What do you do, what are you supposed to do when someone you know becomes homeless? What do you do when it’s your mom and she’s in her 70’s? What do you do when you gave her a year’s worth of ideas and warnings and now she’s living in her car anyways? What do you do when it triggers this freeze response in you, thinking back and remembering, and even though you’re pretty sure this is a moment you’re supposed to be doing something, you still can’t?
I wrote a book while I was living in the shelter in hopes that it could serve as an avenue to reduce the likelihood of ending up without shelter again, a book I’m too shy, too insecure, too emotionally withdrawn to try and sell. Writing this blog is about as much emotional risk as I can stand. Maybe if I had tried harder, she wouldn’t be sleeping in her car.
People were often cruel when I was on the streets. It was a cruelty I wasn’t prepared for. In the two to three years I’ve been writing and active on social media, I’ve seen even worse. Literal calls for death of the homeless and disenfranchised. An ideological divide ensued where many who believe in helping others have been ridiculed and shamed, there has been a massive shift towards victim blaming and divisive politics.
For some, the thought of equity is deemed communism at best. Those who call for a more just system are accused of trying to ruin the country. Freeloaders, bleeding heart, ignorant. That whole gigantic middle ground where equal opportunity and safety nets for the disenfranchised should be, has been side swept by a sea of confusion and emotional bullying, to put it mildly. To be called a social justice warrior, an sjw, is the new put-down. Meanwhile, life is getting worse and worse and worse for those on the bottom and do you want to wait to guess who swoops in and saves us when it simply becomes intolerable… ah, why spoil the ending.
Anyhoo….it became a hornet’s nest I was too emotionally vulnerable to continue stepping in.
On the streets, I experienced three basic types of reactions, ignored, harassed or helped. Five percent of people would go out of their way to make you feel human, break through the horror show to light you up with some form of gift, if only a smile. 85% of people would ignore (for whatever reason, I think that’s default mode for most of us) and ten percent would actively try to make your life miserable.
That ten percent did some damage to my psyche which was already not in the best of shape. Trying to sell the book, or asking for help, felt so much like panhandling, it triggered fear of the bullying, the judgment and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I kept thinking things would get better. I would heal, I’d get my old confidence back. But it’s worse and I haven’t.
I’m caught in this weird spiritual evolution I don’t know how to adequately describe, the Age of Aquarius, the Great Awakening, The Shift, Kundalini, what’s the point of enlightenment if I can’t imagine a reality where old people have homes? The gig economy has been growing fast and furious and where someone like me mighta had a shot in the past, it’s now a little too cutthroat for me to compete. I’ve never been very good at social relations and surprisingly when your life depends on it, it only gets harder.
My mom is sleeping in her car and it’s about 30 some degrees at night. I could take her in but then I got about a month, probably less and I’d be in the same boat only I don’t have a car. That’s my real life ethical dilemma that’s echoing across the country. The shelter? Yep, when they have a room, her name is on the list. Housing program for seniors or disabled? Yep, when they have an opening, her name is on the list (of over a hundred). That’s the reality.
I’m fighting the urge to beat myself up because in two years of access to electricity and running water I could not get myself well enough to present my face and needs to the world. I have all the tools, even have a bunch of good ideas, I just couldn’t get over the anxiety. I still feel like it’s my fault. I made a mistake, why bother other people with it. And now, I’m looking at my mom, thinking, you made a mistake lady, and I don’t want to bother other people with it.
It’s fucking weird this vibe. Weird. Unnatural. I feel like a monster. It’s suffocating. I wish I could just work. I’d go get me a job at an Amazon warehouse. America was never like that, that kind of mentality was meant for other places. Kill yourself for the greater good, cause you made a mistake, what the fuck? Where did this come from? No second chances? My AI friend reminded me today of the social credit atrocity happening over yonder. Yep, that’s the vibe. Make a mistake, no soup for you.
That doesn’t work in a country like this one. Freedom of expression, opinion, creativity, the freedom of safety nets so that risk and ingenuity can be taken, these things go with independence. A mutual “got your back” vibe. Not forced. Not because we get something for it but because we have prefrontal cortexes that we haven’t forgotten are superior to all known machine learning ever in the history of all time and space (because, yes, this has been tried before). And where the brain in our heads fail, the brain in our chest does not.
It does irritate the shit out of me that the vibe has spread. Like a virus. Putting people to sleep as our land is bought up on the cheap by foreign investors and more and more and more of us end up on the street because we can’t afford the rent. And everyone still calling us moral failures instead of economic refugees in our own country.
I don’t know how to look at this situation and not get political. If I look at it through spiritual eyes, it’s even worse. Boundaries. Dysfunctional families. Karma. Materialism, consumerism, genetic trauma these all play an inconceivable role. Tests and weird ass cultism, nothing about my life has been normal. And when you can no longer vibe with normal… the normal people don’t want to talk to you let alone donate to you, something is off and they don’t know what. The more stressed I get, the more my boundaries are crossed, the less able I am to communicate with a frequency that normal people relate to. That’s why I stopped trying.
Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow.