Saturday, 24 January 2015

Blast From the Past by Susan L.

  It's been a busy week. Work, an appointment and yesterday was a one day conference "Bridges Out of Poverty" that was held the next town over. It was eye opening, mind opening and heart opening.
  As people were leaving, I had a chance to talk to one of the main presenters. She works at our local OW, Ontario Works, office which was previously known as Welfare. She had shared that there had been some changes made in procedures that made it more client friendly. I wanted to tell her how glad I was that they had.
  As I shared that I had been a consumer, someone who had been on Ontario Works, an upwelling of emotions threatened to utterly derail me. It's the first powerful flashback I've had in a while.
  I have had a rich life. It's been a middle class existence and rather sheltered from some of the difficulties others face. (Thank You, Lord, for Your provision.) It was really hard to go into the OW office and ask for help. At that time, I was terribly sick and needed some help to bridge the gap during my application process for disability. Up to that point, I'd mostly survived on what was left from my divorce settlement. That was gone.
  It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It was a shattering blow that drove home just how sick I was. For me, it was a traumatic experience. The flashback affirms that trauma.
  My mom helped me go to college, a middle class sign of wealth. Otherwise, I had worked pretty steadily to support myself since I was a teenager. Being unable to work at a job I enjoyed was a tough pill to swallow. I battled my own feelings of shame, guilt and anger about needing government assistance, about the internal and external circumstances that had brought me to this place. Those are some of the emotions that swamped over me yesterday like a tsunami.
  My mind slipped into the past and nearly obliterated the present like flashbacks do. Briefly, I became that broken hearted, desperate woman who was struggling to get out from under the oppressive, life smothering illnesses of major depression and PTSD.
  The biggest part of the flashback was being mentally transported to the office. I sat across from someone I had just met and answered countless personal and financial questions. I could smell the office smells: stale coffee, photocopies, someone's lunch. I could hear the sounds: voices, phones ringing, the fax machine twittering. At the time, I felt ravaged and inconsequential and utterly helpless in the face of government t crossing and i dotting. Those feelings rose to the surface yesterday with a vengeance.
  All this happened in a matter of moments.
  I know it showed on my face.
  Lord, help me forgive myself and others so I can be free of this scar on my soul.
  "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." Mk 11:24

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