I don’t live under a bridge. I am educated. I have a nine-year-old daughter who is homeless too. We don’t live in a car. We don’t own a car. I don’t have a bank account. I don’t have a job at this moment in time. I don’t have first, last and security to get into a rental. Buying is out of the question.
I was married for 21 years to a police officer. When I left him, he became emotionally abusive and my life was hell. I did not sue him for alimony or child support, despite the four children we shared. I just wanted him gone. No one hired an attorney. We filed the divorce papers ourselves. I willingly went on my way to live in constant poverty over the next 12 years. I did not recover from the divorce and eventually, found myself feeling like the bastard stepchild in our family.
I ended up homeless after renting a house from my son and taking in several people who were having a hard time, like I was. I could afford the house when I lived there with a man who proposed to me, but when he left, I could not. I struggled and kept it paid for a few months, but when I lost my job, it became obvious my son was going to lose his house to foreclosure because I was renting it. The mortgage company was gathering the papers to foreclose and other family members told my son he should just let me live there until the bank actually took it from him. I could not face my son losing his home because of me, so I found a renter who could afford the entire mortgage payment, and I told everyone to get out. Seven people had to move, nine including me and my daughter.
A friend let the two of us move in. Shortly after, we lost a cat to epileptic seizures and then our family dog, Lacy, a German shepherd, was found dead in the yard. We have no idea what killed her. They died four days apart. My friend and his son dug the holes to bury the animals.
There was a lot of crying and decorating of graves by my daughter. We planted a gardenia bush I was given for Mother’s Day over the dead dog. The cat has a hydrangea bush. There are plastic flowers and white bricks with “RIP” written in my little girl’s handwriting. She took a potato out of a large bag in the pantry after the cat died and began carrying it around. When the dog died, she asked for a second potato and I allowed her to have it. She played with them, carried them around, then she put them into a sock and tucked them away in the bedroom. After a few days, she didn’t touch the sock or play with them anymore.
I did not start her in school after the move because I did not want to start her, then move her again. So I waited nearly two weeks to sign her up. During that time, I got sick and I could not tell if was being wiped out by stress or truly sick. I found myself flat on my back for a week with stomach problems, then throat and head pain, along with body aches that were excruciating. I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a virus – and with diverticulitis. Third time this year with that. Hospitalized twice.
A week after my daughter started school, my mother came up from my hometown for a visit. I decided to go with her, and tonight I sit in my brother’s living room. He and his wife and daughter have welcomed me and my daughter. I have a potential job lined up and will be working as a newspaper reporter (God willing) with no car. I found a room to rent near where I will be working, but I have no confirmation tonight on anything. I hope to know more tomorrow. Everything I am trying to accomplish relies on the kindness of strangers.
I write this blog tonight to tell everyone it can take so little to put you in my position. I have no place of my own. I did a lot of crying before I gave up my son’s house. I prayed about it and knew what it meant. Everything normal and everything “home” was gone. Our pets were homeless. We were homeless. My plants were homeless. Nothing is normal. I have been forced to change my expectations and perceptions to accept where I am.
Today, I was lying in bed as the doctor advised, finding anxiety was making me tremble inside. I am not alone. But I am alone. I will move forward into strange waters with my little girl depending on me. She told me a couple of weeks ago that life feels like a dream. Great description. Change is normal, but so much change at once is frightening. My relationship with God prevents that trembling inside from becoming a total breakdown.
Life is trembling.
I am going to have to pretend for the first few weeks, or days, or hours, to make it if I do get the job. My daughter and my brother’s daughter are great friends, so she is not noticing much of what I am going through. She knows we are homeless but I try not to use the word. I want to ask her if she wants to go back to our friend’s house so I can hide away again and she can get back in the same school…but I don’t. I was stagnant there. I was too comfortable, watching tv every day, going through craigslist looking for jobs that I never got and houses I could not afford, even cars I have no real dream of owning. I had to get up, still sick, and ride 500 miles with my mother to get to my brother’s…then begin working on a job that was offered to me weeks ago when I was still too afraid to try to work without a car. That is the reporting job I mentioned. The editor is busy with production and has not had time to get back with me since yesterday when I told her I finally got here. I called a woman who has a room to rent and a friend who works a car lot.
I have no answers. My life is on hold. If it were not for my family, I would be in a shelter.
I am 52 years old. While other people have the same homes they’ve been in, or the same jobs or the same spouses…a time of security and retrospection…mine is a mess. Yes, I made the decisions that put me here.
I’m not asking for sympathy or pity.
I’m telling a story that I never expected to be my own.