Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day - 173 The Homeless Moment of Truth

So here I am. I've been here before. This moment is not new to me. This is the moment when people watch me and wait. The moment that homeless haters wait for. This is the moment when people give up on the homeless. I've been waiting for this because I've seen it before.

This is the point when people will ask "so... you choose to be homeless???" This is the most hated question (in my opinion) on the topic. "So you choose to be homeless"???

People ask this question with fingers ready to point. If I say "yes" they win, and the circle of homeless stereotypes continues. If I say "no" then I have to explain that and watch while people pick my answer apart and try to figure out a way to call me a "lazy bum". How do I know this? I've seen it time and time again. Not at me, but at others. So yeah, this is my moment! People will point their fingers at me and judge me with no understanding. The time has come!

Luckily, I've thought about this post a lot. I have figured out a way to explain (kind of). I can only hope that people will understand this scatter-brained notion of mine.

Ask me "Homelessrob, do you choose" to be homeless?

Answer: "yes"...... and "no"!

Let me explain:
The "yes" first:

I've been here before, meaning that over the last couple of  years that I've been fighting my own personal homelessness, there have been times when I've found myself with a roof over my head and a job. This is where I am now. This is where I have found myself a few times in the past. I usually get here the same way via help. However,  at least once I did it on my own (with a little help). I've been off the streets now for about a month and a half holding down my job for the exact same amount of time (I got them both on the same day).

Now, to a lot of people, this is "problem solved". However, for me it's a little more complicated than that. For me, it was never about just getting off the streets. It's about moving ahead and my ability to do that. This is why I have my goal (kids, house, car). If I stay where I am now, I'm stuck. I'm living a life that is not me. I have to be moving ahead. Where I am now is defiantly a step in the right direction and a true blessing, but my ability to move ahead is the real question. I cannot allow myself to get stuck. I cannot allow myself the ability to say "I'm homeless with a roof over my head" which is where I am now. This is the same place where many homeless people are left after they make it off the streets (I'll explain that later).

This is the moment when, in the past, I started to question everything, and this what I say to myself (in this order):
" OK, I'm off the streets and with a job, this is great!"

"OK,  I'm getting by but it's by the skin of my teeth so I'll have to figure out a way to either minimize my life style or make more money. I have to move ahead!"

"OK, I'm doing everything I can right now but I'm still in a rut. I'm not moving ahead. I'm finding it hard to put myself in a position where I can move ahead and on into a life of security where I'm actually living a life that represents my age (33)."
"OK, I'm homeless with a roof over my head."

"Homelessrob, if you minimize any more you will be on the streets again!"

"This is not working. I can't find away to get ahead!"

"Maybe if I move I will find what I'm looking for somewhere else..."

"I'm not new to the streets..."

"I might as well hit the road because this is getting me nowhere fast. I'm wasting my time and I want my life back."

"I should save some money and move. I'll be on the streets, but that's easy now and at least I'll have some money."

"I should go with that plan and just consider this a stepping stone that I hope will get me to somewhere better."

"Start planning on where I want to go and how I'm gonna deal with street life once I get there."


It's easy for me to do this. There has never been anyone around to ask me about it. Why? Because once the "problem is solved" no one is ever around.

I do have to say that I think a lot of homeless people do this. It is a very easy thought process. For me, I did not know I was thinking like this for a long time. I had to go through it a few times. This is the one thing I'm looking to change now. If I do nothing else, I must change this portion of my brain. Now is the time for that. I have to accept that this has been my thinking pattern over the past few years and this has got to stop. Now.

This process of thinking goes well with homelessness. Homelessness is NOT a black and white problem. Homelessness is full of color and different dynamics and this process is one of them. This is a very large reason why people fall onto the streets over and over again. An inability to recognize this is also one of the many tricks that homelessness offers. We can't fight what we can't see. I see it now!

So, this is why I say "yes". At times I have chosen to render the streets as my home. The above is why!

Now the "no"!

NO, because if I was never homeless in the first place I would never have these thoughts. I did not choose it. It found me and made its move on me!

Now I know many people will go right to the "why" here!

Because you asked "why" I'll tell you. Does it matter? Honestly, if you don't know, it happens to people for a whole variety of reasons. I don't know what to say, but I have some ideas.

I'll just give you a list of reasons!
Starting with the most common (for the black and white thinkers).
"alcoholism" (once more, you do not have to be homeless to be an alcoholic or on drugs)

And now a few reasons that are understandable though not so commonly thought of.

"human trafficking" (I'm just now finding out that in fact, this is a very large problem in way of homelessness)
"immigration" (I've seen a lot of that. In fact, I have seen entire cities where half the homeless population was due to immigration)
"property damage" Yes, a tornado tore down your home and no one would take you in. This sort of thing happens every year, somewhere in America. Look into it.
"bad investments" Yes, I'm saying you lost all your money in the market. This also happens all the time. Look into it.
"loss of job" They say the avarage person is between two to three paychecks away from being homeless. I know some people do not want to say that the recession is an acceptable reason for homelessness, but I tend to think that loss of jobs is.
"relationships" This is more common than people think and it seems to me to be directed mostly toward women. I have seen a few times where a long term relationship that want south rendered a woman on the streets.
"youth" that speaks for itself. I could probably gather more than several reasons a youth would find comfort in the streets or somehow wind up there.

I don't know if I told you this story. It's actually my friend DD's story and you would hear him talking about it in the video I posted a few blog posts back. I asked him "what is the shortest amount of time you have spent getting someone off the streets?.

He replied, "3 hours".

Then told me:
The homeless person in this case was a mentally challenged kid. His mother, who had raised him his whole life, died. In an attempt to support himself he failed! Soon after his mother's death he was on the streets. The reason that it was so easy for DD to help him was because the kid had all his paperwork and documents together and found luck in someone willing to help him. How quickly this story could have turned into....... 10 years later.... "hey, look at that crazy, lazy homeless guy on the streets, he chooses to be here".

I was talking to a friend not too long ago. She was having problems and was a few weeks away from having nowhere to go. I think she said she was having problems with a crazy landlord (another story I have heard a few times). She said to me, "Homelessrob, I have over 800 Facebook friends and no one will help me". Yes, I hear this ALL the time. My, my, how fast people will turn away from you even before you are homeless.

An old woman told me almost the exact same story. The only difference was that she was older. However, she was confused about how people could treat her like they never knew her after she had spent all her life helping out others in her home town.

Stories like this are all over the place. People fall into homelessness for a lot of different reasons. More than I could probably tell you.

So ask me again-
"Homelessrob, so you choose to be homeless???"

Yes, in an tempt to fix my life starting from nothing I have a few times chosen to hit the streets. However, my better answer is still "no" because if it had never happened in the first place, hitting the streets would never have been an option. Homelessness made it so, not me!

I'm grateful that I figured this out within myself now because now that I know, I can make changes.

Right now I have no intentions of packing my bags and seeking about a new life on the streets with hopes of finding a better life in which I have an ability to move forward.

I'll just keep working on what I'm doing now and hope someday these doors will open.

I will say one last thing. This blog has done a lot for me. Every day I hop on and do work to help with this homeless cause and it seems like every day my fight on it moves ahead. Every day I seem to get stronger and stronger. I think having at least one thing in my life that is moving ahead helps me.

My followers and friends have given me that. This blog might just be the thing that keeps me from making another bad move.


Look, this is my brain on homelessness! O NO!!!

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Mushroom said...

I have been reading you since day 1 and I have never thought you were a "lazy bum"

Haters hate and finger pointers point,,,at everyone but themselves.
Some day if only they hated themselves and pointed at themselves we may see a better society coming through the clouds.
BUT that is why they hate and point,,,so they NEVER have to look at themselves.

Takes ALOT of guts to have to do stocktake on yourself everyday and call the shots as you see them.

Crap I'm not even game to do a stocktake on myself.
I have become comfortable and lazy.
Greedy in a way and also find myself pointing fingers some days.

YOu keep up your good work, your blogs and never mind the haters and pointers (they have their own issues to deal with)


BWirks said...

Hi Rob, I read your article in the St. pete paper. Well, I can relate to you so much. I thought any day at times that I was going to be homeless too. What is crazy about my situation is just 4 years ago, I had a house worth $375K that I sold before the ecomony tanked. Anyways, I can truly relate in so many ways. I would wonder if people knew I was so poor. Although, I had a car and it's funny when you wrote you wanted to know how people can have things, well that's all I had and I've been paying on it for 5 years. It will be paid off in Sept. It looks good cause I keep in cleaned in the outside. It would take too long to explain my life but I have to tell you and I would be happy to be a cheerleader for you and tell you don't, Don't, Don't give up. I on the other hand wanted to commit suicide, so many times. I raised two awesome kids they live in Davie (Ft. Lauderdale)but I don't have an education. Although I got my Real estate license 2 yrs ago. didn't know what the hell I was going to do with it in this economy but Rob I have to tell you last week literally I got a job that is paying 30k a year. Now if you only knew the shit luck that I have had for 3 years or more. This is such an amazing thing. I am not trying to brag because I still don't believe it (sort-of). I worked last week- my first week. But, I'm afraid that it won't last. I put 110% of myself because I don't want to lose it. I currently have 45.00 to my name right now and next week when I get paid it will be two weeks of paid. I'm stun, still. I always thought hard work would pay off and I didn't believe for a few years that anything would change as much as I tried. I would work at home depot, I would work doing anything to have some money and now, really 4 yrs later, it happened to me. Good luck! or hard work or whatever. But, Rob, you keep on keeping on and keep doing what your doing and I would like to promise you but I can't but I hope you can have the faith and believe things will change, Rob. I'm not a religious person but talking to God helps, too. I swear, since I have been telling God how grateful I am to be with him and I'm glad I didn't commit suicide, I'm really glad I didn't. My kids and sister's all knew that I wanted to so many times. But, I've make it. I've pulled myself up from the dredges of bottom not once but many times. Rob, as you said in the column that your ambitious, and hard working. You are going to be GREAT! I just know it, Rob. You hang tough and you will come out ahead. I'll be rutting for you, Rob. Stay well.

Anonymous said...

I get it.....had a roof over my head...leaking....very little food to eat.....worked four part time jobs....had NO phone...NO computer...NO is very hard.....don't give up....I recommend (don't shoot me) church or a missions center......I'm so much better off helped...prayer helped....goodwill...salvation army.....good luck...God be with you.....I would send you the good nails if you think it would help.....betsy.

Anonymous said...

I think it's awesome (granted, this was 2 years ago to date) that your life got turned around.

Personally: I've been working 2 full time jobs (70-80 hours A WEEK), both paying $9/hr, up 'til last month.

Within 12 days: Both of my jobs went away.