Monday, February 25, 2008

Fear

We all have fears. We talk about them, avoid them and detour our lives around them. Fears cause anxiety. Anxiety creates stress in our lives and our relationships.

Financial difficulty is a common fear. My financial fears did not start until Jeff landed the perfect sales job with a very advantageous commission structure. Having an abundance of money made me think that I couldn't live without it. We placed so much value on our cars, clothing, belongings and status that I feared losing it all.

Jeff lost his job and a new job did not materialize. Most of you know that we lived off our savings and retirement accounts until they were empty. Most of you know that we went into debt flipping a house.

What I haven’t talked about is welfare. WIC gave my babies free formula, juice and cereal. I used food stamps to feed my family. Washington state provided free health insurance for my children. The birth of my second child did not cost me a dime; the US taxpayers footed the bill. We took advantage of these programs from August 2004 until March 2007.

Why do I tell you all this? Maybe it is to change people’s perception of welfare recipients. Maybe it is to change your perception of me.

Fear inhibits honesty. I was afraid of what you might think of me so I painted a picture of myself and hoped you would not notice that I was telling an incomplete story. I showed you our BMW’s; I talked about our big house; I flaunted my nice things to distract you from some experiences that shaped me. I was ashamed of those experiences, but I am not ashamed of who I am.

I am compassionate, empathetic and nonjudgmental. Life has beaten me up, spit me out and taught me that I could have been a homeless person, an unwed mother, or an insufferable snob. I was fat, skinny, rich, poor, employed, fired and in therapy. I am a Christian who lived in sin. I am a shy extrovert. I am a contradiction.

I still fear what you will think of me after reading this, but take comfort in knowing that your picture of me is complete.

32 comments:

Amy said...

When I was a single mom, I was on WIC too. I was young and a college student with a newborn. How was I supposed to get a job? But I tell you that part of my life did not last long. As soon as I could help myself I did. That's my beef with the welfare system, those that don't want to help themselves.

Just My Type said...

Oh Amy, you are the whole package aren't you!?! You truly have walked a mile in everyone's shoes. No wonder your posts are able to reach so many people; whom, I am sure, are all very different.

I especially loved your second to last paragraph. You are a contradiction. Celebrate it. I think we all feel that way.

Don't you feel great for all that you've overcome and accomplished in such a short amount of time? You should.

And a very impressive post, my Dear.

lattemommy said...

I think you titled your post incorrectly - you should have titled it "Courage". For that is what you have, my dear. And you should be proud.

Anyone who thinks less of you for what you have written does not deserve to call you a friend. And, they should be reminded of the old adage that "Those in glass houses should not throw stones".

I came from a less-than-advantageous childhood. I know what it is like to be in a family that goes without, that lives from paycheque to paycheque. I try to remember every day to be grateful for all the riches in my life, both material and otherwise. Very few days go by where I don't think to myself, "there, but for the grace of God, go I". I think maybe you feel the same way too.

Bravo - I am proud to call you my friend.

morninglight mama said...

Your brutal honesty is quite refreshing. Isn't that the beauty of these things called blogs? You finally have the freedom to say what you really mean, if you have the guts to do it. Your post took guts, and I think you'll be all the more respected for it. You definitely have my respect!

carrie said...

same here, although I've never had a BMW, but I've had WIC, and state health insurance for my kids and for me when it got really bad.

I don't think any less of you or that you've painted a picture of yourself that is less than true.

We only get to see part of a person's life here on this blog and I hope no one assumes that what they read from day to day is the complete picture!

Now, that's scary.

Sister Honey Bunch said...

Thank you for sharing this. Anyone could have been in your shoes. Anyone. And there is fear in what the perception of your life would be.

Rock on.

OHmommy said...

You never cease to amaze me, Amy. We came to this country via Catholic Charities and they paid the entire bill. The contniued to help until we were on our feet. It was probably so difficult for my mother to accept it. Althouh she has never talked about it. I am in awe of your raw honesty and compassion. Nice post.

LunaNik said...

I loved this post!

My kids have state insurance. Both my pregnancies were also covered by the taxpayers.

I think people who judge those who receive assistance from the government need to withhold judgement. Times are tough. Sometimes you just need help. There's no shame in that...AT ALL.

I belong to a mom's online community and once read a statement from another (wealthy) mom who totally flamed mothers who receive government assistance and/or who file for EIC along with their taxes. I was so angry I just had to log off so that I didn't rip her a new you-know-what right there in the chat forum.

When people are lucky enough to have money, they just can't understand the desperation that comes with struggle.

This is such a brutally honest post. And you are an amazing woman.

Kelly said...

Thank you for sharing. You have no reason to be ashamed. Instead, you should be proud of yourself for doing what it takes to be an awesome wife and mother. Anyone who thinks less of you does not deserve your concern, b/c people like that are small and insignificant next to the light you shine.

Maria said...

I use to be on WIC and actually hated it. The people who worked there really put us down! One man in particular was extremely rude to me because I didn't hear what he said. I liked this post of yours

Kimmylyn said...

Amy.. Let me tell you that I wanted to clap after reading your post.. why? Because I grew up on welfare and I HATED it. I used to be so ashamed because other kids used to make fun of us. It shaped the person I am today.. it made me see the world from a totally different point of view. My family was HAPPY. That was all that mattered lookin back now.

Your family is happy and healthy and they have a BRAVE mom who is honest. This was a great post.

Kimmylyn said...

PS. I can't believe you were not in my reader.. I just added you today.. sorry.. :(

Sister Sassy said...

great post! I think people make so many generalizations about people they never take the time to see it from their shoes. Just assumptions.

I had a very similar experience to you-ended up in a short sale but did't even consider welfare because I assumed my husband made too much. But we did qualify for reduced care after my baby was born so about 70% was deducted off that bill. In hindsight I think we prob would have qualified for food stamps and that would have helped reduce the credit card debt load we have now.

Kellan said...

Now ... I love you even more!!!! Thank you for sharing your life with me!

Take care - Kellan

Hey it's Amy Shipp said...

Oh Amy, you are a real person! I never doubted it, but now we have proof! Don't ever feel bad or afraid of where you come from, or what you've been through, it's what makes us who we are. I believe we are all walking contridictions to some extent. I think you are wonderful and I truly appreciate you sharing some real background. I must say it is verrrrry brave of you! ♥ Big {{Hugs}} to you ♥
I admit as a blogger I have decided not to share all the negative crap in my life, because even though everyone has stuff they deal with, I tell myself that no one wants to hear about it. Plus maybe I have too much pride & don't want my critics to see my warts.
Bravo for you Amy! You are awesome!!

The Sports Mama said...

Finally! I have been trying to get the silly comments link to work since you only had 6 of 'em!

You might be a contradiction, but you are still one of the most amazingly grounded people I can claim to "know".

And yes, I claim to know you. It's your fault, really. If you had never acknowledged my stalking you it would never have gotten to this point. :)

Leanne said...

Cool. Thanks for the honesty.

So far I haven't had to go through this, but I tell you I always think we're all only a month or two away.

Oh, and contradictions are good. Sameness gets sora boring don'cha think?

Honeybell said...

You my dear, are a brave woman. We all do what we have to for our families. I remember when my pipefitter dad was laid off for six months. My mom sent me to the grocery store with food stamps (I was 17). I'll never forget how the checkout girl and bag boy treated me. To the point of the bag boy refusing to carry out my groceries. It can happen to anyone . . . and frequently does. Wonderfully honest post, you are amazing. Thank you.

Vixen said...

I totally hear you and understand. I just wish that now, when I truly need it, I could qualify for the programs I need.

God bless.

pb&j in a bowl said...

I think you are an incredibly brave woman.

One of the biggest mistakes, that we all make, at one time or another, is that it couldn't happen to us. It can and does.

Life's experiences shape who we are and how we react to different situations. I'm sure that you teach your children different things, than you would have if it had never happened to you.

Thanks for being so honest in this post. I think I can speak for everyone and say that we only love you more!

Mitchypoo said...

I just happened to pass by your blog, but the reason you needed welfare is the exact right reason it was created. You have nothing to be ashamed of.

Debye said...

My husband and I are just coming out of almost the exact situation. We both feel that we grew from being humbled but at the same time very few of our friends and family even know that we went through it at all. I guess pride is still a very hard thing to shake....

Kudos to you for sharing!

Don Mills Diva said...

You should not be asahmed Amy - welfare is there to help people who find themselves in temporary bad situations. Financial fears are tough. My hubby is a freelancer. When he works he makes big big money. Over the last 5 years he has periods of no work for 6-9 months. We have a lifestyle that most people woud kills for but it IS tough and stressful to think we could lose what we have or go backwards...i GET it.

Kyle said...

See what I miss when I don't get to the computer every day? Sorry I'm getting to this a day late, but I just wanted to say I admire and appreciate your honesty. Financial fears are starting to freak me out, and your post helped me shift my focus back to everything I have to be grateful for. Thanks!

Rachel said...

Amy. Amazing post.
You astonish and wow me. I am humbled just reading you.
Wow.
You go girl.

Melinda Zook said...

A wonderful post to share. Sometimes it takes some time for us all to open up to share this kind of stuff. It is great that you did. We all learn from each other and what a life experience to share.

Gray Matters said...

Thank you for sharing your heart.

Huckdoll said...

OMG, Amy. That was so beautiful written and really hit home. Welfare is meant to be there for situations like the one you described, it just gets a bad rep by the people abusing it..at least her in Canada.

It woman like you whom I admire and feeling connected to the most. Women who haven't lived an entire life of privilege. Women who have experienced the bad AND good of life.

I love this. Thanks for sharing.

Marie around the World said...

Hi, it's the first time I come to read your blog and I am impressed by your post !
Sister Honey Bunch is right, anybody can be someday in your shoes...
Your honesty is impressive !

Kalamazoo Mom of 2 said...

What an absolutely honest, courageous and uplifting post. I don't know many people who would show themselves so truthfully. Our vulnerability, especially as women, can be crippling and I applaud you for recognizing and embracing your own growth as a result of tough times.
You truly are inspiring. Hold your head high - you deserve to more than you know.

E said...

Getting rich is way more fun than going broke. I too have done both. We are still climbing out of the mess of The Horrible Quaint Country Store. We made a bunch of money, sold the company, moved to Vermont to ride out the noncompete in a beautiful place, bought a country store, went broke, and made all our new neighbors hate us when we couldn't pay our vendors on time and our shelves were bare. I can tell it as a funny story now, but it was desperate for a while.

Bravo to you Amy. You are brave and seasoned and seasoned always tastes better....

Ashlee said...

Never fear! There are too many of us like you out there. My first child was paid for by the state of Utah. Then, when I became a single mommy, the state paid for his health care. Not all people on welfare are those usually pictured. We are hard working people, who've been hit with hard times. We are grateful for the help, but can't wait until we won't need it anymore.
You are brave! Fearless! Wicked Awesome!