Wednesday, 7 September 2011

So you think you understand homelessness?

Being homeless has many levels of meaning and circumstances. After two stints I do not believe it is something to be taken lightly. I have seen people around me this last two weeks who walk round this hotel looking like they have the world on their shoulders. There is no typical person to fall prey to the situation either. I chat with a couple of people who have obviously had the daylights knocked out of them primarily because of a relationship breakdown of some form and through mean and sometimes spiteful choices they can’t control and are out on the streets whilst their partners are in the home…the shocking thing is the people I am referring to are mothers with young children.
It breaks my heart that my kids are going through this again, through no fault of theirs or mine but to see a 2 and 4 year old come out of the bathroom freshly bathed and in their pjs I wonder what effect it will have on them in the future. I look at the mom, say hi and stop to chat for a few minutes and I determined when I got here that while my family are my priority I will deal with my challenge with as happy a manner as I can. I have had management thank me for being cheerful, I've had children say ‘hi Deb’ when I just take the rubbish to the bin downstairs, I have a young man pop to my door every night to borrow a can opener and apologise profusely that he can’t afford to buy one. I smile and assure him that I don’t mind sharing. This morning this same guy, probably aged around 22ish saw me going to take Charley to school and ran to open the door for us with a big smile.
Another lady who looks like she’s scared of her own shadow scurries around the building looking around the corners before she goes round them, my heart goes out to her, she looks old and tired from life. I want to put my arms round her and tell her not to give up, she is not alone and someone loves her because she is so very special to them.
Walking around this B&B I see things from the eyes of God because its the only way I can mentally cope with being here. I don’t feel I shouldn’t and life is cruel, I feel overwhelmed that my life seems to be in the balance of people who really don't care a hoot one way or the other. What is more sad is seeing how these people around me just get pushed to the side like they are second class citizens. I’m grateful that the staff treat me and my kids with respect and polite language, asking after our day or how we’re getting on with the house, it seems some of the people here don’t get that from many people at all.
Do you really know what it is like to be homeless? Do you realise that homelessness eats away at the life skills we’ve spent years learning and building? Each time someone says they are homeless they are categorised, viewed accountable entirely and immediately that look of ‘don’t touch me in case I catch it’, which in turn leaves many a people feeling like they are just worthless. 
It is not our place to make such judgements. I feel rather protective of these practical strangers. I feel like screaming ‘what do you really understand about being homeless?’
I am fortunate that I have a car to get around in, I am fortunate that I can go to my moms {less than 1/2 mile away} to do some washing and cook a meal. If I get fed up I have my mom and my friend Jenny to go visit, people who love me and keep me grounded on ‘normal’ life. I am blessed that I see this situation for what it is. a consequence of someone else’s decision but I also see how I could have prevented some parts of it if I were that little bit more prepared in other areas. Never have I doubted that my Heavenly Father is with me and working things out for me.
Yes it is difficult some days.
Yes I feel lost and alone sometimes.
Yes I feel totally forgotten and isolated at times.
Yes I wonder when it will all end.
But at the bottom of my heart and the forefront of my mind I know without a doubt that I am not alone, that it could be worse and my knowledge and understanding {however limited it may be} of life I know that this is a life challenge for me to learn, grow and progress from. Yes it will scar me in the future but I know I will grow from it. Yes I will have a lot of issues to deal with from my kids but I am strong enough to get them through it. My kids will grow from this because that is the only way they will learn from it. I do not allow the kids to hear how I am struggling now to be here, how I am emotionally tired of all the worry, the uncertainties and the glances of other people when I have to reveal I have no fixed address. No, that is adult stuff and my kids are still children, they still need to be protected as much as reasonably possible.
In all honesty, I am not a selfish person, I am not an aggressive person and I am not a person to give up but this last few days I am teetering on the edge of all of them because living life in a B&B is nothing like having your own home, being on  holiday or living in a shared accommodation.
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