So I dragged my sorry bum out of bed early on Friday morning. Shortly after my boyfriend left for work at 7.30am early. It was horrific, thank you for asking.
The reason I inflicted this torture upon myself was that I decided to apply for welfare. Not even decided really. Was told. I was told, by my parents, that I should do so. And I read about it. And I groaned a lot – mostly because I couldn’t apply online – and then I agreed.
So I got up at 7.45am and eventually made my way down to Centrelink to be told I didn’t have enough forms of identity but that I should start the application on the computers there anyway and then return with the correct amount of forms of identity. As a result I am now trying to summon the courage to ask my former employer for a separation certificate and then I’ll hopefully, by the grace of our government, be on my way to actually receiving money.
And this is all well and good, except I feel so weird about it. There’s a lot of ~stigma~ about welfare recipients in Australia. Everyone makes jokes about ‘dole bludgers’. The stock standard image of a young person being “on the dole” is a layabout who refuses to work.
It doesn’t matter that this political narrative has been proven untrue time and time again, it sticks. It’s become a part of the cultural narrative, it’s the probably the nation’s only acceptable running joke. Because needing help is offensive to rich, white men and preventing people from living an acceptable life seems to win votes election after election.
So I feel a great deal of trepidation and almost shame about my situation. Even though I have applied for work and trawl various classifieds and websites every day. Even though I have plans to return to school. Even though I have worked under extreme mental (and sometimes physical) duress and continued until the bitter end. Even though there are approximately 800,000 people vying for approximately 160,000 jobs in this country.
Despite all of this, I have been conditioned to feel shame in my hour of need. As if I don’t already live with enough shame and guilt (thank you BPD) every single day.
Sometimes it’s difficult to choose to willingly live, when this is what you’re working with.