Saturday, July 21, 2012

Our Intrinsic Value

I think the hardest thing about adjusting to being disabled and then poverty was the sense of devaluation I felt from society.

Every time the insurance company put off paying a bill until I was so exasperated I just gave up and stopped seeking help, I was told you are not worth it. I remember feeling great that Michigan passed into law a bill that provided health care for children. We had to go to a clinic because doctors wouldn't take our coverage but still, it was something. Though there was nothing for me, who was taking responsible for taking care of my children. Still, I was young and strong and flying without a parachute and decided well, if I got sick and died, that's life. But the underlying feeling that my life was not worthwhile simply because I didn't earn enough money was in some ways, truly depressing.

So when the insurance company promised to always pay for my medical bills related to the accident and my brain injury, I took a lower settlement because I thought this would be fair. I had no idea I would need a lawyer to enforce their commitment. And I also had no idea that if there wasn't a big pay off there wasn't a lawyer out there who would want to help me.

It’s a pretty good scam really. Insurance companies promise, then they put you off until you realize, they are not going to pay and then you stop going to doctors because you know, you can't pay them and then when every last cent is squeezed out of you Medicare takes over. It’s so wrong. I'm grateful. Very grateful because without it I wouldn't have been able to go see the doctor who saved my life but still, it is so wrong. There should be people willing to make insurance companies do the right thing. Anyway, that's my deal. I write this because it gives context to why I felt so devalued because I was no longer productive, or rather commercially viable and therefore, worthless. See if I had sold paintings or had a best selling book I bet I could have gotten a lawyer to make sure the insurance company did the right thing or I could have thumbed my nose at the insurance company and gladly taken care of myself.

There are so many ways that people are trampled on everyday. You don't earn enough to carry your own weight, you don't have a degree, you don't have a strong young body, you aren't beautiful or handsome.... so many messages from organizations and institutions that tell you, unless you conform and you look just so and you believe this way, you are a worthless human being. I remember reading about other societies in other countries that had this mentality and it led to terrible atrocities.

You see we all have value. Whether we have a job today or a degree or whether we are six feet tall and blonde (I mean who comes up with this shit) or whether we are married or single or gay or straight or this religion or that or none; we all have value. I remember turning away from every institution that was supposed to help me because the stress from trying to actually get help and the underlying message that I wasn't worth it was so devastating that I understood - this is toxic. I will do better accepting life as it is and just dying when my body won't go on any more.

For this reason I am thrilled that Obama cared and we now have a good common sense, preventative healthcare program. And if that means cutting spending on the huge amount of money that is spent on war, so be it. We really need to remember that our lives, here and now have value. To our families, to our loved ones or friends or pets.

This is why it is important to understand that our value, while we do have a sense of that from our family and loved ones and pets or in what we do; unless we value our own lives and what we contribute we can easily be crushed.

So my next living through the recession and poverty message is this, your life has meaning. It has value. Look around you and share something good about who you are. Water a plant, offer to walk a neighbor's dog in the morning, walk your child to school so you make sure you get up in the morning and get a good start in your day. If you are distracted at home, read something at the library. Take a free class there, or give one. Go about your other routine things you need to do to survive. But remember, the key to your survival and your good mental and physical health is to understand that you have value.

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