The following post brought to you by the letters H, E, L, and P.
(Yes, crowdfunding for myself still. I need to get storage paid today for March and then start on April as well. I owe $306 right now, have half of that coming from a friend today, but still need the rest. And then add on another $280 for April starting tomorrow.)
I think of all the stuff I’ve been through and even mentioned briefly in a post or two earlier this week, and honestly, this is the most humbling and frustrating at the same time. I’d always felt invisible… no, seriously. If you went through all of my poetry -stuff I’ve published and stuff tucked away in notebooks- you would see a trend: feeling invisible. I even unearthed a poem of mine from about 6 or 7 years ago after nearly being mowed down by some self-important people in business suits, having to nearly step into the path of the slowly approaching streetcar to get out of their way.
I still feel it. And now, even more so. I have this platform. I have Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr. I have friends, who although scattered and most don’t know each other, who have helped me and Portia stay off the streets. Not everyone is so lucky. Thanks to the public libraries, many homeless are able to access the internet, but some have mental illnesses that prevent them from functioning, some turn to alcohol and drugs and also have a hard time functioning. Some are Vets with severe PTSD who, in their minds, never really came home from whatever wars or battles they fought in.
Even though I have a temporary roof over my head (and Portia’s) and food stamps, I still feel invisible and alone. Yes, I go to therapy. Went on Wednesday. It was once a month, but as things started to disintegrate in my life, she bumped it up to every two weeks. Sometimes, when I’m there, I’m scattered and feeling like shit. Other visits, I’m sharing poetry and blog posts. Sometimes, I’m trying to figure out where the hell I fit into society. I have always felt like a misfit. A mis-fit… someone who doesn’t fit. The shape of my puzzle piece doesn’t fit into the grand scheme of society’s puzzle.
And now add being essentially homeless into that and I really don’t fit that well. I don’t even fit into the stereotype of being homeless. I’m staying with friends, not in a tent somewhere. I’m in between. That sounds all too familiar. I’m not THIS group, but not THAT group either… where do I sit in the school cafeteria?
Many homeless have been cast out of society, or left it by choice. There is nowhere they fit in. Here in Portland, we have many agencies who help those who want help. But there aren’t enough beds in shelters for everyone. I had signed up with the central place for getting into that system… I’ve dropped it since then as I do have friends and I have shelter and I have motivation to get into my own place even faster than the shelters can help. They said that it could take 3-4 MONTHS before I can get a bed at one of the small handful of women’s shelters here. MONTHS… not weeks, not days… months. The system is broken. And most people aren’t willing to step up and help fix it because to them all homeless fit this one stereotype: drunk addicts who only care about the next hit or bottle. Most aren’t that way. There are many families with young children. Vets. LGBTQIA teens. Mental ward patients released because at the time, they were doing okay on their meds, but dropped off of them once they were no longer monitored. Or couldn’t get in to see the doctor to get a refill.
But even as I’m in between those on the streets and those of you with jobs and houses and apartments and cars…. I want to remind you that those you walk past on the street with the sleeping bags and grocery carts and unkempt hair and clothes are still very much human. They just need more help and patience.
I may be in between, but I still understand how it feels to be invisible.