I actually had a period of homelessness in my life -- within the last decade and a half, in fact. I believed the words of a man who I thought would love me and take care of me and never let anyone or anything harm me - but I believed him in naivety and error on all accounts. I was young, full of joy and hope, and I believed that anything was possible. I also believed that I needed someone else to take care of me.
When we ended up homeless - living out of a small car and from time to time sleeping on peoples' couches or floors or once, even, inside an RV in an RV sales lot - I wondered what had happened to my life. I didn't know where my next meal would come from, and more often than not, if I did scrounge up money to eat, it was off of a $0.99 menu at a fast food restaurant or picking up the food that restaurants and grocery stores would throw out at the end of the night.
I wasn't the most lovely sight to behold, either. Because I didn't have place to store things, I only had a few outfits from the thrift store, wasn't able to shower regularly, and I didn't have an address to put down when I applied for jobs. Just one look at me, and I'm sure they threw my application out as I walked out the door.
Thinking of those times gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach. It is difficult to believe that I am the same person, who, In the mid to late 90s, would live in constant fear and anxiety over where she would sleep that night, if she would be safe, if she would have any food to eat, and if her partner would abandon her to experience all of this fear in solitude while he took off to find a way to score drugs. (I thank God that I never got caught up in them, as it is a miracle that I did not.)
But the truth is, I am NOT the same person. I choose to hold the "me" from "then" in love and compassion. I now know why she made the choices that she did. She wanted to be loved. She wanted someone she could count on to love her and take care of her. She didn't believe she was capable or strong enough to make it on her own, so she relied on others to make everything ok. She didn't see that she was living in darkness and that there were so many opportunities for her to walk away and start a new life - until the time was right.
Sometimes I say that I would not trade in my experiences for other ones, because they make up the person that I am today - someone who can see these patterns from the outside and be a potential source of help to young women instead of watching them go on and suffer. I can understand the reasons why women stay in abusive relationships or bad situations - the type of beliefs such women tend to hold about themselves, relationships, and life. I can be a source of help through my writing and in my interactions.
But, there are some times when I definitely wish that I could go back in time, with the knowledge that I now have, and make completely different decisions. As we all know, life doesn't work that way. The fact that we even have a thought like that means we have CHANGED for the better. We see things more clearly. We love ourselves that much more.
Yet, even having come from a background such as I've shared and being so wonderfully blessed now, I sometimes find myself in a state of "I can't get no...satisfaction." I'll catch myself feeling grumpy or bored or bitchy. Only recently have I begun to catch myself in these moments and look around. I consciously note the feeling inside (restlessness, boredom, dissatisfaction, irritability). I do a mental calendar check, and if it's not that time of the month, I ask myself: "What do you have to be dissatisfied with? You have a roof over your head, someone in your life who loves you. You're carrying loads of groceries to the house, and you're irritated because you have to make several trips? How about being grateful for how different your life it now? How about just "being" and being ok with that?"
This really helps to put things into perspective. No matter where you are on your journey right now (and you may literally "have it all" in the world's eyes) - if you find yourself more often feeling restless, bored, dissatisfied, irritable, etc., just pause, acknowledge this, and let yourself feel it for a moment. Try to allow yourself to identify the source of the feeling. Then, give thanks for the circumstance that you find yourself in. Count it as a blessing. Identify all of the blessings that you now have that have not had in the past and all of the blessings that have been there all along. Spend some time alone in meditation, practicing yoga, or having a nice candlelit bubble bath with a good book.
When nothing satisfies you, go within and contemplate those things that really matter. Get in touch with the part of you that needs the satisfaction, and identify a healthy way to meet that need in love, compassion, and even with joy.
Debbie aka Sulilo