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  Columnist: Mark Dohle

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Government programs, Janet and the KISS principle

Posted on Thursday, 25 August, 2011 | 6 comments
Columnist: Mark Dohle

Janet is always in financial trouble, even though she is receiving money from the government to help her to stay afloat. Three years ago she was getting $600.00 a month for disability. She is also on Medicaid, which helps with her medicines and doctor visits. Janet made the mistake of letting her case worker know that her boyfriend at the time helped her with her rent but did not emphasis the fact that it was not consistent, though helpful. The government reduced her monthly check to $400.00. Janet needs $700.00 for her rent. She has lived in a long term motel for eight years.

She tried to supplement her government subsidy by becoming a substitute teacher, working no more than twelve hours a month. She had to stop that if she wanted to keep her benefits. She could not afford to lose anymore money from her weekly check. So she is stuck. In any case, she is in her early seventies now, so work is out of the question, even if she could do it.

I don’t blame the government. There has to be cut off points in how much people can be helped and she is one of those caught in the crossfire. She can’t work a permanent job, for she has a very serious anxiety disorder. I experience the intensity of this affliction when she calls me five times on some nights to talk about one small problem For instances, each call is marked ‘urgent’. I put her number on ‘no ring’ mode and deal with her many voicemails when I have time. I also ask her to let me know if she has any immediate needs (prescriptions, rent, or some other medical need), to inform me of that in the first three messages, just in case I can’t listen to all of her calls.

So people do need help and there are many who give of their time and money to assist the disadvantaged they come in contact with. In a world full of people who need support, I have learned to just try to help those around me, and even then, only certain ones. I don’t have the money or the energy to do much more. Her brother helps me with some of her needs. He is afraid to get too close, since if she knew that he helps, she would be on the phone calling him five times a night about some minor problem. So she does not know that he helps with one weeks rent every month. Her brother is overwhelmed with helping other family members.

Janet is a worthwhile human being. Intelligent, still beautiful, witty, and yes in survival mode all the time; so a tad narcissistic, which is understandable. We have talked about that a few times. She has gone through a lot of people over the years. People try to help her, and then having to withdraw because it became so overwhelming for them, with no end in sight. She can be demanding when her anxiety levels go higher than usual….Which is actually most of the time. I also know that if I stopped helping her for whatever reason, I would be soon forgotten. I understand that. I believe that she is thankful for what I do, but that is the basis of our relationship. I know that and know that I am used. So boundaries are needed to keep me balanced and focused. If I was in her position I would be doing the same thing; of that I have no doubt. It is frightening to have to live in a world where there is little security and there is a very good chance that living on the street is a possibility, or a deep concern. So I am glad to help her in the ways that I can.

The government can’t do it all, so yes, others need to help if they can. I know that many can’t who would like to. Especially today when so many are in financial difficulty. I have come to understand that I live in a small pond, but in the pond there are people who come into my life that stick. Others come in and out of my life. The ones that stick, are the ones I feel on some level are the people I need to help, though I am free not to. A simplistic and perhaps even stupid way to look at life, but it helps to keep my head above water. Keeps away the “dohledrums”…. of which I tend to slip into more often than I would like to believe. So keeping my head above water is important for me. Being a practicing neurotic, I do tend to over think things. Actually drives some of my friends a little crazy at times. So on an important issue like Janet and how I help her; the ‘KISS’ principle applies….’keep it simple, stupid”.

Article Copyright© Mark Dohle - reproduced with permission.

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