Psychological Defeat

One argument that has been made against unemployment benefits is that such benefits discourage people from seeking jobs.  Why would they bother looking when they can get a free handout from the government?

Speaking solely from my own experience I can tell you that receiving an
unemployment check did not keep me from looking for work – after all that check hardly replaced a paycheck.  What it did was provide some small measure of security for my family; the knowledge that even if I didn’t find the work necessary for us to get out of this mess, at least I could pay the rent and put food on the table.  That knowledge provided immeasurable comfort and a foundation from which to conduct the daily search for work.  I was able to strategize, and plan, to carefully budget and feel in control of our diminished lives.

Without it I find myself almost paralyzed; my mind overwhelmed by anxiety about our future, my nights plagued by insomnia and depression as I picture us homeless once again.  I feel both sluggish and edgy during the day as I struggle to focus on the job hunt, the applications, the resume to be reworked, while fighting the distracting thoughts of whether I have enough money to put gas in the car and which bills I can afford to put off and which I have to pay.  I suffer from migraines almost constantly and my blood pressure is high even with my medication.

I feel much more of a failure now than I did just 4 months ago when we were receiving benefits.  And I fear it shows in my interactions with other people and my parenting, which is short on patience.  When my daughter tells me she needs gold paint for her class project I lose my temper and tell her if she NEEDS it the school will have to provide it.  I snap at the child who spilled spaghetti sauce on my partially filled-in job application.  When my son doesn’t finish his dinner and slides it to the floor for the dogs I go into a tirade about food costing money!  Money that we don’t have!  The older two have caught on and are careful, but the youngest still don’t understand why we won’t be doing any of the fun things I had originally suggested during their fall break from school next week.  “But you promised!” they whine, ignoring the attempts of their older siblings to hush them.

I regret the impatience and tirades, the curt negative responses to questions about whether we can eat out or see a movie.  I’m sorry that I’m annoyed and tired; that I chastise them for not understanding or helping out more or about their whining about missing the after school program.  And I’m especially sorry that in the darkest hours of the night I sometimes wish I weren’t their parent, wish that I had no one dependent upon me.

When someone complains about the cost of extending unemployment benefits  consider whether there might be even greater costs without those benefits.

This entry was posted in hopelessness, job search, recession, unemployment, unemployment benefits. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Psychological Defeat

  1. Julie says:

    I’ve only just found your post through something on Blue Milk’s blog, and I don’t know your situation; but have you considered temping? I’m in Australia and I’ve been temping for nearly six months now. My contracts have been back to back in two month lots, and it can be pretty flexible. In the short term, you might find it works for you as then you are earning some money, and I’ve always found that finding a job whilst already working elsewhere is easier than finding something when you are feeling down and maybe frustrated because you aren’t already working. If this is not applicable because they don’t have this kind of thing where you are, please disregard.

  2. liza says:

    totally off topic, but i found a link to free flu shot vouchers for pple without health insurance. may not be helpful right now, may have to already be a px at clinic, but just in case

  3. sasha says:

    I want to echo previous comments urging you to apply for food stamps and what ever other programs might be available. Food stamps are an investment that taxmakers, via the government make in order to make sure that the next generation is fed with nutritious food. It is not charity any more than receiving federal student loans, or medicare is. In addition, now that food stamps are accepted at many farmers markets it can be an opportunity to support local farmers that might not otherwise have been in the budget. Even if you only spend it to buy your that treat for your family that will make you all feel better, it is worth it – a happy family is a more healthy family.

  4. Margaret says:

    I’ve sent a small donation. Wish it could be more but I am out of work as well. My children and I have moved to another state to be closer to family and our former house has yet to sell. I won’t go on because you already know this drill. Thing is, you are an inspiration to me, the way you manage to find humor or stay focused and keep your most precious priorities – your kids, in sight and at the forefront. You are a wonderful mom and a good, resourceful provider. Your children and you are safe in your own home – and a bigger, better home and neighborhood than you had less than a year ago. You have done a lot in just a little bit of time!
    As others have suggested, when you are ready, please see what programs might be available to help you out during this rough patch. You are industrious, talented , and well educated. You will find a way to gain financial resources. May God’s love provide you strength, wisdom, understanding, good health, patience, peace and … a nice job with a great income too! Please go give your cherubs a hug.

  5. Kelly says:

    Truly, apply for the food stamps. Cash assistance too, if you can qualify. I know one of the hardest things in dealing with Welfare is the automatic assumption that you can’t write a coherent sentence (or for that matter, understand the meaning of “coherent”). It can make you bristle. But bristling is an acceptable trade-off for having food in the cupboard and the rent paid.

    It sucks. But you need to do it.

    Also, take a look at . It doesn’t pay terribly well, but if you’re a fast and accurate typist you can make a little money. It’s something you can do at night, when your mind won’t turn off for thinking about finances. I think finding cleaning gigs is a great idea, too, as is trying to monetize your blog. I know you couldn’t do that before, as it would have affected your UC benefits, but now everything you can do to bring in a dollar is fair game. I’m sending you a few bucks – hope it helps.

  6. Tiedog says:

    I wanted to send you a cyberhug and prayers that things will get better for you and your children. I’m so sorry that you are experiencing those dark thoughts in the night, but please never forget that your children love you and they need you. Keep the faith that things will get better and God Bless you and yours. I have made a donation and I sincerely hope that it helps give you some peace. I will continue to pray for better times for you and yours. Please again never forget that you are the world to your children and they need you as I know you need them. Continue to write as I follow your blog and applaud your honesty even in the worst of times.

  7. E says:

    Reading your post was like reliving my first 20 years of tension, unkind words and snappiness- from my mom and grandparents who were always trying to make ends meet. as a child i remember vividly every comment they made to me regrading money, playing with friends, food, fun, etc. by 10 yrs old I was convinced I was a burden on my family and a non needed item at home. I “knew” that life was about being pissed every day and taking it out on soemone and that depression was the ruler in our home- its the way of life anyone with more money, offering to take me to the park, or buy me a soda pop was just trying to push our faces int he dirt more. Luckily MY life did not that turn out that way, but as a child would not have even dreamed about living any other way.

    Your kids think the world of you.. even though you may not think the world of yourself. I cant imagine what you must be going through and I pray your situation changes soon… maybe you should make a facebook account for boxcar kids and see who links to your stories.. maybe twitter as well? we should all share this with our local newspapers and maybe something will come of it? don’t know.. just throwing ideas out there. The best is yet to come…

  8. Jeannette says:

    Oh goodness, wish I were closer I would take you out for lunch and give you a big hug. I so understand the doom and gloom and the frustration. I don’t have any answers for you, just out of curiousity how close are you to Rancho Bernardo in San Diego?

    Sending something small to your donation fund

    • boxcarkids says:

      Thanks Jeannette. We aren’t close to RB in SD. A friend was able to get me something to help my migraines. Being pain-free finally helps my outlook. Also I picked up a small writing job from my craigslist ghostwriter ad.

  9. Sheila says:

    Understand that your feelings are “Normal” under your most stressful and worried circumstances.
    Take the dogs for a walk. They are most understanding.

  10. Jessie says:

    I know you are loathe to do this, but please apply for food stamps and any cash aid you can get. You have paid into the system for years–now it’s time to get a bit back. I’m pulling for you–can’t even imagine how hard this must be.

  11. Merinda says:

    All I have to offer is prayer, but you have that with all my heart.

  12. alicia says:

    I am so sorry you are going through this. But surely you do understand that your unemployment checks weren’t going to go on forever? That would be impossible. Eventually you would have come to this point in the road anyway and would have been forced to face the uncertainty.

    So here you are.

    You found work before, you’ll find work again.

    You are in my prayers. I am asking God to open up a door for you. Sometimes He doesn’t answer us till the 11th hour. He wants us to be sure the miracle is coming from Him.

  13. Mary says:


    If you haven’t, please do!

    There are programs out there that offer many forms of assistance. Take advantage of them now, don’t wait!

    And stay strong, your kids need YOU.

  14. Becky R says:

    I can relate, being a single mom, money is always an issue.

    I have said things to my kids that were similiar. Once my son didn’t want his dinner and I told him exactly how much that meal cost.

    I wonder if their is a church in your area you could ask for help? I know my church has such a fund for local residents facing hard times. All someone has to do is come in and ask (with a bit more proof being needed.)

    Also maybe the school has a fund for situations like yours?

    I am praying for you and your kids.

    -Becky R in NJ

  15. Dawn says:

    When the government doesn’t help out, it’s our time to pick up the slack and help our neighbors in need. You should receive an email from amazon about it. Not much but what I can to help.

  16. Kathy says:

    I am also a single mom, a widow, and altho our situation is not what I would prefer and there are lots of things I can’t provide, we are very blessed. And yet, I often can’t sleep from worrying about our financial future. It is hard for me to comprehend your sense of desperation. I do understand the range of your emotions, but PLEASE don’t give up! Praying daily for your family and that a job will come your way. In the meantime, Michelle in the comment above is right, please, readers, give what you can, even if it is only a small amount, which is all I am currently able to do. But enough small donations combined can make a difference in this family’s life right now. Please open your hearts!

  17. jz says:

    Please Please post your resume on this site– you never know it might reach the right person.

  18. Michelle says:

    I can only imagine how scary your situation must feel to you. How heartbreaking to want to be able to give the moon to your kids, and yet you cannot even offer patience and kind words some days. Rather than platitudes and words of encouragement…….I am sending money your way. I just made a donation via your link. I would encourage your other loyal readers to do the same. I hope it buys you a tank of gas, and maybe one decent nights sleep.

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