Guest post by (now) formerly homeless Conejo Valley resident, Lon V.
The Invisible Homeless
I frequently post about my own personal experiences while living as one of the invisible homeless in America. My blog posts on the subject of homelessness are therapeutic for me and allow me to share my day to day experiences and insight on what’s sadly a growing trend in America. As I’ve written before, the stress on living homeless can be deafening at times, and sometimes overwhelming both physically or emotionally. I also believe often my stress level is reflected in my writings with posts specific to my day to day activities. However sometimes, my posts are simply more level headed, offering my insight on today’s social issues that may effect myself and many Americans. Ultimately, I concluded that that whatever topic I write about, as long as I am true to the subject and my writing; that’s the best I could really hope to do.
When I finally become comfortable and settle into a unique style of my own, I will decide on what my blog is really going to be consistently about. Clearly my name in on the blogs header and my life as an invisible homeless man in America has caught the interest of many people. I thought to myself, perhaps I’m not so invisible anymore. It’s amazing, I’ve received so many positive and encouraging emails from absolute, complete strangers. Furthermore, I’ve forged several new wonderful and inspiring relationships with local leaders, and re-discovered family members who are now following my blog more closely.
The most remarkable relationships that I’ve been blessed with so far while being homeless have come from two people, that I’ve been so fortunate to re-discover. One is my older sister, Debbie, who lives in Florida. The second is my brothers ex-fiancee’ Tina, and my nephew, Ben, who both reside in South Carolina. Why are these two relationships, perhaps more remarkable to me than the others at this time in my life? Well first, because they’re family members, and it’s truly heart warming to me that these two are so interested in me, and understanding of the obvious challenges that are ahead of me. Second, like the good lord above, these two wonderful people don’t judge me or have any preconceptions about my circumstances. They’re both keeping an eye on my well being as best they can, and they offer friendly, common sense guidance, whenever I ask for it. They don’t push their opinions on me, they listen and ultimately offer constructive criticism if needed. It’s so refreshing, it brightens my day whenever either contacts me. These are relationships I very much wish I had years before, while I was aimlessly stumbling, through so much of my life.
You see some invisible homeless people like me, who are disconnected from family and friends sorely need these personal connections, like the ones I’ve discussed above, before they can even begin to recover and rebuild their lives. As you might guess, being homeless, in itself, is depressing enough, imagine not having any family or friends to talk with at all. Imagine already having undiagnosed, untreated depression, that in-part, you learn later has helped lead you right into your homelessness. I don’t desire these relationships for sympathy or acceptance of my situation, I badly need them for mental support, guidance, and clarity as many homeless people do.
My psychologist recently commented that I was at a “high risk of suicide”, and if left untreated, he was candid enough to remark that “I would likely not survive very long being homeless”. He was amazed that I made it this long, burying and ignoring so many problems with a self defeating process I created and polished well, but ultimately spiraling out of control, landing me in the street. He commented it was exactly where I chose to be, and sadly, perhaps what I needed before I would even seek help and be able to turn my life around.
I read and sometimes think about one of my favorite new testament scriptures where, when at the house of Simon at Bethany, (Mar 14:7), Jesus told the apostles who were over wrought about a woman who was apparently wasting a costly ointment as she poured it over his head as a blessing, he admonished them by saying that “you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good”.
This acceptance makes the point that is at first depressing, realizing that some people in society may always be poor and that we may always have the poor with us. But then we’re assured that we can overcome it “whenever you wish”. It is this “whenever you wish” that some people and our society, seem to get stuck on and find ourselves living with because most in society simply choose to ignore the poor.
At the end of 2010, the council of City Mayors reported that hunger and homelessness remain as “One the most pressing issues facing U.S. cities.” Their most recent report stated that during 2010, the number of homeless increased across all major cities by 2%, while request for emergency food assistance increased by 24%. I expect these figures will continue to increase, sadly as both unemployment benefits expire, and more Americans find themselves homeless.
My days as an invisible homeless man in America are sometimes brighter, thanks in part to the new relationships I’ve forged and frankly the part-time, infrequent work I’ve recently been offered. God is blessing me with several opportunities lately, and I understand now that I shall only be offered what I can truly handle.