Shelter

I am exhausted. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. Possibly the most exhausted I have ever been.

Social services found me a bed at a homeless shelter today. It’s a temporary shelter — 30 day max stay. It’s on the other side of the county, in an area I don’t really know. But it’s a bed. There wasn’t much else they could do. I don’t qualify for any assistance because I am in the small percentage of people that fall within all the loopholes of disqualifications.

I’m trying to pick up the pieces. I’m trying to catch up with all the school work I got behind in when I was hospitalized. I’m trying to figure out if I’ll ever find a stable place to live. I’m trying to figure out how I’ll pay my bills.

I hadn’t cried until today. I’ve been pretending to be strong, when inside I’ve been a mess. It finally came out when I was sitting at social services and they told me I would be going to a shelter. It finally sunk in that I was homeless and alone.

It’s really hard to see the positive in anything in times of crisis. I could totally see myself having a complete meltdown. I could see myself giving up entirely.

But I have so much support. Friends, some I’ve met and some I’ve only known online, have continued to be supportive throughout these last a several days. Phone calls and emails have helped me get through the day. People have donated money to help me with transportation and food costs. And their messages of hope and gratitude for how I’ve helped them brought me to tears.

To those that have donated and help me in any way, I am incredibly grateful. You have given me hope.

I’ve always been the person who helps everyone. It’s hard for me to be the person in need. It’s hard for me to focus on myself and not caretake for others. When I first came here to the shelter, I donated half of my clothes. Because even in the chaos of my own happenstance, I felt that I had to give back in some way.

I don’t really know what’s going to happen anymore. But all I can do is hope that this experience has some kind of deeper meaning that I just can’t see right now.

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Rage

In more ways than one, I am approaching rock bottom. Physically, psychologically, emotionally, financially. I am a disaster.

I left the hospital, but the truth is that I should still be there. And they all told me that. Every doctor I had to see. I don’t even know how many, because they all looked the same to me. Covered by masks and gowns, all I could decipher were voices, all saying the same thing. You are very sick.

I was not prepared. I thought I was just having trouble breathing. I shrugged it off until the coughing got worse, enough that I started coughing up blood on my way home from work. I took a detour to the ER, expecting a breathing treatment and a discharge. Instead I ended up with an admission to isolation with the avian flu, suspected pneumonia, and a COPD exacerbation.

I fought to get out. I left them with little choice; if they didn’t discharge me, I was leaving AMA, and they knew if I left without medication, I could get sicker and die. I still endured their lectures, their voices of concern. You’re very sick, they said. And all I could say to them was I’ve been through a lot worse.

I don’t know how much more my body can take. It’s been through hell, and I just keep making it worse. You would think I’d be doing my best to stay healthy, but I’m just pushing myself closer and closer to pain and death. I walked around aimlessly yesterday, in the cold, smoking cigarette after cigarette, cycling through fits of crying and fits of rage.

I had such an intense urge to die. I ran through the street as cars were turning in, but none of them hit me. Why can’t I just get that one distracted driver to do me in? I tried to cut my wrists, but I couldn’t get my hands to stop shaking. Why can’t I just be strong enough to do it myself?

I think about getting high almost every day. I miss it. I miss not having to think about shit for awhile. I miss the feeling, the feeling that nothing else matters because you can stop giving a fuck about everything for awhile. Poverty is probably the only thing that has been saving me from that right now. I can’t even afford to live, let alone afford coke. But that’s my fault, too. I let people walk all over me, I let them take advantage of me because I’m just so afraid to say no, so worried about hurting people’s feelings at the expense of hurting myself and my own. I paid their bills when I should have just been paying my own. So now they are sitting with their new phones and tablets, and I’m selling mine just so I can afford one more week of therapy and another bag of rice. But it’s my fault. I can’t be mad at anyone else, so I hold it inside, just like I’ve held everything else for so long.

I’ve been thinking about calling my mother. To say what, I don’t know. Maybe to say I’m sorry for being such a horrible daughter. Maybe to hear her voice, to sense her familiar anger. Maybe to ask her why, why she had to do the things she did, the things that have led me where I am today.

Or maybe to let out my rage on her because the rage I’ve been unleashing on myself hasn’t been working. It just keeps building and building and I don’t know what else to do. But I know if I go on like this much longer, the rage will destroy me before anything else does.

The last connection

After my escape, I was still financially tied to my family. They had a few of my credit cards (it was too much of a risk to take them back before I left). I wasn’t overly concerned about that. I had been paying my family’s debts for years, and it wouldn’t be much of a difference. Credit cards can always be cancelled. But there was a bigger connection, one I couldn’t quite run away from; I had a vehicle I left behind.

Let me start off by saying, I don’t even have a license. I never did. Driving was a privilege I was not worthy of having. But my family needed a vehicle. The minivan they had was 14 years old at that point, and doing what old vehicles always do — it was falling apart. My family never had money saved. My father was out of work and in a nursing home at that time, my mother was working part-time as she had been for years, and my brother worked full-time and blew every paycheck on video games.

They knew I had money. I had no choice. I could spend all of my savings buying them a car (and in turn sparing myself some infliction of pain), or I could tell them no and experience the horrible backlash. The guilt trip started before I even made a decision. I was told I had to pull my weight in the family. Realistically, I already was, but it was never enough.

I had to do it. I couldn’t take any more guilt. I couldn’t take any more threats. I spent all of my savings and paid for the down payment. The Jeep was in my name. No one in my family had any credit — I was the only one with good credit history. Because I didn’t have a license, my brother had to be secondary; it was the only way to get the rest of the balance on the vehicle financed. I put everything I had into that vehicle.

I didn’t think my family would pick up the payments after I ran away, but they did. They had no choice, really. My brother needed a vehicle. My mother hated that my name was on the papers. She tried to commit fraud by asking others to forge my signature to take my name off the title and the loan, but no one gave in. I didn’t know how to get my name off, so I’ve spent the last 14 months sitting on this last connection I had to my family, with no way of severing it.

Then on Friday afternoon, I received two phone calls from a number I didn’t know. There was a voicemail, so I sneaked away to the bathroom and listened to it.

“Hello, this is (whoever) from (wherever), and I’m here with your brother.”

My heart sank. Before I even heard the rest of the message, just hearing my brother’s name sent me into tears. I had to replay the message multiple times before I could understand it. My brother was trying to trade in the Jeep for a new truck, and they needed authorization from me since I was the primary.

I sat on the toilet for 10 minutes trying to compose myself. Thoughts were running through my mind. I couldn’t stop crying. It wasn’t just about the truck. It was about everything.

One of the many stories my mother and brother told people was that I changed my number after I left, so they were unable to contact me. I never changed my number. They never contacted me. But yet, by some miracle, my brother was able to give the dealership my phone number and they were able to get in contact with me. How could that be since I supposedly changed my number?

The only point of contact since I ran away was this phone call from a middle man car dealer, because my family once again needed something from me. I only matter when they need something from me. And that still hurts.

It bothers me that I poured all of my money into a vehicle that my brother was now trading in for a brand new (and a much more expensive) truck.

It bothers me that even though I had a choice to say no, it really wasn’t much of a choice at all. And I wanted to say no. My family doesn’t deserve these things. But if I say no, I’m the one that loses out. I’m the one that gets fucked over, because everything is in my name. Even though they can afford to pay off the loan and get my name off that way, they wouldn’t do that. They would never do the right thing.

So I had to be the bigger person and give my okay. I severed the last connection I had with my family. I had to make the most logical decision, even though it hurt (and still does hurt). I had to keep my emotions out of it. But part of me felt like I was in my mother’s control again. Here she was, controlling me from afar, without even needing to look at me. It makes me sick.

It makes me sick that I am struggling to stay afloat. It makes me sick that those thousands of dollars I put into that Jeep are the thousands of dollars I could be using right now to put food on the table that isn’t just rice and cheap chicken, thousands of dollars I could have used to pay off my mother’s credit debts that I am struggling to pay down.

My mother and brother don’t have to struggle. They now have a brand new truck, in addition to other vehicles that they don’t even need. They are blowing through my father’s life insurance payout like they’ve won the lottery, profiting from the death of a man who my mother hated and told to go and die. They have everything, and they don’t deserve any of it. Where is the fairness? Where is the justice?

It seems like the worst people continue to be rewarded, while the good people continue to struggle. My mother should be in jail. Instead, I’m the one living behind the bars she created in me.

My good friend told me “you got what you wanted, you have your freedom.”

And I know that. But I want justice, too.