Homelessness and Covid

I wrote this because I wanted to get to the bottom of some of what has vexed me regarding these covid policies.  

It is often said the mark of a civilised society is how it treats those who are worst off.  In this respect the measures curbing covid, in all their restrictions and inhibitions on life are done to protect those who, to most conventional eyes, are the worst off in our society: the elderly and those of vulnerable health.  However draconian the measures on face value may seem, they are, of course, temporary and whatsmore, and most importantly, they are there to protect those who need it most.  Is this not, then, a golden moment for our collective values?  Why would I say so?  Because in voluntarily coming together as one in society and abiding by this pressing social contract, the strong who are not (in any remotely exaggerated way) affected by this virus give up their freedoms, pleasures and ways of life to care for and protect those who need it most.  We, as a society through the policies of our democratic governments have made a collective choice to prioritise, above everything,  the health and well being of those who are old and most vulnerable.  In doing this simple material comforts and wealth are subservient to the treatment of the overwhelming  minority who are vulnerable.  The damage with the economy will be great, but we are putting  people before all this, and not any people but those who are worst off.  What a great sacrifice!   Does this not show to an extraordinary degree how civilised we are?  Forget Trump and all noisy populist politicians and the culture wars, these are not a reflection of an ill and fundamentally troubled society, no, no they are not because look at our actions, look at how we have come together for the worst off in the real lived reality of life.  If the giant sacrifice of our actions show anything, it is that we are a society with the most hearty and vigorous moral code ever known.  The sacrifices we are making are monumental.   Willingly and dutifully, though, we do it.  We do it because we value  treating well those most worst off.  What a mark of our society this should be.

True virtuosity and good do not need to be shouted about, rather when they are real they live and are imbued within.  It gives us strength when we know we have, and are acting right.  Virtue breeds conviction within.  It cultivates stature.  As people, as a society we become more substantial.   When we compassionately love others and care for them life is lived from a place of love.  But is this really us?   Do our auras and dispositions, as they should, reflect this?  Empathy breeds further empathy.    Are we overflowing with human level empathy in our individual actions at the moment?  Are we more open and at ease than before?   In our restricted daily movements, behind our masks, is this reflected in the average person on the street? There is natrually an understandable  need for caution.  Caution though is not fear.  In doing what we are doing out of compassion and protection for the worst off then fear in our life should be less rife than ever before.  Is this, however, really, remotely, so?   On the contrary, we seem more closed, fearful and lacking in conviction than I can ever recall.  Mistrust and animalistic unease prevail.  Why do we not carry conviction in us if we are making such an epoch defining sacrifice of doing what is right and good?  

I would say this talk of sacrifice and compassion that is loudly drummed into us from politicians and scientists is an absolute fantasy.   If the mark of a civilised society really is how it treats those worst off, then let me put to you the group who  are truly the worst off in society: the homeless and those on the margins who live in degradation and poverty.  Yes, these people too can be of vulnerable health,but the biggest vulnerability, regarding health, here is with regards to the psyche.   Therefore the more badly the homeless and those in greatest poverty are treated the greater is the proportional impact on their own psychological well being.  And how atrocious and cruel these covid measures have been to this group. If we had the concerns of this particular worst off group first and foremostly in our minds then these policies would not have spent one second enacted.  For the person on the street, and those cut off and on the outer fringes of society the collateral damage of the policies we are following is brutal.  If we shift our focus on those who we perceive as worst off, then what we are doing now is not in the least remotely civilised.   In fact, it retards  our development because the treatment it leads onto this group suffering is so very cruel. The lives of the homeless have been made worse by what we are doing.  The worst off are being treated worse. 

I give some examples of what I mean.  I had a conversation with a middle aged Spanish guy who has been both homeless and on the fringes of society many years.  He has no family, he has neither job nor income, he is at the moment begging on the street to eat.  He is a decent man.  Simple religion has helped him maintain his faith in humanity and in life.  He is in this moment alone.  He likes to talk and interact with people.  It is so important for his well being.  Normally he has found interactions with ordinary people in life easy.  Now, however, it is anything but.  Out of fear no one wants to go near him, let alone talk to him.  This shame people feel in avoiding him means there is scarcely ever any eye contact with anyone.  He struggles now to get money to survive.   He tries to stay positive, his faith helps him.  However months of this mean that there is resentment and hate at life bubbling within him.  When he is constantly shunned it is a cutting wound to keep on enduring.  It hurts because when we deny another’s existence we don’t recognise them and their life. That really messes with people. No wonder when this is the message constantly being thrown back at him that he feels more than a tinge of resentment at life.  This is a perilous place to be, because once you start you soon cannot stop and then you truly are lost to life.  

The fear we are living with makes people closed and unresponsive to the plight of those before them who are most vulnerable.  For those many people who have no family to retreat to and are removed from ordinary society then they need more than ever the compassion of one’s fellow humanity.  This is why at Christmas most is often done for this downtrodden, worst off group. 

Similarly there are street artists who share their work and passion with life at large.  Their income, their survival is derived from this.  Due to a closed and fearful world they are really struggling. Their work,their way of life, their existence is ignored.   It is making the group worst off in society bigger because more people are being pushed into crippling poverty. 

For those who have nothing, the smallest slither of compassion, of acknowledgment is so vital.  People who need this are being starved of this.  The covid policies and the effects they have on society at large are an evil for those on the outside of society.  

In one city I have been there is a food kitchen that serves hot meals for the poorest.  People would be served hot food in a proper dining room.  Here people had in their day a feeling of dignity.  Now, however, the dining room is closed.  Food is still given out, but in plastic bags (and wrapped in a ton of further plastic).  The dignity that comes from sitting inside a warm place and eating with dignity is lost.  This may be small but for the person who has nothing, and whose life through poverty is made so undignified, this is something substantial.  

Similarly many showering facilities are curtailed.  Likewise social areas and places of support for people to go.  In some regions in towns and cities they have switched off water fountains (this is in the North, so it is not to do with a draught) in a vain fight at this virus.   This is small but understatedly vindictive to the person on the street.  

Life outside in society looks diminished.   We walk about with more fear and less assurance.   Maybe this stems because we as part of society are helping, through our obedience to these covid policies, create a society at large that treats the truly worst off in far more undignified and worse ways than before.  The mark of ourselves and our society is diminished. We are less civilised than before.  This is sad.  We are sad. 

When Living is Existence

Living to survive is living to exist. When life is being lived for no more than existence is one even living at all? Getting by, surviving homelessness, there are for interminable tunnels of time nothing more to life than this. A life reduced to getting along in endemic subsistence carries with it the inescapable sense of pitiless waste that comes with the deep felt knowledge of a life that is squandered. This is so galling as to be life throttling; when one is mired in destitution this squeeze upon the psyche grips tighter and tighter. The light of life, the light that one sees in other’s eyes who are living, is seeping away.

In the insecure, grinding poverty of homelessness one is trapped. One is, here, like a fly caught in a web, the predicament is particularly tragic because this is human life. It is tragic because it is a waste of life ~ one’s brain, one’s consciousness and therefore one’s potential are shredded, bit by bit, to pieces like a scrap bit of paper discarded into a gutter. When one’s remembered capacity of living ~ both for the celebration, and the fascination, of life itself ~ has drained from one because one has been devoured by squalor then one’s life has become one of existence. It is existence since all one can do is get through another bloody interminable day. Each day is loathsome, day after day of this in the same vein and one has slipped away from life.

There are periods like this on the street. In such moments, by way of example, one is stuck outside rooted to a spot, cold, tired, nowhere to go, no prospects for the unending hours ahead; one is so tired one cannot even think straight: time, like one’s feelings and observations, is a hideous hindrance. A passing occurrence of this, on one particular day, on its own, is horrific. When, however, this merges into, and becomes, a recurring, long drawn out pattern in one’s life then the reverberations will be felt in the psyche. To be outside, cold, dirty and so often exhausted to boot, is real deprivation. Living this is to be in a perpetual state of subsistence. Downtrodden survival is the best that can be hoped for. Like this living is being done for the hell of it, it is nothing more than for the sake of existence. You are but a flee. Your sight feels like a blight to the world (those hostile, judgemental eyes of strangers, even if only a few people here or there, tell you so). You feel yourself to be an irritant. You hate yourself for this life. You can blame yourself or you can blame the world, they are one and the same; the hate, the self loathing drain you of life. To do this, to fall into this state, is in the worst times, at the point of being, impossibly easy. This is how life here becomes one of existence from the psyche out.

When your guard is down the recriminations come full throatedly whispering in. They attack, they limit, they dismantle and destroy, hate is easy when the pain and frustration in life is great. To be marooned in destitution those final vestiges of one’s pride take a pounding. One’s self respect is so torn to shreds when living to only survive that to lambast oneself, and life itself, is the last recourse one has to remind oneself that one’s life has not, yet, quite, become one only of mind eradicated existence.

Deep down in the spirit, the despair, the horror of this worldly existence leaves no room for growth and the living of life. Within one is in hell. The worse and worse this gets the more one drifts away from life, the cycle is vicious down into the life that becomes one of existence.

Homelessness can be so very dangerous because it’s brutalised nature tears one apart. Life’s real pain cannot be conveyed; an unsuspecting world will never know and never understand. The unspeakable isolation that comes with homelessness’s way of life is disconnecting from the world and others around you. Materially homelessness removes you from life. More pernicious still, is how it disconnects you psychologically from life and society. It takes you from life, it turns you into an island. When totally alone and ground down by destitution life as existence is all that is left.

To Be Homless Is To Feel Ignored

Ignored: I do not so much as exist;
A lving person with my own story to tell,
I am someone, I am life.
To the world though as I am, my existence is meaningless.
Perhaps even worthless,
This is what happens when you live on the street

A human irrelevence:
To the eyes of ordinary life I am not a person –
I am something unnatural and vile, like disemobidied junk.
Hollowed out from the cold,
Dishevelled from the dirt,
Tired out, empty, from the sleeplessness,
Nervous, tense, frightened  from the danger of a lack of security.
The apparutus of my physiological and psychological machinery cannot adequetly function:
I am drained.
Done in,
Exisiting only to survive.
This is not life…I am kaput.

Life here pounds the senses down
My heart is not open,
My eyes have no light.
Within I am still myself, or at least I was, there will be a moment -it may be now – when I will be down and lost forever.

I doubt my humanity,
Fearful, tormenting doubts,
A meek run down rump am I, I sense the disconnect from life that is me.
No wonder no one wants to acknowledge anyone as pitiful as this.

Unhappy world, unhappy life;
To the judgements of the world I am vermin.
All I do is arouse disgust; I get in the way.
How can I be someone when I am like I am?

How can the world see me as a person when my state challenges ordinary mans secure notions of what a human life is?
Better then for the world to deny the homeless person.
Ignore them,
Don’t acknowledge their humanity
And then the guilt is negated.
If I am less than human then I can be lumped together with the rubbish of the street ~
To be discarded forever is what I feel I deserve….
This is what living to survive does to oneself.

The homeless are unsightly
The homless are a blight on societal harmony
We would be better off eradicated…would we not?
Who would notice?  Who would care?
For the majority if they could walk the street without the sight of the homeless then their lives would be pleasenter,
The homless are not easy to accept, let alone tolerate
They get in the way.
To deny them is to deny the uncomfortableness one feels as a human when the homless are there.

If only they did not exist
No risk of awarkwardness
No more uncomfortable shunning of eye contact.
No more faint stinging whiffs of revulsion.
If unacknowldged enough in the human sense  then how long before I do not exist?

I am coerced into denying my humanity.
It is easy to question it,
And I am made to do so by the sense of societal ostrafication;
It hurts,
I feel angry
But what authority do I have to express it?
My voice, like the functioning capacity of my body and mind, is too weak;
My stature is shrunken
I am not a person, my human will is gone.

One time though I may just snap,
For I want one chance to rebel at this plight before it is too late.
To feel the pain and to give it it’s justified expression: The world needs to know,
I exist, I am no island.
Who can blame me for this?
Yes who dares? ….when in virtually every interaction people either look away in hostility or disgust, or they callously ignore ;
Here there is no escaping this life revoking repudiation;
Because I am where I am there are too many people and there is too little space…….
And so its constancy logarithmically aches.
I am made less human by the ways others see me.

Going berserk finally becomes the only means left of reclaiming the momentary gold dust of human expression.
Negative confrontation with the world is better than nothing,
In full fronted antagonism there is attention,
Active hatred is something
Since it is a reminder that I still exist.

What Happened: part 4

There was a lot to adjust to, but at least there was a purpose in my first actions; these gave me a healthy distraction.  I bought some cheap, efficient food from the supermarket.  I had free rein to eat a tonne of bread and cheese slices – the sportsman within me was stocking up on carbohydrates for the challenge ahead.  In the evening I bought a coffee and sat in a cafe.  An indispensable companion for me was a paper notebook and pen.  I was not in the mood to write anything of great substance…..but what I did do was to resolve to myself that I would write twice each day.  I would do poetic free writing, whereby I would write my feelings, sensations or general trail of subconscious thoughts that came from my subconscious as I had the pen in my hand.  This released any pressure I had of writing anything of coherence.  I was free to just put anything down.  I did indeed do this exercise each day on my walk, I would write anywhere between half a page and a couple of pages in one go.  I was often surprised by what came to me.  It connected me with some of my biggest fears and insecurities within.  Obscure, vague sensations began to take form in a line here or there in the free writing I did.  This then set in motion new, clearer trails of thoughts I may not otherwise have had.  It may well have given some direction to my thoughts.  Sometimes I would begin to lay down a diary entry based upon something that had come to me through this free writing.  The act of walking with that connection between body and mind, I am sure on it’s own, fed me many a trail of thoughts, and reinforced and expanded upon things I had touched upon loosely when jotting things down.  I mention this activity because it was a constructive and an immensely useful action for me.  In subsequent times in my life when I have felt down and low on energy and have wanted to write, but have to my frustration not been able to really do so, then I have often done a spot of free writing again.  It’s relieving.  There is no judgement to the quality or the coherence of the words, the words just come, they are neither right nor wrong.  Through the action of this, like with any small constructive action who can say all of what is set in motion.

The good thing about the hike I was set to do was that there was a defined route I had to walk.  The coastal path I was going to follow was one that is famously beautiful.   It would be a nice walk, and it was well marked, this was important.   I was not walking aimlessly; there was a structure within it and a direction to go for.  My nerves were in a susceptible state with the shock of everything that had just, finally, transpired.  I knew it was important, therefore, to relieve myself of as many external distracting uncertainties as I could effect.  Having a broad plan as to the structure I would follow freed me up to just go, and to focus upon the things which I most needed to concentrate on.  In knowing where I was going and what I was doing this negated the wider excessive uncertainty of my situation which I would need the time away to process and prepare for.  It was a way of searching and reconnecting with the strength I would need to take on the rigours of life that awaited me.

Also of very high importance was that I had recovered fully from illness.  I had slept a lot and my energy was fully charged.  Good, plentiful sleep had replenished me in mind and body in the weeks before.  This freshness was important in my ability to respond as best I could to all the many challenges that lay ahead.   Indeed, this period informed subsequent observations of mine regarding energy levels and sleep.  I think – because I have felt it work for me time and again – that I can stock up on sleep for a time by simply sleeping long hours,  this then gives me later, the extra energy I need, when I am busy in doing something intense, and through which I do not sleep a lot at night.  I have the energy to sail through this from all that prior sleep I have had.  Being well rested for the seismic event of homelessness, was essential to me.  I needed every ounce of strength I could utilise for the intensity of all that I was just beginning to face.

The cafe I was sat in was closing.  Evening was giving way into night, the time to depart, to start walking was, now, when the city was shutting down.  I was free to anonymously get away, on my own, to face what I could only, in that moment, face alone.

Looking out through the streets of the neighbourhood, as I lifted the bag to my shoulders, I could feel how this was the hour to be in one’s home…..but I no longer had one –  when darkness comes one feels particularly exposed to the vestiges of this status,  it had just sunk in that little bit more then for me, chilling to think I had no warm bed anywhere to go back to –  but tonight, at least, I had this challenge before me, all I could do now was put all I had into it.

Walking out of Barcelona:  The city was emptying, I had intimacy in the lateness of the hour.  The night would be mine.  The promenade beside the sea was clear, only the occasional runner or dog walker did I pass.  The night was mild.  Quiet.  Unexpectedly quiet, the sea was serene like a lake, the clear moonlight glistening unbroken upon it.  Not the slightest hint of a breeze, the air like the sea was so still.  A remarkably placid night, it was ideal for a good night walk.

These first steps would set the tone.  Through them I would feel the connection to myself and to life.  It was a proper hike my backpack was extremely heavy (I had to fill it with a lot of things, where else was I to put things without a home).  The steps how were they?….they were light…..they felt good…..I had energy.   I just went.  I did not think.  I walked; one step after another.  Using my force.   Surprised by my strength.   No need to question it – nor to doubt it – it just felt good…. I had to go with it and keep this rhythm.  Just stay in the moment and enjoy the bliss.  A second here was an eternity.   This was life.  It mattered.

I was aware of everything that had happened.   In the here and the now it just was, what had gone before was in the past.  It could not get to me, it could not touch me nor effect me when I was imo the zone doing what I had to do.   This challenge before me, was to me personally like the Olympic Games; all my focus, all my energy, went into the marathon I was currently running.  I did not care about anything else.  Nothing else mattered but the moment right now.  Life stripped down to it’s simplest form.  It was invigorating, and positively and surprisingly refreshing.

There was no question about it my heart was there and in it.  I was powering my way out of Barcelona at great pace.  I was pushing it, pushing myself, engaging my heart.  I walked like a machine.  This is the type of activity I have an innate  aptitude for, I was naturally highly capable at it, I was doing that which I was most naturally good at.  I knew my standards from times past, I was honouring these now, it was happening of itself, I felt the power of my body.  Those first 20 plus kilometres I walked non stop in three hours.  Barcelona was gone.  I felt free.

I stopped for a short while.  Sat on some rocks under the stars on the silhouetted seas edge, I looked back at Barcelona, now a dot, down the coast.  The air was clean (so much cleaner than the city) .  No one else was around, I had the night to myself, on my own secret mission.  Above all else I was satisfied.  Immensely so, what a relief,  I still had determination.   I still could care.  I still wanted to walk and walk.  While I was stopped my thoughts also too did begin to wander – I was not out of danger from my negative head.  When I thought about the bigger picture, worries began to interfere.  I began again to doubt things.  There was the impulse to question why I was doing what I was doing.  My negative thoughts, my critical self had not vanished,  it’s shadow still lurked.  This was why the walking was so good, because I could not deny what was inside me,the walking gave me a bubble of bliss just to be in with myself, doing something that felt good.  I could be with everything that was within. My mind was engaged in life, everything else could process itself with my constructive motioned action of walking.  I had space and the uninhibited opportunity to adjust.  Hiking, and the endurance aspect of it was a great way of connecting to myself.  With my natural ability for it, this talent put into use made me feel stronger and all together more capable in life again.  This was the best foundation I could have had to come to terms with things,  and to face some difficult inner truths that awaited.   One can handle so much more in life when one feels strong within.   This physical pursuit made me feel as strong as it was possible to be in this moment.   It was reaquainting me with what I most enjoyed, while reminding me of my qualities within.  These were impregnable seeds of comfort for my fragile self worth.

I continued walking.  The hiking got harder in the latest hours of night, but since I had started so well, with the right mindset,  I was able to uphold this ethos as I just kept on going because I just knew how much it mattered.   Physical discomfort I could handle, and indeed even relish a bit since it showed I was embracing the journey in all it’s ups and downs; it was a chance furthermore to engage with that will within.  I wanted some struggle, it was a way of embracing life and calling upon my innermost fibre within:  How could I really know it and value it if things were not at least a little tough?

That first day I walked 80 kilometres.   I had never hiked so far in one single day.  By the days end I was shattered,  and even a touch emotional for a lot of things had come up while walking.  Mostly I was content, perhaps even a little proud….I had taken some steps to reclaiming my self worth.  Relief and satisfaction glowed strongly within.  Intellectually beforehand I had had strong reservations and fears that I would have been unable to have done this, being tormented as I was by that fear of all my determination and fight being dead.  In connecting with my heart in doing an activity I loved more than anything else I had enabled the light within to shine forth and speak for me authentically of itself.  There still was light and hope within.  I had given it the chance to express itself, and it responded in the hour when it was absolutely needed.   With this power I knew I could handle things in life.  The future was still highly uncertain, but it was not definitively bleak, however much the darkness within my head may have continued trying to tell me otherwise.

The whole hike itself was nine days in total.  I walked 450 kilometres.   This was some achievement I knew it was.  It got very, very hard at times. The second day I walked the weather was atrocious.   After walking for half an hour that next morning it began to rain, it became heavy very quickly and it continued – accompanied with a very strong wind – all day into the night.  I was soaked and shivering when I arrived into a small town in the evening darkness.  Homelessness hurt then.  Wet and cold I had no bed and there was no warm shower I could take.   I slept the night uncomfortably in an ATM.  Fortunately every other day the weather was dry, but it got at times horribly hard.  Every other night, apart from that night in an ATM I was sleeping outside, nearly always in nature.  It was March and still accordingly rather cold at night.  There were a couple of particularly cold nights when it was at or close to freezing, it was not easy to stay mentally strong in such a state.  This was punishment, I felt very small indeed.

Many problems arose that I had to respond to.  I got lost a couple of times.  My budget was small I could not stop in cafes or eat at least a little piece of nice food.   And I was always completely alone.  The isolation hurt.  Perhaps though this needed to hurt for I did realise after one especially tumultuous internal day that I could not live like this, alone.   I needed to learn to receive and to feel deserving; admitting this to myself hurt.  I saw how scared I was in reaching out:  this helped to make me aware of some very basic and fundamental things.  This need to learn and to ask for and to receive help would, very soon, when I got back to Barcelona, stand me in very good stead.

This was a trip of light but also, in moments, incredible darkness.  The destructive side of me within would not easily give up, fighting unrelentingly as it did to assert it’s prominence.  I was savagely attacked by many a doubt and no end of furious frustrated grievances.   The darkness would have liked nothing more than for me to give up: to have collapsed, for instance, alone in the countryside, starving and in despair because life seemed hopeless.  To have given in on it all, and to have ended the horrendousness of this blind, silent fight was a gnawing temptation in moments.  For life to have run it’s course, and to have gently resigned myself to it, it would have put an end to all the potential uncertainty and shame fested difficulties that lay ahead.  Instead it would have provided reassuring simplicity of closure.  In moments the arguments put forward by my head for this seemed compelling, like an inviting voice lulling me, willing me to sleep.  When life ends there is the certainty of closure which in the simplest of senses can almost seem relieving.

And yet in spite of all this I continued walking great distances.   I could not, I would not stop.  My determination and hunger for life were too strong.  My head repeatedly questioned the point of it all as it made me doubt my determination, but it could not disprove that innate love of life that lies within.  I just kept going because this challenge to me meant the world.  I kept going because I had to –  just had to – refute it.  The first steps I had taken on this hike were proof to me of my will to do this.  I kept this inside and used it to keep on going, even in these journeys hardest moments.  Building upon all this, was to be from there onwards a new foundation for me in life.

When I returned to Barcelona I got help I got help from some kind people, and before long I had got a job in a hostel, where there was accommodation with the job.  From there I was soon taking some personally momentous life steps, as I faced up to some huge issues I had always in my life prior to this put off doing.  It was massive, but in doing it I was struck with some excruciating subconscious shocks.  The upshot was that I would in time become voluntarily homeless again.  To explain the reasoning for this is another story in itself.  And it is one I can safely say I would never be able to tell if I had not had this experience and everything connected with it that I have just relayed.

What Happened: part 3

How this walk was framed in my mind – what it’s purpose was, it’s integral, essential reason – was to answer the ultimate life question: To live or not to live. It really was all about that. This may sound overly self importantly dramatic and indulgent, but it was what lay at it’s heart. Why was it that I saw it in such a way? Because I had got so stuck in my life. It may then have been that I needed such grandiosity to lift me into harnessed reason. Seeing it and framing it like this, and feeling that this is what my life had come to was a way of stripping my world, from here, into a clear cut one.

Before I was in a place where I struggled in seeing any avenue of purpose left to me in life. At the heart of everything, I had a big, big problem that everything in my life seemed to get back to. I had blockages in my mind, from past traumas, that had led onto depriving me of intimacy in life of any kind. I could not get passed many an obscure demon of fear and doubt, and it crippled me. Humiliating; it led to huge frustration and a feeling that I was pathetic. The consequence was that I felt condemned to be forever alone in life. What was the point in anything if I was to be like this…..to me it was an irrefutable argument that marred my whole conceptions of life and self. In part an excuse, because with it my life had definition, I could always fall back on things that had happened to me in self pity. But it was also a hugely big and pressurising burden to carry, and I can only think that it did take a lot of strength not to give in on everything.

Whatever was the case, I was in this time in particular, overly befuddled with uncertainty, which was all upheld so potently by my obscure fears that were me, and in which I could not see anyway around. Consequently my existence seemed one of long term futurelessness. Why do anything today? Why take small steps today in life and career to realise those big dreams of tomorrow, if there is no sensed secure tomorrow you can either believe in or see? An incapacity to this, even in the remotest tangible way, had catastrophic consequences in how I allowed my life to slide. Things fall apart in life when there is no defined action to the steps one takes in one’s daily life. The only reason to live in normal life – to live at all – seemed to be to simply survive. To cling to this for the sake of clinging to piecemeal security felt emasculating. I could not just live to survive as some kind of human non entity. There was no excitement in this, nothing to ignite the excitement for life. Nothing to engage my determination and drive……and so for all this it was that I thought it was shriveling away. I had nothing to offer, nothing I could do, my problems huge as they were to me, could not be got around, they defined everything. The prospect of homelessness had almost nonchalantly, beforehand, seemed but a small issue compared to everything else. If it was to be my undoing that did me in then so be it. If, on the other hand, I had strength to handle it and get through it, then maybe there would be something revealed to me within upon which I could build on: Homelessness was a way of irretrievably seeing whether this was the case or not. This was the only way to challenge once and for all an imbued fatalistic outlook on life that had a hold over me.

My real immense fear, greater than homelessness and any kind of material squalor or degradation, was that that fire within – my determination – would wither away and leave me. This was my worst fear of all, because it was the loss, the destruction of what I most valued within. I could not see how I could live life without this, I would be vacuous and without fight within. And if I did not have any fight I could not work my way to change my life’s most arduous internal challenges – I needed all my strength I had to do this.

The previous year before homelessness happened had been so hard because I believed, I felt, that my will was dying. It was a terrible, wasted, year in which I was disconnected from life. I was marooned in my head, weighed down by a vicious mist of negativity which poisoned me through it’s self recriminating doubts and shame. Nothing was clear, nothing worthwhile, everything was shrouded in an embittered ghost like hopelessness. I lacked belief in myself in the day to day motions of life, and so I did not engage with pursuits of any note. Everything was done half heartedly in this place, this was a rotten, hollowed out way of living life. In a state like this, that determination within felt battered, done in, gone. I thought, judging by the life I had been living, that it was leaving me – indeed it may already have left – forever. And this I was powerless to prevent, since I could find nothing constructive in life in which to engage myself with and ignite my long lost fire. This environment I had been living in over the previous year, I felt had been killing it. My worst fear now was that this determination, this fight within was dead. How I tormented myself with this fear. This, therefore, was what the hike I was undertaking now was about: it was to see whether I still had any inner fight for life. To not have it, to have lost it, I was not me…..I could no longer have lived life since I would have been dead to myself. To live or not to live depended upon whether I could rouse that fight within when I, now, needed it more than I had ever done.

I now know that this – being an innate quality as it is – never leaves one. It was unfounded, since it’s energy had merely gone into the viciousness of the harmful part of myself that darkly inflicted such abuse upon myself, the consequence of too much suppressed constructive ambition. But then I did not know this, I never knew it, I never believed it. I was terrified it had gone. The dark, sadistic side of me tormented myself with these doubts, until I was at the point, here, of believing that what I most nauseously feared had become the case. I was a vicious bastard to myself, a bastard that was scathingly frustrated at life. My incapacity to see things clearly, while fighting myself to this excessive extent, meant that I had lost all reasoned perspective on life. My self centred recriminations were destroying all my faith in life itself.

I wanted to see, through this walk, if I had the determination to walk huge distances, to go to my physical limits, to rise above the discomfort and use it to fuel me on because pushing myself beyond my limits still mattered to me. If I could still embrace and be inspired by the rigours, by the hardship – like I had once been – by the suffering of such a challenge, then that yearning, that fire within, was still determined to expand, and go beyond, my life’s horizons and limits. Pushing myself had used to be about caring for life. Suffering to me mattered, because in being able to endure it for a constructive, meaningful challenge, then in this, was the proof that life did matter. In knowing places that in the short term are hard and terribly trying, is worth it if it is for a greater purpose. If I could not do this, if I could not push myself through the short term discomforts that needed to be faced, then the desire to scale new heights in life, and to overcome obstacles that lay in my way would no longer matter sufficiently; and if doing this did not really matter to me then the light within could not shine, since my fire of determination was smothered. I needed the determination in it’s fullest potential within if – ultimately – I did want to change my life, if I were still to have hopes of, and belief in, overcoming the pain and the challenges that had dogged me in life itself. This hike was a rehearsal for life, to see what I had within, to prove to myself it was there and strong and so could get me through these choppy life waters I found myself in. Connected and reacquainted to it I could embrace life again in all it’s rich and challenging nuances.

Could I, would I do this hike with the fullness of my heart? Whenever I did things in life half heartedly I felt weak and altogether disinterested. If I could not propel myself to give my best and to care about what I was doing when I was doing something that I needed to do and which should have been important, it would feel terribly dispiriting. To not feel life sufficiently, I felt altogether reduced as a person. There were plenty of things in those recent times I knew I should have cared about doing well, but however much I tried to cajole myself into feeling it, and doing it like it mattered, my heart could just not respond. It was crushing. The standards we set ourselves are ours to live up to, they matter because they are about respecting ourselves and honouring the opportunity of life. I don’t mean in this that one has to be perfect and better than everyone else (whatever such a nebulous and limiting, ego driven notion may mean) . No, what I mean is simply in giving your best, in trying your hardest and letting the necessary fiery passion burn forth, of itself, in the moment when it is needed most. In the things I used to enjoy most I knew how it felt when I did it to the best of my ability. This is why I so like sports because in it I could feel these nuances so clearly.

I made my way towards the sea and the neighbourhood of Poble Nou. I was going to leave at nightfall. I had few hours to stop and wait and let things sink in. In leaving at night I intended to walk through the night and to walk all the next day as I wanted to walk further than I had ever done before in one single day. I wanted to cover a good distance and go to my limits. This would be sport. Good sport is a battle, an inner fight to conquer my known limits.

This condensed challenge would fill this next day of my life. The day was set. At least I was doing something that mattered to me. I could even relish the day, by relying on myself rather than being weighed down blindly with subsuming and humungous worries. It was about having the right focus, if my focus was put into something constructive and life affirming then maybe through it I would gain a more balanced perspective on my life and my problems. This challenge gave me the time and the space to do this. Time and space in life can be everything. aa

What Happened: Part 2

I may have been my own worst enemy, but a part of myself too did care for myself and for life. I was unable to acknowledge this and value it in the moment, but this part of me, I can see now, was still there. Perhaps it was doing more than helping me, and was in fact silently guiding me. A week before homelessness happened I read Viktor Frankl’s: The Meaning of Life. My own words cannot remotely state the power of this book. Poignant, solemn, and so very very powerful. He produced out of the very worst, and most disgusting environment of life a work that was inspiring. The sagacity of his perspectives he illustrates about life, opened my eyes and gave me a lot to ponder.

To read this book as I did, I can see now clearly, what I tried to deny then, that, yes, within myself I did care about life. Our head may convince us of something through the strident officiousness of all it’s doubts and negative self serving thoughts, but there are, actual, concrete actions of ours that we perform, which if only we were sufficiently aware of, would refute in an instant the worst excesses of our critical head. In reading this book as I did then this action proved that I did care about improving and helping myself in life. If there was one thing I took from the book it is that our faith is ours, no one, absolutely no one, can ever rob us of this. Our why, our purpose in life is ours to know and to always uphold. The book, perhaps, opened in my mind that magical, remote, door which gave me a connection to that priceless slither of light that I would now need, as I began to walk out into the city where I had lived, where I still lived, just now without a home.

At some point I had to face up to what I was going to do. I had to have a plan of action. I had to take charge of something. I had to find and create my own’ why’ . A part of me couldn’t – didn’t want to. ‘It is all pointless’ . ‘Your worthless’ . ‘You are nothing, you have wasted your life: You pathetic idiot’ . An insidious on running negative narrative within my mind gave credence to the belief that homelessness was the end of the world. Such negative beliefs were not new, they in themselves had dragged me down to this place – bad habits do not just suddenly stop. Their consequence was a shattered self worth that needed rebuilding. I could not forever destructively label myself as pitiful and weak. I had determination inside, that I always had prided myself on. I needed this now more than ever. I had to reconnect with it. What to do?

I had this fight within, I could not intellectually pin point down, exactly, what it was or how it felt, but it was a knowledge imbued within my fibre from experience. I carried this sense within. The clearest example of what I mean is whenever I had used to play sports: I never stopped running, I never knew I was beaten. To achieve a great, improbable, comeback when two sets to love down boiled my blood with sweet swelling fired up pride. To never give in, to have the determination to win was me, the child, when I did sports. Endurance activities, in particular, were something I had loved. Marathons, extreme long distance hikes were things I had once done in the past. I could really push myself, I could go on and on, I had to….it was life. It trod a fine line between masochism – as I sometimes pummelled myself as I unleashed pain and frustration – and a yearning, a quest, for the deepest depths of my spirit and the God given universal power within, that I wanted to know and to feel because it gave me a connection to something great. It took me beyond the limits of my small world and it’s constrained nature of my own life limiting problems. This is about perspective, as it is a way of grasping that I am more than my problems – when previously depressed I had lost all sense of this.

But a fear of losing this inner determination had taken hold of me, in those recent and particularly dark times. How I tormented myself with this fear – it become a sickening, self perpetuating, belief in life. This was worsened further, by the depressive state I had been in, which led onto me feeling very lost in life. I could not see anything of long term consequence to go for. I lacked goals and I lacked any excitement for the future. Having hopes and having dreams had become a poison to me. Since I had little before me in life that engaged my mind, I felt flat, there was nothing to channel myself into, and since this way of being seemed to have forever inescapably set in, I was convinced that that fight within had withered away. I feared now that it was dead. The negative, dark, critical narratives that consumed my head force fed me the conviction that this was so. And, if I did not have fight nor determination then I was hollowed out, broken; this was too despairing for me, without this drive I was not me…..I was a dead in the water non entity. Like this – with this sense of self – I struggled to live with myself. My life had run out of road.
Not having dreams. Lacking a project to put my ambition into, that could allow me to live, had created perilously slippery ground. This is what had ushered in my plummeting freefall. Constructive action was the way to connect with myself. I had to channel what lay within into something of consequence. I needed a why. But now that structured life had just freshly vanished before me, as I found myself permanently out on the streets, with security scant, no sense of direction, and with no plans of how to make anything of my life, the effort to now find such a why risked coming across as hopelessly now too late. The most important question was: what, right now, would help myself and give focus to my mind. How could I connect with my innermost being?
As I walked out into the city, familiar streets felt different, with the consciousness that I was a person who was homeless. Things seemed closed off to me in ways they had not been before. I had become in a new and more pertinent way an outsider – I had always in a sense felt like this, and now my actions had made it more starkly felt than possibly ever before. Without the security of a home and a position in the world of work I had no basic identity. I was isolated from society, I could sink into destitution, alone, and disregarded for I no longer officially fitted any structure. This was a hapless place. To lose the most basic security of shelter, and to suddenly be consciously aware of this for real felt strange and unnatural. There was guilt and shame, this position felt like a sordid little secret I had to live with, and which was so awkwardly uncomfortable because I could not, then, grasp why I had done this to myself. The notion of being a homeless person, and the disgust at myself at what I had been pitifully powerless to prevent, created niggling resentments against myself. Accordingly, I felt ostracised from the world, like a criminal who deserved to be punished. I projected outwards my imagined place in the world based upon my own inner feelings of worthlessness. I was scared. Real dark negativity was not far away. It was fighting for prominence. If it took root now, I could have been finished. I had no margin for error in such a real and perilous position. One part of me felt like giving into it, because if I did this then I could fall down, give in on life, and be free from the uncertainty of all the struggle that lay ahead.

When the unimaginable becomes real the implications suddenly carry an edge. Ex priori logic may put in place one or two integral perspectives, but it can never prepare one for the icy cold plunge that comes in the unimaginable moment itself. No it cannot be prepared for beforehand, it’s too unpredictable because the uncertainty, the doubts, the worries, the anxiety, the shame, the helplessness, and all the frustrations, the agonies, and the self recriminating sense of pity, contained within it when it is real cannot possibly be measured out in the mind prior to its happening. The shock, the adjustment was being felt here and there in little fits and starts. I had entered a completely new realm, the most integral security in life had now suddenly vanished -life without shelter is another world. Until one is in, and exposed first hand to this place, then in the psychological and emotional sense one is never going to feel all the terrible horror and pain of this place. I began to sense how complacent I had been in my self ruinous games.
For an individual becoming homeless is like on the societal level civilisation breaking down. Civic life gone, no cushioning secure structure to live by, lawlessness – every person for themselves – doubts, fear, mistrust awful insecurity, hopes of, expectations for proper justice gone. On the street was one not written off in life? How often beforehand in my life had I seen people on the street and lumped them together under the stereotyped notions of degraded, unhinged, washed out drunkards? Did I not at least judge them with some disgust and contempt? And now I was such a person. I was this, and would the world, therefore, not write me off in this same way? Had I already begun to project all this onto myself as I too readily wrote myself off? Was this, anyway, within it all not what I had wanted all along – the excuse to, finally, irrevocably write myself off? To be vermin, to not be human; to have severed my connection with life meant there was nothing to hold onto. This in the arrogant, aloof, intellectual sense was worthlessness. If I could feel it fully then I had the excuse to not struggle on. Could the last vestiges of doubt now, not just, fall away? A part of me wanted this and was willing it on. The dark side within wanted self destruction. In obliterating away the most integral of all material necessities I had nothing in the world that could redeem me from here. In breaking off from life itself and going into the underworld of chaos, the light of life itself was surely repudiated. I had nothing in life. Nothing. There was, therefore, nothing to fight for. That determination I had always prided myself on now meant nothing. I would no longer have to live with the fear of losing it, which came from the fearful uncertainty that it might not, quite, be extinguished, because now in this situation it was surely all over. All these embittered expectations I wanted to forcefully impose on this situation came from my critical, dark destructive self within.

Without something constructive to put my energy, my fight, my ambition into in these very first formulative moments of this life then this destructive self may have won out. I needed a why, a goal, something constructive to put my energy and focus into. For my embatterted self esteem I needed a challenge I could rise to. Trying merely to survive would have been too humiliating for my stubborn pride. I had to find something to do as a way of proving to myself that I still had something within. I had to do this before it was too late. My first steps in this world could define everything. A new stopwatch had begun, and this was not a ticking clock but a detonated timer counting down in fast forward. Urgency would now have to focus my mind. Maybe this was what I needed, maybe it was what I wanted all along? Maybe it was my way and what I had to do? The opportunity to go within and confront my worst fears, to find out who I was by seeing what I had within. Maybe this could be my initiation rite for living life.

It seemed thus in the broad sense that everything in my life had been stripped away. The advantage of a completely new environment is that one has to act. In a completely new place and state, whatever move that is made next will be different. This provided an opportunity for a long lost sense of freshness to things. Here the next action I took mattered. It mattered much more than in the familiar, well run motion of life, since the subsequent course of where I would go would be determined by these first formulative actions I took in this unimaginable place. The intentions which underpin our actions are at the heart of where we come to find ourselves in life. For too long in my life prior to being homeless I had been ruled by my inner dark virulent critic, his voice, his intentions were abusing and harmful. Alas, I had arrived at where I now was. It was now more important than ever that my next action came from good intentions within. I had to want to help myself. I had to learn to do this action after action, the next action mattered most. I was not worthless I had to believe this, and my actions would be the best felt means of refuting this.

What to do? Back to basics. To know, to reconnect, with one’s inner bliss one needs to return to a place where one is completely content within. In this place one is connected to life; life is even enjoyable precisely because one is at one with the world. One is not one’s problems when one is pursuing one’s bliss. How to get back there and reconnect with this again? Life can quickly make us forget it, but when we were children we knew how to be happy. Children dream, and children are frequently bubbling over with excitement. The child’s innocence allows them to play freely. Each individual child has their own unique interests and their own particular dreams. In getting back to these we can reconnect with ourself and remind ourselves of who we are. What matters and what are our passions? Remembering this is to do those core activities again that as a child we used to love. If I wanted to help myself I had to do this now. Build my sense of self from the bliss upwards with an adults awareness as I learned who I was and what those qualities were that mattered to me. My own originality was mine to discover by going back to my origins. Here was my opportunity. Everything materially in my life had been blitzed away, all I had was myself. I could be my best friend, or I could be my worst enemy. It was now more than ever, one or the other, life was simple. The implications were clear. I had to engage myself in the right way. I had to find my bliss. I had to do this to get out of my head. If I could engage that inner child within, I would be engaged and in that there would be a semblance of oneness with the world. The love of life could shine forth of itself once again. Being overly within my head had led me to homelessness since my problems defined everything, I could not get past them and so they turned life crooked; I did not live life, and so they disconnected me from myself, and in that I was not in touch with all that I had to value within. There used never to be any point in doing anything because the negativity I felt in the now was always projecting itself into the future. Why do anything if tomorrow is certain to be despairing, since those bloody problems will still be there and will never go away?

Now that I was really here, things were different. Since everything had fallen away, the future was in one core sense refreshingly uncertain. This uncertainty was positive because it could not get at me in the same way in the here and the now. I didn’t know where I would be, how I would be, or what I would be doing, I had no environment or place to project the future into. It was frightful, but also this new life I was in left everything open, the future and it’s worries melted way because I had to get through what I was confronted with in this very moment. To stop all this uncertainty becoming overwhelming (which it so easily and very quickly could) and being my ruin I needed to do something that could give me a short term focus. One condensed challenge before me, that engaged my mind. Something to relish, so that this uncertain place I was in could be defined upon solid structures.

The key was not to be overwhelmed. I had to connect with myself. The best way to do this was by having a why upon which I could put my whole hearted focus into. Back to the child within. How to find the bliss? I always had loved sports. As a child his was when I was most happy. I loved the competitive challenge that was brimming within it. It was the means to prove myself, and that mattered to me an awful lot. It was combat, free expression and unrivalled discovery as I embraced going to my limits, of knowing those limits, and then of going beyond them and taking them further. Yes, yes , it mattered so much for when I was doing sports I was blissfully in my element.
A couple of weeks before an idea had loosely formed in my mind about what I would do. It became a silent resolution. And now it had happened and I was homeless it was certain that it was what I would do. I was going to go for a physical challenge. I would do a long, intense hike. I wanted to clear my mind, get out of the city and be in nature. I needed a structure in what I was doing so my intention was to follow the coastal path from Barcelona to the tip of France, before walking back in land to Barcelona. This would be around 500 kms long. A undertaking with a focused challenge. This was a way to connect with some of my most innate qualities, a chance to let my determination and my fight, which I valued shine forth…..I wanted to see what I had left within. Could I do justice to myself and my qualities? I had to….this was all I had.

What Happened: My Story of How Homelessness Came About – Part 1

I want to write about how exactly it was when I first became homeless.  I want to say a bit about what happened and what went through my mind.  And I want to describe my story of how I reacted and what I did in those very first days of this defining and life changing moment.

I hope to convey those first moments of how it was when I stepped out the door, in a trance, onto the street with only a backpack in tow……Suddenly I was faced with the shocking, surreal and the peculiarly eerie reality of being on my own, lost to the street, no home anywhere to go back to, as the door of that flat, my ex home (in the official and notional sense) closed shut behind me.  Now it really was so.  A life that had always been secure in, at least, the most fundamental of physiological senses was now consigned to the past.  A shuddering new world had become real.  How had it come to this?  How?……What had I done?  The end of the road was here.  It should have been the worst of nightmares.  I wanted it to be because I wanted to feel something.  I wanted to care, except that it all seemed too late for this, as it did for everything left to me in life.
That was how it felt.  It seemed seismic, but equally it didn’t.  It was just another moment of life, without ceremony – whether I was ruined or not to the world what did it matter.  That was how it seemed to me in my isolated world.  I had been lost, confused and at war within for some time past.  This was just another lash I had inflicted upon myself, another familiar silent humiliation in a troubled existence.  An humiliation now too far.  I should never have been in this position, but I was; I judged myself harshly for wasting my life.  But I was aware too that this could – had – to be a new start, it had to be, right here, right now in this unimaginable world, if not I was dead.
I was riddled with a long running, and an all out, gradually and erratically encroaching sense of despair.  No one knew my situation.  I had no family.  In a foreign city, my native country long left behind, no location anywhere seemed like home.  Here I had some acquaintances but no true friends.  I had trouble in reaching out.  To have asked for help, perish the thought, that really was too hard, and anyway my life just did not matter enough: that was the message I had rammed home to myself time and again.  I did not deserve help.  What was the point?  This position was self inflicted: caused by my own particular set of circumstances.  And thus, it was something which I could only face alone.  This was my imperceptibly vague unconscious sense, such a sense gave me strength, something somewhere within relished the adveristy.  Help, anway, was not something I knew how to receive since I did not know what it was that really mattered to me.  I did not have a sense of the values that were me, just as I did not have any constructive, nor remotely focused, notion of what I actually wanted from life.  I was stuck in my own particular problems, that were, and had become, me.
No place to head to, nothing to go for, owing to this my life for a long time had been defined by my inner emotional turmoil.  Urging me on to get it done with, and bring to a head this very situation I now, for real, found myself in – where the road before me in my life had run it’s course, these were just a hint of some of the whole range of negative projections I imparted into my life.  Homelessness really, had been a long time in the making.  In making it real there would be no more doubts, the place would have brought me to true turmoil. I used not to be able to imagine anything worse for me than to be homeless.  It was an end point, a point of hopelessness.  The darkness within had, now finally, taken me here.    Somehow though it was disappointing, I had expected more of an occasion.  At least there could have been bitterness rather than numbness to this tragedy.  There are no end of places our inner darkness may take us too, and whatever fresh low it has led you too, it will never, just never, be satisfied.
My internal narratives needed to change.  I had to base my actions, like my sense of self notion on light and not darkness.  I had now to do this more than ever, and I had to begin to do this quick.
The middle of March.  Mid afternoon.  The streets were quiet; the weather overcast and mild on a windless, still, day.  Small comforts.  Crucial.  If the weather had thrown up a cold, stormy gale it could have broken me, so fragile and susceptible was I, I may have taken it as irrefutable proof that everything was against me – arduous weather that day may have been a battle too far.
The one other comfort was money.  With something inhand I still had some security.  It was not much, 45 euros, but it was something, the crucial thing was that I was not penniless as I took those first steps out into this chilling world.
This moment, as I say, was a long time in the making.  One year before was the time when the clock to this moment began absolutely to definitively tick.  I was no longer, as in years past, heading in it’s far away remote direction, I was now on a track that was leading me directly there.  Out of control forces within had set in motion this final impending freefall, that was being lived in real time.  Inside I was in a place of chaos.  I was nonchalantly oblivious to the ramifications of, exactly, what I was doing.  Equally there too was a vicious visceral awareness that I was playing with my own life, that I was ushering in – almost sadistically willing – a cataclysmic armagedon……..with a callous indifference I was playing with my own self ruin.  I was highly depressed although, again, in some ways too everything was all a bit of a joke.  Muddled in my own self aggrandising contradictions, whose confusion imparted a vacuum which sadistic forces easily filled.   The drama of creating my own ruin became my one of form of creative expression, spiteful self tragedy was a means of escaping from my real pain that I needed to know, and that – as so often was then the case – was too much for me when some of this inner pain had prior to this come out.  Creating self inflicted worries is an all too easy distraction in life.
I had a lot on my plate.  Years of denial and repression had taken a colossal toll…..the price of this was now great.  On the one hand, in the months before I became homeless I had been fighting as I had faced up to some of my inner traumas.  The battle of it all was substantial.  In many key ways it had been overwhelming, because for a long time earlier in my life far too much had gone unacknowledged and unexpressed.   The upshot was that  in bringing to light harrowing pain, I was left depleted of energy and resolve in facing up to other, more mundane, things that were needed to maintain real life foundations.  I had one core issue, which my whole life seemed to revolve around.  I could not get past it.  It was hideously big.  It felt insurmountable, and so it caused me despair.  Self abusive behaviour was one reaction to this, which deepened the hole of misery I was in, a hole which a dark, self ruinous, part of me wanted to fall even further into.  Facing up to my inner demons then was crucial, but the repeated shocks from this, that I kept on living, left me for long stretches of time feeling like nothing.  The constructive action of facing pain caused me crippling shocks that undermined my positive intentions.
In this period I had very little in life, but I still did have a secure room and a roof over my head.  But this in itself was an inverted comfort made depraved since the most gruelling part of my day often was when I was lying in bed and trying – to a then increasing  futility – to go to sleep.  That was when some of the worst things within came back to me.  My saving grace of a bed and of shelter felt like a torture to me as I lay in bed , alone, wide awake in internal stifled agony.  I often wondered to myself what was the point in living like this.
I had a job….though I never liked it, but I kept on doing it.  When this job of itself came to an end was when the clock began to really begin ticking one year before.  Initially I had some savings; these were not vast, but they did a least cover me for a bit, though time was definitely limited.  I was lackadaisical in my efforts to find something.  I lacked confidence.  I lacked conviction, and yet I had always prided myself on being determined.  But I was indifferent, negligent, to my own well being.  I only half heartedly cared about finding a job.  I loosely knew the consequences of this would create my worst nightmare, but so down was I in life that the nightmares implications were vague and inconsequential to me.  Homelessness meant abandonment and true aloneness, and this had always been, somehow, familiar to me.  Recreating what we know, however much it may hurt us, is a comfort if it reproduces what we know and perpetrates our definition of our sense of place in the world.  But to do this to myself, in the absolute material sense, as I was loosely aware, meant potentially obliterating everything.  The act of harmful actions, and of an impending self caused chaos, at least contains emotion.  There is a semblance of adrenaline in the warped excitement of frightening urgency.  If I could have felt properly scared, then maybe in that, there would have been some connection to my innermost vulnerable and tender emotions.  In all this there is something, because to the person like I was then, who is greatly depressed, one feels so flat that one feels incapable of enacting anything of constructive significance.  The long lost life affirming buzz of emotion seemed severed.  And, so therein, for me, lay one of the allures of self harm, because in that there is power.  I had power to enact things, no matter how harmful these may have been to myself.  Harmful actions which I inflicted upon myself were a habit, an addiction even: they were like a drug, they gave an intensified -if virulent – high of adrenaline, but alas it was never enough.
Nothing constructive or materially life propelling had happened for a few months, until with winter setting in I was on the uttermost brink.  I realised the rent could no longer be covered.  I was about to be homeless.  It was all too sudden.  I was not prepared.  I was beginning to pack….. and then at the last minute I had a reprieve…. I had been offered a call centre job.  It was luck that I had got the job because I was offered it a long time after the interview when others had turned the job down.  Facing the street in winter, as I was then, had shaken me.  I thought that that was the jolt I needed to wake me up.  I repented my ways, and I thought to myself, for a couple of days after, that I would never again be so indifferent.  I had gone as close as it was possible to go:  I was a day away from the street.  I had tasted it’s implications and the fright, the uncertainty, was not worth the candle.  In my mind, I was sure, it was the end of the world, and so while I cannot say I was overjoyed – my connection to life was too stifled for that – I was at least relieved.  Very relieved.  To have been out on the street in the full fronted cold of winter would probably have been too much.
A part of me expected for things from then on to just get better.  But no, life is not so simple. This illusion did not last long.  Life often provides us with reprieves and second chances, but if one fails to both acknowledge it, and then to gratefully seize it full bloodily with both hands, then the chance, itself, will be discarded and, very possibly forever forgotten like an instant snack you grab when hungry but you discard in the bin after a couple of bites because it is not to your fickle tastes.  When reprieves that come our way go unrealised like an unwrapped gift, then the opportunities which come to us, come to mean nothing,  as one is too unaware to see and appreciate, and, therefore, gratefully take the chance that comes.  How easy, from here, it can be to blame the world at one’s own difficult situation as one remains convinced that nothing good ever comes their way.  For me, in this very time, with depression’s heavy mist weighing heavily within my head, I did not adequately recognise those gifts that life presented to me.  This reprieve I had had soon did not feel like one at all.  My imbued sense of powerlessness fed to me, in those dark internal days, the narrative that life was one bad thing after another.  I did not have the  sapience nor the conviction to seize opportunities and shape them to my advantage.  The ticking clock to minute zero, therefore, did not stop, trouble lay ahead before the next quarter.
A couple of months later I lost the job.  I loathed it. I wanted to lose it.  Did I do enough to search for a new job?….probably not.  But I did take care of some personal things.  I wrote some difficult dialogues as I set about confronting some integral issues that lay at the root of my troubled mind….and who knows, since I cannot help but feel that the realisations I had in doing this served me very well later on.  I really did explore some difficult internal places in this period.  It took a lot out of me.
Minute zero however was hurtling in, the clock never stopped, it only got faster.  Finally, it came to having one last two week window to find a job, or, otherwise, I knew that homelessness would happen to me (in the moment when it did).  Early February, if I did not find a job before the middle of the month I would be out on the street by the middle of March.  And, then in this very moment I got the flu.  Exaggeration is easy, but really I think this was the worst flu I had ever had.  It wiped me out, it affected my whole body, everything ached.  It was when this happened that I became resigned to my fate.  That small window I had to find a job I was shut up in bed.  By the end of February when I had 80% recovered I effectively from then on just stood in wait until this apocalyptic day arrived.
Those last weeks when I knew what was happening for certain were, in fact, surprisingly becalming.  No more uncertainty.  No more fighting myself to sort my life out.  It was not that I was courageous, no, I certainly wasn’t because in my mind to be homeless meant the end of life.  To not try to do something to save myself cannot, therefore, be regarded as brave.  Instead, in respect to, what it would mean when it happened I shut out the reality.  Maybe I simply did not worry about what I could not control; or maybe I was merely burying my head in the sand.  The moment when it would come still seemed unimaginable.  I could not comprehend it, firm, concrete conceptions could not really take root.  The challenge of it’s encroachment was my aloneness.  I manifested it by telling no one, and of not asking for help.  Partly this was because my self worth was so low that I was impervious to my needs; while also a part of myself  had the desire to harm myself – and as so often was the way, up till then in my life – I let its impulse exert it’s influence over how I lived my life.  On the other side of the sphere, I do have to wonder whether there was a strong, noble minded, idealistic part of me within that did have some courage.  This part of me wanted to know homelessness.  I wanted to go there, because I had to do it for myself as a way to know what this fear entailed.  This most drastic, unimaginable of changes would test my innermost fibre.  But the need of the moment, would, possibly unlike anything else I could do, reveal it to me:  Only in a test such as this would I know, my free spirit, perhaps, yearned for some such adventure.  To know my resolve was to go within and know myself.  The deeper our known depth within, the richer our appreciation for life.
I let things be because I was readying myself  for battle.  This war against my destructive, cold, callous, self was my war and mine alone to fight.  No one else could understand.  No one else knew me well enough to know my life.  This was a battle I had to fight alone.  I had had through my low self worth, such a muddled sense of self  that even if I had had that friend before me who offered to help me, so unclear was I in my mind of what I wanted in life, and of what goals to go for, that I wouldn’t, most likely, have been able to receive their help since, first and foremostly, I did not adequately, with a harnessed, clear and purely directed focus know how to help myself.  Any help, in this time, may only have amounted to another wasted reprieve.  And in squandering it it may well have fed my self recriminating sense of apathy and disillusionment with life.  It may have turned my life’s vision into one of true irreparable hopelessness.  In life we cannot help those who don’t want to be helped.  In this period, in many ways, I fitted this category.  For this I just let the final slow running impending countdown commence.  I saw it coming and I readied myself.  An event was coming, that was enough, the implications, the consequences were for another day.  Simply knowing the date it would happen gave me silent time to prepare.  And,  whatsmore, it lifted me from a huge burden of uncertainty, this was something massive in it’s own small and very crucial way.  Having time and a little space to prepare made all the difference in the world.
The flue that I had had left me exhausted.  But, again, I have to feel that it worked to my advantage.  I spent a huge amount of time sleeping.  This was freeing; there were no battles about what to do with long stretching hours of day: I simply slept and recuperated my strength.  The time was ticking but so be it, finally for the first time in a long time I was sleeping really well.  For four weeks I knew it was definitely coming.  No longer conflicted like before, I did not have to subject myself to the disillusionment of half heartedly forcing myself to apply for jobs.  I did not have to worry about whether, and how, the rent would be covered.  I was not in the same stupefying limbo as before, where I was an ordinary person living in a home but worried sick about the imminent possibility of losing this little piece of security for the sake of simply clinging to it.  In the end it was simple, because I had accepted it.   The worst might come, but I was no longer blindly and half heartedly fighting it.

Giving in, Succumbing to Hate

A moment of terribleness. Set in homelessness;
Trapped here: some moments are unbearable.
When everything is too much.
No way out from it, buried alive by darkness.
One shuts down. darkened. anger. voices. steaming, seething vitriol. Real hate.
Surviving it is all one can do…..
But so hard is the moment it may just be beyond all control.

If a bullet in war has your name on it you are dead.
If the terribleness, here, wants to claim you, you are done for.
And for what…..for nothing…..what a sick joke was…is…your life…..what a waste. Senseless world. Terrible is life.
Terribleness here is to give in and be swallowed by the environment you are in.
Homelessness is chaos.
Homelessness is not to be part of society.
Chaos: a person cut off from civilisation. The street as a home is nothing but unstructured, uncertain chaos…….
To succumb to this is not to be human: You are the chaos.
Ravaged, done in by darkness….. no choice in these most terrible, hellish, moments of homelessness.

Squalor; degregation; isolation; aloneness:
It, it, it echoes in your hollowed out head. It is formless but it silently and seethingly echoes.
Tiredness turns to exhaustion and into complete flat out, run down, shatteredness.
Freezing cold (not a state, but your very being); hungry; the hell of strangers unendingly prying eyes.
No true nightime darkness; no dead of night silence……no peace, no quiet, no escape:
A shivering rump: Your former light ~ you hopes~ turned to pulp;
You are slime, putty in the hands of life’s terrible forces.

Little necessities of life are cut off to the homeless person.
In society these are taken for granted, it can never know ~ you are alone in this chaos.
How terrible these worst moments are.
The lack, the absence, of fundamentals, when they are there and everwhere, in normal life, makes no sense.
Its terribleness cannot be measured…..beyond observation…..it is a strain that rips one apart…. the pressure of it all piles up within.
It is felt. A slow strangulation: no one else knows what is happening, you scarcely do.
It frays the nerves.
On edge….. to go on in such degregation before long will claim you…..
Danger, insanity is coming.
Hate at this place turns against anyone and everyone: You hate yourself, you hate the world.
Life, what is the point…..
Hate is comforting…..
So terrible are these worst moments that your hate is your rock and your refuge.

One’s fragile, emotive nerves are not made for this grinding pounding,
Quite rightly.
It is not on.
Because it is not life:
You the little child that you are cannot stand that this should be what becomes of you….
Life was never meant to be like this…
Others may ruin themselves, but not you…
And yet, you can now feel yourself as vermin.
Despicable person. Despicable life.
To give in on being human is now sensed as a release…..it is freedom….
You can let go.
Hate gives certainty.
All those little things….sleeplessness, cold etc etc, all of them humiliate you….too much too take.
Staying above this, by being aware, with consciousness is unendurably hard when in this situation….where everything, absolutely bloody everything is flat out terrible.
Why put in effort to fight this?
No point.
Go to sleep on life…
Let hate claim you
Forever hate the world and yourself
Bring on the conflict, bring on the hate: ……Here the terrible darkness, when you are shot through, tells you you have all the reason in the world.

To seethe and seethe and seethe, vileily with force is emotion….Finally the fucking world may know.

Give in on life
Go insane
Peace comes in letting go.
So terrible are these worst moments in this place, that this is you;

If one more bad thing happens, one more little setback…..
Then you are gone
Finally you obey the darkness
You have become it
It has done what was it’s right.
Such invalidation of life is a terrible thing.
I had these moments
How close I was I do not want to say: the most terrible moments here are too terrible for words.

Forgoing Life’s Opportunities

Perhaps, no more than the difference between a well lived life and one that is hard and unhappy is in the ability to take the opportunities that come along.  Is it really so hard to do this?, for are opportunities in life, afterall, not aplenty?   If it is possible to do this well, and if one’s eyes are attuned to what is out there, then can there not be a seamless simplicity to living life well?
I should state clearly that I am not saying, that this kind of well lived life will not have it’s challenges and hardships – most certainly not – because, indeed, the dilemmas and feelings these provoke\insight may be part and parcel of a higher way.  The more things we do and try, and the more people we know, together with the more situations we find ourselves in are all liable to bring about increased responsibilities we have to assume, and in this there will be more tests we must directly face.  This, though, in itself is a richness, precisely because the more pained one’s heart is at the injustices of the world, in many key regards, the more involved and connected one is to the world.  Our way of reacting to, and accepting, the events of life is what matters.  Life is so much simpler when we recognise that which we can affect and that which we can’t.   What one can change, one will change if one’s focus and energy is right.   Who is to say how undeveloped the potential within is in this regard?  If we could harness such focus to it’s utmost, then perhaps we would be in possession of a superpower.
Speaking of focus, I apologise if mine is a little off here, as I may have just gone off down a minor alleyway, but such wandering was not in vain as this tangent of thought has been to set in place the basis of that which I want to lay down.
What, then, of the opportunities that may exist to the person who is on the street?  The more limited we are by our position in life, the fewer opportunities that there are liable to be before us.  The successful businessman has more appointments, projects and investment opportunities than he knows what to do with.  When my life has been at its hardest and lowest ebb, life was a reflection of how I felt inside –  it was bitterly frustrating, and I felt trapped and unable to escape beyond an enraging set of constraints that defined my world.  In this place, because I could not really see how change was possible, let alone believe in it (or myself) , then I saw life itself as limited.  Opportunities if they were there were not taken.  Many, many opportunities were either disregard, not appreciated nor never even seen.  The better things have become within myself, the more opportunities I have seen in life.
One of the reasons why I did not used to see opportunities is because a part of me was resisting them.  Change was scary.  I was scared of hurt, of being ripped apart and destroyed inside as old hidden pain was reopened and came gushing out.  When a lot is hidden within the psyche, the world can seem fraught with the unexpected, the threatening and the dangerous.  Like this, without fully knowing quite why (for so much within was repressed), I was wary of life.  There was a constant impulse to flee.  I wanted to be alone with only myself, at least it was somehow safer that way.  I must have missed out on so many opportunities since I had become accustomed to acting out of fear.  There must, I am quite sure, have been so many serendipitous occurrences that came my way, but which I never took, and that now are long forgotten.   If we don’t take opportunities it can very easily seem that we are unfortunate, life is not fair, because life does not seem to provide us with the opportunities that seem to come the way of others all the time.  This may be right, but one may very well be mistaken, and alas it can fuel resentments that never need to be fuelled.
The person on the street can be particuarly susceptible to shunning the help of others. In the first, immediate place, this may come from the stigma they carry with them about being a homeless person.   Because, so often, homeless people are judged negatively,  with a whole range of prejudices attached to this state, such that when these projections are in the air, one picks up on them.  These wear one down, and there are times, in my experience, when the homeless person’s sense of self can be so degraded that they can feel sub human.  If one feels like this then there is liable to be a dose of hostility when another person tries to get close.  Through this, alone, opportunities and connections may be shunned.
Receiving help for so many additional reasons can be extremely hard in this life.  The person on the street may feel this worse than many others in life because by being in this position there is a backlogged history: things have happened, there may be a lot of pain locked up inside.  Sometimes those who get close and try to help can be seen as a threat for they are potentially impeding upon one’s most closely guarded and ruptured emotional space.  It may be felt that they are digging at places that you are not comfortable in going to yourself.   There is the risk that they will make you face up to the, hitherto, unfaceable within.  Better then, it can seem, to resist this at all costs.  Being alone is safe.
The pain is yours and only yours.  There is insulation in creating a fort.  You are the fort, it was built by you, it is you, and you must forever guard it.  I met one person once who had formed a deeply limiting  belief that was theirs.   It was clung to, and was done subconsciously onwards for so many years.  They believed:  “I would always be alone in life…….I would never know love”.  This was their narrative.  It became imbued within.   Without realising it it was the core of his identity.  It was an ingrained unconscious belief.  The belief, these very words, were uttered in one traumatic moment, when as a child, he was stood alone, cut off, isolated, from life around him.  The occasion was a holiday, a grand festive occasion, the other children all had their families with them, a picture book scene, and there this person was alone with no one, no family, no friends, he felt abandoned and it hurt more than he could then possibly express.  This moment encapsulated for him what he had long felt.  Suddenly the poingnacy of the moment underlined his world he had long on some level felt.
There was nothing he could do.  He could – and a part of him so strongly wanted to –  have fallen apart.  A nervous wreck, shot to pieces……the pain, the tears, the agonising screams from his tender heart, if given expression to then, would have risked meaning nothing to anyone else…….He was alone, no one could understand what he felt, he was a child, he could not understand it all himself.   If he gave into the emotion he would have looked like a crazy person to the world.  If the pain had seized him then, if he let it, it would have been too much, once started the crying may not have stopped; the tears, the shrieks, the hurt would have totally overwhelmed him.  To have done this, then, he would, as he said,  have felt himself to have been despicable for being so weak.  It would have been humiliating………The world could not know his awful vulnerability.
As a child he did not have the comprehension to explain what he felt…..this in itself was isolation.   Therefore for him to have been this in life, to have been in this place, abandoned, it must, he thought, have been him that was the problem……. There must have been something wrong with him inside.   By giving expression to all this hurt it would have risked turning him into a pitiful blubbering wreck, and if the world were to have witnessed this, then horror of horrors, all the world may have known his secret humiliating shame.  The world may have judged him as he judged himself: which was harshly, with an unceasing shame filled disgust…..and he judged himself so because this must have been the explanation for why he found himself in this place.
This belief “I will always be alone…..I will never know love “, was uttered definitively, in a moment, when all range of sensations, memories and laments were going on within him.  It was a defining narrative from henceforth on he lived by.  It was a shield for him.  A way of explaining away all the right he had at feeling the pain, the anger and the hurt of it all.  It gave everything an explanation, and so it stopped him from going to pieces in the moment.   This was a belief to live by.  It hardened him up inside.  This could be his impregnable defence, with it he could shut out and repudiate all those niggling, raw,tender hopes he felt within.  He could obliterate the shame and the naked fear of it all, and stand alone.  To be above and disconnected from such lame hopes was a type of need for him.  The belief he utterted was supposed to be a way of keeping him strong and shutting out those terrifying, senseless, but most natural of emotions, that for him could never be met and would never be satisfied.   Within this was agony.  But better it seemed for him to deny his tender hopes and needs by quashing them than to endure their perpetual yearning.  No space for sentimentality, no space for vulnerability…….he was alone.  This aloneness, as I say, was his shield.  It was his; his protection that he could not give up because it was his world.  Anyone who tried to get close was seen as a threat.   And so he spent a long time in his life, from then on onwards, forever fleeing when the opportunity for intimacy came knocking.
For this person for a long time this belief was not consciously in his mind, but it had burrowed itself very deeply subconsciously within.  It was his tacit belief system for interpreting life.  He could be close to no one for a very long time, since if he were, it would risk invalidating this, his, most deepest of ingrained beliefs.  The belief defined him, to be without it would have been like losing his sense of self…….and that was too terrifying to contemplate.   To be oblivious, as he was, to the extent of his captivity was highly tormenting:  He was continually in conflict with the part of himself that really did want connection, but he would flee and deny himself these needs since it would otherwise have meant giving up his belief.  And to have been without it, in the deepest psychological sense, would have entailed being stripped bare.  This was too greater risk, his vulnerability would have been too much.   For him vulnerability was especially hurtful as it was so intertwined with abandonment.  Too much pain in this place lay below the surface, it thus seemed safer for him always to flee.   Turning help down and fleeing from others became his habit in life.
Thus, for this person, the belief that was meant to protect him in fact over time dug him into a dark and solitary place.  It perpetrated the very pain of abandonment and aloneness he was trying to escape.   Additionally, and no less perniciously it repressed substantial pain further within, this hidden hurt crippled him and led him to the street.
This all illustrates for me, how through the beliefs we hold, and our sense of the world and their intertwined narratives that form, we can be a prisoner to our most awful and hidden fears.  These can effect us going forward in life, as they make us act out in ways that lead onto help being turned down.  The gifts that come our way in life may go unacknowledged if the fundamental joys of life, in our past, were lacking or were warped in angst.  To want to be alone can, therefore, too easily be a habit, and if one’s life is lived like this one may very well avoid many an opportunity since one’s fears are just too great.
In avoiding pain, though, all it leads onto is deep and very dark repression.  Repression is brutal.   It is obscuring and limiting, and it is mightily confusing since so much of what needs to be known remains unknown.   One’s sense of reality is, thus, so misshapen that one will struggle to make sense of what one feels, when one’s fears are unacknowledged and repressed within.  Consequently, someone who comes close can instinctively be perceived as a threat.  One would almost rather be alone so they can protect themselves, this need is very probably misguided, but it can have it’s logic, when one may need, at times one’s own space to realise and come to terms with one’s own things.
So much of the help that comes along in life comes through other people.   Sometimes it can just seem easier to turn it down,  because the other person may have questions for you that you cannot answer.  They may want to know and to understand things which you do not know yourself.  You may in heart want closeness, but when such closeness touches upon one’s deepest and most obscure insecurities, then when someone gets close you may be reduced into incoherence that quickly turns to evasiveness as you struggle with all those raw nerves that have been struck.  From there no end of hidden shame may flare up as you perceive yourself –  being what you had so feared – of being broken and messed up within.   Therefore, closeness to others can, if there is a lot of repression within, ultimately be a barrier to one in life since it starkly risks underlining, to such a fragile person, how disconnected they are from life.  This is unfair, and it is made, so often, worse by how one judges oneself.
No one can feel another’s pain.  When you cannot understand your own pain, closeness can be terrorising.  Someone else may want to know and help, but if you are lost inside, then that connection a part of you really begins to hope for may not be achieved, because expressing what is within well and with coherence is a long and arduous process.  If you fail in this then that initial connection risks being severed.  The result is one’s pain of abandonment is incited afresh, and simultaneously you gleam how lost and cut off you are in life……which only reinforces the toxidity of one’s long held internal beliefs.
The fear is that, compared to the person who is there for you, you yourself feel yourself to be inadequate and lacking in all sense of direction when someone well balanced comes close.  This hurts, it effects one’s pride, and so the impulse to flee can all too naturally flare up.  The result, is that you are left feeling, in freshly pained ways, an outsider because that stable, solid, world of good people seems evermore unreachable than ever.
These are some of the reasons why the homeless person may resist help.  Within, this is not what many a person may want, but when fear and pain are so fraught within, knee jerkly hostile or evasive actions may just be safer to enact.  To flee from help and to shun opportunities are actions that may, very well, not reflect the fragile heart within.

On the street people are often at their most vulnerable.  It is when we are at our most vulnerable that taking opportunities can be the hardest thing to do.  When in the most difficult places one is afflicted by no end of pressures and strains.  Life, here, is a battle, and one may very well be very lost inside while fighting it, such that it can seem safer to only rely on oneself and fight it alone.  In a sense this is valid if one’s intimate past had been riddled with pain, however, this is not, very necessarily, a reflection of what one needs and, really, wants at heart.  The opportunities that come our way in life are so important, we must believe in them like we believe in ourselves.

Street Life: The Terror of Getting Stuck in One’s Head

One of the very hardest things of all in life is to be stuck in one’s head.  In this post I want to explore the risks and the consequences of this for those who live on the street.

First I say a little more about exactly why I see this as a terrible thing.  To be excessively in one’s head is to be in an ego centred bubble; disjointed and unorganised thoughts hold sway, and fixed, limiting, narratives become pervasivly entrenched.  The effect of this is to breed in one’s mind a fragmented and hostile impression of reality, which creates a sense that anything and everything in life is overwhelming: nothing is simple.  To be in one’s head, is thus, to live one’s life being ruled by one’s fears.  One’s picture of life becomes increasingly negative when the actions we take are lived in real time through our heads.  To be in one’s head one cannot respond to the world as it is, one’s hunches and one’s senses are too disconnected.   Our head, therefore, when stuck in prevents us from being at one with the world.

The world of our head is small.  It is repetitive, parochial and self absorbed when we are stuck living over our life in our thoughts.  When dwelling upon the frustrations of our life and mulling over all the things from our past that could, should, have been different, then one is stuck in an imprisoning place.  This is a place that limits one’s involvement and engagement with the opportunities of real life in the here and the now.  To be stuck and not to be able to get out of the head is profoundly frustrating, but then, in turn, the more it is railed at, and blindly fought against the more imprisoned one becomes.  This is not life, and within, in my experience,  it is known; it is gleaned in the feeling that life is passing one by.  There is a greater world out there, it is vast- in it so much is unknown, and there, waiting to be discovered – but it will remain forever unrealized, unless one interacts with it through one’s experiences, which themselves are based upon self aware actions.  We need to be in the real world to understand life.  Life has to be lived not through our heads, but through our actions, comprehension can only be gained through learning from every experience we live, both good and bad.  Hence, the more we live in the real world, the more we come to understand of ourselves.   In my experience of life, I know I have made my life hard when I have been in my head.   I have enacted out unsavoury scenarios, almost out of default, as I harmfully sleepwalked my way into some dark places.  If I had been connected with life in a fuller way, I would have heeded and felt the warning signs, and the urgency of these would, I should think, have been felt……..and through this feeling I would have been propelled by a reasoned impulse for action to prevent harm to myself.  I would have been unimpeded going after what I wanted and what I deserved- when in my head this was not remotely possible.

Something I have tried, to eventually learn to do, in my life, while trying to pass through and overcome crisis, is with awareness, to live life through my actions.  In trying to recognise and see objectively my fears, rather than then letting them rule my head, I have endeavoured to embrace them in real life.  Our fears can teach us a lot.  They may bring to the fore much pain within, but to know this and feel it directly, is, ultimately, immeasurably more worthwhile than for it to remain hidden obscurely inside.  I got to a point where I had to change this in my life.  Homelessness has been for me a means to do this, since it contained within it so many long held emotional fears.  In interacting with, and feeling, these fears with awareness, they have taught me a lot.  Homelessness was, of course, an extreme point to go to in terms of realising this, but all I can say, for myself, is that it was better late than never.  It was the extreme urgency of the situation that led me to doing this, I had to, and so I did.

However, homelessness poses so many dangers that one needs a good deal of luck to ride through it’s most arduous phases.  The toughest times of homelessness are points of real chaos, and in this horrible position one is at the mercy of some highly dangerous forces.  Through this I can understand why it can tragically do many a person in.  Its greatest danger is, perhaps, the scope it holds to imprison one inside themselves, in the very darkest and most virulent parts of one’s head.

Let me explain what I mean by this, in regards to how street life contains huge risks to one’s mental health, by trapping one inside one’s head.  It is very easy on the street to get lost in one’s head.  And, I mean utterly and completely lost.  To be in this position is to be disconnected from life.  And from there one’s most dark and negative subconscious forces may ravage one into destituted self ruin; one’s grievances and crushed hopes are too many.

Why is it so easy to get lost in one’s head?  On the street there is a lot of time.  Too much time.  Too many blank hours in the day with nothing to do.  Time can be venomous here.  It has too much unchecked, potential, power.  This can make it tyranous, and it is one’s mind that takes the brunt of this.  With too much time on one’s hands, and with nothing to do, one has the propensity to fall very far into one’s head.  If this becomes a habit then the dangers grow.  Especially so when the environment that the time is passed in is one which is challenging, and at times hellish.  The environment we live in affects us, and if this environment is bad it only leads on, eventually, to feelings of frustration at the world, and at oneself.   The environment of the street is hard: in it is a sense of abandonment, squalor, insecurity and danger,  it is not a calm, tranquil nor hospitable place.   To be stuck in this place has the propensity to make almost anyone very depressed.

To avoid the pitfalls of one’s head is, therefore, essential.   One needs some structure and focus.  One needs something to put one’s energy into.  For me writing and reading have helped me.  However, and this is where the terrible challenge is, there are many days, and so many a long lost hour when I have been incapacitated, horrendously stuck as I have been in my head.  This has taken me to many a very dark place, and the negativity of some of my thoughts has depressed me.  These periods could have sucked me under into an underworld of permanent chaos, from where I could have been lost forever.  Many a person on the street can go this way.

As I have alluded to being busy is important.   So why not try harder and do things?  The problem with this is that there are times when due to the nature of street life one is so totally depleted of energy that, even with the best will in the world, one has no energy to focus one’s mind on anything constructive.

Often I am very short on sleep, the longer this goes on the harder things become, until a tipping point is reached when I am all out deprived of energy.  Try to focus on anything intellectual when you are shattered, and you will know how hard it is.  Sleep deprived no action is natural, there is not an ounce of concentration to give to anything, and if you are prevented from sleep or the normal distractions that you can switch off to in a secure place,then lapsing into your head is unavoidable.  Long hours with no escape from this are poisonous, it is a form of hypercharged solitary confinement.  Combine this with the perils of winter, when you are perpetually frozen, when your bones ache, and your blood flow feels as if it is a cold running tap of icy water, then here is another horrid hindrance to having any kind of focus.  There are so many other little worries that deplete one’s energy, such as hunger, or fear of security.  When these little factors are added together one is drained of all focus.  There is no escape from one’s head.  To be there in this state is a torture.  A true torture.

The worst thing of all is that without space and security, as tired as one often is , one is forced during the long hours of day when a city is awake, to stay up oneself.  One cannot easily sleep and rest when one needs it most.  An accumulating weight of tiredness hangs over many a homeless person.  When shattered one’s brain function is limited.   Coordination is poor, one cannot think clearly and comprehension is limited.  Factor in any one of several other hardships that combine to wear one down and one is in a very dangerous place, as one simply does not have the energy to do anything of constructive note.  And so when one cannot do anything through lack of energy all one has left to one, is to inadequately try to deal with this onerous time.  In this situation there is no escaping one’s head.  Time ticks slowly on.  One is left waiting for time to pass with nothing to do.  There is a lot of boredom to being on the street.  Boredom is one of life’s most predictable causes of why a person goes into bad places.  When one is tired and is forced, through the nature of street life’s environment, to stay awake then invariably one is going to be faced with much boredom.

To be trapped in a situation like this in which one is shattered, run down, and board, one is going to find life very grinding.  Irritability is an all too natural by product of this place.  What a frustrating situation this is.  Life feels, in this moment, overwhelmingly negative, and therefore one’s thoughts reflect this.  To be in one’s head in this moment is going to give a dangerous pervasive exposure to that which is most negative within.  In such a moment, our head is the last place one should be…..but one has no choice because this is the reality for so many of those who are stuck on the street.

If this is the place one is in for hour after hour, day after day, when a permanent state of exhaustion has set in then the backdrop of one’s head and ones most negative and frustrated thoughts can become a constant narrative to one’s life.  One is in grave danger, because one can so easily fall into a permanently terrible internal place.  The most negative thoughts we have are self perpetuating, the more we feed them the worse and more encroaching they become.  They are fed by negativity.  And, since the conditions of living on the street are so negative in so many ways, then one’s most negative thoughts are being unreasonably nourished.    The more time you have stuck in your head, the more wide reaching and virulent will be the negative thoughts.  There is no escaping them when one is too tired to do anything else.  This internal darkness has a worryingly free power to reign.

To snap out of this the homeless person requires rest and relaxation.  Life is a vicious circle when this cannot be found.  The game of trying to stay strong and positive is rigged when one is outside and perpetually done in.  It is mightily difficult.  Sadly, it turns many a person insane.  Is it really their fault, though, when this is the external lie of the land for the homeless person?

What to do to break these tortuously long passages of time with only your head for company?  Alcohol or drugs.  These can be the only escape.  They get you trough the moment, an escape from the terrible piling vestiges of one’s head.  In many ways, I can see how, this is a natural choice.  It has a some rational merit, since the non stop undeflected exposure to our head, in the most negative of hours, is distressing and mentally very unhealthy.  To be stuck there, inside your head, for hours on end is one of the worst places of all to be in in life when under certain intolerable conditions.  Drink or drugs are a means to break away from this state, and can one really be judged illy for looking to escape this through drugs?

However drugs and alcohol are of course themselves highly dangerous.  They are certainly not a magical solution to one’s life problems.  Indeed they can perpetuate this tragic cycle.  Since the next day one will be hungover and tired, and then trying to focus on anything constructive will be even harder than before…..and so more time trapped in your head lies ahead.  And so one returns to drink or drugs to escape what they tried to escape the day before and the day before that.  I have avoided these things (though cigerrettes at times have been an invaluable companion), but at times there was the temptation.  I am lucky in that I do not have a natural liking for such things, and so the avoidance of these is far naturally easier for me.

The fact remains, in my perspective, that for the homeless person drink or drugs can be a rational choice if it means that they  might save you short term (and the short term in this perilous environment of survival is all that can matte), from the worst effects of too much time in your head.  One needs distractions.  And if one is so depleted of energy that one does not have the focus for constructive actions then all that there can seem left to do is to drink.  This may not be the best long term choice to make in one’s life, but the short term dangers from the effects of an excessive imprisonment in one’s head can quite possibly, at times, be more virulent than anything else. To be stuck, exhausted, cold and hungry, in your head with your most negative thoughts is a hell.  Any means of escaping this may well have to be latched onto.

I have had luck to because for the odd night here or there I was able to stay somewhere, I could sleep, and therefore I was able to battle through the worst threats of this state.  I did not need to resort to intoxication.   I was able to keep my long term health in mind, and so I have, just about, been able (so far) to withstand the greatest dangers that come from all this.  But for others it is not so easy.  When having too much time before you in which to get lost in your head, a tipping point will come from where you are overcome by all that internal darkness, and when this happens it is too late……..this life of homelessness will never change.  If constructive ways to prevent this danger can be found, then the lives of so many people who have just arrived to the street could be saved.