There’s an article that’s been making the rounds on Facebook the last couple of days about a wife who came to realize that she was unknowingly abusing her husband. It was an interesting read about how a woman came to see how her remarks to her husband were belittling rather than helpful because, as she pointed out, she argued from a point her way being the correct way and vehemently made her stand; so much so that the husband often sidestepped simple issues to avoid one of her outbursts. I saw a lot of my past relationships in the article but didn’t give it too much thought. The next day, two friends of mine reposted the same article, and with varying degrees of impact, I got triggered back to some of those relationships again. I can’t even say that it was trolls that did it to me, as while one or two comments were very pro-she-did-nothing-wrong, most were supportive and saying both partners need to be aware of the impact of their actions. I think that’s when I lost it.

When I was at a week-long young adult con, there was one night where they had a dance (not the official ball—that was later in the week). I had asked a number of women to dance, all of which said no; a few of them went to dance with someone else after I passed by. I had to step out and cry, feeling miserable. When I came back in, one woman noticed my appearance and asked me if I was okay. I muttered I was fine, but then she said “No matter what’s going on, you know we love you.” I stepped outside again to cry even harder than before. Dostoyefsky defined Hell—through his Father Zosima character in Brothers Karamazov—as “the suffering of [or for] the inability to love.” I definitely relate to that.

It wasn’t just a few people saying “yeah men can be abused in a relationship too” that got to me. Some of the article sent me right back to the things that I experienced with two different, psychologically abusive women. I don’t think I fully processed and realized the sense of hopelessness I felt. A friend told me that I was in an abusive relationship with Sophia’s mom and my first adult relationship, and I can acknowledge that truthfully, but I don’t think I really faced up to what all that was or meant emotionally; and feeling that anger and dismay and guilt now is painful, and only makes me want to run into a state of denial again (with food mostly). I can’t do that but I still have a hard time facing those feelings. It’s a strange midway state to be in and it sucks. It’s also not a wound that scars over easily. With kind of PTSD-type situation, there are a number of things that can trigger you back to those abusive times. Since the article re-circulated to my newsfeed, I’ve been a raw nerve overacting to any stimuli. It’s not a good place to be.

I’m not sure what I can do other than what I am. I’m in therapy, I take medication as directed, and I write blogs entries like this. I don’t want to be numb but I’m tired of being on a permanent crying jag. Sometimes I wish it could pass by quicker.

Near the end of March, I got my six month review of my SNAP benefits. I had a checkbox review of what had changed and what hadn’t in my circumstances over the six month period. Usually I just check off the checklist and return it, but two weeks before I started the new temp-to-perm job I’m at now. This meant my income changed and I’d have to see what happens next. I knew there would be a reduction in benefits, but I’m not sure if the food stamps would be taken away completely. I got copies of the only two paychecks I received thus far, sent it with the review and hope for the best.

April came and I still had my full allotment of food stamps and was able to buy what I needed and stretched the benefits until the end of April. When May EBT date came along I had no food stamp allotment, but had no food in the house; I paid for it myself. I wasn’t worried about paying out of my own pocket; I had money for what I needed and paid for it.

Later that day, I missed a call from the Massachusetts office of transitional assistance, which handes food stamps for the state. When I called back, they said my case had been closed, which I expected. What I didn’t expect was why. Earlier in mid-April, I got a notice saying my account would be closed if I didn’t mail in my full review to them in the next week, even though I mailed it out a week before it was due and even online they say they received it. So I called customer service rather pissed off. It’s one thing to close my account because I’m ineligible; it’s another to close it because they say I didn’t do something that I actually did (even their computer acknowledges it!).

As it turns out the only thing I needed to include to complete the review was a termination letter from the previous job; I do this and I can get the EBT back. I was more upset that they didn’t notify me of that fact—it’s not even mentioned in the review forms. While talking to the customer service guy I told him about the new full time job elsewhere. He did some calculations with me on the phone to see if I needed to even mail in the termination letter. As it turns out, I didn’t as my new salary put me just over their income level needed to receive food stamps.

And I’m fine with that. I’ve been on food stamps for almost 6 years. This was shortly after I was forced out of WGBH, lost two of the three part time jobs lined up to supplement that loss, and still had to pay full time child support payments. They ebbed and flowed over those six year but it’s been there to use for a good reason: I wasn’t making enough to feed me and/or my daughter on my own. Crunching the current numbers, I now have a little left over each month after all expenses—not a lot, but any kind of cushion is good—and still have a decent weekly shopping budget. It’s one more step in the right direction towards recovery in my life. It’s a mark of success. Things are slowly getting better. The forward momentum needs to be sustained to see serious improvement.