While I was homeless for a month, there were several thoughts that ran through my head on a daily basis. One theme kept popping up in unexpected places – Jonah and the Whale.
One day, Joel Osteen was talking about Jonah and the whale. I don’t watch Mr. Osteen very often. Okay, I had never watched his sermons before or since. However, that day I listened to his whole speech. Then I went on with the day.
At that time, my days were not filled with inspiration or any sort of happiness -not just because I was within days of sleeping on the streets. On top of the stress of being practically homeless and pregnant, I was still with my abuser.
Apparently, it’s very common for women and children to be homeless after leaving their abuser. I’m not sure how common it is for the abuser and victim to be homeless together.
My abuser and I moved from Ohio to Florida. It was my idea. It was part of a master plan to get my abuser away from my kids and I. I am not normally a liar but I lied in order to get him to go along with this idea of moving to Florida. Actually, I am a terrible liar because I can’t keep a straight face. I was Jonah and hooked this whale with my big fat lie.
Obviously, the plan was not going according to plan. It was not in the plan to end up homeless. I had two problems: no money and an abuser in my face 24/7. I was Jonah and could not get rid of this whale.
The second thing that happened that spoke to me was a woman from a church was giving her testimony. It was for me I had no doubt. Basically, she said, “Leave him. He is not for you.Go home.” I’m paraphrasing but that’s what I heard. It’s what I needed to hear again.
About a month into being homeless, a minister came to the homeless shelter to preach. Guess what his sermon was about that day? Jonah and the Whale. The point of his sermon was that some people have a whale. The whale could be drug addiction, insecurity or whatever is holding you back from really living a good life.
I knew it was time to leave for good. It was time to let go of my whale; otherwise, he was going to suck the last bit of life out of me and our unborn daughter.
I called the domestic violence shelters but they would not accept me because I was not officially a Florida resident yet. So it was time for me to put aside my few scraps of pride and call someone from back home.
My phone contact list consisted of all female names, in case my abuser looked through my phone. The only male on the list was my dad.
I made a phone call to Uncle Vicky the next day. Uncle Vicky was friends with my mom. My mom and I weren’t speaking. I didn’t call her because I was ashamed of being in this relationship. It was also important that I didn’t cry. My abuser was super suspicious of everything, even when it was nothing.
My mom, who is normally a kind, generous person, wanted to run over him with her car and rightly so. He brought nothing but destruction and toxicity to our lives. Also, I’m pretty sure he killed the cat when he threw a baseball at it.
Uncle Vicky and I made arrangements for me to come back to Ohio by the end of the week.
I left the whale at 3 a.m. in February 2008. He called every name in the phone that I left behind at 5 a.m.
I do not regret tricking him. I do not regret leaving him hundreds of miles from his family. The plan was a bit extreme but I would do it all again. It was something I felt truly led to do.
It was the beginning of a new life for me and youngest daughter. I had to rebuild every relationship that I had including my mom, my two older daughters and my dad. Nothing was easy when I returned but I’m glad I came home.
Today my dilemma . . . dilemma is not the right word exactly . . . is whether to go to Detroit for a concert tomorrow. . . on my birthday.
Is it selfish to want to go to this show?
Should I spent the small amount of money to go to the show? It’s $10 to go see Sheer Mag. (OMG. I love Sheer Mag.) The major cost will be time and gas money.
They are coming to Cleveland next month with Diet Cig (OMG. I love Diet Cig) But I don’t think I can go to that show.
Is there a way for me to attend shows and contribute to society? Hmmmm. There must be a thing for me to do.
I could also take the money and buy items for care packages for the local homeless shelter. I think this might be an ongoing project that I’ll be putting into the monthly budget.
It’s important to me to be a better person who gives something back to the world besides words. Words are great but they don’t feed the hungry. Ok. Maybe they feed someone’s soul.
The words “volunteer at a homeless shelter” are on my bucket list . . .waiting for me to make it happen.
I found this page on DoSomething.org. There are tons of campaigns. Today, I searched for homeless campaigns. I am kind of partial to making superhero kits for homeless kids. That sounds like a fun idea for kids that aren’t having much fun.
Recently, I moved into a house. I must have my poker face on because my mom keeps asking me why I’m not more excited.
I didn’t think that I would ever move into a house. In my mind, I believed that my forever and ever housing arrangements would be rentals and subsidized apartments.
A house that my kids and I belonged to was too much to hope for. For a several weeks, I wake up and look around. I still cannot believe that I have been blessed. Is it a dream? Am I going to wake up in a rundown apartment?
About eight years ago at Christmas time, I was homeless. In some ways, I was lucky. I didn’t have to sleep on an actual sidewalk in an actual cardboard box. I did see plenty of people that had no where else to go. I saw too many children that were homeless and hungry. There were a lot of people with mental illnesses that went beyond depression.
I was about two days away from sleeping in my car. My car was also going to get repossessed at any moment. One traffic stop and it would have been gone.
At the time, it was not important to make friends. Of course, I didn’t want to make enemies either. Being homeless was scary. I was always afraid of getting mugged or kidnapped – not by the other homeless people but by the criminal element in the area. One teenager at the shelter had his coat stolen off of his body. The people were trying to kidnap him but he wiggled out of the jacket and ran. I don’t think the muggers were homeless. I just think that they were thieves.
Before I was homeless, I didn’t separate homeless from criminal. I didn’t even think about it. After I was homeless, I understood the difference because I talked to people at the shelter, who were just trying to stay off the streets.
It’s also damned near impossible to get a library card when you don’t have a home. I took a risk by taking a very long walk by myself to get to the library. I really wanted to get on the Internet. Check my email. Maybe send someone an email that could help me more than I could help me.
On my way back to the shelter, a man stopped me. He asked me if I was hungry. It was only a short time until I was going to be hungry. He gave me $10 to eat and wanted me to pay it forward when I could. He didn’t want anything from me in return, except to help somebody else.
Somehow, I managed to get a room at the inn. . . well, the local homeless shelter. I can tell you that I was out of place. I was the unicorn of all unicorns. . . a single, white, pregnant female unicorn.
I wasn’t totally alone on this adventure. I wished that I was. The abuser came along too.
Thankfully, he is long gone.
Those homeless days are gone too. The memories are still around, which is fine. The memories keep me moving forward.
Part of the reason that I keep doing this blog is that if I want bring a little bit of awareness to a few causes. Life isn’t all about rock concerts and glitter. There are people who still need a lot of help and compassion.
So if you take anything away today, remember that just because someone is homeless doesn’t make them a criminal. There are plenty of crooks in big fancy houses.
P.S. I still have to pay it forward.
This list of things to do to help the homeless is from the National Coalition for the Homeless – just in case you wanted to help.
For this week’s prompt, your story should include some form of picking up the pieces.
Ella used to have all kinds of stuff- toys, clothes, clothes for her Barbie – in her own house.
Now she was down to having an afghan and a toothbrush. Even the clothes she was wearing weren’t really hers. She had to pick from the clothes in her size from the donation bin. Her new afghan was donated by Suzie from Project Linus.
Someday, when Ella had a family of her own, they wouldn’t end up in a place like this. They wouldn’t have to accept donations or go to the food back. Her family would never beg for anything. She was going to keep the blanket as a reminder to make a better life for herself, not that she needed to be reminded. Living in a homeless shelter would always be a very vivid memory for Ella.