With minimum wage not being on par with a basic living wage, many people can't even think to care about what it would be like to have had a job, lose it and then fight to receive money while not working - let alone how it might connect to their own possible experience and of how we are affected by what happens to workers across all income levels.
Temporary workers, part-time jobs or minimum wage full-time jobs that MIGHT give one benefits are the norm now. It feels like many of the gains that workers fought for in the labour movement have been clawed back or are disappearing with the scare tactics over the years of economic collapse (though the rich have never been richer) and corporations able to pull out of communities (that gave them tax breaks to be there, our government enabling them to abuse us) and the least thing on people's minds seems to be those of us who have been injured in our workplaces.
I continue to watch some of the Facebook groups but I'm frustrated by the bravado of some members who want to act as though they could be a champion for the rest of us - (they can't, they aren't, they won't be, they have no impact on my claim or anyone else's) - and I can't handle the extreme anger that is tossed at other injured workers so casually, despite all of us having this commonality of knowing what hell it is to go through this.
I can confess to you that even though my benefits have been "locked-in" now until age 65, I still have fear that I could be cut off at any moment. Call me a coward, but that is what years of fighting and being cut-off a few times can do to a person. I am aware that in trying to live my life and in doing the things that can help make me "better" (creative expression: writing, vlogging, going outside and taking photos) are all things that may be used against me.
Still, I don't want to stop trying to have a life because it IS my existence and the anxiety, ptsd and the rest of it is crippling enough. I've lost so much over the years, I have to try and live for myself somehow. So I'm trying my best, I really am. But I can't deny that I wonder on a platform like Facebook as to who is "real" and who is not.
I understand people's venting of anger online and can completely relate to those feelings because I have gone through it (and sometimes still go through it) but I am also scared that there seems to be no thinking about how that approach alone won't bring people around to the side of the injured worker. While it draws the news crews here and there when someone is at their end and does something drastic, the most common way we're all affected is with our daily struggles in mental and physical pain, our economic distress, how it has damaged our relationships and our sense of self-worth and self, the impact on our interests, and for some of us, the inability to get another job or be able to pursue a different career path that could help us move on.
Anger is the most straight-forward, honest and direct feeling that one can have to being put in this situation but it is not the emotion that people outside of our experience will respond to in any positive way. Even before I had "partially won" my claim, I understood that expressing my anger to such an extreme would not help me at all. Though, truthfully, depression is simply anger turned inward and so I can't say I wasn't still angry - I was just internalizing it a lot.
We have a right to be angry but we aren't going to make anyone care about our cause with hate on social media. I feel like, if anything, it hurts us more. We are not just our anger. We are not just our pain. It reduces us to angry cartoonish characters that can be further degraded by the system.
While that recent person got his day in court for free speech, in the end, I don't believe it helped me or any other injured worker all that much in the grand scheme of things. My speech wasn't threatened but then again, I haven't made personal threats. I don't look to people like that as heroes for the cause. I can't. I suppose this is where I differ with the direction of where people want to go with this (I realize the extent of frustration - I live with it too) but this is also why I find it difficult to be involved.
I am still trying to deal with what has happened to me and my mind also turns to what will become of me.
It can be overwhelming.
I also see that there is a correlation between how income inequality and the gap between rich and poor, the state of our tremendous difference between cost of living and wages and the way that workers are treated in general --- I see how all of that affects the injured worker as well, further making things difficult for us to attain the compensation and justice we rightfully deserve. Workers aren't respected - injured workers even less so.
These are just random thoughts I'm having today after a brief login to one of the social media sites I hate the most (don't like it at all but it feels like a necessary evil these days) and I didn't mean to dump so much incoherent ramblings on you. It's hard to find someone to talk to about this who might understand where I am coming from and even more difficult now that there seems to be this hard line being drawn where I feel like I still am on the outside, either way.
I can't be that angry. It's not because I don't see the reason for it but because I know that it would kill me and it wouldn't make a difference to anyone, including other workers, injured or not.
Things have to change and I want to see that change. I want to be strong enough that I can be part of that change. But I don't see the movement, as it stands now, as having the tools it needs to do so on the level that we need. I don't know if that makes sense. I'm not discouraging the fight. I am still part of it whether I choose to be or not as I am an injured worker and I am forever impacted by what I have been through. But I honestly don't know what to do in it with the way things are at the moment.
I shared that voice post - I is for Injured Workers - and I don't believe that hearing my experience and listening to how I personally kept my documentation and kept going is at all what people wanted to hear. They are, understandably, caught up in their own battles and the last thing they want to hear is "keep a journal" or "communicate with your doctor" or "try and live your life regardless because this is not going to be over anytime soon" --- it seems people want a flashy news story and some pitchforks instead.
One thing that sticks in my mind was how someone called another person their hero, on Facebook, and I thought, "No. You're a hero. Every single injured worker and anyone who has stood by them through their ordeal - every single one of us is a hero - our own hero." Because anyone who has survived this or is surviving, who hasn't given up or who continues to try and live despite the odds, we are all heroes in our own lives.
Maybe it's that I learned a long time ago that no one else was going to save me. No one was going to intervene and take me out of my circumstances and make everything all better. No one could do anything but get me through this but me.
This is not the approach we need to be a cohesive and collected movement and I realize that. We need for people to join together and be on each other's side and to have one another's backs. But it's very difficult for people to do that when each of our backs are against the wall.
I don't know the solution to this problem but I think about it a lot, as I still live with this every day. I want things to be better for all of us. I'd like to help, I'm just not sure how.
Thanks for reading / listening.
I'm here, in as much as I can be, if you want to be in touch.
- amber dawn pullin