At the age of 29, when I started working on my Masters degree, I moved cross-country to live at home with my parents. After a few months my savings dwindled down to zero and then negative. I needed to find money to pay my bills for the coming month.
I would have gone on public assistance, but I couldn’t seem to figure out how to find them, whoever they are.
Now I am a white, attractive, intelligent woman from a loving upper-middle class family so I am not your typical image of someone who gets bullied or someone who needs help. In fact take one look at me and you might know that I haven’t a care in the world. Or you might think you know.
Because of my social programming I had hang ups about even trying to get some social services support during the toughest time I had ever been in up until that point financially. But I got there. Ready to ask for the help that I needed. I couldn’t ask my parents, after my fathers retirement they didn’t have any extra to cover my bills. I had already borrowed money for my last round of bills and I didn’t feel good about it.
My first request and in the end only request for help was made to Planned Parenthood, where I knew having a low, or in this case no, income would allow me to get a yearly exam and birth control. I don’t know about your personal experiences, but an annual exam isn’t the most fun time that you will have in a year. You have to sit through the questions and stern look when and if you admit that you have ever had sex with someone you aren’t married to.
The part that really got to me and is the crux of this post was when I told them I had no income. The girl at the counter looked me up and down and told me I was wrong. I wasn’t. I had NO income. I continued to tell her this. She told me this wasn’t possible. Sadly, she was wrong as were the other office workers who stuck their nose in that day. Already having difficulty with sharing my precarious position I felt awful during my deposition. In the end they charged me despite my lack of ability to pay. Fortunately (or not) at the time there was space on my credit card.
This memory came back to me when I was prompted by Teatro Vida to talk about bullying in my life. While not a high point I hope my sharing might be able to help others.