What Would You Do…What Would I Do?

I am sitting here with tears in my eyes.

I just got back from going to pick up a few groceries for Thanksgiving.

As I pulled into the Publix parking lot…there they were. A young couple and their adorable 4 yo daughter. The sign they held read…”Need Food Please”…”Need a Job Please”..”God bless you”….I approached them and explained that I had no money, but that I had food stamps. I asked what they needed and the little girl just said, “yogurt”.

They didn’t speak English very well, (please refrain from any bullshit political comments about that), but knowing that they needed food was enough for me to know that I could do SOMETHING!

I came out of the store shortly afterward with the girls yogurt, some fruit, and something for them to eat for dinner tonight. Their gratitude was more than I could bear. My heart was breaking.

I know how it is to stand out there. I know how it feels to depend on others for help and to receive mostly judgement. Praise God for those who do have the compassion to help…However…I got in the car and started crying…because I wanted to do so much more!

I couldn’t really afford to spend my Food stamps on them, but what else was there to do? Every one of us has something we can give to others…even if, on some days it is only a hug or a smile.

I prayed on the way home. I prayed for that lovely family…and I prayed for God to bless me like I’ve never been blessed before…not for me you see, but so I can do all that I dream of doing for others.

For all the lost, lonely souls..for all the homeless people and animals…for everyone I meet who is hungry, cold or sick…I don’t want to be blessed for me…I just want to stop feeling that I can’t do enough…I am still crying.

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Panhandling, Surviving and Perspective….

I am still waiting to get approved for disability and it sucks. I have a place to live and less than $200 a month in food stamps, but no income. I have a dear friend who pays the important stuff for me…car insurance, internet, meds etc. I don’t know what I would do without that help. However, there are times when I wish I just had money in my pocket…not for luxuries, okay, maybe to just see a movie or something if I wanted. But, everything is about “survival” and “necessities” …there is no fun.

To make up for this I occasionally go out and panhandle.

So, Sunday I went out very early to panhandle. Now, just to be clear…I don’t beg. I simply stand on a corner with my sign that says, “Need Help. Please show some love. Bless you”. It is a humiliating and ego crushing thing to do, but I have learned this past two years that ego is bullshit.

Anyway, I stood out there with my sign for about 3 hours and did fairly well. It felt good. People were feeling generous… Well, except for the one lady who pulled over to roll down her window, dressed in her Sunday best, her bible on the seat and berated me for asking for help with a cigarette in my hand. (I quoted Matthew 27:1 and told her “God bless you”).

So…having stashed the money I collected in a can when I got home,  and feeling some sense of security about it, I decided to go out again yesterday afternoon.

I was only out there for about an hour, and it was going so well. One young man even went across to Dollar General and came back with toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and other essentials for me. (Can’t get those things with Food Stamps). I planned on staying just long enough to add to my “stash” at home and put some gas in my car.

That is when the cop showed up. He pulled up and I approached his car…I don’t recall the entire conversation, but he tried to tell me that I couldn’t be out there doing that. That it is illegal here. Well, I’ve read the code and I was doing nothing illegal. As long as I am not impeding auto or pedestrian traffic…and I am not directly asking for money, I am not breaking the law. Mr. BigCop though said that he was doing me a “favor” by not arresting me. REALLY???

I came home so upset, feeling like now my ONLY way of getting any cash has been taken away. I cried…I cursed the cop…I cursed SS for taking so damn long…I cursed my ex for leaving me the way he did.

I was so upset I didn’t sleep last night. At 7 this morning I decided to take my dog Penny with me to McDonald’s, then go to Overlook park to share breakfast with her.

When we got there I noticed a man sleeping on a bench, his worldly belongings at his feet, his body curled up against the cool, damp air.

As we got ready to leave I grabbed a couple of the dollars I made panhandling yesterday, and walked over to the sleeping man. He woke surprised that I was standing there…even more surprised when I asked if he had eaten today. There was not ONE bit of judgement from me as I smelled the alcohol on him. I felt compassion and sorrow for him. He tried to refuse my offer…but I was more stubborn than he.

I gave him the money and the few cigs I had on me…and asked him if I could pray with him. We both cried as I prayed for both of us…

I sat of the ground and we talked for a bit. I told him about some of the resources I know so well, and asked him to come with me to a day center where he could wash up and get out of the damp, cloudy day.  He didn’t want to go at first. He was at his lowest…didn’t care what happened to himself he told me. I did not give up on him and he finally gave in. As I dropped him at the center I gave him a huge hug, and my phone number ….more than anything…I pray that I gave him some hope.

I know what it is like to feel hopeless, helpless…like no one cares. I wanted him to know that there ARE people who care and that we can all do something to help…without judgement, but with compassion and a hug.

I came home to my little apartment, looked at the food in my fridge and my warm bed…and I quickly got over my anger and frustration of all that happened yesterday.

I only wish I could do more for him or someone else. I’ll be okay…God’s got this.

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*Update #2* More than Enough…I Am Blessed Beyond Measure!…

eHeart CloudJust got home dollar tree and Walmart. I got some household stuff at dollar tree, trash bags, paper towels etc. Then I went to Walmart to get some food to last until I get my stamps on Monday. I knew I was getting “too much”…I picked up my medication at the pharmacy and went to the register. As she was ringing it all up I began to panic and hold back items….I casually said to the lady behind me…”I hate having to put things back”. “What do you need to put back”? I showed her and she offered to pay for the items. Then I looked at the total already on the register and told the cashier I would still need to take a couple of items off, just so I wouldn’t be broke….The lady behind me looked at the register and said, “Run all of this through with mine. I’ll cover it all”!!!!! I still can’t stop crying!!

*Update* I have enough…

IMG_4516I can’t thank ya’ll enough for your caring, comments and concern this week. It has been a rough one for sure.
A good friend of mine brought me some money for food to last until Monday. Just didn’t want to leave you worrying about me. I am blessed.

Empty Anniversary…Empty Refrigerator…Empty Hope

Today I have been married for 13 years. My husband “ran away” two years ago. So much for love, honor and cherish till death huh?

I don’t get my food stamps until Monday…This is my fridge right now.

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I have been having a lot of issues since the doctor raised my medication level. The worst of which has been my radical sleep schedule. I fell asleep at 4pm yesterday and slept until 1am this morning.

I had intended on leaving the house soon to go panhandle, but after walking Penny for five minutes and coming in sweating…there is just no way I can go stand out there.

Thank goodness I see my therapist at 1 today. I best set my alarm in case I fall to sleep again so I don’t miss it. Sigh

I can’t see the med doctor until Monday to see what can be done about my side-affects. I am beyond discouraged right now.

When will I ever get some relief?

Don’t Know How to Title My Blog Post….

Okay, so, another night of no sleep.

This past week has been amazingly stressful. I almost lost my youngest daughter. I won’t get into details here because it is her life and private, but I can not get beyond the fear of almost losing her again, and the fact that I can do NOTHING to help her through this.

I have no appetite and that is good because I just spent the last of my food stamps and have 2 weeks before they come again. I have no cash of course.

The title of this post is because I couldn’t title another post, “Too hot to panhandle.” After being up all night I actually considered grabbing my sign and going out, but I am way too tired, and yes, it is too hot out there.

I don’t know….I go to the mail box every day just praying I will receive the letter stating I got approved for SSI, but all that I get are bills.

I honestly want to post here all the positives; I have a roof, AC, food, clean clothes, my dog Penny….Being grateful, (which I am), is supposed to lift one up, but it’s not really working today. I am going to wash my dishes, make my bed with clean sheets, and maybe just sleep the day away….again.

Sorry for being such a gloomy Gus…..it is what it is.

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Net Worth, Self-Worth, Society Judges One by the Other…

Last night I put Penny in the car to run to the local convenience store to get a couple of snacks. I didn’t plan on begging, even though the night cashier there knows me, and has only warned me to avoid the cameras the few times I’ve been there for that reason.

As I walked in the store I held the door open for a cab driver with one leg. He smiled and said “thank you”. I finished getting my things, using what little food stamps I have left.(less than $20 until the 15th). As I walked out the cab driver was getting into his car, and for some reason, I ignored all the “rules” of begging and went and asked if he had a few dollars for me to get some smokes. I didn’t realize that his passenger was an employee of the store…She stepped right out of the cab, giving me a look like I was something she had just stepped in…”You can’t DO that here”…I just turned and walked away, my face red, the shame whelming up inside of me.

I came home and cried.

I don’t want to be like this.

I don’t want to have to ask others to keep helping me. My friend “D”…he pays my interned/cable every month, pays my car insurance, buys my shampoo, toilet paper and everything else that comes with everyday living. I hate asking him for money for smokes, he works hard for it and he doesn’t smoke. He also tells me every time I ask, that I have to quit. I love him for who he is and how he helps me, but I hate the lecture every time. So, I try to beg and panhandle for my cigs, and for whatever else I can get money for.

I hate the way people look at me when I am standing outside with my sign…I know what they are thinking. They don’t know that I have a mental illness. They don’t know that I have tried SO hard to be able to hold a job. They don’t know that I don’t want to be out there like that.

Then there are the ones who just look away, doing everything they can to not see me. I don’t blame them. I make them uncomfortable, angry, sad…whatever it is they feel/think.

I thought I would get up early today and head out with my sign. Maybe even make a new sign. But, I just can’t do it. My mind can’t do it. My body can’t do it. My pride can’t do it.

I am so sad. Everyone is celebrating with family or friends. Everyone is happy and grilling out, going to fireworks.

But, I know the truth. There are many people just like me who are just trying to survive. People who feel like shit every day…People who smile through it all…trying to hide the shame they feel. The shame they know their families feel about them…

We all know that society today is so materialistic, so driven by “what you have is what you are worth”.

Today, I feel like I am worth nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

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Too Wore out to Go Begging…Too Hot outside, Too Tired Within My Soul…

It is too hot again today to panhandle. The heat index is down to 99 now, but I still can’t bear to be out there. The one good spot I have now for standing and holding my sign has no shade at all.

The stress has made my appetite go out the window, so that doesn’t help my fatigue.

I managed to get my apartment cleaned up today, well, mostly cleaned. I just took a Klonopin to help keep me from stressing too much about running out of smokes again.

I figure if I sleep now, and wake after 10pm, I can hit up the people at the Walmart or in front of the convenience store for dollars. It’s harder to get money that way, but at least I won’t be frying in the heat.

So yeah, nap time I guess. I am so tired.

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Medical tests, Psych eval, and Too Hot to Panhandle….

This past month has been a very busy one.

I have had multiple tests to try to find the source of my abdominal pain. So far, all the tests have come back negative, which is good, but still provides no answer.

I got turned down on my second review for SS, so I insisted on a new psychiatric evaluation. I know that it should help my case, but going through psychoanalysis is so incredibly hard. After it, I slept for almost two days. Having to tell all of my traumas from childhood on was completely exhausting. My lawyer is optimistic that I will either get approved on this third review, or we will go in front of the judge.

In the meantime, as it is in many places of the country right now, the weather here is torture for me. I have never done very well in the heat, but it is so bad out there, trying to panhandle is almost impossible. Just walking Penny for 5 minutes makes me feel ill.

The psychiatrist that did my eval also raised my medication dose, so I am trying to adjust to that. It just makes me feel tired.

I went out at 10:30 last night to stand in front of the convenience store just to get $4 for a pack of smokes. Luckily it didn’t take too long as it was still 90 degrees at that hour.

I didn’t wake until 2pm today, and was happy to see it was cloudy, thinking it will be easier to stand out there with my sign and get some cash for gas and more smokes, but of course, the sun has come out again..and it is steamy. I have to go either way, but I won’t be able to take Penny with me. I do so much better panhandling when she is with me, but I won’t make her suffer out there. I will wait another hour or two, hoping it won’t be as hot. Either way…I have to do it.

It is shameful, demeaning, and thoroughly exhausting….but, I will do it again, and again…until I don’t have to anymore.

Beauty

Beauty

Homeless to Helpless to feeling Hopeless…Survival is Exhausting.

I am going to tell the truth about everything. I don’t care anymore who reads this, who cares or more likely, who doesn’t. I haven’t written in a long time. Mostly because all that I want to say is not exactly “positive”, the way I’ve always tried to be on this blog. Even during the worst of what I have had to endure these past few years, I tried to keep my hope and faith, and show people that it can be “okay”.

Well, today, I don’t feel okay. My life does not feel OKAY.

The last time I wrote, it seemed my life was getting better. I was working so hard to get back on my feet, and I was. I was going to classes, working at getting my GED, had a job. Everyone was cheering me on, telling me how proud they were of how hard I was working to “fix” my situation. Well, shit falls apart faster than you can blink. I guess I’ve been too ashamed to write since it all changed. Now, I just don’t care. I have to let this out and let the chips fall where they may.

I got hired at four different jobs this past year. Some of these jobs lasted a day, some a couple weeks. One job, the best job, even lasted a month, but that is because 3 weeks of it was in a classroom. I do that well, learning, class time.

However, after getting these jobs the anxiety attacks would start. Yes, I have a disease. It’s called Generalized Anxiety disorder. It is NOT a choice. It is NOT laziness. It is a real disease, and it is torture. So, one by one, each job was quit.

I also suffer from severe depression at times. (If you’ve followed my life at all up till this point, you’ll understand why). Depression is also a disease. I don’t choose it. I fight it. Some days I fight it with all my might, some days I glide through all happy, smiling, sunshine, photo taking, dancing…me. Then, there are days when it swallows me whole and I can’t find the strength to do the “positive thinking”, gratitude shit that can help.

Anyway, now that I’ve explained my challenges, my diseases, let’s add my daily struggles on top of this pile of shit.

Uncertainty while I was homeless was the scariest part. Never knowing what I would or would not have from day to day. Well, not having an income now creates that same fear, that same frustration and anxiety. The shame that I can’t take care of myself.

I have a place to live. I have food stamps. They give me $194 a month for food. You figure that out. Think about how you would eat, what you would eat, how you would make it last 4 weeks. It normally lasts about two. maybe three if I don’t eat much.

Now, let’s consider the other necessities of life. The things not covered by Food stamps. Toilet paper, dish soap, paper towels, shampoo, trash bags, vacuum bags….everything thing else needed to run a home. These require money. I have none.

I have one dear friend who pays my cable/internet and my car insurance each month, and tries to make sure I have all of these things. But, it is demeaning nonetheless to have to tell someone that you need them to buy you toilet paper…again.

I started panhandling about a month ago. I made a cardboard sign, found a nice spot at my local Wal-mart, and stood out there accepting money from strangers. Mostly being ignored and making people feel uncomfortable. Watching them look away, so they didn’t have to see. Most I think are just fearful that it could happen to them. Some judging and thinking things like, “why doesn’t she just get a job”…”oh, she’s probably not homeless” (which is true), or whatever else it is we all think when we see “those people”. Snap judgments based on nothing. No one truly knows what anyone is going through, but we all do it. Make those judgments.

Those of you who have read this far are probably thinking “there are resources”. No, there are not. Not for cash anyway. Welfare and medicaid are only for those who have children. I won’t even get into my health issues here, or the fact that without money or insurance, you don’t exist to the medical community.

Anyway, back to my story.

Panhandling was good. Pride crushing, but good. I averaged about $60 a day. This made me feel kinda good that I could buy my own stuff, the things I needed or sometimes just wanted. You know, important shit, like that scented candle (a luxury for me). Until some Wal-mart white shirt came one day and said I couldn’t stand there with a sign anymore. This morning I was at Wal-mart at 5am bumming cigarettes from people. IF you feel the need to say anything about my smoking, please move on now.

Omg, this post is becoming longer and longer.

I know that my ex will read this, and probably be happy about my misery. He never cared what happened to me when I was homeless, never offered to help, and still doesn’t. He is good that way. At just turning his back on people…he did it with his son, and his own mother, so why did I think it would be any different with me? He walked out on me, our dogs and our whole life together and never once asked if he could help. Never said me missed me, or asked if I was okay….so fuck him. I don’t care what if he reads this now. I will write the truth about him, my truth. He wants everyone to see him as the victim in this. HUH. He walked away to a job, a free motel room, a paycheck, and took our $349 a month food stamp card with him. I was left with a house full of our stuff, two dogs I had to turn into the shelter, and a two day eviction notice. Again, Fuck Him!

When I was homeless the only people who truly helped me were strangers, or distant friends. Not family, not siblings, not my kids….just strangers, oh, and one cousin (sorry hon). My brother offered a place for me to go back in Mass., but that wasn’t possible, he had his own problems. My other brother, never even tried to contact me. My sister who lives just 2 hours from me, wouldn’t let me live with her because her boyfriend didn’t want me there. Really? What the hell is that? I would never turn away a family member and just let them be homeless because of ANYONE. Maybe it was not even the truth. Maybe SHE just didn’t want me. A few months back as she and her boyfriend were facing some financial issues of their own, then got an inheritance from a dead relative of his. Not a shitload of money, but a good deal. They had just filed for bankruptcy, and she told me that her lawyer said they had to spend that money fast if they still wanted to file. She tells ME this. Really? Your gonna tell me that your “problem” is that you have to spend what I would consider a “great” amount of money really quickly, but don’t offer to help me? Then she tells me over and over how money doesn’t make you happy. Meanwhile, I’m looking under my car seat for pennies to get toilet paper. Yeah, okay.  Fuck them all. Karma is a bitch. I would never wish bad on anyone, but I’m tired of being silent about the way I was treated by those who are supposed to care. Whatever.

So, here I sit….no money at all. I applied for SSI for my depression/anxiety issues and it of course has been months. No income, not sure where to panhandle now. Running out of smokes…staring at a whole list of stuff I need at the store, all stuff that I need money to get.

The one bright spot in this past year is that I got approved for an emotional service animal. I got a dog. The loss of my dogs, Cody and Casey still breaks my heart every day, but Miss Penny Lane has helped to fill the lonely hours. She makes me laugh, she kisses my tears away…..I love her.

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I guess that is what I had to say….Just a rant. If it wasn’t raining I would be out somewhere panhandling or at least bumming smokes off of strangers. Survival is exhausting….I could sleep forever.