Sorry

I’m about to admit something, something that I have done everything I can to skirt around and ignore for the last 18 months. Something that crushes my self-esteem to a tiny, crumpled mess. Something that breaks my other half’s heart and his manly hunter gatherer pride. Something I’d do anything to change. But it’s also something, ultimately, at this moment in time, cannot be altered or fixed. I’m just gonna come out and say it. *deep breath* *looks at the floor*

I live on benefits.

There.

You can report me to the Daily Mail now if you so wish.

I’m gonna try my fucking damnedest to not make excuses and try to justify my family’s situation, because really and truly, I know I don’t need to. However, from gauging people’s reactions (raised eyebrows, embarrassed avoiding eye contact, snidey comments), over the last year and a half, I feel obligated to explain why I’m living off their hard-earned taxes.

But I will reiterate again, as I did in this post that my other half has been ill and unable to work for two years now, and we’re still, STILL, yet to find out what is actually wrong. In the meantime we’re in a no man’s land of limbo and I’m left looking after my three-year old, my thirty-two year old, myself and our house with no answers, solutions or end in sight.

Yeah I know, bloody martyr, me eh? But what the fuck do you care? I’M SPENDING ALL YOUR MONIES AND HAVING A BLAST, AIN’T I?! I’m the young mum cliché, with my Greggs and daytime TV, feeding my kid kebabs  and fizzy drinks and thinking it’s all one big HILARIOUS joke, aren’t I? Aren’t I? What do you mean, “no”?

I don’t want to live like this, I don’t enjoy it, it doesn’t make me feel good. I hate feeling guilty for having to buy a deodorant or a new toothbrush. I hate having to sell my old nice stuff on eBay in order to buy myself a coat or new pair of jeans. Even though Rob’s illness is entirely out of my control, I still feel like a complete failure. I don’t particularly like feeling judged and resented by the somewhat less than understanding members of my family and friends. My other half worked for fifteen years, paying taxes and national insurance like everyone else, this is the first time either of us have ever claimed benefits. Why the stigma? Why the taboo? Why do I have to explain myself every time I’m asked “do you work?” or “does your partner work?”, why isn’t a simple “no.” enough?

I was under the impression, I know, I must be freaking MENTAL, that the benefit system was there for people in need. People who are vulnerable. People who are absolutely NOT having a good time. Yes, of course there are idiots out there, abusing that system, and making it so hard for those that have genuine needs, I’m not denying that, I ain’t kerazy.

I’m pretty sure we’re actually entitled to MORE benefits, i.e Carers Allowance or whatever it is they might have renamed it, but I refuse to claim this as our plan before all this happened was I’d be a SAHM anyway, therefore I’d feel wrong to claim for something I’d be doing anyway, it’s just that now I’m looking after two people rather than one.

It seems a lot of people we know opinions have changed, from initial sympathy, if I haven’t seen them for a while, the common question is “Oh, you’re still on benefits then.” or “He’s still off work then.” Well yes dear friend, because what you are avoiding to recognise is that he is NOT WELL, he can’t work, he can’t walk without falling into something or to the floor, he’s constantly, yes, like ALL THE TIME CONSTANTLY, dizzy, he is always, always always in massive pain. See, I can’t write a few hundred words without feeling the urge to say this again. Yes, we are still on benefits, yes, he’s still off work. I appear to have used all my wishes up on my own personal fairy godmother, and I have no magic cure  for our personal problems, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that my partner had the audacity and sheer CHEEK to be unwell. I really am. I’m sorry I have to claim some financial support from the government in order for my family to survive. But please, don’t assume this is fun. Please don’t assume that we’re lazy. Please don’t assume we wouldn’t do anything for an alternative to this. Please don’t assume I don’t spend every night awake worrying about money and if this will ever end. Please don’t assume this is all one big fabrication, just to receive some money to just about get by on. Because honestly, the alternative, working and feeling like a member of society again, is easier than this. I’d rather go back to my pre-Bean job of being a manager and working eighty plus hours a week on a shit wage. But that I’m afraid, really isn’t possible right now. The reality is simple, but the answer isn’t, and I’m sorry, I am, if that’s so hard to understand.

33 comments Write a comment

  1. High fives for the following:
    Outing yourself
    Surviving on benefits, cos, y’know you can’t really
    Having morals and not claiming for something you might be entitled to (as we have been told to do many a time. By. The. Council)
    Anyhoo, life really is hard enough and I really can’t imagine just how hard for you having to care for your man too, so more big high fives for that.
    And, just because I had to endure this phone call the other day, you could apply for ESA, actually your partner could, and as neither of you *can* work you would both be elegible. It is the benefit from hell and means awful questions and (possible) medical assessments BUT it’s something and I know just how much any extra something’s can help x

    • Thank you so much for this. I was so nervous about posting this sort of thing! Actually the money we live off is ESA, it’s a total bastard, it took about 6 months to actually get a penny of it, while we had no choice but to get into massive debt. We too have had dodgy people at the council and even doctors tell us to claim this that and the other, maybe the government should be looking into that rather than clamping down on poor people in desperate need and giving them the third degree. Thank you again sweetheart xx

  2. Don’t you dare apologise! The benefit system is in place to help people in need, YOU are in need. The people who should be apologising are the people who abuse it and make us feel guilty.
    I too am on benefits (well, housing benefit) which isn’t much at all, but without it, we wouldn’t be able to live. My partner works and I’m a SAHM. I could go to work but I wouldn’t be any better off. In fact last time I did the math we would be worse off.
    Its easier said than done but please don’t feel guilty. I’ve gotten over the stigma of it now and I know i can hold my head high and at least say I’ve tried, as can you!

    Keep strong sista, we is benefit frawdz, innit ;)

  3. my other half was made redundant and for 18 months we had no income while he looked for work. Aftr 15 years working in a good job it was a terrible, dispiriting and humiliating experience to be claiming benefits. And it shouldn’t be that way.

    Keep going, keep strong and good luck

    • Thanks so much. It absolutely shouldn’t be like that, it shouldn’t be human nature to prey on the weak and those in need of some *shock horror* help. What you went through sounds terribly difficult, I really hope things are better for you now x

  4. It’s a total pile of pap that society is fucked enough that you have to feel that you need to justify yourself because you don’t, you really don’t.
    Back a good 10 years ago when husbando no.2 turned out to be a bit of a psycho I lived on my own with 6 children under 7. We lived on benefits for a couple of years.
    Now of course the Daily Mail would have me tarred , feathered and paraded about wearing a big ‘if she can’t provide for them she shouldn’t of had ‘em’ placard.
    But the thing that they and sadly a lot of people don’t stop to think is that actually shit happens. Life fricks you up. Circumstances change. the last thing someone on benefits needs is judgement cos life is ruddy hard enough.

    The more people that are as honest as you are here and as Clara ( I Want My Mummy) was on her blog not long ago the better place the world will be.

    (see I ended on a cheesy note x)

    * Hi 5 and honks to the bazookas *

  5. You have nothing to apologise about! You are making the most out of a very difficult situation and to be honest, you deserve much more credit for it than I imagine you are getting.

    I’m in a similar situation. Both me and The Beef are looking for work. I too wanted to be a SAHM, however with the lack of work around, it’s now a race to see which of us can find work first. The person who doesnt? He/she gets to stay at home and look after the kids. While we do this, yes, we claim benefits. I hate having to do it and have to budget like crazy but really, with three children, there isn’t any other option. You can’t magic a job out of thin air.

    I was hoping by blogging, I could attract some attention through my writing, which might lead me to some work – anything really. In the mean-time, we just plod on.

    So please, don’t feel inferior or apologetic. You are doing what you can, to get by. Everyone else can politely walk on. Nothing to see here. (I could have used much *ahem* stronger words there).

    • *high fives* That’s such a crappy situation to be in, I really and truly hope things work out for your little family… Things will get better, they have to innit. Thanks so much lovely :) xx

  6. WOW you have just said everything I have been trying to say for the past 18 months also. I too live on bens after separating from my sons daddy being left with a 3 bed house to run and pay for. Cushty eh? Not so. Housing bens wont pay full whack as I am not ‘entitled’ to more than 1/2 room property so any additional help from the Job Centre (eg Income Support) then goes on bills and the remaining rent. Son only goes to school for 15 hours per week, there’s no work for 1.5hrs a day yadda yadda yadda. But I have been super good and managed it all by myself. But when I (who looks like a 17 year old mother when I am almost 30) go to the bank to say “please may you extend my overdraft by a mere £50 to pay a bill” she says no because I am a high risk to the bank being on bens. Also because my son has a saving account I should ‘dip-into’ his money if I’m ‘that desperate’! So I hear you sister. I hear you. xx

    • Thanks so much for reading and your lovely comment. Yeah, I too have had to “dip into” my son’s meagre savings account, to pay for stupid stupid things like vet’s bills, or even just a bit of shopping sometimes. It’s terribly difficult, it doesn’t need to be made any harder does it? High five to you for doing this on your own lady :) I’m hearing you right back sister xx

  7. It’s awful that people find themselves feeling guilty for claiming benefits.
    Please claim everything that you are entitled to – it’s there to help people when they find themselves in the position of needing support.

    My husband has recently been laid off so we’re currently claiming benefits.
    I don’t feel guilty about it because we have no choice.
    We’ve paid our taxes in the past and we will again in the future.
    And I’m happy for my taxes to go towards supporting those who need help.

    Very few people truly believe that all benefit recipients are lazy scroungers, and the ones who do are a bit thick, frankly.
    It’s a political hot potato, and benefit claimants are easy targets.

    I guarantee you that if any banker or politician were to find himself or herself in the position of needing to claim benefits, they would make sure they were getting every penny they were entitled to!
    And so should we.

    Good luck to you and your family :)

    • thank you ever so much lovely. I’m not sure if the majority *truly* believe that anyone in need of benefits is a scrounger, or it’s just what people like to hear. Totally hot potato. Wouldn’t it be lovely to give them a taste of what they are actually saying we can live off…. Maybe…. *pig flies past* Ah. I really hope your situation works out for you sweetheart, and thank you for your super duper kind words :)

  8. Don’t ever apologise for using what’s there for you, for what you previously worked hard for before all this Unfortunatly came your way.
    Ignore those you describe, easier said than done I know we were also on benefit for just over 18 months before husband finally found a job that replied to him an accepted him!
    I don’t know where people get the idea of loads of money (oh hang on hello Sun and Daiky Wail readers) sure we all know someone who is not treating the system correctly in some way and some people on benefits just have whack priorities (big screen tv instead of rent) it happens!
    I always felt bad too but just like you I was using what was there to HELP me and now were back on our feet and so will you be Goodluck xxx

  9. What a horrible predicament you’re all in… I hope your partner gets diagnosed and treated as that’s more important than what anyone thinks of you…the benefit system was designed for people like you who need it to help them through tough phases in their life during a time when they simply cannot work … you’re not like the thousands of lazy arsed families who treat it as a way of life and the future path for their offspring…. I hope things get better for you all x

  10. I think we should be more worried about the Windsors spending all our monies and having a blast than people on benefits who genuinely need a hand. Rah.

  11. A brave post to write. I wish you luck in dealing with other people’s negative views & I hope your other half gets better soon. Good luck with everything & remember, not everyone believes you’re doing something wrong.

  12. You really don’t need to feel sorry or guilty and if you feel people are judging you then you should tell them to mind their own business! At the end of the day the benefit system is there to help people and yes some people take advantage but these are people that have loads of kids with no plans of ever working to support them and these people will never feel bad about it and at the end of the day, it shouldn’t really bother other people because it is a choice that anyone can make at the end of the day. My OH broke his leg a few months ago so was claiming ESA and because he is self-employed the amount was pretty measly. I think as long as you have the right intentions then there is no harm in accepting help from the benefit system xx

  13. You have nothing to feel sorry about, regardless of what the daily fail would have you believe. This is what you are entitled to, and as you said, it’s not like you’re taking the piss. Chin up xx

    • Ha, thanks sweetheart. I’m OK really, this is just a vent that has been building up for a long long time :) From all the lovely comments I’ve got I definitely don’t feel so ashamed anymore :) xx

  14. We used to be on benefits for a bit, I still hardly ever admit this to people. Shame is a funny thing isn’t it, especially over something that really isn’t that much of a big deal. I find on my blog that I always refer to my ‘house’ where as in fact we live in a flat. (and in westcliff rather than trendy leigh, imagine!) Benefits are there to help people, you need a hand, no shame in that. Also, I’ve never met anyone that’s ashamed to spend their child benefit! x

    • Thanks for your comment sweetheart, it is a very strange thing ineed! Haha, I’m in Leigh, but not the trendy bit ;) I used to live in the Broadway, but had to move as all the pretentious people did my head in! :P Very good point about the child benefit, I’d say the same for the child tax credits too… Many thanks again xx

  15. You have nothing to be sorry for. Its not your fault your husband is ill and unable to work. You both use to work in the past so you put in to the system and now you need help when times are tough. It’s be people who have never worked and never want to work that annoy so many people. x
    I found your blog through blog hop btw and I’m now following http://www.yummymummytraining.blogspot.com

  16. I was on wait for it……..incapacity benefit for 10 years because of mental health problems.
    I am no longer on it…..not because I have “suddenly” got better, because , as you know there is no magic wand for this.
    I came off benefits voluntarily because incapacity benefit was changed to ESA and I was told I had to prove I wasn’t capable of work, to which my answer was, I don’t want to work, I want to be at home to look after my two year old and six month old.
    Yes Mrs Allen, but that is your choice, you need to prove you are incapacitated, so cannot work……YES BUT I DON’T BLINKING WANT TO….I WANT TO RAISE MY CHILDREN.
    Yes, I admit it is nice to be off benefits…….
    But not living off one wage and help from our parents.
    But hell no! Never be ashamed Hun! As many have said, you could get more, you don’t. Your partner is ILL
    Bloody stigmas! Who needs em!

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