loneliness...it's a tough emotion to deal with. it effects different people in different ways. but when you're homeless i think there is a universal sort of way that it digs into your heart and eats at your soul. despite being around people most of your day and certainly your night, the loneliness is still there. you see....when you're homeless you've more or less been abandoned by everyone you know and everyone you loved. it doesn't matter why or how or when. the fact is you have been abandoned. that is not a good feeling. it hurts even the hardest of men. it cuts right to your heart. what makes it even worse is the fact that you really didn't abandoned them...in alot of cases you still haven't. you still think of them at night. you still wonder how they are. you still want to reconnect with them. you still love them. it's always with you....the loneliness. it can pop up at any time during the day or nite. you carry it around and it's just as heavy as the backpack you carry on your back. it's not visible, but it's a weight that's attached to you everywhere you go.
fear....yes...fear. you are afraid. you're afraid that somehow the nightmare won't end. you're afraid that when it does end it could happen again. you're afraid because you're vulnerable. you are at the mercy of other people. you are the mercy of the weather. you are at the mercy of the economy. you are at the mercy of politicians and social workers who don't know you...except as a statistic. you walk the streets every day and in some cases every nite. you are subject to muggings and robberies and in some cases the police. you are in a very precarious position at best and it is absolutely disconcerting.
anxiety....you are anxious about things other people take for granted. food....you are dependent on other people to eat. the time...the place...and the food itself are out of your control. you are anxious about your health. you know the slightest cold or the slightest injury can become serious because you have nowhere to rest. you have no roof over your head. you can't afford medication...the simplest of medication like a cold tablet or aspirin or antiseptic. even if you could, you get no prolonged period of rest so you know if you become sick or injured you are in for a long, painful process of recovery. you are anxious about money. what little money you may make working or receive from the gvt. goes to the necessities you have to obtain. sometimes it's clothing. sometimes it's bus passes so you can look for a job or go to the doctor or wherever you may need to go. anxiety on a daily basis can wear you down. it takes its toll.
frustration. you are frustrated with everything. the people around you. your situation. the past. the present. the future that doesn't come fast enough. you're frustrated from looking for a job and getting no response. you're frustrated that your time being homeless is dragging on and on and on. you're frustrated and sometimes angry.
despair. i think this is the worst of all emotions. you've done everything you can do. you have been trying every day. your situation hasn't improved and it's even gotten worse. you are sinking into that bottomless pit called despair. you feel yourself wanting to give up. it pulls at you...especially at nite. you have lost the very things that you once thought of as your identity. your family, your home, your job, your money, your sense of who you are. you feel yourself losing your will to carry on. it drains you. it paralyzes you.
embarrassment....yes...homeless people are embarrassed at being homeless. some more than others. but it bothers each and every one. we hear the remarks. we read the debates. we know what you think whether or not you say it outloud. we can hear you debating about us like we're not here...like we don't exist...like we're a commodity that you're trying to figure out the net worth of. we notice that you don't like looking us in the eye. we notice when you speak and when you don't. we notice when you're scared of us. we notice when you say we don't deserve anything. we notice when you say we're bums and welfare queens and ebt kings. we hear...we notice...and we're embarrassed, sometimes more for you than we are for ourselves.
despite the song...despite all the inspirational things that people seem to want to say about it....despite the "everyone has a burden" mentality of some people...despite all that....it does not make you stronger. it makes you weak. it kills you...slowly....as surely as a disease...it kills you. it's a silent killer. people don't realize just how bad it can be....how dibilatating it can be.
hope. it's the one thing that keeps all of the above at bay. when the emotions begin to close in, when the fears grip you at nite, when the loneliness seems too much to bear....hope steps in. it creates a small light at the end of your heart. it gives you that line to grab onto. it gives you the spirit to hang on until tomorrow. there is always tomorrow. but even the most optimistic person cannot keep creating hope by themself. they need someone else to be holding onto the other end of that line. they need someone else at the end of that tunnel saying...you can make it...keep trying. do not give up. they need someone that will care if they give up...or keep trying.
so whether you work in a shelter, a mission or social welfare agency...give someone the gift of hope. if you're just an ordinary person..... let them know you are aware of them. let them know you care. it's free. it doesn't hurt. and it just might save someone. don't let them slip quietly into that night. hold out your hand and see who grabs it.
see you around town