a post from one of our guests, A.G.
Being homeless is not always an absence of having a permanent place to live; it is also a state of mind. In my initial experience of being homeless, I lost my job and apartment and wound up in a shelter. I was truly homeless in multiple ways. No job, not hirable, mountains of debt with no way to pay, few friends and one huge attitude.
The shelter was not ideal and opened my naïve eyes to the world of the homeless, literally and figuratively. The shelter only provided bricks and mortar, showers, food and a few areas of counseling and help. The brick and mortar was a place to stay at night where all the residents came together every evening for a meal, some TV time, time to do laundry, read, showers and sleep. The food was adequate, the chores light and the beds horizontal.
The search for a job was frustrating. No one wanted anyone with my skillset, and they set about to prove it with each application. I could do many things, yet no one wanted to take a chance.
Finally the money, or rather the lack of it, took over. I had lost almost everything. I had my children and grandchildren as well as my brother and his family as my support base. The shelter did nothing to augment that support base. My daughter took control of the situation and secured a bed and transportation. They were welcomed and solved a portion of my homelessness. The bed and vehicle met many of my needs, yet the prevailing thought of homelessness was not erased. In my mind, the overwhelming thought of being homeless was reinforced to the point that I actually became a believer.
The bed became a weapon of torture, the door to the room was both a way to achieve peace and solitude as well as the opening to a cell. The door represented many things; some were positive, some negative, and most just floating in my confused consciousness. I was attempting to organize many of my thoughts and falling short of my goal.
God led me to a series of jobs which helped open doors into areas I never knew existed. My feeling of self-worth grew in a professional sense while stagnating on the personal side. My feelings of being homeless were ever present and frustrating. I knew some things were improving while others were falling apart. The door to my cell remained shut even when open.
It appeared as though the further I went, the more behind I got. I trudged in cold molasses and get nowhere. The support I felt had waned, as least in my mind. I began to feel more homeless almost every day. I attempted to get past these feelings with some luck, but a select few really tried to make me something I was not. Some people cannot accept progress or even like themselves. They work to tear others down in order to build themselves up. It takes a strong person to resist the desire to fall into that trap. I was not that strong and allowed all kinds of negativity to penetrate my psyche. I began to spiral in an all too familiar direction. Just like the coin you place in the donation circle and watch it roll around and around before falling into the collection bucket, I too spiraled to a new low.
I had realized my course of action and was attempting to follow it when my world fell apart for a second time. A few milliliters of blood changed my whole world. That long trip down to the floor ended up in a hospital bed for four eventful days. I met many who helped as I attached a lifeline to my floundering soul. I had spent only two days in the hospital when I was confronted by the earth-shattering bad news. Homeless again in a most cowardly and damaging way.
I was given the bad news by a complete stranger who seemed to hate to be the bearer or bad news. Bad news comes in many forms, and this one was a doozy. It is never easy to become homeless, and I had just been cut loose from the relative security of the past two-plus years. I was told how worthless and useless I was and had been over that period of time. Perception being truth, that pill was almost impossible to swallow.
I had moments of anger followed by the urge to run and hide. I was thrown away once again, and all those bottled-up feelings spilled out and had to be dealt with. I went to a shelter and spent over a month of avoidance and attempting to feel sorry for myself. I learned a lot about things but not about myself. I prayed and meditated until I learned a few things, then moved on to myself. Anger decreased yet did not resolve. I continued to pray and had several windows opened to me.
The church gave me part of what I needed. I had returned to God and began following his plan for me. I had run from God until I learned that no matter where I ran, I was still there and had to deal with myself. At this point, God sent people in need to me so I could help them in their journey. I met many good people who had been wayward and needed some help. I also needed their help, and they made me face myself as I really was.
I had become something I was not proud of. I had ignored my past as I focused on things that did not make any difference. I helped where I could, and in doing so, I became a new person. I threw off many old ideas and accepted new ones. I became a leader when needed and a voice for reason. I helped avoid arguments and made others stronger as I stood beside them. The feelings of homelessness began to fall as the true light invaded the darkness. I had a place to stay, a place to sleep, good food to eat and friends. I was working toward a place of my own to stay and a vehicle if required. The bus system helps a lot, and my own two feet are capable of much more than I thought.
The feelings of having no permanent address are still there, yet the old homeless, hopeless, helpless ones are melting rapidly. God has opened my eyes, and I now see a bright light at the end of the long tunnel, back to a better life for myself and my family and friends. Those who used me and hurt me cannot break me and never will have me lower myself to their level. Life is good, being homeless means only no permanent address, and I am worth it.