Not Just Another Statistic

It’s been a while since I have posted and I need to explain. For a change I have been experiencing good luck regarding my medical problems and have been living in the moment — celebrating the blessings!  However, in the meanwhile, my husband’s misfortune regarding his job search continues. Despite the fact he is the most giving, caring, loving, kind, devoted, hard-working person I have ever known…it’s been 11 months and my husband is still unemployed.

Last month the U.S. Government stopped paying him unemployment benefits and no longer includes him in their unemployment statistics. He’s not employed, he’s not unemployed, he’s not retired or disabled, so which category is he in? There isn’t one. Our government is deliberately deceiving all of us — its American citizens — he is unemployed, receiving no benefits, but not considered a statistic.

Those who don’t know my husband may make some assumptions. Well, don’t. He spends his days and nights applying for jobs, writing cover letters, filling out applications, interviewing, writing thank you letters, reaching out to friends, previous co-workers, relatives, etc. via face-to-face meetings, Linked In, Facebook, emails, telephone calls, etc. On average, he spends 12-16 hours a day, seven days a week job hunting. When he isn’t helping take care of his disabled wife, he is making it his job to get a job. He has also worked with a professional to have his résumé updated as well as enhancing his interviewing skills. He has read the latest books, been to the state Workforce hiring locations where they provide assistance in job searches as well as worked with recruiters. He has even gone back to college to show he is continuing his education.

For those who know my husband, he has beautiful salt and pepper hair (yes, the salt probably came from me). A close friend, who also spent a great deal of time looking for a job, mentioned dying his hair to help him appear younger. While we appreciate any suggestions, it honestly, isn’t who he is.  Does he need to be someone who he isn’t to get a position with a company? Is that what it takes in this economy? Is it the color of his hair that is preventing him from getting a job?

He’s either overqualified or under qualified, too much education or not enough, too old or not old enough. Whatever the case, it’s a difficult situation for those who are 40+ years. In fact, the entire job searching process is a nightmare for many despite their age, education level, career choice, degree status, etc. There are too few jobs, too many applicants and a slow economy where employers are scared to commit. During a recent job interview for a position in our small hometown my husband was told the company had received 720 applications.

My husband and I watched ‘The Lost American Dream’ an episode of Our America with Lisa Ling. While the show was a bit dated and doesn’t place blame, it is a powerful, moving, honest portrayal of the economy, lack of jobs, and how badly people and families are hurting. The show follows a family, a recent law graduate, two retirees and a single mother. Every government official elected into office should be required to view this show. To me, those who are voting on unemployment benefits, the elimination of jobs and writing laws determining the future of our country should be forced to visit a family to see what surviving without an income or pension is all about. Maybe when it came to voting on key decisions affecting the income or lack of income for people they would think of the bigger picture.

My husband began working when he was 13 years old. His father is 85 years old and continues to work five days a week. Work is ingrained in every fiber of each member of his family — honest people working hard to make a living. My husband is one of six children — five boys and one girl. Raised in a Christian home with a traditional upbringing by parents who have been married for 50 years, he felt badly for receiving unemployment benefits for the months he did even though he paid into the system for 33 years. However, the government only paid him a modest weekly amount for nine months from both state and federal. I wish someone would explain how this is a fair system.

Since my husband was downsized last September, there have been many people who have offered to make telephone calls or ‘put in a good word’ for him. Sadly, we have found there are very few people who actually take the time to do so. I am left wondering why? Are we a society where we no longer help one another? Are we afraid to recommend a family member, friend or former co-worker for a position? Are we so busy watching television, posting on Facebook, going to social events that we don’t have time to write a letter of recommendation?

Honestly, I know a lot of people — who know a lot of people and have done favors for many — I thought when the time came and either my husband, daughter or I needed something we could count on certain people. There are a few who have passed on company names and a smattering of tips mentioned here and there. For those, we are truly grateful, however, I was raised to help each other through thick and thin…no matter what. There are days when I feel it’s the three of us against the world. And, believe it or not, we never thought we would be in this situation. Like those featured in Lisa Ling’s television show, none of those families thought they would ever lose their homes, or need to rely on welfare or accept food stamps. Even my shrink’s brother has been unemployed for two years.

Sadly, the real unemployment rate in the United States is 17.9 million people. The government statistic is 12.5 million. What about the other 5.4 million citizens, like my husband who are unaccounted for? What message is our government sending? If you aren’t employed or don’t receive unemployment benefits, disability or retirement then you don’t matter? What if my husband stops paying his bills, taxes, mortgage, etc.? To our government he is invisible…however, the reality is he is next to me bigger than life on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, not playing golf, fishing, or enjoying life…he is doing what he does every day — job hunting and I see the sadness in his eyes and I watch a little bit of joy slip away with each rejection he receives.

©My Unplanned Life and www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com 2012.

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About mswd

I am an individual living with a spinal cord injury. How the injury occurred, how I found out how severe my injury was and how my planned life suddenly became 'unplanned' is included in this blog. Also included is how the injury has tested my family and me. I believe you will discover it has been both a mentally and physically challenging ordeal and I learned a few lessons along the way. While I am still defining my life’s purpose since the injury, I have uncovered those who are injured, live with pain or have other obstacles to navigate are never able to escape. However, come with me as I explore ways to improve my life, learn to live with multiple neurological conditions, educate others and look for the silver lining. I believe with a little willpower, my caring family and God's guidance I will learn to forgive, hopefully forget how I was treated and dismissed by a doctor and uncover life's new purpose. I pray for painfree days and answers to questions that keep swirling through my mind. I also pray for a cure for neurological conditions and for the doctors to treat their patients with respect. Welcome to my journey. I would love to hear about yours!
This entry was posted in Depression, Disappointment, Dr. Liar, Self Discovery, Spinal Cord Injury, Unemployment and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Not Just Another Statistic

  1. rebanelson says:

    I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to look for work and not find it. For so long in this country the economy was good or at least better than it is now. Now there are so many qualified, hard working people like Harry who can’t find good jobs. Yes, the numbers are misleading. Our economy is not in good shape and some of the smoke screens are beginning to dissipate. IMHO things are going to get worse, not better. Stable, hard working people may have to rely on “side jobs” to earn money and stay active. An army of people like Harry may emerge and change the way the economy works in this country. The gap between rich and poor has widened dramatically since the American Revolution. It may very well widen even more until an elite few rule over the masses. In the meantime, self sufficiency is the logical course of action. How about cooperatives between people who have a little land, those who have skills, those who have resources? We could all put our heads together and SURVIVE. And in the process of doing so we may very well create a sense of community that exceeds expectations.
    My nightmarish experience with $ymbalta has taught me that life can very suddenly become TERRIFYING. We all know the theory: Life in not fair. But when the theory moves in with us we suddenly realize that IT HURTS! And we realize that there are no guarnatees. Sure, there are people starving and suffering on the other side of the world. Maybe even on the other side of town. But when the suffering moves in with us it is shocking – why is this happening to ME? Back during the days of the Soviet Union political dissidents were locked in mental hospitals and given psychoactive drugs as “treatments” for their abnormal behavior. I never thought something similar would happen to me. I never thought that a drug approved by the FDA and prescribed by my GP would cause powerful suicidal ideation and aggressive behavior. But it DID. The reality is chilling, to say the least.
    Dr. liar destroyed your health and caused you tremendous physical suffering and disability. Each person, i believe, eventually faces a “Dr.Liar” in one form or another. Those who breeze through life will eventually encounter the death of loved ones and old age. Life is terminal. This body will suffer and die. Bad things WILL happen. We can try to numb that reality with materialism or dope but eventually we have to deal with it.
    “The eternal God is my refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
    “Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”
    “Yea, though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”
    These verses, and many others, come to my mind throughout the day as I struggle with the reality of this life.
    Keep on blogging! Courage is not the absence of fear. Hope is not the absence of despair. We choose the winner.

    • mswd says:

      Aunt Reba ~ you have a wonderful way of putting things in perceptive and I love you for that and for many other reasons. Like so many others I have learned life isn’t fair. I just hate it when bad things happen to good people like Harry. He has given so much during the last seven years. He has been my rock and when I was at my lowest, he was the one cheering me on…telling me I could keep going, push through the pain, learn to use my arm again and to walk again. Now, I watch him being beaten up by the very system he has paid into for so many years. A few weeks ago when we went into the unemployment office the woman there, who has a job, said “I’m sorry, there is nothing I can do, Congress didn’t approve a tier two increase.” I believe we are lucky. We have saved and are using our savings to survive. Harry is doing odd jobs thanks to Marie, Mom and Dad. You are right, we need to look at things differently. If the 5.4 million people (broken into smaller groups) could come together and co-op — think of the jobs it would create, the work that would get done, the unity formed. Society seems to have drifted apart instead of turning to each other. I also know and have written many times God will give us what we need not what we want. Harry has watched me learn this lesson and he is now learning it firsthand. The system is his ‘Dr. Liar’ and again, you are right, we all deal with a ‘Dr. Liar’ or two in our lives. Your ordeal and withdrawal from the horrible medication and having to battle the system is your ‘Dr. Liar’. The blog has taught me many things but the one lesson that sticks with me is each of us is fighting something — it may not always be visible; however, even those who seem to walk around without a care in the world is battling something. I used to believe there were just a handful of people who were affected with ‘bad things…not anymore. The other people are just good at hiding their problems. Thank you again for your inspiring words, for your ongoing love and support. I feel it on a daily basis. XO

  2. Brenda says:

    Marsha, if only the politicians could read this and take it to heart! It seems that good people are suffering and people with no morale compass are thriving. Harry is a good man and you both deserve better. I am proud to know such strong and wonderful people who face their problems head on with dignity and refuse to back down from what you know is the truth. Thank you you sharing this with us so we may also help in the fight.

    • mswd says:

      Brenda ~ what a wonderful message to wake up to this morning! Harry and I thank you for your inspiring words. You have known Harry for a long time — much longer than me. In February we will be married 10 years, although most people feel we have been together much longer. Maybe since we have been through so much! 🙂 From what I read in messages from his classmates (you, Angelo, etc.), Harry hasn’t changed…he is still kind, caring and takes things in stride. However, he has spent the last seven years taking care of me so it’s difficult to sit back and watch him struggle with a system that is severely broken and affecting many. As a side note, I sent the post to Congressman Rob Wittman as well as Senator Mark Warner both in Virginia. I also tried to send a copy to President Obama’s office, but received an error message, but was able to get it to get through to Republician Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Again, I thank you for your continued friendship and for supporting the blog. It means more than you could ever know. Sending love and blessings to you and your family!

  3. Jeanine Pysniak says:

    Marsha, I met Harry when I was 15. He always made me laugh and smile. And was always ready to give a hug when someone needed it. Harry & I had similar upbringings – my dad just passed away in December at almost 86, 3 weeks short of celebrating his 59th annidversary with my mom, my parents raised my two brothers & I in a Christian, loving home, instilled a strong work ethic. The way we were raised truly made us the people we are today… strong, resilient, loyal. . Bad things do happen to good people, and I believe that those good people will chew up that bad and spit out!!!! I know that Harry is one of those good people, and Harry WILL overcome this – he will find a position that is worthy of him. Perhaps all of these jobs just aren’t worthy of the kind of person Harry is. You are both in my thoughts and prayers, for healing, for strength, for peace, for goodness.

    • mswd says:

      Jeanine ~ I have so enjoyed hearing from Harry’s high school classmates and I can’t thank you enough for your message. It speaks volumes when a person has nice things to say about someone they have known for 30+ years. Harry and I attended my 30th high school class reunion and I was surprised at the nice comments Harry heard about me…from people I didn’t think knew me all that well. I guess it goes to show being a nice person and doing the right thing ALWAYS pays off in the end. 🙂 From your description of Harry…he hasn’t changed at all. He does make all those around him laugh, smile and is a big hugger! And, you are right about his family and the way he was raised — his family is wonderful and he was raised to be honest, trustworthy and to treat others with respect — values he lives daily. I am so sorry about your Dad — Harry’s father just turned 85 and his parents celebrated their 50th anniversary. So many couples don’t make it to milestone anniversaries. Your parents were blessed to have so many years together. I can imagine it has been a difficult adjustment for the entire family and will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you again for your message, kind words and for being a good friend to Harry. While I know I am biased, I do feel a company would be lucky to have him as an employee it’s just such a tough economy. I wrote the post for a couple of reasons…mainly to show my support for Harry (he has done so much for me since my spinal cord injury), but also to vent my frustration since the ‘system’ is unfair to the 5.4 million people who are ‘invisible.’ Again, thank you for your support. Please keep in touch.

  4. Beverly says:

    What is your husband’s field, his talents, skills, etc?

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