Category: political


Safety Nets

I am a 52 year old woman and I could be a homeless person if the safety nets we have in this country are taken away by politicians too blind to see that the people they are allowing to write their laws will take away the only thing keeping people like myself and those worse off from completely falling through the cracks of society.

 

I decided at the end of last year that I didn’t want to be married anymore.  My son is 21, my husband is retiring in a few years and I just could not see myself growing old and retiring with someone I have nothing in common with except a 21 year old son.  That decision left me teetering on the edge of sanity, and in a place where I can look at my life and be grateful that I am really a fortunate daughter but I digress.

 

At the time I decided I wanted to end my marriage I gave a speech, made a statement and then backed down because I was reminded by a friend that I was a 52 year-old woman without a job, who had been a stay at home mom since I moved to Upstate NY, an artist and a blog writer with no discernible income.  She told me to work on my marriage and I told her and my husband that I would.  But in my heart I knew I couldn’t, I knew the ship had sailed and there was no other option but moving forward.  I don’t know how I knew but I knew.  I had known for a long time but it just came bubbling out on Christmas Eve of all days, Merry Christmas.

 

The decision to stay because of security almost ended up costing me my life and sanity, because a woman trapped by a series of circumstances and a man who knows that he is living with someone who doesn’t want to be married to him anymore are a very toxic combination.  I can’t blame either of us or both of us but we were not the same couple who were married for 25 years we were monsters together.  But we were stuck together; things didn’t get any better due to outside circumstances which are not really relevant to this blog post.

The relevant part is that women all over the country are realizing as their children age and their husbands near retirement that they are desperate and don’t want to be married anymore and that there are really no safety nets for women like us.  Poor women have resources but those middle class women who were able to be stay at home mothers don’t really have any resources.  A lawyer told me to go live downstate with family if I could find someone who would let me move in with them.  My son was here that wasn’t an option.   I didn’t have enough money to move out, I couldn’t possibly wrap myself around the idea of working at McDonalds and to be truthful couldn’t have kept the job for a while.  Also a job in McDonalds or Wal-Mart(another famous suggestion for the unemployable) would not pay the rent on an apartment and then I would be living in the home I didn’t want to live in and working at a job I didn’t want(nor thought I could keep).

 

I did all the things I was supposed to do I went to a county run job placement program which was even more depressing than a career in McDonalds, I was surrounded by wonderful, experienced people who lost their jobs in the last few years through no fault of their own who could not find a job even with years of experience among them.  It seems those in our late 40’s, early 50’s and early 60’s with years of good work left in us are not in the cheapest demographic people wish to hire.  Business wants kids they can underpay.  So I felt that was another dead end.

 

I was hopeless and ended up taking advantage of other county run services which did not provide answers but gave wonderful counseling services and I am very thankful for that.  But I was still trapped in a horrible, devastating situation in which I crashed and burned several times trying to search for the light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m lucky I survived it.  I am very lucky.

 

I had a car accident which was a pretty bad one and walked away from it without a scratch; I had not been sleeping since December and should not have been driving at 11:30 in the morning around the corner from my house.  That was the last day I could technically call myself a member of my neighborhood.  Two days later I was roaming the streets in the rain unsure of where my brain had gone and I ended up in a mental health unit, which was an experience I will write about separately as it was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life.  You can learn a lot about people and yourself when you are among the most vulnerable in society.  You learn of the beauty and the horror of the mental health system which can be a revolving door of medication and commitment and how that safety net really doesn’t work and doesn’t really allow people the skills to make it their own.  Some do but the majority end up in and out several times hoping for a new life.

 

When I came out of the hospital I couldn’t go home and I have ended up taking a settlement to give my husband and I closure.  The settlement will allow me to start over which is something I am so grateful for, as many women in my position do not even have that small bit of confidence in their futures.  Now in this economy if I don’t figure out who I am and what I was put on earth for I may be forced to go on Welfare and Medicaid and many other social programs.  I am lucky I at least have a chance to pave my own path, but what about those women not lucky enough to be given a settlement who have no way out and no way to get there?  What will happen to them?  Do they end up working in McDonalds and Wal-Mart?  If they do and they are treated with the dignity they deserve God Bless Them, but if they don’t what happens to them?  Do they live in loveless marriages becoming more bitter and unhappy every day until they do something drastic like kill themselves or end up with a life threatening disease?  Do they snap and end up doing something crazier than wandering the streets in a rain storm with no explanation of how they ended up there?  Or do they recklessly surrender to drugs, alcohol and life on the streets?  We should care about them and their children.  There should be places for them to go where they don’t have to end up desperately seeking something in the rain.  They need a safety net.

 

Women leaving lifelong marriages are only one segment of society that needs a safety net, but they are a forgotten segment.  They raised their children, gave up their lives when they were young and finally want their lives back.  There should be a way to repay them for the sacrifices they made instead of the opinion that they should do anything to make money and live in loveless abusive situations because to leave them would be financially committing suicide.  But in the end there are a million ways to commit suicide and at least a financial one allows a way back.  What about those women who find no other way but to crash and burn one final time? Think about those ladies and your mother the next time you bemoan safety nets like welfare, and domestic violence centers, and Planned Parenthood, and Medicare.  There are people out there who need them and they could be YOUR mother.

And before you think stop feeling sorry for yourself, I don’t feel sorry for myself.  I’m a working artist with a new start on the horizon.  The world is my oyster and I am appreciative of every single lesson I learned in the last year.  I just thought a different perspective than the one being offered by the right wing of the republican party should be addressed as I’m sure there are lovely republican women trapped in loveless marriages with no way out also.

In my opinion, they don’t.  Women just say they will vote for fools who seem to think that just because you are raped the body knows it shouldn’t want a baby.  Are these politicians living on Planet Earth or circling a drain somewhere?  I consider myself a rather purplish blue, a moderate in the days of extremes but when I hear a ridiculous statement like the one made by Mr. Akin(I can’t even make myself call him a candidate of any sort) it makes me want to puke.  It is just so ridiculous and anti woman you wonder if he has any campaign consultants at all?

While we are discussing the apparent contempt that Republican candidates  hold of women in general, why don’t we discuss the barefoot and pregnant mantra they seem to hold onto from the 50’s and the 60’s.  No abortion not even in the case of rape or incest, closing of Planned Parenthood which will not allow many women even basic contraception.  Is this a good idea?  I don’t feel it is.  I think it will lead to many an unwanted child who will be mistreated and abandoned.  I myself am pretty much pro life but I cannot make decisions for other women who perhaps cannot fit a child into their life especially if that child is one of rape or incest.

So what do women do?  Do they close their eyes, hold their nose and vote for a Republican anyway?  Do they listen intently and vote against their party?  Do they vote for Democrats and talk Republican in mixed company?  Or do they just wish to follow the narrow path of the Republican woman who wishes to remain barefoot and pregnant no matter how they got that way?  I’d love some answers from some real Republican women and I’d like to say that if her answer is any of the above she has the right and the power to make her own decisions just as I do.   Women are a minority and if Republicans take power in January we will all suffer through this together whatever position we take.

Just to tie this up in a neat little bow, Mr. Akin.  Children of rape live all over this country.  Their mother’s decide to keep them and give them the best lives they can give them in spite of their entrance into the world.  Not only do you diminish their mothers when you say ridiculous thoughtless things like this but you diminish your own gender and your own political party.  That goes for any other buffoon who replaces sexist ideology with common sense too.  If you are famous enough to be quoted on a national web site use your common sense.