We’ve gotten a taste of what it feels like to be homeless, and we are so ready to be done with it! I know that our circumstances are a bit different, but we’re still feeling some of the same things that any other homeless family would feel. I’ll just give a rundown of some of the feelings that being without a home can bring up:
- STRESS. This is number one. No matter what we’re doing there is a constant undercurrent of stress and anxiety. I have to fight to keep it in check so that my behavior isn’t constantly tainted by stress and worry. If I don’t keep it in check, it turns into a feeling of panic.
- SENSE OF BEING LOST. Many of the markers that define and encompass your life when you have a home to call your own are simply not there when you are homeless. There is no quiet and familiar place where you can relax and which gives you some measure of comfort. You aren’t surrounded by familiar belongings. You can’t even function like you would in your own home because there is no space for you to call your home base. If you’re staying with a relative, you have to tuck your necessities in among theirs in a way that is as unobtrusive as possible. Even your regular routines are no longer there because you have to work around someone else’s schedule. Anything could be up in the air–bath time, meal times, TV time, bedtime, etc.
- SADNESS/APATHY/DEPRESSION. It is only a matter of time before the uncertainty of your situation gets to you and you start to feel a certain amount of sadness, apathy, or depression. You know that you can’t live a normal life, so you stop trying. You don’t have the same standards or expectations that you had before. It’s a successful day if you got clean, fed, and just made it through the day to bedtime again. After a certain amount of time you stop caring. It feels like nothing is going to get better, so you stop hoping for anything better.
- INTERRUPTION OF THE BASICS OF LIFE. Even the most basic things in life become a major chore. Meal preparation. Showers. Childcare. Getting children to school. Doctor’s appointments (or really any other kind of appointment). Getting/keeping a job. Receiving mail. Doing laundry. Sleeping. Getting permanent housing. It wears you down very quickly.
We’re staying at a relative’s house and it is still incredibly difficult to cope. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to truly have nowhere to go, no money to fall back on, no friends or family to help. The next time you see a homeless person on the street, please remember that everything is a struggle for them. Please look for things you can do to help them long-term, as they try to get on their feet again. It can be a long and exhausting process, but don’t give up on them. Everybody deserves a place to call home.