Sunday, 11 January 2015

This Is Far From Over: Coming To Terms With Being On Social Assistance

Life is settling into a new kind of normal. I’ve come to terms with my diagnoses of Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure. I am doing everything I am supposed to do, be it with a minor slip up here and there. Truthfully, they are the planned slip ups. You know the ones I am referring to, a piece of cake here, an ice cream there or a carb- laden twister bagel with cream cheese.

I have been known to say "you only have to do the first time once". That phrase served me very well, until one day it didn’t. Going on Ontario Works is difficult at best. Saying, the three words you hope never to utter, please help me is really hard.Try spitting those words out. Do you have any siblings or other family that can help you?

“Seriously, do you think coming here, feeling the shame wash over me, is where I choose to find myself? No, I don’t”.

“Well tell me about your family anyway,” they say.

Reliving painful memories, that I’ve locked in a safe, because they are to be safe and unvisited.

We need to meet with our caseworkers monthly and provide financial records.

Though feeling grateful that we are given some money on which to live, the amount is questionable at best. The amount of money allotted for a special diet for diabetes, is miniscule. Bye-bye to prepared foods. We buy fresh fruits and vegetables (only if they’re on sale), the cheapest brand of low sugar yogurt, cheese and cereal if we have coupons. No milk, fish, chicken or meat. I have never enjoyed grocery shopping and yet you can find me scanning every product that goes into the cart.

I can barely pay my mortgage. Never mind the bills that are piling up. I find it laughable, ironic almost, that my only asset is my house and I have to sell it. I will have to move into an apartment that costs more than my mortgage! Ludicrous. Days like this I feel so overwhelmed and I wonder who the lady reflected in the mirror is.

Since I had to quit work in July, a few friends have demonstrated their compassion and friendship. They lift me up when I am down. They make me laugh, knowing the many tears I have cried. I am learning a new way to live. Just as I am settling in, the month on the calendar changes. I cringe, then I look at the lady in the mirror, and smile for she is kick ass and she is resilient.

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