There Was a Time . . .

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This is something I don’t speak often on, not even to my family or closest of friends.

There was a time, when I was in the homeless shelters in Washington and Pennsylvania, where I felt under constant emotional, spiritual, and mental attack, mainly by family. I had this mental imagery at times of me on the ground, a shield poised over my head and my torso while I curled underneath it for better protection against the onslaught of not living up to anyone else’s standards. It was almost relentless, in a sense, too.

Who, in their sane minds, ever becomes homeless? Willingly becomes homeless? In the eyes of some, that’s rather suspicious. In the eyes of others, it’s insanity.

My reasons were not so nefarious, not even a little, and, honestly, with where I was at the point in my life when I hauled myself from Michigan to Washington and finally to Pennsylvania, I had no respect for home. I had no respect for what home meant. When you live with other people your entire life, you take the concept of home for granted. It’s just something that’s there. Most of the time, it takes something drastic to happen – foreclosure and/or eviction; natural disaster; fire – in order for people to appreciate what they’ve had when it comes to home.

Now, not only did I lack that respect, but I was guided. It sounds crazy, and, personally, that’s okay with me. I haven’t always fit in with what’s considered normal in American society anyway, so this is just one more thing to add to that bucket of my oddities. People won’t always understand, either, when a person is guided to do something, so this was just one more thing for those who didn’t understand to use against me as a weapon during the time that I was homeless. (Homeless person speaking out on the biggest causes of the homeless problem in the U.S.? Oh my. In the minds of many, it’s your own fault for improper planning and you shouldn’t expect charity or sympathy for your own decisions . . . never mind what was said actually had nothing to do with the rants against me when I did speak out.)

There is always a time when I voice my opinion to someone, my stance on life, and someone, usually a man, will tell me that I will end up alone in life because I refuse to “see” what it is that’s being said. And, yes, nine times out of ten, a man is telling me that I will be lonely for sticking by my beliefs.

One thing I have found to be true is we can be surrounded by those who love us, those who agree with our opinions, and we’re still feeling alone in this world. I have friends and family who agree with me on many subjects, but that doesn’t stop the loneliness from coming in and trying to crush me. I find such remarks about me ending up alone later in life to be control, manipulation, and gaslighting attempts. Why? Like I said, I’ve been amongst people who agree with me, who believe the same way that I do, who even respect and value my thoughts and me as a human being, and I still feel alone at times. I offer hugs every so often to random strangers.

I struggle with overwhelming emotions and anxiety. I’ve built walls around myself from an early age so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain of others. I’ve known for many years now that what we want and what we need are two separate things, that they are not mutually exclusive.

Now, the days of feeling constantly under attack, like if I try to remove that feeble wooden shield and to stand that everything will resume all over again, are mostly over. But it’s still there with me. The feeling of attack hasn’t ended. I just have a stronger sense of myself than what I did four years ago.

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