January 9, 2012
“…Did you believe that you were hopeless, helpless or both when you were on the street?…”
In order to answer that question I had to compartmentalize it first, otherwise it would just be too complicated. I will work within the broad yet limiting ranges of the following compartments for the purposes of answering that question. Mentally; Emotionally; Physically; Medically; Nutritionally.
1st Compartment – Mentally – Hopeless & Helpless
I was a mess. Not only was I feeding into my own mental health problems but I was also supporting a full time addiction. I neither hoped nor dreamed I could or would ever be able to escape the basic level of survival that is Homelessness. Even if someone did point me in the direction of a possible way out, I would have just ignored them. Some people would say that I was blissful in my ignorance. I say that, mentally, I was like a deer caught in the headlights, I could have easily jumped out of the way and saved myself but at that particular time in my life I could not. I was blind to all but the “reality of life” as I saw it.
2nd Compartment – Emotionally – Hopeless & Helpless
The emotional stability at that point in my life was nothing to write home about. Being homeless brings about it’s own problems and one of the largest and most stressful for me was the constant emotional highs and lows that go along with the lifestyle. I had learned to control my emotions very well (or so I thought), it was just that I had never learned how to properly express them. I ended up ‘self-medicating’ in order to assist me with the emotional rollercoaster that was my life.
3rd Compartment – Physically – Not Hopeless & Not Helpless
I never realized until I got off the street how good of shape I was in physically. I may have been dirty and unkempt but if you have read my posts on panhandling then you know why I chose to look that way.
4th Compartment – Medically – Hopeless & Not Helpless
I was infectious, so I stayed a respectable distance from you and you gave me money for doing so. Okay that is somewhat of a lie. I always followed the basic rules for what needed to be done to stay healthy though. Besides I was not allowed to use my choice of drugs in the hospital waiting room and if you get sick you end up there. I had previous training in first aid and CPR as well as outdoor survival skills so I did have an advantage over most other homeless individuals in this area.
5th Compartment – Nutritionally – Not Hopeless & Not Helpless
This compartment, consists of my past ability to access clean drinking water and edible food. I need to mention here that again I have certain tools available in my skill set that not all homeless people have and the utilization of those skills ensured that I seldom, if ever, went hungry. There are always ways of getting edible food and drinking water in this city for homeless individuals.
So in conclusion I would have to say that overall I was just hopeless but believed that I was helpless and hopeless.
I had to depend on myself, if there was something in my life that made me helpless, then that would reinforce the feeling of hopelessness and drive my self worth/self esteem just that much farther into the ground, which in turn ensured that I never thought myself really worth anything more than the life I was living. Why would I want to fit into a “higher” social class if I felt inferior? (at least I was excepted by other homeless people as an equal)
I lived in a cage of my own creation, something I had built for my own protection growing up, something I hid in so that the things happening around me did not hurt me so much. I tried to step out of my cage eventually and got overwhelmed. So I hid, shaken, scared and withdrawn, behind a mask, unfortunately, drugs ended up being that mask. Whenever something bad happened that I was mentally unable to handle, I would run back into the cage, close the door and lock myself in just like I did as a child. In doing so, one day, I ended up locking myself into that cage and tossing the key out. The only problem is that the pile of drugs that I threw the key at never gave it back to me, so I ended up having to wait till someone came by and helped me get the key back. That took 20 years.