Universal Credit – the relationship I wish I’d never had

So I received that letter.

“Important: you’ve received more universal credit than you’re entitled to.”

No clear explanation why. No monetary break down. Just a couple of dates in between which they apparently didn’t file their paperwork correctly, yet I am the one to blame. And now I owe them an aching sum.

I didn’t declare everything. Yet I did. Numerous meetings. Numerous declarations. Photocopies. Scans. Uploads. Interviews.

In every other business transaction in your life. There’s the decorum to address you as a human being and explain what brought you to a certain set of circumstances.

But universal credit is immune.

For one month they sent me continuous threats that it was about to be suspended. Until they realised it was an error on their part. Various threatening messages received with no due cause, followed up by a callous explanation of a misunderstanding and a meek “sorry for the confusion.”. And now this.

Confusion? That’s not confusion. That’s groceries. That’s the rent that keeps my children off the streets. That’s what gives me the stability to carry on earning and eventually become self sufficient so I don’t rely on Universal Credit.

But right now, you’re the relationship I wished I’d never have. But I need you. You’re not marriage material. You’re a rebound. But I need you for my emotional and financial security.

Yet every few weeks you toy with it. So I never feel too settled or content. Lord knows how the world would cope with single parents who felt too stable.

I left one demeaning relationship to be dehumanised by the next. I was emotionally abused by my ex, but I’ll only feel free from it when I cut this tie too.

Universal credit/tories. One in the same. We are a number to you. But we are just people who fell on bad circumstances.

One day I will be stronger. When that time comes, I will do something about this. Universal credit is meant to get people back on their feet, but the lack of organisation, the communication devalues those who need it. We are more than a figure. We need more than finances. Money helps. But talk to us like we are humans.

We are vulnerable but we are trying.

Treat people like scum, and they will eventually behave that way too. For what is the point in trying when nobody is paying attention?

Pay attention. Money helps us temporarily. Emotional recognition could help us indefinitely.

My two word mantra

“Fuck ’em.”

Yep, that was my 2018 mantra and I’m rolling it into 2019.

Some people need to be taught a lesson in kindness and empathy. I am not one of those people. I’m overly sensitive. Some have even said gullible. I always look for the best in everyone. You’d think this would make the world a softer lovelier place.

It doesn’t.

It means I’m often taken advantage of. Walked all over. Unless I surround myself with like minded individuals, it often works against me.

My ex and I had blazing rows, but one thing he would never dispute was the fact that I am kind. Also quick to forgive. I often forget too. Life’s too short, right?

Wrong.

My ex and I were arguing like cat and dog in the lead up to our wedding. It was (at that stage) the most stressful period of my life. That in itself should have been a red flag. But one sweet smile from him, a loving squeeze, and I went back to believing in the “good version” of us.

I will never make that mistake again.

My ex uses the “fuck ’em” attitude on a daily basis, to his own detriment. He completely lacks empathy. He always puts his own needs first, and uses other people to facilitate him in getting whatever it is he is after.

But enough about him. Softies like me, we need the “fuck ’em” mantra.

Us softies often put our own needs last, particularly once we’re parents. We’re people pleasers. We thrive on making others happy. We give up our seat on the bus. Smile at strangers on the street and cry at nappy adverts.

We’re soft people in a hard world. That is special and to be celebrated. There are many advantages to being intensely in tune with not only your own emotions but those of others. But where we share in joy we also share in others suffering.

Worse still, narcissists and abusers latch onto empaths. They love bomb us, charm us, then gradually work on grinding you down. They can’t resist it, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

Unfortunately regular communications with an ex (due to shared childcare) can give them a further opportunity to manipulate and exert control. New found single parenthood can also make you feel self conscious – which is daft considering how many there are of us.

But regardless, we look at the adverts with nuclear families and can’t help but feel inferior. When these moments attack my sensitive low self esteem, I mutter out

“Fuck ’em”

Not angrily, I have no anger towards happy families. Obviously. We’re a happy family too. I say it with joy.

“Fuck ’em” can be interchangeable about “fuck it”. The main emphasis is on the fact – none of it really matters.

It doesn’t matter what that judgemental woman on the train scowling at your kids behaviour thinks. It doesn’t matter what your ex Mother-in-law says about you. It doesn’t matter if your ex is prioritising his new found squeeze over your kids.

YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THESE THINGS.

We do have control of how we perceive things though, so turn those perceptions around after mumbling “fuck ’em/it” under your breathe.

We make our own stories. We write our own narrative. We create our own reality. We choose how we shape our world. Nobody else cares about our business, or has walked in our shoes. Most people are more concerned with themselves.

You owe nothing to anyone, and nobody owes anything to you. It is nobody else’s duty to take care of you. Make things better for you. We are responsible for our own self care. We don’t wait for others to suggest we do something for ourselves. We need to always fill our own cup first.

As a single mum I am more aware of this than ever. If I am not strong, if I am not happy, I have less to give my kids, my boyfriend and my friends. My sanity, my wellness matters. I’m everything the kids have most the time, falling apart is not an option.

And what helps me from not falling apart? Fucking it all off.

And repeat after me “Fuck ’em”.