Stress and Being Poor

Somehow it came down to it again today.  I got in a discussion about my state’s “benefits” and being poor.  Oh, wait, no, I remember, we were talking about schools.  In poor towns schools tend to be not as good as richer towns.  That’s no surprise.  However, my son has to go to school clear across town and it takes him forever to get home in the afternoon.  By the time he gets home he’s so tired he doesn’t want to do anything.  It’s an incredibly long day.  He doesn’t even want to do his homework.  It’s honestly unfair that he’s got to get home so late, especially in the winter when sunset is so early.  However, I don’t have too many options.

Now, I haven’t made a formal announcement or anything, but my decided answer to this is to homeschool.  This cuts out the problem of trying to get everyone on the bus at different times and also leaves my son getting home at a reasonable hour.  Of course, I wasn’t comfortable enough to let that bomb drop, but it is what it is.  I just said I was frustrated because moving him to a closer school wasn’t an option if he’s already struggling in the school he’s currently in, which is a really good school.

This all came back to moving and my options.  It was pointed out that we discussed this problem when we started talking about moving to this town.  As much as I appreciate that we discussed that topic, there wasn’t much that I could do.  Our options were limited, and thanks to a lot of Section 8 residents that trash their houses, a lot of landlords don’t want to accept Section 8, and I can’t blame them.  Unfortunately this leaves me with a limited number of places we could move, and being in a shelter, beggars could not be choosers.  We had to take the first place we were offered, and so we did.

Having little option but to accept the place we landed, it seems a little unfair, even cruel to jump on me about these problems with the school system.  It’s not my fault I ended up here.  I was victim of the system, just thrust to whatever place we were stuck having to take.  It’s really how the system works in this state, and given our income isn’t anything fantastic, we really can’t afford to live anywhere else.

Here’s the problem.  The poverty line for a family my size is in the ballpark of $70K per year.  In order to make that amount our household income would have to exceed $5k every month.  Yes, that is an extreme number.  It works out to needing to make around $32 per hour or something of the like.  Now, my sister, a college graduate and with experience, was only able to net a job making $20 per hour when she was hired on.  What does this tell me?  That we would need two incomes, both well paying jobs, to exceed that amount.  That also means we’d need childcare, which will take away from that income.  Basically, if I were a single mom, I’d be completely screwed because where am I going to make $32 per hour?

Then (the part that really steamed me) we talked about how my issue here was that I wasn’t a resident of the state when I arrived.  Had the incident that had me fleeing happened in this state, I would have been eligible for oh so many more programs.  I would have been able to get on my feet so much faster, but because I was from out of state and they knew it, I was pretty much screwed.

Now, here’s where I take issue with that.  I’ve met people in the shelter system who went through domestic violence in this state.  One woman was found out by her ex and put in the hospital before they moved her to a safe location.  Simply knowing he’d found her wasn’t enough.  I’d called three times to ask to be moved because I thought I was found and I never even got a call back.  No one cared.  As for the domestic violence only programs?  No males allowed, which meant I couldn’t take all of my children, and I wasn’t about to do that.  It wasn’t fair, but it’s reality.  Nothing would have changed had I been a state resident, nothing at all.  Hell, because my abuser wasn’t anyone I was in a relationship with, I might not have gotten any help at all and may have been told to stick it out where I was at and to avoid any of his advances on me.  Unless there’s a police report or an incident report at the hospital, the state is apparently known for not responding and not caring.

So what about me?  The only reason I came back here at all was my family was supposed to help.  I’d had another program that I had the option of participating in, one that would have helped me get my life back together and get back on my feet.  I chose not to take that option because it was supposed to be so much better for me back home.  I was supposed to be able to get my life together here.  I was supposed to have so much more support and help along the way.

But where has that support been?  Who has been offering to give me rides when I need it?  Who has been offering to come over and watch my kids so I can have a night off?  Who is babysitting so I can go to counseling, or get a job, or whatever it is I need to be able to do?  That’s right, not my family.  It’s not the people who promised to help me out when I got here, the people who swore I would have support.  Instead I’ve been left to struggle.

The kicker to all of this was being told that the state obviously doesn’t care to help me pull myself out of the hole I’ve landed in, so it’s on me to figure out how I’m going to do it.  I wanted to scream.  I could be doing this with help and support.  There’s no one cheering me on, no one helping me make wise decisions.  Hell, I was supposed to have a new computer for school.  The money is there, sitting in someone’s bank account, but I have no access to it.  I’m not even allowed money that was given to someone to hold for me.  Basically it’s my money to buy something I need, and I’m not even allowed that because I might be irresponsible with it.

This whole thing is totally not fair.  I wish I lived in the south again, where we’d only need a collective wage of $18 per hour to be out of poverty, a wage that can easily be attained by one person working a job.  Living in the south means living in a place where I could go out and get a job, and my daughter could stay home and babysit without any questions asked.  In this state I have to defend my right to leave her home and in charge.  I miss living in a state where we could actually get by and make a life for ourselves, even if it meant struggling a little bit, without the need for state handouts.  I miss all of that.  I wish I’d never come up here, struggled through everything I’ve been struggling through, and instead gotten my life together in the south where we could actually make ends meet.  I hate it here and I hate that I came up here because my family promised me something I should have known would never happen.

This rant is getting long and I want to do more than rant all night.  I guess the only thing to do is start working on a plan to fix my life, to pull myself out of this rut I’ve gotten myself into.  Right now that plan involves getting my degree.  Once I get my degree, I plan on moving back south again.  Having a degree will put me ahead of all the other applicants for the jobs out there.  If I play my cards right I might be able to land an IT position or something.  It’s not what I want to do, but it’s a job, and a job I should have no problems bringing Nika to.  All I know is something’s got to give, and to have the life I want, I have to move away from somewhere that the wages I can earn are so pathetically far below what I need to actually have a life.


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