Wednesday, May 03, 2006

In Which I Express Disappointment in Myself

I really hate going to the Department of Human Services offices. Not that I dislike the people who work there -- not by a long shot. By and large, the social workers who hold desks in this town are decent, nice people, fairly competent, and with a sense of humor, all of which serve to make the people who need them feel less small and vulnerable.

It's just that, when you really need a social worker, you already feel substantially smaller and more fragile than usual, and when you're on the downward cycle of bipolar disorder, you are microbial and made of ice particles. So, forcing myself to meet with a social worker is like admitting I'm less than nothing. And, no matter how good the social worker is, that feeling doesn't go away in an instant.

I have had to apply for food stamps.

I haven't had a paying job in quite some time -- I can't really hold one down, partly because I'm crazy, and, to a larger part, because my allergies cause my breathing to shut down in the presence of mine enemies: Dust mites, Mildew, Cleaning chemicals, Paints, Perfumes, many Plants (especially those with over-watered roots which grow mildew), and a Legion of Gloom. The few jobs I've really enjoyed are no longer options, since I injured my knees in a fall and can no longer stand for any great length of time.

Fortunately, my parents (my mom, in particular) have been supremely supportive, paying my property taxes, covering my household bills, and so on. Unfortunately, they're both retired, so (a) they have fixed incomes and (b) they probably won't be around to take care of me when I'm genuinely old and completely infirm. They can only do so much. I can only ask them to do so much.

And, so, I asked for taxpayers' help.

To those of you who are hard-working, salt-of-the-earth supporters of the system, I apologize. Not only will I be taking from you for my meals, but I'm informed, since I've been unable to take and keep a job, I'll be expected to get other assistance, from Social Security. Dammit, I don't really want to -- I had, in fact, hoped that what I'd paid into it during the 1980s and '90s (before I had my collapse into pain and teeter-tottering insanity) would go untouched even into my own 90s. And I'm finding I didn't really pay that much into it, anyway, so my input won't be doing me much good. I'll be taking from somebody else.

I wanted to never need help from anybody. I don't think any rational person hopes to spend a life leaning on others. It's just not right, it's not fair, it's not good for us, ourselves. We want to be strong and brave and self-sufficient, and never reach out, except to help others, except to grasp the stars. From the time a child starts to walk, he says, "I'll do it!" In our hearts, we want to be heroes.

There is shame enough in going to family members. Now I'm asking strangers for their forbearance and aid. I think I might have felt less dirty if I'd taken up whoring. At least, then, I'd know that the person with the checkbook got something out of it, as well.

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