I was on hold for over an hour…no one was picking up. I had the phone on speaker so I could work on other things, but I was a little taken back by how much effort it took to get someone to help me. I was applying for the Snaps program, ‘Food Stamps’, state aid to feed my children. It was awkward enough as it was and I just wanted to get it over with, but instead I had to wait. Was it this difficult for everyone?
I had just resigned from my job and had next to no income while I took a couple more classes to be eligible for a license in professional counseling. My father suggested I apply a few weeks prior and I nearly scoffed at the idea. I didn’t see how I could apply for aid, I made a choice to leave my job. I chose to reduce my income temporarily. I chose to take a risk in hopes it would give me a greater gain. I didn’t think I earned the right to ask for help.
His view was that that was what the program was for...temporary help to get by. And more importantly, it wasn’t just about me. I had two children I had also made a choice for. They had to live with my risk and decision. For that reason alone, I decided to apply. I made a decision to live without, but they had not.
Lots of paperwork, several more hour long phone calls, an interview and escorting my pride out the door awarded my children a monthly allowance of financial food aid. I was not personally awarded aid initially since I had made a choice to leave my job, but my children were not penalized for my choice. Somehow, that made me feel better.
As my bills rolled in and my income did not, I was incredibly grateful for the help we were given. And yet, I found myself uncomfortable every time I was at the grocery store checking out. Because of that, I swear, my card didn’t work and the cashier would have to override and punch in the numbers several times often asking if I was sure there were enough funds available. I was sure. I kept careful track. And I was embarrassed, every single time.
I reminded myself that it was me judging myself. It was me who didn’t feel deserving. I wasn’t doing anything wrong and asking for help is more than okay. But I still squirmed. I still questioned what they thought of me. Keep reading...