A person may look at me and think “Oh a small white boy, what trouble has he ever had to endure?” and I’m telling you right now the answer is quite a lot.
I mentioned in my about page that there was a period of time where I was unable to really sit down and write. The truth of the matter is that for many years (way too many to even think of) I was living on the streets. I was completely homeless with no family and nowhere to go.
How it started
It all started when I was about thirteen years old when I was tossed out of my home by my Dad and Stepmother. I won’t get too much into it because I’m planning on writing a more in-depth post soon. I spent the next several years bouncing between their house, my sisters place and a friend’s place while still trying to go to school and maintain a job.
I was doing quite well for a while too. At one point I was going to High School, maintaining a fairly high GPA while working part-time at McDonald’s and I was even on the track team but that didn’t last long. That was the first time I found out how much of a toll being on the streets can take from you, not being able to get a full night sleep, having to look over my shoulder for police, having to walk miles to get to a semi safe area at night then back to school etc. It takes lots of energy and time to maintain yourself on the streets and at that age.
It was also the first time I experienced the discrimination first hand, mothers pulling their children away from me in fear, men looking at me with disgust, my peers laughing at my misfortunes.
After High school
Things just got worse from there on out. Being on the streets made it increasingly difficult to find and retain any real employment. Any and all relationships were practically doomed from the start and I fell into my first big depression.
I started using drugs and drinking heavily to try to make everything just go away. Still the stares of people around me burned a hole deep within me, a burn that will likely never go away.
In that situation you are made to feel like you do not matter, like you are somehow not even a human being. Unable to support yourself like someone “normal” you are left out like a piece of trash on the curb ready to be picked up. There are those who do want to help, not everyone has the same mindset but those good souls are unfortunately few and far between.
Eventually I got it into my head that my only way out was via the military. Free education, free room and board, a way to get off the streets? Sign me up! And so I went and spent the next few years in the Navy. It was a truly awesome experience that I don’t regret, however even there the discrimination followed me.
My reputation had apparently preceded me as someone who was previously homeless. I was treated as if I had mental problems, always being given remedial assignments despite graduating third in my class during school. I was treated as if I was perpetually dirty always being told to go take a shower every chance anyone got. At one point on my ship I was pulled out of my rack, slammed down to the ground, dragged into the shower and thrown in while still fully clothed then hit several times with a bar of soap wrapped in a t-shirt.
After my adventures in the military I have been doing alright for myself. I still wouldn’t consider myself “normal” nor would I honestly want to be. I have had my periods of being, as I call it “out and about” but for the most part been doing OK. Thanks in huge part to a couple certain people who are forever in my heart, as well as my sister who comes and rescues me every chance she gets.
I am also a much different person. My confidence is through the roof and having gone through some of the things that I have I have a much larger appreciation for life in general. More specifically I’m more appreciative of family, of being fortunate to be gainfully employed and of those around you whom you consider special in your lives.
Yet still to this day no matter what I always feel the stares of those people. The hateful things they would say and the disdain they would show towards me for no other reason then I was a homeless man and they just didn’t understand.
Never once did I show any indication of being violent towards anyone, I have never robbed anyone or displayed any type of mental illness and yet I was treated as less than human. Treated like I didn’t matter, always being told to “go away” so to speak because no one wants to have to deal with the problem.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”
— Mother Teresa
Hatred and discrimination exist everywhere. Sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of fear, or out of indoctrination. We can make strides to try to educate people on the facts, to teach them not to fear what they don’t understand and I believe things are getting better.
The global acceptance of different things such as Religious and Sexual preferences is at an all time high, however no matter what we try to do I don’t believe we will ever eliminate prejudices completely. Humans simply fear what they don’t understand.