Friday, March 25, 2011

Crap Happens - A Follow Up

“Are you frustrated? Do you feel you must be crazy because things don't make sense to you? Do you gawk in total befuddlement as you approach someone ask them questions and they give you answers that leave you feeling as if there's a total disconnect? Do you ever find yourself wondering if you're crazy because you know you took steps to accomplish something and not only is there no tangible accomplishment, you can't even find the traces of those steps?

Yeah. It's very discombobulating when your very survival is tied up in the communications.

You begin to wonder if you're making sound decisions.

Crap happens.

When it all happens in one fell swoop, you can cry (been there done that); scream (been there done that), rage, depress, bemoan, bewilder, and befuddle (been there done all that).

For the moment I am laughing.

And personally, I hope it stays this way.

Not the crap. The laughing.

Yesterday, I received acknowledgment that I desparately needed. What freed me most yesterday was not any kind of resolution from the earthshaking circumstances surrounding me. It came from recognizing that I was being listened to, acknowledged and validated.

It didn't even come from someone who knows me, it came from a technician, a service provider of internet.

It came at the end of an already full day, and I very much needed to have it happen.
The previous part of the day?

I spent hours waiting for a call from legal counsel I was led to expect I would receive regarding the biggest survival issue of the moment, the offsetting of my SSDI income.

After the first half hour of waiting, I called their number and left a message politely indicating I understood we would be connecting and verifying my working telephone number to their voicemail.

After the second half hour, I began to wonder if perhaps I had misunderstood the notes I had taken at my meeting with the advocate and written down the wrong information.

After the third half hour, I had more news from another front that added to my stress, and I had to take a shower to help me cry, breathe and release emotional stress – get it out of my system and be able to continue on.

The words of a valued friend spoken the day before (and paraphrased because I don't remember exactly what he said – it can be an exercise in futility at times to remember things when you're dealing with mind fog) replayed a few times in my head, “You need to use phrases that include 'homeless' and 'hardship' when you talk to these people. I get to points where I have to resort sometimes to pulling in under my blankie.  Then when I've been under my blankie long enough I force myself to take steps even when I don't want to.  I put on the boxing gloves.”

I have taken steps my whole life I didn't want to take and fought just to survive; I'm sick and tired of it. Not just figuratively speaking, but literally.  So I wasn't able to grasp onto the import of his expression at the time.

However, because I have a need to prove to my friend that I value his advice and wisdom highly, I am writing this to acknowledge that I was able to put a small portion of his insight to use, and effect a change in my circumstances.

The fourth half hour I decided to quit waiting for the legal advocate to connect with me, it obviously wasn't happening and I obviously wasn't going to be able to make it happen.

Instead, I picked up the phone and called the student loan folks again.

I opened the conversation with this long bit of wording:

“Who can you put me in touch with to assist me? I have recently been housed, after being homeless and sleeping at night in winter shelters. My source of income is my SSDI and you along with the IRS have both offset (garnished) that income at the beginning of this month, without warning to me by 15% each.

This puts me under severe hardship and it puts me in jeopardy of becoming homeless once again, after only being off the streets for a month. The last person I spoke with in your agency a little over 2 weeks ago, indicated he could do nothing for me but send me a form that has to be filled out by a doctor, which I don't have and with you garnishing my income cannot even hope to afford to find, stating that I am permanently disabled.

Are you someone who can assist me with this, or can you put me in touch with someone who can assist me with this?”

The gentleman on the other end of the line said “I can help you.”

“What information can I give you to help you help me?”

He asked, “Were you sent a hardship form?”

I blinked, “A hardship form? No, the only thing I was offered and have received is a form that has to be signed by a medical doctor, which I don't have, indicating that I am permanently disabled. I have had to go to a legal advocate who has my authorization to contact the Social Security Disability doctor who examined me and declared me disabled. However, that is going to take time during which I am unable to meet my basic needs due to the loss of the percentage you are taking from my monthly SSDI income.”

“Okay. Let me put the form in the mail to you. It will take 10 to 14 business days for you to get it. When you do, fill it out and return it immediately, so we can try to get you a year's stay on the offset, to give you time to find a doctor to sign the form.”

“All right, I can do that. I need to ask you a question. Why didn't the person I dealt with a few weeks ago tell me I could do that?”

“I don't know.”

“Will you please note in my records that I am asking this question and that I think it is important for your agency to know that some customer service representatives are not giving us all the information we need to deal with you?”

“Yes, I will be happy to do that.”

“Thank you. I am extremely concerned about what can I do to survive right now, because this loss of income stands to make me homeless again, after I've just been housed.”

“I have the ability to put a stop on the offset on your next check.”

“You do? That would be a great help to me right now, and I am very grateful to know that is possible.”

“I'm setting that up for you right now. ::pause:: I have stopped the offset for your April check. Fill out the hardship form I'm sending you within 30 days, so that it can be evaluated and that we can extend to you a year to be able to get a doctor to sign the other form.”

“Thank you.”

This is major, and I truly am grateful for it.

You'd think that this bit of information would be what made my day, rather than the incident with the internet service provider technician.  It wasn't.

The only difference I am aware of in this telephone communication with the student loan folks was that I used the words homeless and hardship in my discourse with the person on the other end of the line. I cannot say if those were the key words, but certainly the result this time was vastly different than the previous phone calls and outreaching for ways to deal with the circumstances.

In dealing with what I call "bureaucacy" ---  people whether they are homeless, poverty stricken, or otherwise disaster-stricken are confronted with innumerable instances of disparate information.

For me it's crazy-making situation.  Why after 22 days of trying to find ways to resolve the dilemma does a call to the same number I called in the first place garner a response totally opposite of the initial response?

I can't use the same imagery my friend uses ... for me putting on boxing gloves is deterimental, whereas for him and many others it is a contstructive and highly productive scenaro, but he wasn't telling me to use the same tools he did.

Whether or not my friend and I can use the same imagery is irrelevant.

The gift he gave me was sharing with me that moment in which he gave himself permission to go under the blankie (i.e., take time out to withdraw and provide nurturing for himself) and then take the actions to transform the situation.

I cannot resolve the crazy-making game at the moment, but I can substitute another game for it.

Just call me PollyAnna.

Yes, I can play The Glad Game -- instead.

This trauma-drama
  1. has put me in touch with agencies and people that will help me further the endeavor I am working on with Project Return and We Are Visible;
  2. it has given me the physiological testing grounds to prove to myself unequivocally that foods I ingest are heavily involved in many of the things that have plagued me over the years, including mind-fog, and for which I will never, ever again let a medical doctor tell me "it's only my imagination";
  3. it has given me the opportunity in psychotherapy to address and begin transformation in core issues that have kept me from being who and what I am;
  4. it created a sitatuation in which a woman I value highly was able to present to me some books which she had no way of knowing that I had once had and treasured in my private collection and had to give away when I became homeless in August of 2010 (as well as a couple of new ones that I didn't have) by an author I admire and strive to emulate -- the book I'm currently reading is of tremendous support and empowerment at this very moment
  5. it has given me the opportunity to share with you a portion of myself in case it reflects anything you are feeling.

What the friend who used the imagery of boxing gloves did for me, was the greatest gift we (the human race) give to each other, every moment that we breath.  The gift is showing a part of ourself.  It was something my biological family didn't train me in.  They didn't know how, and to them doing anything other than denying oneself was dangerous.

We affect everyone one around us.
My final thought in this blog entry?  This is how we change paradigms:  By giving ourselves and each other permission to be.


  1. Beautiful post, LostAwareness! I think we're all a little bit stronger than we think- and can effect more change than we think. Good for you! I'm proud and know your friend is too.

  2. 1 You wont get what you don't ask for

    2. The squeaky wheel gets the grease

    It would however be handy to know there are people and places where you can ask huh?


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