Ashamed of needing helpI am a 40-year-old, divorced mother of four who has worked since 15, other than times I’ve been hospitalized for cancer treatment. I come from a line of military veterans. I pay taxes and work a full-time (minimum wage) housekeeping job. It took me two years to find this job. I walked mile after mile trying to find a job, after my 1992 model car gave out. I receive food stamps.
When I read about being a free-loader, it hurt. When I see someone starring me down at the checkout line as I swipe my EBT card, it hurts. Comments about free lunches my children get at school -- those hurt. I am doing everything to make sure my children are fed.
I am not a lazy, good-for- nothing drug addict who just wants to mooch off everyone, although the majority seem to think I am. You hear stories about a few people who take advantage of the system, and you judge me. I’m ashamed of needing help. Am I supposed to let my babies starve? Do I tell them: “No, sorry, no supper this week. I have to choose between paying the power bill and feeding you.”?
Those of you who judge me without knowing me, you don’t care about how bad my feelings and pride are hurt. You see the general public of “free-loaders.” You do not see the individual. You don’t see my worn-out sneakers. You don’t see the worn clothes in my closet. You don’t see my children’s faces who shouldn’t have to worry about grown-up matters.
Lynn H. Smith