Psst! Come closer. My biggest secret is that I am afraid of losing my mind and leaving my body behind to endure torture. After a weekend of partying hardcore in Hillcrest with forced acquaintances, it’s what I was terrified I would experience after days without sleep, food or a care in the world.
My middle sister invited me to come to California, after I ended a toxic relationship in Iowa. However, mental health challenges fueled intense arguments, which ended in my homelessness. Self-medication eased the fear and desperation for a while.
The smack of Reality’s hand was ruthless when I woke up in the closest hospital destitute, dirty and alone, wearing an inevitably revealing patient’s gown and an intravenous drip of nutrients for my badly-abused body. The sounds of the emergency room and its wails from machines and humans alike induced tears to erupt in flowing narrow trails over my sullen face.
At that moment, I prayed softly and knew I had fallen into the most wretched despair of my life, from which my soul needed to recover. That is what I am recovering from and every Smart Recovery meeting, every new friendship I make brings me the strength to continue into a life I’ve waited for.
When I left the hospital in the morning, the sun gave me the warmth I needed after my nightmare. I used the transit day pass given to me by the discharge planner at the hospital to ride on the trolley back and forth until I had a clear direction in my mind. That is when I made the commitment to work on a solution to homelessness, so no one else should go through the painful process of recovery from the shame and guilt that come from self-hatred and even a fall from the safety of employment and housing.
Starting over meant admitting I felt angry; I define anger as frustration over helplessness, as if life did not want me here and I was powerless to change the end of my story. I entered PATH with an open mind, to heal and pursue a better life. Since then, I’ve met a filmmaker who became my close friend and together we filmed the documentary “A Homeless Voice.” It reveals my struggle from substance abuse, mental challenges and the inspiration behind a plan I aim to present to the housing authorities for consideration. There is hope in me and I share it with all my cubies (at the transitional housing floor for men we sleep in cube-like areas). It’s available to watch for free: https://vimeo.com/186370132. You will feel as if you know me and hopefully, be inspired to hang on to living.
Every day brings something new and now, the joy of being in the moment and letting my past finally behind me.