no future, there's just this. And worse.
And you fear.
And you dread.
And you are at the bottom.
And when you're there, no one cares. And if you can't get help, there is no way to get up. All you want, all you need is a little. A helping hand. Just enough to get going again. Enough to feed the kids, enough to put the gas in the car so the wife can go to school and create that light at the end of the tunnel.
But no. Lazy. Worthless. Faker. Taker.And others. They don't understand the bottom. And you wouldn't wish it on anyone. But you're there. And they kick you for it. And they kick hard. And you don't have the strength to kick back. You barely have a voice because it's been swallowed in despair.
And then you hear, what little help you're getting, you don't deserve that. You have to work for it. But you did work. For 25 years you worked hard and long, 60 sometimes 70 hours a week. Rarely a day off. Taking work home. Never having time for you kids. Working working working because THAT is what people are supposed to do. And then they make you feel guilty for being an absent father but you're making, your producing, you're being a person. And you pay into the system that is supposed to take care of you if something happens. You pay and you pay and you pay and you are grateful for that safety net.
And then you fall into that net. And you don't deserve it, they say. You're a taker, they say.
Kick. Kick. Kick.
And you're weak. And you can't fight. And you despair that the next kick will kill you. But at the same time you would welcome death, welcome that release from the pain.
And that, my friends is why I try. Why I debate and argue and make the "Robin Hood" references. Those at the top don't understand the bottom, yet they continue to push people there. Minimum wage jobs that don't cover the cost of living, then criminalizing the assistance programs that make it possible to live. They don't get it.
I am up from the bottom now. But just barely. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Soon there will be enough. It will mean sacrificing my wife for the good of the family, but I think we can overcome the issues and the long hours and BE a family again. And it's thanks to the help form the government. The help that others, even when we asked, were unwilling to give. And not just unwilling, spiteful, angry that we even had the audacity to ask.
But we're up. And we're climbing.
And I will take the energy I have and I will fight. I will fight for those at the bottom. I will be a voice to those who despair and I will continue to make sure they are not victims. I will rub it in the faces of the 'haves' who despise the 'have nots'.
I don't want anyone to feel what I have felt. I want hopelessness to become non-existent. I want there to always be hope.