Why do I care?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Francisco_de_Goya%2C_Saturno_devorando_a_su_hijo_%281819-1823%29.jpgI despair.

It got to me, going to Edinburgh, all the anticipation- how would my life change if I got that job, what would I make of it? All the effort. And then the refusal. I get interviews. I have usually got an interview for each application I have made. And then I do not get the job. After going to Edinburgh, I did little the following week. I found that thinking “I will do X at Y future time” had no meaning. Y time came, and I did not. The thought, I need to do X, and I have time to do it Now worked.

Two client meetings got to me at the CAB. I phoned the tax credit office, to find what had gone wrong with a claim, since on the basis of what the claimant told me she was entitled to more than £100 a week- means-tested benefit, her family need that to live on- and it had been refused. It is not particularly generous. She seemed vulnerable, and in need of an even break. There is a dedicated phone line for advisers, but the person on that phone line could not find any details of the decision. It took 29 minutes, as indicated by the phone, for her to give me the contact number of the man who made the decision.

He wanted my full name, the address and post code and phone numbers of my office to prove I was who I said I was. I asked him what had happened and he said, “Why don’t you ask her?” Because I want to know what your position is. He told me I was arrogant, and he did not have to speak to me, after talking over me. He found me “condensating”, and by that time my brain was fried. I knew he meant some other thing but the word “condescending” eluded me. It was as if, rather than checking whether someone is entitled, he was seeking out excuses not to pay.

I have a law degree and benefits experience going back to 1993. File:Goya Dog.jpgI asked about why a claim for a benefit with simple entitlement criteria and clear entitlement had not been paid, and I could not get a straight answer. I could not even find out what the dispute was.

Man this morning, slightly more complicated benefit rules applied, involving two separate claims systems. He had asked the jobcentre what he should claim, and been told one thing but not the £30 a week more generous alternative. There had been a half-arsed attempt to get the claim right, the less generous way, but it was not followed through. Actually, they were getting more than they were entitled to, but that means that absolutely all of it might be recovered at some point in the future, without deducting the amount they would have been entitled to. This started six months ago. What should be done now? What should be done about the past period, given the near-impossibility of backdating? Why did that particular payment stop? Why has that particular payment not started yet?

I came out, and started weeping in the loos, and our lovely Peruvian receptionist consoled and hugged me. Why does it matter so much to me? There is the mirage of a system with clear rules for clear outcomes, fit the rules and you get the money. But put it into practice, and that does not happen. I have made appeals on serious knotty points of law, and here am I helping with claims. People who are entitled are not getting what they are entitled. The man this morning had a responsible job and has average intelligence, certainly greater than some benefit claimants, as benefits tend to be for the most vulnerable people. And he needs a lawyer to sort his claim out. The system is mad.

Written 15 October.

8 thoughts on “Why do I care?

    • Often, even usually, the effort I put in would have a positive effect. The caring produces that effort, and the weeping is the by-product of the caring and the effort. And- “gold”. That warms me. Thank you.


  1. Sensitivity is indeed a pain – but would you rather not care? Not care so much, perhaps. It might console you to reflect that most others will not be as affected by you, so you can be upset in peace, as it were, and get it out of your system. Does that help?

    Sometimes things just get to us. They just do, that day, or this morning, That is a part of who you are though, so don’t make the problem worse by adding guilt, or regrets. Abraham says, “Worrying is when you use your imagination to bring towards you that which you do not want.”

    Bless you, Clare. Thank you for your thoughtful post. xxxx 🙂


    • I would rather not weep like this. It is “Not the done thing”. And I am out in the world, in the office with people, and I weep and I withdraw, and there seems to be no space to withdraw, at the time, and I would rather Cope, and Get On. Really, one is supposed to cope 9-5 M-F, and any necessary withdrawal is outside that time, and I am barely managing Monday and Wednesday 10-2.

      I am stuck in the thought of the weeping being a Bad thing, and I wish I could find a place where I fitted, where my sensitivity was a positive thing.


    • I am sick already. I suppressed for a very long time. And- caring has motivated me to achieve more, rather than going through the motions. I hope that feeling so much pain for what seems so little provocation may be on the way to healing. Thank you for listening.


  2. Clare the key word here is system. Yes systems are generally a set up to give a certain few something to hide behind. I have been a fighter of system my entire life. I have cried like you a hundred times ( or more). I kept on keeping on and even though I could not make a system change I could affect the system as it is connected to being human no matter what. Once a very wise person asked me to remember why I had invited a certain person that I was being tormented by into my life. Wow the question that turned all those tears around. I let that question be my guide and one day I had a profound memory of being a small girl and hearing my mom constantly cry and question and fight a system so very close to what I had found myself in. I remember making many vows to find a way to help her to ‘save’ her. Whew the tears came flooding then as I realized I had been living a vow that was not about me. It turned my energy completely around and I could see more clearly how sad and frightened all those system hiders were. I moved in a way that was fear-less and this intimidated them. I put into practice what my yoga teacher had always shared and that was a Buddhist teaching about “loving kindness” for all. I say that over and over and over…..sometimes mixed in with other thoughts of revenge( lol just to keep me on task ) and really it has been a miraculous turn around. I think the concept that applies here is that what comes from the heart comes from our truth and so it is projected as this form of unseen yet felt light energy. I was always in the need to be needed kind of love as I had grown up in a loving but screwed up family dynamic. Now if something negative or someone negative is in my world I ask why I invited them in and what I have to let go of. It happens less and less as I let go of more and more. Like the Buddhist’s say, “practice, practice, practice.”


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