Should I be ashamed of the fact that I was homeless?
I have never been ashamed of it. It is what it is. It happened.
The apartment complex I live in had a pool party for the residents today. It was a wonderful, hot, sunny, South Georgia day. I mixed and mingled with old friends and met some neighbors I hadn’t known before. It was nice.
In the midst of one conversation with the guy who recently moved into my building, he says, “You know, you shouldn’t tell people that you were homeless”. I’m sure my face showed my befuddlement as I replied, “Why not”?
I didn’t need an answer from him. I know the stigma attached to the word “homeless”. I know the thoughts that run through people’s minds, the judgment that will be there. But, the fact is, I don’t care what others think. I am NOT ashamed of what I have been through, and I don’t hide it. It is a part of my life now, another part of my journey.
When the question came up in our conversation of “how did you come to live here”? Well, was I supposed to make something up? This is my truth. This is my story, and I refuse to be ashamed of any part of it.
I have dealt with so much pain, so much loss and so much judgment in the past year of my life. I don’t want pity, I don’t need sympathy, but I refuse to not ever talk about it. My “pride” was flushed down the toilet when I had to start asking people for help…when I set up a GoFundMe site to keep food in my belly and a motel room to sleep in…when I had to accept money from virtual strangers from all over the world. And you know what? Thank God I was able to put my pride aside and let people know what I was going through, that I needed help! I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t told… if I hadn’t asked.
There were enough people being “ashamed” for me. Those closest to me, those who didn’t call, didn’t offer to help. They held enough shame that I didn’t have time for. I had to do all I could to just survive another day.
Now that I’ve come through, now that I can wake each day in this lovely place, safe and fed, surrounded by new friends and a new life, I have no place for shame. I will continue to tell my story, not to elicit a dramatic reaction or worse, pity…but because I KNOW that someone will hear this and they will be comforted by it. They will know that you can be down at the bottom and still rise up, that you can lose everything you thought was important, and find out that your soul, your determination and your compassion for others are the only “things” that truly matter. You can come back from anything.
I will forever be grateful for the kind souls who were there for me when I was homeless. I forgive those who chose not to be there for me, and most of all, I will NEVER be ashamed of, or afraid to tell my story. It is mine…And, as someone once said, “What others think of me is none of my business”.
Just my thought for today. Maybe I can get a tee-shirt made that says, “Formerly Homeless”…I would wear it proudly.