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Finally - the post on my fall from grace  

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I've been putting the words together for this post for a long time, but part of me has been ashamed and embarrassed - part of me didn't want to be judged.

On January 15th, 2010, I came home from running a few errands to discover that my electric had been turned off. The bill was extremely late - and before I let you think that I'm blowing the money I make at my job - let me remind you that I'm a single mother. Let me also tell you how the geniuses down in Annapolis deregulated the utilities back in 1999, and ever since Hurricane Katrina, my personal electric bill has risen a minimum of 150%, upwards of 250%.

I went to the Energy Assistance program back in September or October and applied, like I do every year. Normally, when I go, I'm approved. This time, because of a raise I had gotten in October 2008, combined with the piddly amount of Child Support that I receive (for one child, mind you), put me about $200 over the annual limit to qualify for this program.

Keep in mind I'm the only one paying for everything - food, rent, car insurance, gas, electric, water, phone, cable, etc... I couldn't afford my electric bill. I scaled back, but it didn't help. Rate increases keep coming, making my bill worse no matter what I do.

I thought that they couldn't turn us off because of the cold weather - boy was I wrong! I got turned off - when I had $500 in my pocket to pay something on the bill that day. We had just gotten through Christmas and my plan was to pay something every time I got paid, until the spring when I "thought" they could turn off my service.

I went to stay with a friend of mine, someone who lives with their parents. Not only would I have to be humble by losing my house (technically) but I'd also have to live with someone's parents, which I haven't done since I was 16 years old when I moved out of my parents' house.

I did my tax return, got my piddly amount of taxes back (oh and let me tell you that I have to PAY money to the state of Maryland... hmmm), saved up about $2000 to pay the bill. I called Baltimore Gas & Electric, told them my situation, and was told they wouldn't work with me at all. To top it off, while I was on the phone with them, I was looking at my account balance online, and when I asked how much I would have to pay to get service turned back on, the difference in what I was told and what I was seeing online was $400! I asked what this difference was and was told that this person didn't know.

I proceeded to contact the Maryland Public Service Commission, after calling the United Way for assistance. United Way told me that the PSC will communicated on behalf of you with BGE even if your service is off, to negotiate a payment plan. I submitted the complaint on February 15th, and as of three days ago, I still hadn't heard anything from them. I proceeded to call them on Thursday, and was told they never got the complaint. GREAT! So I had to submit it again. And I spoke with BGE and got a payment amount so that they would turn my service back on.

Problem is now I no longer have a job. My job was a good job - I made about $25/hour as a secretary under a Government Contractor. My hours of work were from 6:30 am to 5 pm, times that I couldn't get my kids on or off the bus. At home, they did it themselves while I was working - and I talked to them in the mornings. Since we're staying out of our school district, I asked my friend's mother to take the kids to school for me.

Everything was fine until one morning my son was bitching about being late to school - she said she wasn't going to take them to school anymore. We talked, worked it out, and that was resolved. I told her that I was going to transfer their schools to where they live, so she wouldn't have to keep doing that. She told me not to, because neither of the kids wanted to switch schools.

Fast forward to last week - something pissed her off - not sure what it was exactly but I've heard it was because my daughter told her not to touch her. She tells my friend (not me) that she wasn't taking the kids to school anymore. My friend has been the go-between for her ever since we've been here. I'm not sure why she can't come talk to me directly, since they're my kids, and we're both grown women, but that's what was going on. So I took them to school, and got fired.

Last night she came and said, "Is there something you need to tell me?" Of course I'm like, "what are you talking about?" (Mind you, we haven't been speaking - after she pulled the last stunt, she holed herself up in the room all weekend, avoided me, and looked at my daughter funny when she told her good morning.) She proceeded to say, "I haven't seen you go to work." I got fired Monday and now it's Thursday - are you just now figuring it out?

So we proceed to have this conversation on how I had told her previously if there was an issue with the kids or whatever, she should have come to me, etc. I honestly feel like the talking I did to her made no good because she was talking about other things and didn't really even respond to what I was saying to her.

Now I'm the one without a job, who feels like a failure, all because I couldn't afford my electric bill, and I "make too much money" for any assistance at all. I'm depressed, I'm angry, and even though I ultimately put myself in this situation, there was still nothing I could do about it. When I get paid, I'm robbing Peter to pay Paul.

I look back and wonder what I could have done differently, and I just don't know. I wish that for once when I need to rely on someone, because I don't often (I'm very independent), that I could honestly rely on that person and not have anything to worry about.

So for the past week I've been job hunting, applied for Unemployment, and I contacted Child Support since I pay it and receive it. I'm still paying rent for a house we're not living in. I need to get over there and start packing stuff to move out but I don't have money to get boxes or to get a storage area - because I have no where to keep my stuff.

If I don't find a job soon, I don't know what I'm going to do - I don't want to continue to stay here because I know the drama isn't over. I'm not one for drama and I can't take any bullshit. That's why I'm pissed about this situation - not once did she communicate with ME about how she was feeling about my kids - she left it up to her child to tell me.

I don't have family I can go to and I was in a shelter about 11 years ago so I'd rather not go back. It's just depressing.

So those of you who have seen my tweets and recent post about the stuff that's going on with me - there you have it. My life is screwed up and I don't know what to do.





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18 comments: to “ Finally - the post on my fall from grace

  • •´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Erin.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´•
    March 13, 2010 at 2:57 PM  

    I'm sorry for your struggle and frustration. It's so true that when it rains, it pours :( I pray that something works out soon, and the weight is lifted. Keep pushing forward, Angie.

  • The Mom Jen
    March 13, 2010 at 3:10 PM  

    Oh Angie, I am sorry you are going through all of this. I will pray for you and hope you will have some good luck come your way soon! Please don't give up! **HUGS**

  • RobynsOnlineWorld
    March 13, 2010 at 3:10 PM  

    Angie while I have not been in the exact situation, we have had similar. It seems like it just comes in waves one thing after the other and just crushes you each time. Please try to hang in there and just take one day at a time. Have you contacted the St. Vincent de Paul Society thru your nearest Catholic church? You do NOT need to be Catholic (or religious even) for them to help you. My mom used to be a big volunteer at hers and they helped lots of people with stories just like yours. It's worth a shot to try. I know it's hard to ask for help, but sometimes we just have to swallow hard and ask.

    Sending lots of positive thoughts that you find the answers and things calm down for you and your family soon. {{{HUGS}}}

  • Megan
    March 13, 2010 at 3:29 PM  

    Wow, I'm not sure what to say. I've just got tons of sympathy and (((HUGS))) for you. I just can't imagine the stress you've been under and even more so now that you've lost your job. I'm so sorry!!!

  • Melissa A.
    March 13, 2010 at 3:36 PM  

    Angie,

    We were in a similar situation about 2 and half years ago. We had lost a car (repo'd) and eventually lost our home. In between the time that we lost our car and our home, our gas was shut off atleast 5 times, our electric once and our water 3 times. When we lost our house, I didn't tell anyone that it was foreclosed on. I was ashamed. I was humilated. I was broken. How could I have failed my family this way? We didn't qualify for any help because of income..not even WIC...and there were days I didn't know how I was going to buy diapers.

    I am not going to judge you, because who am I to judge when I have (and am to an extent) been where you are. I know the feeling of hopelessness that surrounds you.

    I am not sure what you have tried, but have you tried contacting The Salvation Army? There is also a website called wishuponahero.org.

    I really hope that you find something soon. ((Hugs)) and I know that we only know one another through blog comments, but if you ever need someone to talk to who has been there, please don't hesitate to contact me.

  • Janet and Maya
    March 13, 2010 at 4:44 PM  

    I'm so sorry.....((((((hugs))))). When I'm overwhelmed and giving up, I try to deal with one problem, one step at a time, keep trying to find someone to help and listen. ((((more hugs)))))

  • coriwestphal
    March 13, 2010 at 4:52 PM  

    Oh Angie I can't imagine the amount of stress on you every single day. Why is it that there are people out there who get assistance for things they don't really need assistance for? And the people who really need it, get screwed? Take that one up with Obama!

    As for help, I think Robyn has a good idea. I'm not a religious person at all, but a church is a great place to get help from people who love to give. I have a friend in a similar situation to yours and the church is the only place she could get the help she needed, as well as some counseling to help with the stress of everything she's been going thru, same as you. Definitely worth checking out. And if one church rubs you the wrong way, try another (we all know there are plenty of them!).

    Hang in there! I am a true believer that good things come to those who wait, and deserve it. A lot of people who have never had financial problems, are struggling now. Don't be afraid to ask for help!

  • ~*~ Melissa ~*~
    March 13, 2010 at 5:33 PM  

    Angie, I am so sorry you are going through all of this. Erin said it right, when it rains it pours. But the sun does usually shine after it pours and I'm sure something will work it's way out. Since you lost your job, there may be many services that you can apply to for help. Now you may have to swallow your pride, but in the end you will still be standing.

    I'll be sure to keep you in my prayers and I do hope things work themselves out somehow. Big hugs to you.

  • justicecw
    March 13, 2010 at 5:47 PM  

    Angie I am so sorry for what you have been going through. Bad things do seem to snowball but hopefully good things will be on the horizon for you. I will keep you in my thoughts, Christine

  • Cheryl
    March 13, 2010 at 6:35 PM  

    Hi Angie,

    I am so sorry you are going through this season in your life. You said,

    "I look back and wonder what I could have done differently, and I just don't know. I wish that for once when I need to rely on someone, because I don't often (I'm very independent), that I could honestly rely on that person and not have anything to worry about."

    My heart just goes out to you because I have been there before, but it wasn't until I found the right person "To rely on" till I was able to get it together. That person is Jesus Christ.

    I have lost my mother, my whole family, was homless, abused, lost a house to fire, recently lost my 15 year old daughter in an auto accident, and yet I can say that I make it through each situation because God gives me His strength to endure. He promises to never leave or forsake me, and He has not. People ask me how I have overcome so much, and I just tell them that I haven't, that I just put my trust and love in the Lord, as he overcomes it for me.

    You say that you don't know what to do next. Angie, please just cry out to God. He is your only hope. There is no one that knows your struggles, your weaknesses, your strengths, your talents like God does. I promise, if you trust in Him, just bring your worries before Him, He is always faithful to answer.

    My heart just hurts to know you are struggling. Truly there is no reason to worry when God wants to bless you so richly, but you have to reach out to Him. I love you, and I truly mean that. I will be praying that He wraps you in love, mercy and joy, that surpasses all understand.

    And you are not a failure. I believe you are a great mother. We all have trials and tribulations in our life. Not one of us posting can say otherwise. We need to lift each other up and be encouragers.

    I have a saying that someone once told me.

    In the end it will be okay, if it is not okay, it is not the end.

    Keep you head up sweetie. HUGS

  • Shelbie
    March 13, 2010 at 9:56 PM  

    I know exactly how you feel. I was a single Mom, worked my hiney off and never asked for anything. When I did need help, one time or another, I was always told I made too much. Funny, i barely scrapped by, and got no shild support. It hurts to be told you have no resources when you really need it! It's like they punish you because you work and don't ask for handouts. The system is screwed up and unfair to those who work and do their part! I am sorry this is all happening to you. I wish I had answers, I don't. But I do know I have been where you are, and I also know, things will get better. I'm very sorry, you don't deserve this and neither do your kids. I'll say a little prayer fr you, hold your head high, and hang in there.

  • Andrea H
    March 13, 2010 at 11:34 PM  

    I feel so badly for you Angie. I wish there was something I could do for you! I will continue to pray for you because I believe that prayer works.

    ((hugs))

  • StacieinAtlanta
    March 14, 2010 at 12:31 AM  

    Oh Angie, I am so sorry. I hope that they get it all figured out. That really sucks.

  • TheEclecticElement
    March 14, 2010 at 3:36 AM  

    Aw, hunny, I'm so sorry that you have to go through this! And what's worse, it's not just you that you have to look after, it's your kids as well which makes it 10x harder.

    I wish I could magically say words that would fix this, but unfortunately I don't have that ability :(

    You'll definitely be in my thoughts, though! The good Karma has GOT to kick in sometime :D

  • Peggy
    March 14, 2010 at 10:45 AM  

    I am so sorry that you have to go through what you are dealing with right now and its only right now!! Things will get better,you will get through ,keep your head up high because you have nothing to ashamed and embarrassed about!! Its so sad when the people that are truly deserving don't get the hand up and the ones that know the system get more than what they need
    I wish the best for you and hope that help comes to you soon
    You are in my thoughts

  • One Cluttered Brain
    March 14, 2010 at 11:12 AM  

    I am sending my prayers to you!
    Good LUCK with EVERYTHING!

  • Gail from GrowMap
    March 17, 2010 at 3:16 PM  

    There may not have been anything you could do Angie and you are definitely not alone in your situation. The economy is far worse than the media is letting on and it must continue to slide because the value of the dollar continues to decline.

    While writing a recent post called Marketing is Not Evil I came across a statistic that an estimated 20% of Americans are underemployed. Many are working more than one job and still earning only 1/3 of what they once made. You can see many links in that post that explain why.

    The time is here that we must make major changes. We will end up living many to one dwelling to make ends meet. Moving to an inexpensive rural community to reduce overhead and working online to generate an income is one option.

    If you can't make ends meet on $25/hr full time imagine trying to do it on $8/hr part time. No matter how many hours you work you can't get there.

    I have many ideas for you that could be a source of income you could tap right away. Contact me through my blog and I will share them with you. I just approved your application to SBC. You can find my contact information there too.

  • Kristy
    March 20, 2010 at 4:08 AM  

    I am so sorry you're going thru this, my family went thru the same thing last year! It's horrible, these "programs" are supposed to be here to help us, yet when we need the help, there's always an excuse as to why they CANT help!
    After being rejected a few times, I couldn't take it anymore so my hsuband took up where I left off. He was very persistant, always asking WHO he needed to talk to for help.
    We went to the LIHEAP office, they did help eventually, but before that we tried Salvation Army, Goodwill, and 3-4 Catholic charities. Only one charity out of all of these was willing to help us!
    I truly hope things start to turn around for you and your family, as I know it sucks big time! But, there will be an answer, and I believe things will get better for you!

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