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.
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.