You know it’s funny, the way people are. In times of chaos and what seems like never ending misery, people go looking for heroes. Someone they can look up to for inspiration and maybe a little encouragement too. If ever there was a time for heroes, now certainly looks like a good time. The thing is though, the very people being hailed as heroes don’t see themselves that way. Often they don’t realize it until someone mentions it so I have a request to make……
Please don’t call me that. I don’t consider myself to be extraordinary. What I do and how I feel about helping other people comes from spending a lifetime watching other people’s pain. I do not understand how anyone can look a homeless family in the face and walk away. I do not understand politicians willing to hold a country hostage to further interests for the few instead of the many yet all the while the people suffer. The so-called “moral majority” is anything but moral. How can they be when they continue to undermine programs to help the poor? You wanna do more with less? Start by eliminating government waste and useless bureaucracy.
I get emails all the time from a lot of people asking me how and why I haven’t lost my mind yet. How do you know I haven’t? Lol…but seriously, this is how I look at my situation. Yes, I’m homeless and it was a tough decision to “out” my situation to everybody that I’ve been homeless for about eight years now. I did it because I know I’m not the only one living this way. My thinking was and still is that you don’t have to be housed to make a difference. Some would say I could make more of a difference if I were housed but is that really true? Who better to talk about this life than someone actually living it? We all know there aren’t enough programs or funding to help the massive numbers of people entering homelessness on a daily basis so while I’m out here trying to help myself, I might as well talk to folks about the reality I live in. Fact of the matter is…I will be out here for awhile and there’s no getting around that. Until major changes occur in social services, so will the rest of us.
Even with all the hurdles I face, I don’t sit around dwelling on doom and gloom. I can understand why some people go that route since many are caught up on a snag called fear. Fear of not knowing where their lives are going or where they’ll end up is a natural reaction to being shocked into hardship. Been there, done that. I too went through a stage of shock the first time I was homeless. Mainly because the man I thought I would spend forever with, packed up everything and ran away when I was eight and a half months pregnant. What would you do if you came home after a weekend with family only to be told by the doorman of the building you lived in that while you were away, your significant other brought in a moving truck and moved out? I was homeless, only had the clothes on my back and didn’t know what to do. I was told by DSHS that because I was single, I didn’t qualify for help until after the baby was born. I couldn’t get Section 8 back then either and that was 16 years ago! The difference then was that jobs were available and I was working through my pregnancy and after delivery. Didn’t matter that I almost died in the hospital from extreme blood loss, I had to keep working and had no time to “go home and rest” like my doctor kept advising me to do.
With a newborn in tow, I left the hospital 3 days later and bounced around from the YWCA and cheap motels thanks to the generosity of bus drivers. That’s right, metro bus drivers that guessed my situation because they saw me riding buses all night to stay warm in the winter and to be somewhat safe until the sun came up. I remember wandering around for about 3 days in a state of stupor. I couldn’t think and I couldn’t feel. Back then, welfare only paid $347.00 a month and when my firstborn was 4 months old, I found a cheap, rundown apartment in Tukwila that was $340.00 a month, utilities were extra. I learned to live an entire year without electricity.
The economy was bad then but not like it is now. I managed to find someone I could trust to watch my baby while I worked two minimum wage jobs to get off welfare. I succeeded and paid my way through various classes to upgrade my job market skills. Even though I could pay rent and childcare, that was all I managed to pay for. I still had to use the local food banks to feed my daughter and get diapers. While working nights at the airport, there were times I felt like I couldn’t keep living this way. The only thing that kept me there was the little photograph I kept in my pocket of my daughter. Whenever I felt like giving up, I looked at that picture to remind me of what I was working for. Something about staring at her little face made it all seem worthwhile. That’s what I do now. I look for those little moments that make life worthwhile. …and so should you. Don’t let opportunities for good memories slip away from you. In the end, you’ll regret it.
I’m nobody’s hero. I’m one of you just doing the best I can.