I applied for food assistance for the 2nd time in my life today.

Somehow, the weight of that sentence feels too much to share. Too personal. As if there is shame attached to it. Or that I have failed. It’s a stigma in this country like so many other things. That if you don’t have enough to live on and you’re not on disability, then it’s your own fault. Let’s dissect this.

Having been married for a short time to someone who was raised in Austria, I learned quite a bit about how they took care of their citizens. When someone is out of work, yes…even a self employed person, they get assistance. Because there seems to be a general feeling of taking care of people who need it. And therefore, no shame in it. It’s expected that life will do what it does sometimes. And let’s talk about self employment for a minute. Based on the running commentary in my head, it’s my fault I need help because I haven’t tried to gain outside employment. Let’s also dissect this.

First of all, I have a job. A job I’ve worked really hard to bring into existence. Several, in fact. I am a freelance artist, photographer, writer and shamanic practitioner. But for some reason, when times got hard, I started to believe those weren’t “real” jobs and I needed to “give them up” in order to provide for my family. Where does that come from? Every fucking where. There is a large portion of today’s population that really does not recognize the arts as a valid employment. Sure, if you can make it work…GO FOR IT.  But if it doesn’t, then you’re a fool for fighting for it.

Now, there have been many times in my life I’ve worked shitty jobs to make ends meet while I juggled my growing art business. It was exhausting. I got sick a lot. My stress level was through the roof because I had no support with my kids. So I finally quit them, things went pretty well for awhile and then 2016 happened and now I have no idea what is going on. Other than we need help. Because now? I am sick with several things that make day to day living very difficult. To seek outside employment would likely push my body over the edge and it wouldn’t be good for anyone. Without health insurance, I’m doing everything I can to remain medication free. Because I cannot afford medication in the slightest.

My story is not unique. There are so many people living in this space of trying to make things work but not having access to the resources they need. A lot of it is our country. But I’m not politically saavy and don’t want to get into that without all the facts.

All I know is that life is life. And the system sucks. Hopefully we’ll get some help with food. Even typing that makes me feel ashamed. And that is very telling. So what do we do with shame? We expose it to the light. Which is what I’m doing now.

There is no shame in who I am or where I am in life. I have done the very best I could given the circumstances, which have often been quite horrible. Tomorrow may be a better day, but today I am on the verge of tears. I don’t feel well physically and the anxiety is a lot to process. It’s a nameless thing that worms it’s way into the space between my heart and solar plexus. It lies to me and bullies me. And when you’re sick and tired, it’s very hard not to listen.  I think about a couple of my children, who need therapy and have no access because of this in between place we exist in. I carry a huge weight of responsibility and shame for not being able to provide certain things for them. And yes, I didn’t make these children on my own, but like many, many people, their father isn’t helping much. He never did.

And right now, what I’d like more than anything, is to have the resources to help local families in the same situation we’ve been in. My heart goes out to them, having been here for so long. Hearing that there are those way worse off than we are. Kids whose only meals are at school…heartbreaking.

I believe in my work. I’m going to continue to do it. We need more people doing what they are made to do. I’m sticking by that. Even if it means I need some help every now and then. But it breaks my heart to know how many people are hurting and going hungry. Someday, I’m going to be the one to help others. I believe it’s through the work I’m doing…somehow.

We can’t expect to grow spiritually if our basic needs aren’t being met. We have to remember that we are the ones who can make the change in this world.

That was all a bit rambly, but as always, just sharing my heart and journey. For what it’s worth.