Checking My Privilege

I am sitting here at my computer feeling the need to type, but not knowing what direction to go. During times such as these, I let my fingers move across the keyboard and let the words come out of me.  I am tired.  Looking through my archive of previous blogs on Tumblr, being tired resonates through many of them, but the word “tired” doesn’t even begin to explain what I feel.  I am burned out . . . again.  It is that time of year when I typically reach this point of not wanting to return to the stress of the reality of my life.  I know what I do is important, but I am tired and I am only one person.  I need rest.  I need a break from everything I do and I need distance from the reminders of all the responsibility that I must maintain.Burnout

More information about burnout – Here I am Again – The Long Road of Living Exhausted

Being broke only makes the stress worse. I will not have enough at the end of the month to pay rent.  I am behind paying my utilities due to trying to scrape enough to pay the rent and it is still not enough.  My vehicle had been parked for the last five days due to not having money for gas or enough money to pay my car insurance monthly payment.  I am also once again stuck on the employment page of my medical insurance renewal page.  The system always gets stuck on this page every time I try to renew, every year.  Why this happens is anyone’s guess.   I am a teacher employed by my local school district.  I am part-time, meaning I am ineligible for insurance through my employer. The system doesn’t seem to want to accept that concept.  Also, now that my daughter is 15 years old, she is now listed on the employment page, which only seems to confuse the program more.  It won’t accept that she doesn’t have a job.  The program won’t let me get past the employment page. Who designed this set-up?

What are my fingers doing? I have realized that I have digressed into whining. I suppose this happens when you are depleted of spoons and are feeling helpless.  There is a long, long list of stressors I could whine about that has brought me this this place, but I am not going to do that.  Sinking into negative thinking and digressing into whininess doesn’t help anyone.

Rack_railway_turnout_(SPB)Sure, sometimes venting is a necessary step to release frustration, but there is a time and place for that. What my brain is attempting to do is not venting, it is whining, and I need to switch tracks.  Whining will only bring me down further and further into that horrible feeling of helplessness.  I need to refocus my brain.

Recently I have found myself thinking about how privileged I am. When people think of what it means by being privileged, what usually comes to mind? Lots of money?  Big house?  Fancy car? Being able to do what you want when you want to? Being able to leave your house without fear? The list can go on and on.

Privilege is defined as

  • special advantage or immunity or benefit not enjoyed by all
  • a right reserved exclusively by a particular person or group (especially a hereditary or official right)

“Privilege comes from Latin privilegium, meaning a law for just one person,got privilege and means a benefit enjoyed by an individual or group beyond what’s available to others. Someone wealthy come from privilege. Someone with a library card has borrowing privileges. Privilege can also be used as a verb. If you are on a committee giving away scholarships, you’ll have to decide whether to privilege students from poor backgrounds or the students with high test scores.” (Source)

I am going to throw out some labels here in order to paint a picture. I am an autistic female, cisgender, heterosexual, Caucasian, mother of two autistic children with various coexisting conditions, and I have additional coexisting conditions of my own, including PTSD, that make my life difficult at times due to how society is designed and my triggers.  I may look “high functioning”, but looks can be deceiving.  I struggle on a daily basis, both physically and mentally.  Just like everyone, I have good days and bad days and some days in between.  I am also highly educated, but underemployed and have been living below the poverty level for a family of three these last few years.  With some of these labels, society has and will continue to present me with certain privileges.  With other labels, I have been and will continue to be misunderstood, mocked, and looked down upon.  Even with that, I am still a privileged person.

food stamps.pngI will admit it; I am on food assistance (which doesn’t make it to the end of the month) and on Medicaid. I even go to the food bank when it gets really bad. I am grateful that my community has such a place.  My children and I are not starving and we have access to medical care, because my state expanded Medicaid coverage. We also have a warm house to sleep in.  Our house is small, but it is enough, and I have not given up on figuring out how to pay for rent this month.

As for utilities and other bills, well, some of the companies let me pay what I can, adding to the bill each month. Others insist on payment, those get paid first. At the moment, we have high speed internet service and a home phone line.  I have a flip cell phone that I use for emergencies and to be in contact with my teenage children, school, and doctors when I am not at home. There is nothing fancy about it and I pay $20 a month for service.  We haven’t had television service in, oh, probably eight years or so, and we don’t miss it.  We have Netflix instead and an old VCR/DVD player to watch movies.  Our television is 10 years old, I drive a 13 year old vehicle, and our three laptops are old and essentially “frankensteined” together, but I am grateful to have access to these technologies.

There are no buses where we live. If you don’t have a car, you walk or get a ride from someone else.  We live in the middle of town, so when my vehicle is out of commission (which has been happening more lately due to its age and high mileage) we walk everywhere. My children have clothes that fit them and winter coats to keep them warm.  A Secret Santa provided us with new winter hats and gloves, which we really needed, and our various critters are warm, fed, and loved.

Another privilege is the fact that I am in graduate school. I am a semester away from finishing my Master’s degree in Education with an Autism Certification.   That student loan that I have taken out each year for the past four years is what has been paying the bills.  Granted, I will be very surprised if I will ever be able to pay it off, but my ability to get those loans is definitely a privilege.

The last privilege that I want to address is the wonderful miracle that has happened. The man I fell in love with 17 years ago, and the father of my two children, has come home after three years of being a stranger and leaving us. I never gave up on him even though he had given up on himself and our family.

Untreated mental family_cats_portrait_002health issues and unprocessed trauma from childhood finally took its toll on him. He had become a lost soul who needed to go the long way around to find his way back home.  We still have work to do, still processing trauma and rebuilding trust, but we are determined.  We are learning to be a family again.  To me, that is a huge privilege.

So, what is the moral of this story? What is the message that my fingers are trying to convey to my brain?  During tough times when the stress of life is boring down on you, remember the privileges you have. You have been through so much and have come so far.  This too shall pass.

“But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.”

**All images are linked with source.

 

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One response to “Checking My Privilege

  1. I know what you mean about burn out. It’s hard sometimes to remember that things are getting better. For us, its been a hard 3 years my husband almost died. Five surgeries later, hopefully we won’t be in a hospital for a while. In between surgeries we had no income for him. So, we go to a local food bank because we don’t qualify for food assistance. We do qualify for medicaid which has been wonderful. I’m going back to finish my degree and I will try not to accrue debt, I laugh a little because I know I will. And at my age its not good. Thanks for your post.

    Like

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