Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Ceased to Live, Instead I Exist

Let me be clear about something, this blog is for my sanity of sorts. Its not a 'pro-homeless' blog, an activist blog, or a call for action. (Although all of those are welcome) Its an outlet for me to ramble and perhaps show others (if anyone might ever stumble across this) a bit about the life of an actual homeless woman.
Every homeless person has a different situation, life and back round and this is mine.

Some homeless are drug addicts, some are emotionally unwell. Some are ex cons, criminals and all around horrible people. Some are products of circumstance, others are living through the cycle of poverty just as their parents did. Others are disabled (like me) or victims of domestic violence, which might I add is not just for women. Some are single mothers, others are married couples, runaway teens fleeing abuse, or just someone down on their luck after a round of layoffs.

There are many, many reasons to be homeless. Everyone is different.

I grew up in a middle class home, adopted into that life by a well intentioned single mother. Although my upbringing was in my mind traumatic, by outsider accounts it was a glorious way to live.  I was placed in foster care for a variety of reasons, at the age of 12 but I like to think it was for the best, although 'services' even eight years ago were nothing compared to what they are now.  I was literally dumped on the streets at 18, having become pregnant in foster care.  No support no follow through.. not so much as a goodbye, good luck here is a bus pass.

But, again by all accounts I had a decent upbringing. Middle class, stable, traveled the country and even went to Disney World a few times. I was raised by an Masters level educator and optometrist (odd how they cross, no?) and was determined to have a rather high IQ at the age of 7. I was educationally supported and my mother tried to emotionally support me, so I am told. I personally believe to have been a child victim of something like Munchhausen by proxy, but I certainly can't prove that.

Point is, I didn't grow up this way. I didn't grow up in poverty, I didn't grow up with the occasional bout of hunger or uncertainty. My mother owned her home, had a nice vehicle and a great line of credit, with stable employment. Poverty and homelessness were something I was aware of, but never worried about personally experiencing.

I have read many articles over the years about homelessness, poverty, teen pregnancy and other assorted social plights and although I felt sad for those involved, was grateful that I never had experienced that and stupidly assumed that it wasn't a problem that would ever affect me.

Now I can spot a homeless person in a crowd of a million people, as I know the signs. I have lived in more shelters than I can name and I have called probably ten thousand more. I have been turned down, pushed away, beaten, broken, battered, raped, chastised, arrested and even been subject to hate crimes.
I have even had attempts on my life made, more than once.

These are all the things I was taught in school, all the things I read about, heard about and immune to.

Yet, I have lived through it all.  I am still here. But sometimes I wonder when I stopped living and started existing.

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