On the eve of our last night of being professional campers (homeless), I cannot seem to decompress. Last night, Carlton and I talked about the entire ordeal, what we learned, what we would have done differently, and what we are thankful for. Our community of family and friends have lacked for a few years. We had only started to embark on fleshing out our people, when the rental house was condemned. This journey taught me about asking for help from my friends. It also taught me how to feel deep-seeded pain. The pain of not having a home needs more clarification, as I now truly believe that mental illness can be created in a formula of Timing + Environment. The purpose, I think, was too minimize stress by minimizing the amount of stuff we carried around. I believe we met that purpose, without knowing why we needed to, which was to balance between Logic and Emotion. Logic + Emotion= Whole Person. This is how we arrived here.
From previous blogs you know we have been homeless since February 08, 2017. It is now August 18, 2017 and we have a home we are moving into tomorrow. We stayed with family, friends, and camp hosted at a beautiful beach. We took a horrible road trip to Montana where Carlton and I found ourselves the definition of “beast” and questioned whether we would survive this hardship. We came back home and slept again at friend’s houses, in the back of our van down at a river pull off (decorated with garbage and needles) and Wal-Mart Parking lots. My mentor C.M. gave us a wedding gift that afforded us to stay the rest of the time at a really nice campground. My daughter had to stay with her dad for the summer, and I thought I lost her forever. My oldest daughter is expecting a child in September, so I knew we needed a house by then. I did not think it would take this long to find a job, 17 resumes out and 3 calls, nor did I think we would live in the van for 2 weeks. For that matter, I did not think the van would make it to Montana and back and STILL RUN. Now you are caught up. Let’s talk environment and timing.
Timing is fuel to the engine of environment. The scenario for us, not knowing where we will sleep, creates a fear based emotion. Logic tells you to lock your doors. Emotion tells you to lock the doors because there is a monster outside that you cannot see. Safety, being at the largest part of the triangle for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, is necessary in environment. The environment you sleep needs to be safe. Without safety, you cannot fulfill the most basic need of a human. This is where another emotion rears up, shame. The shame of not having a home, not being able to keep up with your life and having the entire scene displayed is the most depressing shame I have ever felt. I hid from everyone, only seeing my closest people, and never felt so isolated. I never want to be anyone’s burden, so to keep this action from happening I hid most everything that I could to keep a strong smile on my face. That smile faltered a lot. It made me feel useless as a human being, rotten and undeserving of the most basic need of housing. I understood, at that moment, why the homeless hide under their clothes and smell terrible. They have lost hope. Unfortunately, once drugs are involved, the hole is pretty deep. We did not turn to drugs, which made us wonder why? Why didn’t we give up? Separate? Use drinking or drugs to numb our minds and fingers? I don’t know why. I think only because we have people who loved us through this. That love and community is important. When your environment is filled with smiling faces and good intentions, you win a little hope. So thank you for that.
The timing to be out of work and housing was not great for inducing a new environment. I spent a lot of the summer just trying to feel comfortable with myself. I had to be a beach security person, and it was not pleasant to tell people to leave, but I learned not to take things so personally. Maybe smile more, and the reaction will be better. My overreaction only brings me anxiety for I am way too worried about hurting someone else’s feelings that I become “the beast”, complete with heart palpitations and a tendency to run or detach. The timing was really not horrible once we got to summer. It was the warmest summer on record in a long time, and we enjoyed the sunsets. I published a book and didn’t know what to do with it. I got to help write a memoir. I met all the wonderful employees and owner of Blackbird Coffee in Port Angeles, where they allowed me to use their space and internet to do everything I needed to do online. And they have amazing coffee. I found my career again. And now time has opened up her gentle arms and is embracing us. Now, I see. The timing was all wrong. There was a greater purpose.
We love you, and thank you for crowing your love