I don’t even know where to begin with this. Not really. But I do need to get it out of my head. Up until yesterday, I felt like trying to figure out what freelancing meant to me and what it would look like for me was a worthy goal. It gave me a sense of purpose and direction. Now I feel like I seriously don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing. I feel like I’m just treading water in the middle of nowhere.
Why do I feel this way right now? Yesterday I received a huge stack of mail from DHHS – the most annoying part of that is each letter didn’t come from the same office. I was told over the phone last week that we all qualified for MaineCare. One letter states that my ex (whom I didn’t apply for) doesn’t qualify and with it a letter that appears to state that I also don’t qualify.
This letter came from an office I didn’t turn the paperwork in at, nor speak to anyone directly. It came from Augusta, the state capital – the same office that objected to my ex being in the army but not living in the state back when I tried to get Little Bear into the Katie Beckett program a few years back. I’m going to guess that my records over there are not up to date.
But that it’s what triggered my insecurity – not really. It was also receiving a letter saying that as a SNAP recipient that I need to sign up for the state’s job search database and that once I have a job, I can’t drop below 30 hours, or I might be dropped from the program. I’m not able to show them that I’m gainfully self employed, or this would be a non-issue.
What troubles me is that my son, Tuxedo Cat, should qualify us for a waiver on this based on their own list of waivers. Somewhere along the way, the records regarding his condition and Autism has vanished – or they have decided that, for whatever reason, it no longer meets the criteria.
Meanwhile, I have a son with Bipolar that is less functional than the one with Autism. He wasn’t diagnosed while we were in the system. Same goes for Little Bear. And of course, there’s all of my shit going on too.
When I told my dad about all this is response went along the lines of “you’re barely taking care of yourself, you’re on the edge of not being able to work, and if you were able to work 30 hours or more you wouldn’t need Food Stamps.”
It’s at that point I reminded him that this is what people voted for and his response to that was to change the subject to babysitters and how much they cost just for “normal” kids.
This essentially told me loud and clear that
- he voted for this
- he does NOT want to babysit my kids
He quickly moved on to bring up SSI and SSDI.
In Maine, in order to qualify for disability you have to have had worked at least 5 out of the last 10 years. I don’t meet that requirement because I had been a stay home parent that entire time. So it won’t matter how severe the state determines my condition to be because that single criteria will disqualify me – at least if I file without a lawyer. And how am I supposed to pay for that?
As it is, I still need to reapply for Tuxedo Cat’s SSI, which at best with a case worker is a minimum 6 month process.
I’m really wishing I had went with my gut and not filed for SNAP at this point. But my parents have been chomping at the bit for it. The legal pamphlets the office sent home with me about how it’s now a felony to misuse or abuse SNAP has the house upside down right now.
We are listed as separate households – me renting from them. Which means we can’t share meals and food. Everything has to be kept separate now. That part I’m fine with because up to this point I’ve had next to no say as to what’s being purchased and the money that I was giving to Dad on top of rent paid for food that didn’t just feed us, but anyone else coming to the house.
I’ve been giving my dad $600 a month in rent, utilities, and food up to this point and even though now I have SNAP, he wants me to continue to pay that same amount. His argument there is that I can’t build up money and keep MaineCare/SNAP.
I can’t help but get this feeling, like the last time I lived here, I am somehow being used for the aid the boys and I are getting. That somehow they see it more as a benefit to them than as the safety net we need. I say “they” because Dad isn’t the only one that probes me about this topic on a regular basis. He’s just the louder of the two.
He can make all the speeches he wants about how the money that used to go to food will now go into a savings account and will be for us in the event of an emergency or for things we need, but can’t afford – like car repairs. It doesn’t change the fact that legally, once I hand him that money it’s no longer mine and I have zero say over what’s done with it. And because it’s rent that I’m paying, there’s no legal means for me to get it back if he doesn’t keep his promise.
There was a time in my life that I wouldn’t have questioned any of this. The last time we lived here wasn’t the first time we’ve had to move in with my parents to avoid homelessness. Now, thanks to everything that’s happened with my ex, I do question it and I question it hard. If I try to bring it up at all, my illness is quickly blamed and the matter is dismissed.
Am I really just being paranoid here? My therapist keeps telling me that she doesn’t see any signs of psychosis in me. So why does my family keep telling me that I am suffering from it?
So all that aside, since I have no answer or solution for it, do I keep pressing forward with trying to become self employed, or do I go back into the workforce where I know my stability will go down the toilet just like it has in the past. The Social Security Office in Maine periodically sends out a work history report along with how much you’ve paid in your lifetime thus far. My work history ends at the pregnancy of Little Bear and is spotty as hell since the time I started working in high school.
All of this gives me a sense of crushing defeat. What the fuck am I even doing with my life?
My work history is entirely in food service save for the brief time I freelance reported for the Morning Sentinel.
Waitressing sucks. Not everyone that works that job makes big money in tips like the myth propagates. There was only one place where I was able to do that and that was in Harvard Square and I lasted 5 months before I broke down. I guess laws have changed recently, and are still being heavily contested, but back when I did it I got paid half of minimum wage for the hourly rate.
I also cooked in nursing homes. With the exception of one facility, these places I’ve worked at expect only TWO people to prepare a main and an alternate meal, plus the a la carte, plus prep work for the next day, plus all the clean up, to feed 150+ people. And that’s just ONE meal. Day shift has two meals to serve.
I honestly don’t think I can go back to either and preserve my fragile sanity for long. And who else is going to hire me with the skill set I have at my age?
And that’s not even touching upon the babysitting issue.
If I’m self employed and worked from home, I wouldn’t need a babysitter. I’m not aiming to be rich and famous with this idea. Just want to earn enough to support my family. But I have no fucking idea as to how I’m going to do that.
I can write, but since joining Scribophile, I question whether I’ve mastered this skill and whether it’s income worthy. What else should I have expected from a community who’s sole purpose is to tell you how to improve upon your craft? No one over there tells anyone they suck, but that’s essentially our job over there – and we pay the platform a membership fee to do this job for free.
The obvious answer to this is to turn it into an income avenue rather that an expense, but from what I understand, few writers are willing to pay for editing services even when the editor in question has credentials within the publishing industry. Communities like Scribophile are a testament to that. What specific skills and value as an editor do I have that writers can’t find elsewhere?
Alternatively, I could go back to writing with a vengeance and actively try to get published. Getting published is only half the battle. Getting books sold is the other half.
I’m learning animation. It’s hobby at this point. I’m not even close to mastering it. I don’t have the fancy skills or the output speed needed. As of today, I feel like all I’ve done with YouTube is fuck around with a hobby.
To be self employed in the food service industry, I would need a financial investment that I don’t have available to me. And even if I did have it, it’s a gamble like everything else.
And this is why I hate being part of any government program. They get to tell you what to do. Everything you are belongs to them. I’m not saying they’re wrong for doing this. What I am saying is I resent being put on a leash to perform simply because I asked for help.
And it’s not just the government that does this. My parents do it too. I have to speak a certain way. I have to behave a certain way. Everything I do is open season for commentary and criticism. If I complain or protest, I’m told where the door is.
Just once I would like to exist within a span of time where someone isn’t yanking on a string. I doubt self employment will give me this. I doubt that I will ever be free of strings.
I hope after I cool down and calm down, I’ll be able to revisit this with a clear head and come up with a solid solution. For now though, it’s just emotional word vomit salad that needs to be processed and aired out.