Happy Holidays Kids!


Some years are financially tougher than others. Obviously, buying drugs, being too busy doing those drugs to pay the bills, and just plain bad economy was rough on us and our business.  Go figure.  Drug-addicted business owners didn't stand a CHANCE under the Bush administration. Oh wait, I can't blame the president?  Whatever.

I am not trying to make anyone feel bad for me. I've had opportunities to be rich. Money is a HUGE trigger for me. I am not good with money.  It is a lesson I will need to work on, once it is that I actually have some money.  But for the moment, being broke, saves my life.

We had some money last year.  Bob's mom passed away in December of 2010 and left us some cash.  Thankfully, for that, we were able to save our home, and catch up on a lot of stuff.  Then we did stuff like bought another truck, and a pop-up camper.  We took a bunch of little trips. Of course, trying to make up, to the family, the drug years we put them through.  Did it work?  Well, we did create some great memories.  But we weren't super responsible.

Right after we got sober in 2010, and we had already lost our business, Bob lost his job working for my dad, and Bob could no longer work because his mental health took a turn into the unknown, I went down to the welfare office and applied for welfare.  And let me tell you this.  NO ONE is getting rich on welfare. 

The folks down at the county welfare office treated me very coldly.  And if you work down there, I am sorry, but you know it is true.  The compassion is out the window.  I grew up living on a lake, in a very nice neighborhood.  Upper-middle class all of the way.  My husband is a veteran.  But does that mean I deserve to be treated better than the folks that have been on their third generation of welfare recipients?  Hell no it doesn't.  I am just saying that it is an eye opener.  How can anyone feel good about themselves, if no one feels good about them?

If you are on welfare, it is VERY difficult to get off.  I can't remember exactly what the deal was, but I remember asking if I could start school right then.  They only had a program for Certified Nursing Assistant.  The training for that was included in the job placement program that is required.  They have you search 36 hours a week, plus use their employment center.  All of that is a good idea, but you can't find work, and earn enough money, to support your family without some training.  There is no hand "up" in that system.   That, my friends, is a very big design flaw.  It should be easier to get training, so people could get a living wage, and get OFF welfare.  But instead, people get talked to and treated like they are trying to take the system.  Welfare is there for people who need it.

I was lucky that we were left money through Bob's mom dying, to get off of welfare.  I mean, someone had to DIE for us to move forward.  That doesn't happen to many.  Also, Bob got on disability through the V.A. because of his mental health.  He is unable to work at this time.   And I am lucky enough to be able to go to school.

And let me say one more thing.  Drug testing welfare recipients is stupid.  I couldn't afford my drugs on welfare.  It doesn't pay enough!  Welfare helped keep me sober because I was too poor to buy drugs.  People down on their luck shouldn't be treated like criminals, they should be treated with compassion.  And besides, if you are going to find that a welfare recipient has trouble staying sober, instead of criminalizing them, get them treatment.  It is a chronic disease, man.





Okay, enough of the welfare rant.  I wouldn't change that experience for anything.  It made me understand what people really have to go through.  It isn't an easy ride.   

Because my kids were not used to being so poor, I was panicking for Christmas.  A friend of mine at one of my meetings told me that she had been selling her plasma for awhile.  Gross.  But I learned that if Bob and I both did it, it would mean id="mce_marker"20.00 a week (that is going twice a week, $20.00 each the first time, $40.00 each the second time.)  Tax free and it didn't count against the $700.00 a month I got from welfare (for a family of six), so it was a win/win.  We figured if we started right away, we would have more than enough cash for gifts for the holidays.  So we did.  

It is pretty gross.  The place Biolife is a trip.  It is like a factory of beds and machines.  I always feel like they are aliens trying to steal my soul or something.  All of the workers are super young, good looking and wear white lab coats. It feels like the Twilight Zone.  I figured that all of the people who were donating would look like they hadn't showered and lived under a bridge, but that isn't true.  They were just people like myself, looking for a way to make ends meet.  

It made Christmas so much easier that year.  My kids didn't feel the pinch of the situation or how serious it was.  And I got to say stuff like, "You better like it, I paid for it with my BLOOD!"   

I really didn't say that....much.

My dad thinks it is one step away from prostitution.  But I am pretty sure that it is not.  We found it so easy that we are doing it again this year.  We aren't as down and out as we were two years ago, but people need plasma, and we need money.  So why not make the holiday spending easier?  Plus, they have good wi-fi.  We just both sit there and stare at our phones like we do at home, while the beautiful people steal our souls for space.  

Happy Holidays kids!!!! 

One more thing...when you are behind that person in the grocery line, who has the E.B.T. (food stamps) card, don't judge them or act irritated because they take too long.  The clerks at the store already act snotty towards them.  Chances are they don't feel all that great about themselves either.  You have no idea what lead them to the place where they need welfare.  How about instead of feeling pissed, you feel lucky that you haven't had to use food stamps?   And if you have needed them, like I have, be grateful you got off of them. I was only on them for about five or six months.  It is a stressful place to be.  



Betsey DeGree



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