J = Judgement
Firstly I wanted to say, when I set out on this challenge the process was about not just reciting facts and figures, but also to give you a peek into the reality of homelessness, and to attempt to understand the journey and the toll it can take on your sense of belonging.
Judgement is the title today and there I have already judged myself, it’s a defence mechanism to ward of the negativity you come to expect when life throws you lemons.
In former times, not that I’m not aware of what goes on around me, but I never really gave homelessness a great deal of thought, I would every now and then drop a few pence into a cup, even buy coffee, sandwiches, it made feel good that I could do that, but once I walked away it was off my radar.
I judged without even knowing their story, not that you need to know the history, but I assumed drug/alcohol abuse, not being able to pay bills the usual stuff, kicked out, of course that happened to other people, I was fortunate they weren’t.
Now I have been judged in court no less, which meant I lost my home, I was judged because I ran into debt, I was judged and my life became an open book to complete strangers because I received benefits I’ve been judged because I am homeless and I only become visible to be judged, even by those who are there to help.
Lets face it we all judge on some level because we are human and there is much we don’t understand, and until that “event” becomes a reality, we begin to understand quickly as now we have to walk the same line as those who are on the edges of society.
Over the last couple of years I’ve listened to some of the most heart breaking stories as to why people end up homeless, and it humbled me to such an extent I had to really give some thought to what brought me to this point and frankly the buck stops here, I wasn’t a victim of domestic violence/sexually abused/had drug/alcohol problems/ I wasn’t at risk of anything, I got into debt, ended being eaten up by the system and spat out the other end with nothing, when I listened to those who I met I felt like a fraud because I did have a way out, but by burying my head in the sand I acted too late.
You see when you suffer from mental illness and in my case the double whammy was becoming homeless, there is no one that can judge me more harshly than me, I am judge jury and executioner in my own life, this is the way I self harm, by lacerating my worthiness on a daily basis, even though I have dealt with the spectre of depression, the way I view myself is far worse, each day I walk amongst you, covering my homelessness, behaving as though I do the normal things people do when they go home at night.
Even with my closet friends I sometimes feel the prick of their judgement it’s in the way they sometimes talk to you, sometimes your excluded because you don’t have a home and there’s a terrible silence as I’m a reminder that I’m one of those people, sometimes I become invisible/visible by the clicking of a switch, it just sucks, there is always the question of how they can never quite believe how easy it is to lose everything, that is not to say they are not good supportive friends, but they can’t help judging it’s a natural part of dealing with people, your preconceptions are challenged, but there is still doubt.
This is why you don’t really talk about it, your humiliated and to keep talking about is like another slash of judgement that you can’t heal by sticking a plaster over it, I always feel that if I could properly articulate everything and not gloss over the not so nice parts I’d be liberated from this judgement that I’m nothing without a home.