I have often been curious about how the homeless end up in their situation, how could life become so bad that when you’e at an ultimate financial low…you turn to drugs and thus remain stuck on the street rather than going for the logical option of getting yourself straightened out. I in no way look down on these people, have just been curious about what sort of traumatic situations they’ve been in to get them where they are.
Long conversations with the homeless aren’t something I’ve experienced before today….Usually they just ask for change and sometimes I give it to them, sometimes I don’t, end of story. They usually don’t talk much beyond asking for change or random gibberish if they’re really drugged up so it’s never been an appropriate situation to ask “How did you end up here?” Plus the fact that they’re begging for money makes me think they would just fabricate some sad story about their life to try to suck more money out of you.
I met a homeless woman today though, and it was a bit different….rather than the usual neutrality I feel towards them., for some reason, I felt different towards her. She wasn’t begging for money, just saw her walking into a driveway and she got freaked out by a huge raccoon that was sitting there. She said to me “Did you see that thing!?” Me: “It’s just a raccoon” I don’t know why, but I kept talking to her….It was cold out and she definitely wasn’t dressed for the weather, so I gave her my coffee which I probably wasn’t going to finish anyway. I told he to wait there, and I would bring her a jacket. I figured if I gave away 6 garbage bags full of clothes recently giving a jacket to someone wasn’t really a big deal. (keep in mind she never asked me for anything)
I got her the jacket, and we talked a bit more….since I felt this was a situation in which I could ask about how she ended up on the street without being coerced into giving her anything else, I just straight out asked her. She told me she started doing drugs as a way to cope after a guy left her and took everything. She said she had $200,000 in the bank, thought she would marry the guy, opened a joint bank account….then he took everything and left. She ended up crying when she told me the story. She also mentioned she has 2 kids who are around my age and they want her to come home so they can help her….She didn’t really say why she won’t just go live with her kids, I didn’t bother probing her though because sometimes people just don’t wanna say everything, and I respect that. I usually don’t spill all my personal stories to strangers either.
Anyway, she never asked me for anything else….seems all she needed was someone to talk to a bit and listen….That made me think, maybe what most people who’ve hit rock bottom really need is just someone to take time and listen to them. We give these people money, food, shelters to stay in….but how often is it we actually give them respect and show some actual compassion? I think that’s the one thing that’s lacking in initiatives that are meant to help the homeless, they’re there to meet the physical survival needs of the people but there’s not much as far as emotional support. I think the element of emotional support really is important considering that many of these people wound up where they are due to their lack of ability to handle difficult emotional situations. I mean who just randomly thinks “I’m going to start doing crack…..it’s going to be so fun!”? I think you need to be in a pretty desperate situation before turning to substances to numb yourself…
I’m not trying to preach that everyone should just go randomly talking to homeless people now. I think the point I’m trying to get across is that if you’re ever in a situation where you’re helping someone (anyone, not just the homeless)….try to throw in some form of emotional support if you can, you never know, it could be the tipping point that shows them there’s still some good left in the word and inspires them to change. (that might be my idealistic thinking again lol)