What happens when you hit rock bottem? What is your rock bottem? It differs for everyone.
I participate in an online discussion thread in which a woman posted a totally off-topic inquiry, seeking feedback. She was thinking about offering temporary shelter to a couple with a young baby. He's been laid off for almost a year. The woman has never worked.
I just had a friend call and say that he and his girl and 4 mos old baby are being asked to leave their current roommate's place. They asked if they could stay with me until they got "off their feet." I have never known him to have a stable job and I don't know the gf well, but she hasn't ever worked. They don't receive social services, but do receive WIC for baby and mom.
My response? "No, disaster in the making."
Why? Well, because, for one thing, he's never held a stable job, according to her own reports, and yet he has a girlfriend and a baby. Frankly? I'd have hoped he'd have held a stable job for a few years at least. Yes, even in this economy. WTF is he doing, with a dependent girlfriend and a baby? That speaks to the wisdom of life choices.
She's never worked (before or after their baby). Really? Why not? Women ought to be able to be self-supporting.
Why haven't they sought social services? They need to -- temporarily only, while they get on their feet. (Social services are not meant to be a long-term solution, but god knows I took advantage of unemployment isurance for six months when I got laid off from a job.)
And what's the timeframe for "getting on their feet"? What's their plan? Is it realistic? Is it financially viable? Is there an end in sight?
I sound like a rabid Republican, but I'm not. I'm somebody who hit rock-bottom in my mid-30s as a single, middle-class woman with a B.A. and M.A. in English and an all-but-dissertation Ph.D. in film. For four years I'd been working as an independent contractor that brought in maybe $1,200 in a good month -- and it wasn't enough. I'd been on track to be a college professor -- but with an unfinished Ph.D., that wasn't exactly working out well. Ahem.
But I wouldn't accept that or the fact that my life wasn't working out the way I'd wanted it to until a friend finally pointed it out to me -- and asked if I'd consider doing something else as honest, self-supporting income with health insurance attached to it. I'd been truly suicidal -- touch and go -- for a few years. It was horrifying beyond words. I can't even describe it here.
Yes, I said finally. And with her help I became a secretary (pardon me, an administrative assistant) to a high-powered partner in one of the country's leading accounting firms. Was that what I'd been trained for? What that what I had dreamed of? No. But I was grateful. I was useful. Self-supporting (even at $35K a year in San Francisco 16 years ago... definitely not rich!) Did I love working in an office? Not really. Was I grateful for a second chance and for folks who valued the work I did? Hell, yes. That was in 1997.
It turned my life around. After two years I moved on to a new position at a dot.com company, worked in many different capacities for another two years, and made more money there than I'll ever make as a college professor, which is what I am now - lol.
The point is, I finally faced reality and did what I had to do --> I took a job as a secretary I wasn't thrilled about in order to give myself a second chance at a decent income, dignity, independence, and increased opportunity.
Five years later I was back working as a college professor on a part-time basis. I finished my Ph.D. dissertation, and four years after that, I earned a full-time job as a tenure-track professor.
Now, admittedly, I'm lucky. I'm a middle-class white woman with a college education and (at the time) and M.A. in English, and I had other friends with middle-class jobs. They helped me get interviews for the secretarial position. I was sick, I was depressed, I was poverty-stricken, I was single, and I had no one else to turn to -- so I did what I had to do. This many years later? Well, I can tell you that my former boss, the partner for which I worked, wrote me a sweet message via Facebook the other day, telling me how special I am and how much he appreciated my work and my friendship all these years later. Yes, it was a life-changing experience.
I don't know what the position of the above-mentioned couple-with-a-baby is. I don't know who their freinds are, if they have family, what their educational backgrounds are, and what their class or ethinic background is. All of these things make key differences in opportunities. Again, I was lucky out the gate by virtue of my birth.
But if I were the woman who posted the original inquiry I would run in the opposite direction -- after doing my best to identify temporary social services and options which they would have to investigate for themselves.
Just saying. If that makes me a hard-ass, so be it. It sucks sometimes. It really does. But you still have to do what you have to do with a little help from the kindness of friends and strangers.