Thursday, October 3, 2013

Writer's Workshop - What the Government Shutdown Means to My Family, by Anonymous

This episode of the writer's workshop wasn't planned ahead of time. Today, a writer and dear friend shares the reality of what this government shutdown means to her. While those elected in Washington are busy arguing about the same things over and over again, they are leaving people, good people, like her twisting in the wind. 

Of everyone I know who is affected by the stalemate, I can honestly say that I am the most concerned for her family. This woman has been through hell already, and this was the absolute last thing she needed to be dealing with right now. 

With mad love and respect, here is her story.
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As we all know by now the United States government officially underwent a partial shutdown Oct. 1. What we don’t know is how this will affect us long-term. We also have no clue as to how long this thing will last. What I do know, is that it sucks. Big time.

I am a federal employee. I’ve held my position for five years and truly love my job and coworkers. Prior to my position as a federal employee, I served almost 11 years in the Navy. I loved that job as well. I guess you could say I did my time giving back to this country. I ended my military service so I could have a regular job that allowed me to be with my children every day. My husband and I both held jobs working for the government and life was pretty damn good.

Fast-forward to 2013 and life has been a nightmare. In September 2012, my husband left his job with my support. I became the sole breadwinner. It was tough, but we were fine budgeting and making it work as many one-income households do. Life was okay. However, there were things lurking underneath the surface I was completely unaware of.

I discovered my husband is an addict.

Whoa. Things like this don’t happen to people like me. Add on to that, I have a mother and two brothers who are addicts. I’ve managed to bypass this illness completely. I have been the one adult in my family who has made the right decisions (mostly) and live my life responsibly. I have put my well-being on the back burner to do what I have to do to take care of my children and family.

This year has brought many hard times financially and emotionally. I understand many of these problems could have been prevented if my husband made the right decision. Yet, he didn’t, so we have had to buck up and straighten out our lives. Responsibly. Without assistance from the government. On our own.

He went to drug rehab this September. I fought for him hard all the while carrying my family financially. I did what was right concerning our finances. I called creditors to ensure we could pay our bills on time. I asked for payment extensions. I budgeted like there was no tomorrow (is there?). I tried very hard to do things the right way. I did. I still am.

Now, I’ve been furloughed for an indeterminate amount of time. It’s only a few days into the shutdown, but that’s a few days’ worth of pay. I was screwed before the shutdown and I’m certainly screwed because of the shutdown. For the meantime, my husband sits in rehab. I sit alone, struggling to come up with a solution without relying on handouts or sounding like a whiner.

I find it hard to be here. I do not understand why middle class citizens like me are continually getting the shaft. I have tried valiantly to live my life the right way. I grew up middle class and witnessed my parents go through the same struggles. We made mistakes as everyone does. I take accountability for the mistakes I’ve made, as does my husband. We aren’t asking for anyone to fix our problems. Rather, we are asking our politicians to not make it any harder.

Meanwhile, our politicians continue to make decisions that are in no way in the best interest of their citizens. Over and over again Americans continue to fall deeper into debt or deeper into depression over the debt we’ve incurred. Ridiculous student loans, inflated mortgages, enormous healthcare expenses, unexpected life events. Just when I think I’m ahead, I get knocked down a few pegs.

This is not to say I don’t have things in my life that continually remind me I am blessed. Yet, those things become microscopic when it feels as though life is collapsing all around you. The government shutdown is just another way people like me are drowning. I want to stand up and say, “Fuck you Washington. This isn’t working. It hasn’t worked for 30 years. I want my vote back.” Until I find my voice, I’ll continue to live my life with integrity and hope.

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