OT: Why the Rebate Thing Hurt So Bad -- Our Social Death

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by elastigirl, Feb 23, 2006.

  1. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    Why the rebate thing hurt so bad.

    I know it seems like a small thing; so a company won't let food stamp recipients participate in a rebate? So what?

    But it's just one more indignity in a long line of indiginities. And each hurt makes the next hurt hurt more.

    Since leaving my ex (because he was abusive,) I went from having a nice home, good friends and nice things -- to being thrown into the bowels of poverty. Add to this mix -- FM -- which prevents me from working.

    But could I work anyway? My son has been very sick twice this winter, where he had to stay home from preschool five days out of five. Would any place of employment tolerate a mom missing 10 days of work in the course of a few months? Not counting her own sick days, doctors appointments, etc.? No.

    So what happened to me? Why am I so sensitive now?

    Before I start, I just want to say that the experiences I mention below are those I experienced >> outside << this board, so I am not pointing fingers at anyone.

    In the United States, a person is first measured by their wealth. Appearance and health are also high on the list of the way we judge each other. No matter how much we may deny it in our hearts, when we see an overweight person in old clothes driving a beat-up car, we make a judgement. Even I am guilty of that, though I've always fought away thoughts of judgement and tried to keep my opinions to myself. Even more so now -- because now I am that person.

    I've learned a lot about an experience I shall refer to as 'social death.' When you go from having money not having money in the United States, you suffer a death. You become invisible or marginilized. You are either not worth the time of day or a potential criminal. In the United States, where poverty is our secret shame, a citizen is considered to blame for their own poverty no matter what the circumstances.

    Society's views that I've heard since becoming poor: If only you'd gotten educated (even though continued education is not a citizen's right as it is in other countries.) If only you'd 'invested' in your wardrobe. If only you'd saved money. If only you'd exercised. If only you'd stop pretending to be sick and get on with life. If only you'd wear more makeup and get a job. If only you'd ate right. If only you'd gotten married. If only (I hate to be offensive here, but being a single mom, following remark cuts me like a knife. No one has ever said it to my face, but they've said it loudly and proudly in my presence:) you'd kept your legs together.

    There is no way of escaping the constant judgement of the poor. It's in our news, it's poked fun at on our TV, it's in the loud conversations in public places, it's in town meetings, it's everywhere. The poor are unwelcome. The poor are lazy fools or criminals. The poor don't belong in my backyard.

    But when you become one of the poor, all of the 'innocent' remarks, all of the hurtful conversations, all of the discrimination you face each and every day -- feel like little stabs with a dagger. They cut -- you don't need stitches, but you're bleeding. And every new remark hurts fresh. Pain upon pain. (And in my case, the pain is often very real, not just an emotion.)

    One thing I learned -- and hurts so much -- is that you will be judged every bit as much for >> accepting << child support as a man is judged for >> not paying << child support.

    What does this mean for a divided family, including the children? Endless pain and shame.

    Women almost never come out of a divorce or seperation unscathed. I hate to say it, here's what often happens:

    Women leaves man, usually due to abuse. Man drags case through court, draining woman's savings, putting her in debt. Court divies out a little child support, a mere fraction of the man's income. In society's eyes, the woman is expected to a) provide an equal home for the child as the man did and b) work full-time.

    Well, it's not possible. A woman goes from having access to up to 50% of ex's income to have nearly no income at all. She'll find a place to stay -- if she's lucky. Usually with a relative or in low-income housing to start. Ex will continue to haraass, and even say thing like, "I pay you child support. That means you have to buy ALL our child's clothing!"

    His life? Now he is paying a fraction of what he used to pay to support you and his child, but he plays it up big-time. He says over and over again, "Get a job." You -- and his child -- are just a burden to him. Yes, he loves visitation, but no, he doesn't have any financial responsibility to his child. Afterall, YOU have custody.

    It is a well-known statistic that when men and women separate or divorce, the woman is often flung into poverty -- even if she is working full-time -- and the man -- even if he is paying child support -- is in even better economic status after the break-up.

    In my case, this is true. My son and I live in a place hardly fit for humans. The ex lives in a remodeled 3-bedroom ranch near a lake. We live in poverty. He takes extended weekends vacationing and partying with friends. We are on assistance. He treats his girlfriends to nights on the town.

    But I am the bad guy, not him. I am the poor. Thus I am the 'lazy,' the 'wh*re,' the 'leech,' -- and -- if I'm lucky -- the 'invisible.' These are society's views, not just the ex's.

    We saw it when Katrina hit. Poor, black single mothers with children dying in their arms. In the aftermath, what was said? These women ought to be married! If they were married, they wouldn't have been so poor!

    I was shocked. Does society not realize that men now want women with money? If you don't have money, you've lost half your appeal. And if you are poor, you're won't have nice clothing and great haircuts. Then you've lost your physical appeal, too. Nice package for dating, huh? Yep, men are just beating on my door for a date.

    But, sadly, Katrina shows how marginilized the poor have become. In all honestly, as I watched, I could not help thinking of the Holocaust. All those lives lost because of 'exterminata.' How much easier for a country like the US to lose some of their burden by letting nature take its course? Was it a genocide-by-neglect?

    I was profoundly hurt by Katrina -- not only was my heart broken for all of the people who had suffered -- it made a large statement about how our government views the status of the poor in the United States. Especially poor, minority single moms.

    So, you see, even though it's 'just a rebate,' it's really another indiginity in the long line of indiginities I've suffered since becoming poor. Another stab to the flesh. It really, really hurts to be discriminated against. There's just no getting around that.

    If you are like me, you've also suffered a 'social death,' a loss of your status since becoming poor -- or disabled. I think what I need to do now is attempt to rebuild a life -- not one based on money -- but one more firmly based on character. Because all I have left now are dignity and hope. It's time to do some more soul-searching.[This Message was Edited on 02/24/2006]
  2. alaska3355

    alaska3355 New Member

    for you and your son. And that you will be treated with the dignity and respect you deserve...Terri
  3. sfrazier

    sfrazier New Member

    You are so very right in what you have said. After 10 years of this it no longer effects me the way it use to. I can now say that all three of my children now the true meaning of money. They have a respect for it that many other children their age don't.

    They relieze that it takes hard work to make money and it does not grow on trees. From a very early age they heard me say I just don't have the money for it. Did it hurt me to say that at the time god yes. Now however I have teenagers that don't mind shopping at Good Will or the Salvation Army.

    The other things they have come to learn is that while I don't have the money for many things I do have the time to spend with them and to love them. They all know that I would do anything in my power for them include die for them. From their dad they have learned not to expect to much except the child support and occasionaly a card for thier birthdays and a little money at Christmas.

    They also know that they can come to me with any problem. I have even heard their friends say that if they ever ran away from home they would come to my home first because of the way I treat them. While I can't work or keep my house up very well I have always treated my kids and their friends with respect so that is the way they treat me and how they expect to be treated.

    If not they just turn their backs on those people and say they just aren't worth it cause they don't know what they are missing.

    These are hard lessons to learn and your right every little comment causes just a little more hurt but hang in there and be proud of what you have done and respect yourself. You are a good person no matter what someother people have said or are going to say. Just turn your back and say what a waste cause they will never know how great of a person I really am and it is their loss.

    Lord this is long so hope you can read it all. lol. I tried breaking it up. Once again hang in there and hold your head up high. You are a great person and you have a lot to respect yourself for...... Sue
  4. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    Ever thought about asking to be a stringer writer for your local paper? You write very well and it may be you could do some writing to supplement your income. Local papers are often looking for people to cover events or write a social commentary.

    It is true. We live in a society that is full of unfair divisions. I promised myself that I would always speak up and out and I think this is what we can do.

    Blessings and love to you. So sorry about this but remember that blessed are they that labor.....maybe we all learn compassion from needing it?

    Love Anne C
  5. neen85

    neen85 New Member

    I would srnd it in to "First" magazine. They print alot of health-related articles. Thank you for your post! The president ought top read this one too! Daneen
  6. Hippo

    Hippo New Member

    I identify with a lot of what you said. I am not on food stamps, but my husband divorced me 4 years ago and we have had a severe drop in our standard of living and I do identify with your feelings. Being divorced and disabled and a single mother is very hard. You hit the nail on the head with the dignity issue. All we can really do is behave in a way that we can be proud of and that hopefully our children will be proud of as well.

  7. Bambi

    Bambi New Member

    I was watching CNN the other night when a board member from one of the cities was on and said if people were just coming back to the government housing and not to work, they should stay where they are. It was awful! I would have thought it was maybe just
    racism but he was an African American himself. I couldn't believe the lack of empathy no matter WHO would have said it.

    You hang in there. You are as valuable in this world as anyone else is, and you WILL find your place and
    come through this. God loves you (if
    I may say so) and so do I! Bambi
  8. Adl123

    Adl123 New Member

    This is a wonderfully witten and incisive piece. You have an eloquent, clear and forceful way of speaking the truth.

    Please get this published. I was a teacher for over 40 years, and you have a gift. I think you could also begin a career. with this gift that you have.

    Good luck to you, and please, please, submit this to a women's magazine.

    Best of everything,
  9. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    I am very moved by the warm responses from members. In fact, I am crying right now. There are so many reasons why, but I just wanted to take a few minutes to respond to your posts.

    dncnfngrs -- Thank you for the compliment. I have so little confidence in my writing. I write because it's a way to pour out the feelings in my heart. I don't even think of it as a talent, but maybe it is -- because you think it is :). Sometimes someone from outside yourself has to open your eyes to your own personal talents.

    alaska3355 -- Thank you so much for your prayers. Unfortunately, once a woman becomes impoverished, it takes 2 to 7 years to get out from under the poverty level. Even if a women does get out from under, she's still hovering around the border -- often for the rest of her life. It gets even worse when you hit 65 years of age. I don't even want to think that far ahead yet. However, I do hope a miracle comes along. I know this has been a life-changing experience for me.

    sfrazier -- You have built a life on character. You are the person I hope to become :).

    cromwell -- One of the reasons I'm crying is that I'm so flattered. Another is that I'd feel so guilty profiting on our sadness. However, that's just foolish pride. If I could supplement our income, it really is my moral obligation to do so. At least my moral obligation to my son :). I think pride prevents me considering submitting my work -- what if it's not up to snuff? What if they laugh at my grammar? Etc., etc. But in the end, all the worst they could do is say, "No thanks," right?

    I feel so, SO sad for the invisible masses of single mothers who are working so hard, day-in and day-out, and don't have the time or energy left to speak out. What time do they have to write out their feelings? What time do they have to contact politicians? What energy do they have to try to change things? None. They are suffering endlessly, and they are invisible.

    Maybe it is my obligation to speak up -- because >> that << I am able to do. Good point :).

    neen85 -- Oh my gosh! LOL, I could just see the confused expression on the president's face.

    Hippo -- That is what I try to do. Lead a life with dignity and set a good example for my son. Good for you :).

    Bambi -- I call that 'internal racisim.' I am of minority-descent. I moved back home where people can now identify me as 'unwanted' by my physical features. The internal discrimination is shocking! Those of my race with money can be very snobbish and cruel to those of my race without money, including discriminating against their own children! But those are the bad eggs. There are those that spend thousands a year helping the poor, including my father.

    Adl123 -- Thank you so much! Do you think you could edit the original post for me, and post it back as would be appropriat for a national magazine? One thing that scares me are my terrible grammatical errors. Also, I don't know how to edit my own work. Well, think about it :).

    I want to go back to college to study writing -- but my motivations are selfish. I want to be able to journal better, LOL, and maybe write a few stories for my family. However, it would be wonderful if writing could turn into a source of income for me, and a blessing for our family.

    To Everyone -- I just wanted to say thank you for keeping this post so warm. I brought up many controversial subjects and a single post, and not a single person responded unkindly. I'm very proud of the board members here :). It shows we can talk about difficult topical subjects without devolving into attacks :).[This Message was Edited on 02/25/2006]
  10. JLH

    JLH New Member

    I think you wrote about the problems of a poor, single mother very well. You should consider writing the same as a letter to the President so maybe he could take this into consideration when wanting to cut social programs.

    I feel sad that you and your child must live like this. I wish you could take your ex-husband back into court and have your child support increased as well as have him pay you spousal support since you can not work.

    Have you applied for SSI or SSDI yet?

    What is also sad is that you son will have to be raised in the environment where you now live--which you said was not a very good place. As he gets older, his "friends" will help shape his personality and what type of morals/ethics he will be exposed to. Your teachings will have to be much stronger than what his peer pressure will be. He, too, will have to fight the stigma while he is in school, etc.

    It is so unfortunate that the poor have a life-long struggle with society as well as with trying to battle for a decent living.

    I sincerely hope things get better for you--some how, some way.

    Much love,
  11. Hippo

    Hippo New Member

    If the rebate thing is still running, why don't you see if you can work in a cash purchase of Pediasure? Buy it separate from your other food so it has its own receipt, then you could put in for the rebate and perhaps not feel so humiliated. When you get your rebate, you will be reimbursed for your initial purchase and you will not be out any money.

  12. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    jih -- Unfortunately (and fortunately,) we were only engaged. But in all essences -- except for the divorce proceedings -- it was like a divorce. We were living together, engaged; I helped pay the mortgage (which he smartly never put my name on) and living expenses. The custody battle drained what little resources I had and put me much further into debt.

    The thing with lawyers -- you only have to get one if the other party does -- and he did. The state has a very formulaic way of dealing with custody and child support. Our results were exactly the same as if we didn't have lawyers at all, yet he made sure I was out several thousand dollars. He had it to spare, I didn't. But he used up his savings, so I don't think he'd do anything so foolish again, knock on wood.

    My son is too young now to realize how poor he is, though he does hear me say, "I'm sorry, but we just don't have the money for that. And that's just how it is." I don't want my son to grow up with the illusion that life is fair. (In fact, it's terribly unfair.) But I don't want him growing up resenting our situation, either.

    Luckily, I've always been a tightwad, so I set a good example in that regard. It's just that you get to a certain point that all the tightwadding in the world just doesn't make things better anymore. I think it's because when you are poor, everything you own is old or getting old -- thus breaking down. And you don't have the money for repairs or replacements, so you have to learn to do without what everyone takes for granted, like an oven.

    vilke -- I'm so flattered by all these compliments. Thank you! I get a lot of my statistics from reading on the internet. I memorize them, but I need to start printing out my sources. It's also very easy for me to get hard-to-find book references through my library as they use a system where they can get 'loans' from college libraries. I hope I have the strength to do this. Although I've fantasized about writing professionally, I never given it much serious thought.

    hippo -- The whole rebate fiasco is discussed in the rebate post, which you can find in my profile. Just look for "Discriminatory Rebate...." Let's tread carefully not to acknowledge a "cold" post or the whole thread will get pulled ;). However, thank you for the suggestion :).

    I used the rebate topic as a segue, but I've let the whole rebate thing go for the most part. If there's any new info about the rebate, I'll post in the rebate thread.

    I just really wanted to have a chance to speak out about poverty.

    I'd love to hear from any single mothers (or single dads) going through the same thing. If you have the energy to reply, how did it go for you?[This Message was Edited on 02/26/2006]
  13. zerped

    zerped New Member

    ...you give a new spin to something we all notice and never think of these days, which is what really good writers can do. Pursue this! I've been a freelance writer for 30 years now, and if you need info, let me know.

    I don't know if this helps or not, but your post reminded me of one of the most impressive people I've ever met. We were engaged 8 years ago, but the relationship ended. At one point, she had a girl from her one marriage and was pregnant with another from her ex-boyfriend. She had dropped out of high school and had no G.E.D. At one point no car and no job.

    Today this woman is happily married, drives a nice car, the two girls are grown and turned into beautiful (inside and out) women. She went from no office skills to typing and secretary classes to inside sales at the company where she works. She has gotten a raise and/or promotion every year she's been there and the company founder and CEO told me back when we were together that they are grooming her to head the company in a few years! Oh, and I almost forgot, she used to be addicted to drugs and alcohol as well.

    I hope this doesn't depress you, or give you any resentments, but I hope that you can be encouraged by it. I believe that you can get on top of things. My ex is special, but so is everyone else. You have at least as many assets as she had. You are no more or less special in God's eyes, and no matter what, you will find people who will believe in you until you can believe in yourself. You're definitely worth it.

  14. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    Writing! Who would have thought I had any talent at all? I will give it a shot. I go to the library at least once or twice a week. They have bulletins about workshops plus tons of resources.

    Yes, why not? The worst that could happen is that I could get rejected. Heck, I'm used to that :)!

    Just a note to zerped: Thank you for the story of inspiration. What may surprise you is that I'm really impressed (in a positive way) that you can still have so much respect and admiration for an ex. She does sound like a strong person who made the best out of a bad situation -- turning lemons into lemonade. I'm glad to read her story reached such a postive note. I hope I can do the same as her; find a positive path out of poverty :).

    I also welcome any information you may have for me regarding becoming a free lance writer :).

    Vilke -- as always, so supportive! Thank you :).[This Message was Edited on 03/04/2006]
  15. Adl123

    Adl123 New Member

    Dear Elastigirl,
    I'd be glad to go over your piece. Please keep in mind though, that with CFIDS I am not very good at seeing the errors, any more.

    First of all, when you write: "--hurt so bad", you might want to change it to "so much". However, it depends on the publication that you send it to. (I would suggest sending it to at least 25 or 30). If the publication is rather formal, then you should probably change the sentence. If it is not, I would leve it as it is, because it is real, and sounds true.

    Where you have >>> and >>>, these should be replaced by underlines or caps..

    The paragraph that starts: "Society's views" could use some quotation marks around the words that people are saying.

    Well, that's about it. I wouldn't worry too much, because they have editors to do this. If they like your piece, they will make sugestions.

    Also, don't forget to double space, and use a simple and easily read font. I was told once that the use of a paper that is a very light cream color, instead of white, sometimes helps. It is easy on the eyes and isn't easily lost in the crowd . I would double check this, though.

    Good luck. Be sure to let us know what happens. You will be helping everyone wth this.

    God bless,

  16. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    Thank you so much for the tips. I'm still 'on my way' to the library to research how to submit freelance articles.

    We got 10" of snow yesterday! I had to shovel all that out, plus work the book fair at my son's school -- so much for my trip to the library :)! Ouch, I'm really hurting today. Nevertheless, will try to get there again today.
  17. Notonline

    Notonline New Member

    ...elastigirl...you said it all...beautifully written!!

  18. bpmwriter

    bpmwriter New Member

    i have to second the comments of other members. i'm a published author myself, been writing since i was very young, and you have what i call the "writer's eye," which is the ability to take both big picture and telephoto views of the people and circumstances around you and capture both in words.

    unfortunately, this social death you speak of is spreading in this country. the fact is, the government is really only interested in the best interests of the top
    5% of its citizens. nowhere is this more evident than in new orleans where those poor people still sleep outside amongst the rubble of their homes 6 months after the storm came ashore. it's despicable.

    in any case, this board isn't the place for my political views, but we certainly could use astute individuals like yourself out there writing about these injustices. you have a gift. nourish it.

    best wishes,
  19. mme_curie68

    mme_curie68 New Member

    Hey Elastigirl -
    I know times are tough for you now, but there are some things that can be done. First, find a Legal Aid clinic in your area. Things might take a little longer, but they can help you - they can petition a court to get your child support agreement amended to get more money. Keep track of all of your finances, limited though they may be and all of your son's expenses - from head to toe. This is the best evidence that can be presented that you need more help. Document, document document.

    I was unfortunately in a similar situation as a child. My mom and dad were divorced and my mom hadn't worked in a decade. Dad decided he would rather spend his money on booze and women than taking care of his two kids. We never got one iota of child support but my mom kept trying -everytime she got a little money together she would skip trace him and try to get the child support. Finally the child support laws and the IRS caught up with my dad but we were already both over 18 so all he had to pay for were "arrears". He did for a little while then stiffed my mom again and she was just DONE with him and accepted the fact that he refused to be financially responsible for his own children.

    We were on welfare for a while. It is humiliating and frustrating, but you need to do what you have to do to take care of yourself and your child.

    I went to work at 12 to earn the "pocket money" that other kids were so freely given by their parents. I had to help my mom pay rent, car payments, etc. to make ends meet when I was in high school. By the time my sister was in high school I was working full time and could help her and my mom. I have nothing but the utmost respect for my mom for doing it on her own and raising us (especially now that I have two children of my own). We both got scholarships to go to college at good schools and are successful in our careers - one at home and one working outside the home. We both married wonderful supportive men. This was all due to my Mom's love and influence.

    Even though you are disabled, you can still be a great Mom to your son. LOVE is the key, structure and consistent discipline is the framework. Fight and get the money from that bastard that your son deserves to keep food on the table and clothes on his back. Screw what other people think. Your son will respect you. Kids aren't dumb - they know the score - my sister and I certainly did.

    My sister and I take care of my Mom now and try to give her everything she didn't have when she was sacrificing so hard in every aspect of her life for us. We may not have had a lot and we had to grow up quicker but that definitely contributed to the good people we try to be today.

    When God shuts a door, he always leaves a window open. You just have to find the window - keep looking for it.
    Madame Curie

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