Monday, October 20, 2008

Tough Love or Free Love?

Before I begin today's post, I want to state that I am a strong advocate for teaching people to stand on their own two feet and survive without relying on others for help. Don't play the poor me attitude with me because it's not going to work if I'm not seeing you trying to help yourself first. I'll help anyone but when they regress to the point where they are asking (or hinting) for bailouts, don't count me in.

I've been there, done that. I know what it's like to be the helpless mother of two who was thrown into the working force because of a marriage breakup. I know what it's like to have to count pennies and rely on food stamps. I know because I was there and didn't like it one bit.

But instead of continuing to play the poor me act, I learned how to stand on my own two feet. It wasn't easy but once I declared my independence from poverty, things took an upward climb and I've never looked back.

Maybe it was luck, you say?

Hardly. I worked hard to get where I am today and it didn't happen overnight either.

But for some, it just isn't happening. And I can understand the economy is putting a financial burden on much of the United States and that's why we're either heading into a recession or as one commentator mentioned today, we're already in one.

That I can understand...we're all feeling it.

But there are also people out there who are looking for government agencies, churches, you name it, to bail them out when they are down on their luck and it's not because they've had a disaster strike, or they have children to feed or for any other reason besides the fact they just never learned how to stand on their own two feet and go after what they want instead of knowing in their back of their heads that people will bail them out. That's looking for disaster and not good for them in the long run.

One person who comes to mind is a co-worker I've mentioned before on this blog, I think. She's always complaining about not having money but yet wouldn't do anything about it. She's always complaining about her rent being late and she'll probably be homeless after XX amount of years, but yet she didn't do a thing about it. Don't tell me that she didn't know how to change things around because I had told her on numerous occasions that she needed to stop the sad act and take positive action - a tough love approach. I figured if I drummed it in her head that she deserved more than she was giving herself credit for, she could turn things around and you know what she told me? "It's too late." The woman is 2 years older than I am!

Well I go into work Friday and this woman isn't there. In fact, she's late by an hour and that's so not like her. She had her phone turned off because she couldn't pay, so there was no way to contact her.

I was worried and told a customer who came in that night who had been asking about her. Concerned, they drove out to her trailer and knocked on her door. The smell of cat feces was coming right through the door, that's the way this woman lived. I've had cats and I know they just don't go in the litter box, no way of getting around it.

She finally, according to this other woman, dragged herself to the door and when she got to her feet, she couldn't hold her head up but kept it lowered to the ground and I mean literally. Her hip had finally gone out on her. She had told me previously she had some kind of hip disease and the doctors told her she had to have an operation, that was the only way she could cure this. Instead, she relied on pain killers to ease the pain. The reason why she wouldn't go to the hospital? The cats wouldn't have anyone to feed them as she had no family or close friends who would take care of them.

The woman was concerned and went next door and someone came over and carried her to their house where she made a phone call to work to explain why she didn't come in. They told her she needed to go to the hospital but she kept saying she had no money, that she was late in rent and would get evicted if she had to lay up in the hospital for an undetermined amount of time.

She ended up going to the hospital but was released the next day.

I've not heard anything else, but I'm racked with guilt. I want to throw out all my convictions of making her understand that she has to help herself and not rely on others to help her, but I'm at a stale mate with this.

I think it's too late for her as she told me over and over again but I refused to believe it.

But when it's too late, the downward spiral begins and never stops until you are forced to live on the street and I don't want that to happen to her either.

The woman needs an operation to survive, yet she won't be able to work and will lose her trailer and her cats, which are her only loved ones at this moment. Her mother who used to live with her died about three years ago and she has no one. The sad part about this is that no one wants to have her over because of her roach problem and that's another thing she never got around to fixing. Instead, she wears them in her hair, they're all over her car and God knows what it's like in her trailer.

So what do you do? How do you help someone who lets themselves get this low? Did I mention she's still paying child support for a daughter that was taken away from her?

I love her to death and I feel sorry for her, but what do you do? I still refuse to believe it's too late for her.


  1. First off she's not completely alone, she has you and others who are obviously concerned about her enough to go and check. The only thing you can really do for her is keep speaking positive thoughts into her life. She had obviously allowed the negativity to take over, but if you keep speaking the positive it can sink in.

    Also, I'm not sure where you work, but does she have health insurance or sick leave? If not, she may be eligible for Medicaid and cash assistance during her recovery from surgery. The negativity will also make the physical healing harder, it's important that she try to be as upbeat as possible.

    It's very harder to help someone when every suggestion you give is met with a "yes, but". People always want to think they are somehow unique in their misery, but really we're not. It's never too late for anyone, if they are willing to view their circumstance differently and take different actions to care for themselves and let others into help where they can.

    You've been a great friend, keep up the good work.

  2. There must be some kind of a senior assistance program where you live. Find them and tell them about her. This woman doesn't sound like she is against getting help but won't put out any effort to find it on her own. Maybe if you or some of those others who are concerned can get it started she will follow through.

    There also can be a lot of help through her church, if she is affiliated with one. Tell the Pastor of the problems she is having and perhaps he/she can help with getting her some public assistance.

    Look at the newest thing I am getting involved with on my site.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Jodi! They ended up taking her to the hospital but because she has no insurance, they sent her home. She needs an operation but can't afford it. Meanwhile, last I heard, she was going to try to come back to work tonight but called yesterday saying she couldn't walk again.

  4. I'm on my way over to your site now, Dick...can't wait! She's already getting help from her church. I think that's how she ended up finding a way to the hospital and back home, not sure, but she has no relatives and barely any friends except for her co-workers and church members.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.