I’ve been thinking today – why am I so scared to tell people I’ve had a good day? Essentially, it boils down to one thing. I’m scared they will judge me for being on benefits.
Every time I want to, for example, post on Facebook about going to a cafe for a lovely brew, I get a wave of self doubt. What if somebody reads it and thinks I have too much money? What if they read it and think I am too happy and so can’t possibly be mentally ill?
Even if I look at my bank account and it isn’t at exactly zero, I start feeling guilty, as if me having that £250 savings for a rainy day means that I must somehow have money that I shouldn’t. So that is guilt if I spend the money, and guilt if I don’t.
Being on benefits seems to make you into public property. Suddenly, people feel that they are personally funding your every hot beverage and newspaper, and so resent you for having it. Every good day is marked down in thier heads as evidence that you must be swinging the lead. Every time they see you do anything productive, even leaving the house, they think you could be working.
Of course, I know it isn’t everyone (before this gets filed under “Alicia being mental again” 🙂 ) but I know that a significant amount of people feel like this. I have had so called friends tell me to my face that, if they were claiming benefits, they would be too ashmed to admit it. I have heard people slagging off thier aquaintances. I have even had direct abuse, from people who know me and my husband personally, about us having two children before we had some kind of magical guarantee that neither of us would ever get ill. This is all without the general background rumbling of various newspapers, websites and so on, and thier paranoia about scroungers on every corner.
Here’s my message to them all. Listen up world.
“SOME of your taxes go towards a safety net, so that the weakest in society can still have some quality of life. Tomorrow, any number of things could happen to you, and you will be glad that the welfare state is there.”
The majority of families who receive benefits have at least one member in paid work, it just happens that that person isn’t deemed “valuable” enough to an employer. Sometimes there either isn’t the work, or isn’t the work that the person could do, or they are just too ill for any work. Sometimes, the person needs friends, family and the wider world to just see them as a person, not as faceless “dole scum” and give them a chance.
Yes, there are fraudsters. But, you know what, there are many more people who cheat taxes. Just think of them next time you see your payslip – take off the cost of all those millions not paid in tax that you are taking the strain of. Leave me, and my brew, alone.