The Ex-Files – Finding My Own Place

So, I was dating CP and my mother seemed to like him, especially since he got me out of the house. I really don’t think she liked me being around. I don’t know why. I wasn’t a pain in the ass. That was NOT sarcasm. I kept to myself and didn’t bother her. She taught me well. I truly was not a pain in the ass. 

Anyway, CP rarely had any money…..probably due to the fact that he couldn’t hold down a steady job for one reason or another. He once had a job at the newspaper office delivering papers and after just a few short weeks, he crashed one of their vehicles. He said it wasn’t his fault; that it was raining and the vehicle slid into a parked car. He was most likely driving too fast when this happened but to hear him talk, he wasn’t doing anything wrong at all. I heard several different versions of the same story from him and needless to say, he got fired.

When we went out we rarely did anything fun. We usually went to his uncle’s house or hung out with the cousins. This could be fun, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the family! We occasionally went out to eat. Places like McDonald’s or Burger King, Subway or mooching at the uncle’s house were common eating spots. We went miniature golfing once for my birthday. It was fun I suppose, but I would have rather gone to the movies or something. We went to the drag races a few times, which I grew to enjoy. There was just something empowering about watching “The First Lady of Drag Racing” Ms. Shirley Muldowney, race that dragster for a quarter mile!

Eventually, after saving money from my job and cashing in a life insurance policy, I moved out on my own at the ripe old age of 20. Of course, my mother was all too happy to help! She helped me screen neighborhoods and apartments, and went with me to meet with landlords and check out potential apartments. When I decided which place I liked and signed the contract, Mom took me shopping to help me pick out the things I would need; things like cleaning supplies, soap, towels, washcloths, paper towels, toilet tissue, dishes, etc. She helped me get my phone (pre-cell phone era), electric and gas turned on. She helped me move my bedroom furniture into my new place, which was the only room in my new apartment that wasn’t already furnished.

Finally! A place of my own! I was now free to eat when I wanted, cook when I wanted, clean when I wanted. I could go out and not have to explain myself to anyone. I could go to bed at 3 in the freakin’ morning if I liked. Time for me to be an adult and I was all too happy to take on that responsibility!

My mom called me one day after I got home from work and told me CP was hanging out across the street from her house, in the park and barefooted. What the heck? He was moping she said, head hung low, looking like he had lost his best friend. Turns out he was jealous that I had a place of my own – still not sure why he was at the park across the street from her house. He had been living with his uncle up until then. Turns out the uncle kicked his ass out.

So, what did I do? I let him move in with me. I felt sorry for him, not having a place to stay. In retrospect, it was the dumbest thing I could have ever done. I’m pretty sure that’s what he had planned all along. He didn’t have a job, so the burden fell on me. He said, “I’ll get a job!” Well, he got a job with his uncle. They painted the exteriors of new homes and while he brought in some good cash for each job completed, the jobs were not steady, especially in the winter.

Relationships are equal parts

To Be Continued……

This is the second installment of a series. If you missed the first installment it can be found here: The Break-Up & The Concert

I Have Something To Say

Something has been bothering me for quite some time. This is not aimed at any one person, trust me. It’s just that I have something to say.

I’ve been hearing/seeing a lot of blanket statements such as:

“If you can afford beer and cigarettes, then you don’t need food stamps.”

“She just spent welfare money on a brand new tv.”

“She’s using coupons with food stamps? Hello! You’re getting free food!!”

“Must be nice to be able to afford a nice car like that being on welfare and all.”

Or my favorite (NOT):

“Get off your butt and get a job instead of mooching off the rest of us.”

First, I want to say that YES, there are people who soak up everything they can get and abuse the system. There are people like that! They make everyone else who needs a little help look bad!

Second, most of the people I know who are receiving aid of any kind are on it because they need help! These days, people are finding themselves unemployed and unable to find a job. They still have families to support and other obligations. They really need a helping hand, otherwise they might lose everything they have worked so hard for. They apply for whatever aid they can, in hopes that it can keep them above water until something comes along. There are single moms, who are left without a partner to help them care for the children. There are disabled people; some with visible disabilities and some with invisible disabilities. These people are all careful with their purchases. They have to make the small amount of food stamps or cash go as far as they can stretch it. Many have learned to be very frugal. They utilize coupons and/or food banks. They look for bargains and sale items. They too, have families to feed, rent and utilities, and other bills to pay — just like everyone else!! They often run short and have to rob Peter to pay Paul. They often go without. Been there, done that.

Third, where do any of us get off judging others? Yes, we are all guilty of judging people. It’s human nature. We all have pre-conceived notions about this, that, or the other. That’s just the way it is. Don’t deny it. It’s true.

Now let’s just step back and think about something. Do any of us know, I mean truly know, what another person’s life is like? Do we know of their hardships? Do we know what situation they are dealing with? Do we know of their health or capabilities? No, we don’t. We don’t know half of what we think we know, about anything.

The woman purchasing a brand new television with her cash aid, may have saved $10 per month so she could buy the tv for her family, who may not have a tv at all. Should she not buy her family a tv just because it’s welfare money?

The couple driving that nice, shiny car may have borrowed it from someone to go to the doctor or get groceries for their family. Perhaps it IS their car and they both just recently lost their jobs and currently have no income. They can still qualify for food stamps even though they own a car or a house. Did you know that?

So what if the lady ahead of you in the check out line is using coupons with her EBT (Electronic Benefit Transaction) purchase? She is trying to make her allotment of cash or food stamps stretch as far as possible, just like the rest of us!

As for the person buying cigarettes while on food stamps — If you are a smoker, or if you have quit smoking, you know how hard it really is to quit. Perhaps that person is trying or has tried, and just hasn’t been successful. “Go without!!” you say? Easier said than done. And some DO go without.

One last thing. Who says a person who receives aid of some kind, doesn’t deserve a luxury now and again? Some items may not be necessary, an essential to survive, but does that mean the person who gets help can’t be frugal and save, to get those items? Does it mean that person should let their kids go without new shoes this year because they still have last year’s shoes? So what if the single mom with 3 children gets food stamps and cash aid but still has cable tv! So what if they have a microwave! So what if they have a laptop! Don’t they have the right to have things too? Do we, as a society, expect poor people to live in shacks, eat out of garbage cans, wear the same clothes every day, not shower daily, or even brush their teeth? I mean, we can survive without a shower, or without brushing our teeth. We don’t have to have different clothes every day, or live in a house to survive. Do we?? Survival is one thing. Living a quality life is another.

Let me say once again, there are people who abuse the system, but not everyone is abusing the system!! Please just think about how we jump to conclusions about other people, and stop ourselves from being so judgmental. Let’s try being compassionate and understanding of what others might be going through. We are not all born with silver spoons in our mouths. We are not all fortunate enough to have excellent health. We are not all so lucky to never have to worry about our next meal, or when our next nice, hot shower might be.

We all have stuff to deal with, and some of us may need help from time to time. You may be in that position at some point. Then how will you feel?