Despite having been in somewhat of a morose frame of mind over the last week or so, I have had the good fortune to have met and associated with quite a number of people who have been able to keep me from sinking down into a well of despair.
The "down in the dumps" syndrome has even been noticeable in what I’ve written recently. It’s been so noticeable in fact, that one friend, who writes a blog under the name Wandering Vet, took the time to get me a call to see how I’m doing and to try and cheer me up. Actually, it feels good to have someone that concerned with my well being that they would do that.
One thing that has somewhat amazed me is that, most of the new people I’ve been "meeting and greeting" are folks who know of my status as a transitionally homeless person. They’ve been extraordinarily gracious about it. While, they don’t go out of their way to ask me about my personal homelessness, neither do they go out of their way to avoid the topic. The topic is just there. If we talk about it, we talk about it – if we don’t, we don’t.
After having become accustomed to being treated as though I were sub-human because of my homelessness for such a long time, these new folks that I’ve been meeting have allowed me to be me. Discussions have ranged far and wide on any given number of topics – and yes, we’ve even discussed homelessness in general.
What is more amazing to me is that many of these people are asking me what my thoughts are on how we can – if not end homelessness altogether – find someway to help those homeless we have and, as a result, reduce the numbers of people who call the streets home. Some have asked what I thought they could do personally do help the homeless or how can they have an impact and make a difference.
One of the commonalities that all of these people have is that they are all caught off guard when I begin sharing with them the numbers of people who are homeless throughout the nation. Most of them have been unaware that the numbers were so high. They’ve seen homeless in the area, but didn’t realize just how many folks – of all ages, sizes, genders, educational backgrounds and etcetera – have no place to call home.
The truth is, that until I personally experienced homelessness I didn’t realize just how many people were afflicted by this social disability. And, that’s what homelessness is: a social disability. In many ways, being homeless is far worse than having an emotional or physical disability.
Homelessness can, in fact, actually trigger emotional or psychological disabilities in people. The stresses associated with becoming socially outcast because they are residentially challenged can push a person over the edge.
I know one gentleman who is going through that right now. Although to the casual observer he may seem lucid, every decision he is currently making is motivated by panic. Nothing he does is actually rational. And, these irrational decisions are only making things worse, which in turn causes him to panic more. It is a negative cycle that has no good outcome.
Those who are closest to him don’t know how to help. Some are afraid to voice their concerns with him because he has verbally lashed out at them when they tried to offer him solace and comfort. He is so blindly caught in this cycle that he is unable to recognize that he is on the edge.
Even with the most stable of persons homelessness can, and does, take its toll.
There have been times, similar to what I’ve gone through recently when I couldn’t seem to move forward. It felt as though the only momentum I had was with going in circles. And it’s frustrating. More than that, it takes a willingness to sometimes stop in mid step long enough to get your bearings. Then you can begin moving forward again.
I’m hoping that I’ve reached that point in this most recent part of my journey through homelessness. Even more so because just today I saw a small plaque that read:
"Blessed are those who go in circles, for they shall be known as wheels."
Hopefully it will be a long time before I get a flat again.