Sometimes I wonder what I would say if people asked me what it was like to be homeless for three years and 3 months. I would probably tell them I don't really know. It never really felt like I was "homeless" because I always had a place to sleep. The rest of my time I was too busy trying to get food and basic necessities and medical care to think about it. At first, I didn't really realize it. Sure, I didn't have a place to call home or even my own bed sometimes. I slept on a lot of couches and guest beds and sometimes even the floor. I never stayed in one place much longer than 3 months. But I was more or less happy because I was free to explore and be my own person. Friends and partners and sometimes even family would send me money or feed me or give me a place to crash. I kept myself busy looking for work or reading, or cooking. I struggled with mental health issues, from severe depression and mania, to psychosis, to paranoia and panic attacks, and even multiple personalities. I even tried to take my life once. I questioned who I was and where I came from. I wondered what I was going to become; what would happen to me. The stress was crippling. I wondered if anyone loved me or cared. Those that did, eventually gave up on me, because they simply couldn't help me anymore.
A lot of good things happened too, though. When an opportunity presented itself, there was rarely a reason to turn it down. What was going to hold me back? I didn't have family or friends really that mattered that much. No real roots or attachments. No home base. No commitments. I travelled the world, meet celebrities, worked on the '08 campaign trail, started two businesses, and volunteered my time in non-profits and other organizations for people and issues that I cared about. Sometimes I was lucky and I would get a break. One job landed me health insurance for a few months. Another made me eligible for unemployment payments from the government, which gave me an opportunity to settle down long enough to get a certificate at a vocational school.
It's been almost two years now since I was "homeless". But to be honest, today it not much different. I've sacrificed a lot. In fact, I've sacrificed pretty much everything I ever held dear. I'm on the edge and have been on the edge, for years.... just one small step from that place. This time though, there isn't really much left to sacrifice, to buy just a little bit more time to figure it all out. I am just as much in a survival mode now as I was then. I live in a bad section of town but it is something that I can afford (most of the time!). I have a disability that eats up the few resources I have, but it helps me get resources I wouldn't ordinarily have access too. I get by, but I wonder everyday how long it will last. Will I have a roof over my head next month? Will it still be here in 6 months? In a year will I be in a better place… or a worse one? I long for the day I can feel safe again, and to know that I can depend on being able to "stay" where I am. I sometimes even dare to hope that that place will be full of love. I live on hope and faith and dreams. I provide as much love to myself as I can. I try every day to find something positive and productive that will make things just a little bit better or easier for the next day. It’s a slow building process. And it's also a recovery process; to reconcile with the circumstances that put me on the street… the betrayals, the abandonment, the confusion, and self-doubt, loss of self-worth, and drive to simply instinctually survive no matter what. I dream of the day I can slow down and breathe, not so that I can pick myself up and keep fighting, but so that I can sit down and start repairing and to live for me.
I've reached a new place recently. Its a place that has allowed me to step back and see all this that has happened. My memories that I have suppressed of my childhood and of the past 6 years "surviving" are crashing back to me. Its not been an easy road. All that stuff that I didn't process is now screaming to be processed NOW. I'm struggling to balance the plates and am increasingly feeling the pressure of how close I am to loosing it. I keep staving off loosing my roof and food and medicine in 2 and 3 month chunks at a time. I fear that that may come to an end soon. I hope that I am successful in my business sooner rather than later. Its a race against time. I know I will be successful..... but will it be soon enough? And if I do manage to save the plates before they fall, will I be able to move into a new apartment that I feel safe in? Will I be able to afford seeing a doctor? Will I be able to afford a lawyer to fight my disability case? Will I be able to be well enough again to eat food and exercise ever again? Will I be able to stabilize my life enough to be able to meet people and make friends or find a partner? What about affording a new car to replace the one that got totaled 2 months ago? Or maybe find the money to buy a cap and gown to attend my own graduation ceremony next month?
C'est la vie.