I am truly at a loss of words, even if I could find the words the anger, betrayal and upset that I am feeling right now could never be described with something as trivial as a language. I feel that I must try to at least convey some semblance of how I am feeling because I refuse to be the blame of someone’s problems. I refuse to put back into the mindset that my parents forced upon me for far too many years, especially when I have only begun to break away from that trauma. Yet, at the same time I am scared, nearly terrified that I will come across sounding ungrateful because that is far from the case, but I cannot let someone else manipulate me for their own selfish purpose.
Towards the end of January, my family and I made the trek from Arkansas to New York, in a sense we were refugees, a family looking for a new start, needing a new start after facing the loss of our home in Virginia, and exile of a safe-space in Arkansas.
Simply put, we had nowhere to go and we were living out of our truck and a tent. We bounced from place to place in Arkansas on a sporadic basis trying to find a place that was safe to sleep for the night. It was stressful, terrifying, and with the prospect of winter headed our way getting colder by the day.
We were blessed in the form of a friend of my wife. This friend put us in touch with people in New York state that started a GoFundMe to pay for the trip from Arkansas to New York where we were promised a sanctuary. If I’m going to be honest, and I’ve found that honesty is the best policy in instances like this, I was skeptical. I didn’t really think much would come of the GoFundMe and that come winter, we would be faced with traveling to a warmer location, most likely south, in order to avoid the cold.
I have a lot of trouble putting my faith in people, especially so when the person is a stranger. My life has taught me that I can trust no one but myself, and expect nothing from anyone. People lie. They may not always mean to, and they may have good intentions, but people lie. But I digress.
It was a huge surprise when we were able to raise enough funds to actually make it to New York, even more so when our truck broke down and we had to go about looking for another vehicle to make the trip. For an instant, it seemed like fate was pushing us to New York.
We were offered a place to stay. It was just a room and a couple pallets on the floor for our boys, but it was supposed to be a safe space for my family and I. I was to reiterate, that I am grateful for the space that was offered, but in the aftermath of my time in this house, I have really begun to wonder was it worth making the trip?
Has all the stress been worth it? I’ll get to that later.
After being in the house for about two weeks, one of the homeowners treated our youngest, who has Autism, pretty poorly. While it upset me a lot, I tried to play it off as ignorance. I understand that not everyone knows how to handle someone with ASD, especially so when you’ve never had to deal with children that have autism. Then, it seemed like the passive hostility turned its attention to me.
Soon, nothing that I said around this person was ever correct. I was made to feel like I was a complete idiot and worthless as a human being. It was something that I hadn’t felt since the last time I was around my parents. It was nearly the same tactic that my birth family had used time and time again to chip away at my self-worth until I felt like suicide was the only option I had left.
It took me a few weeks to realize exactly what was going on. In the meantime, I began to withdraw, I stayed either in the room I was given or away from the house. I felt unsafe. I felt unwanted. I felt like I should just go kill myself. The depression that I’ve struggled so hard with for so long was worse than ever. There wasn’t a day that passed that I didn’t have to weigh the pros and cons of killing myself.
Finally, it got to a point where I couldn’t make myself go back into that house, but at the same time I was scared to leave my wife and two boys alone with this person. If they treated me like this, what were they going to do to them if I was away. I felt torn. I was so stressed that every little noise put me on edge, I couldn’t sleep, I was afraid to sleep. I was trapped. There was no way that I could just load everyone up in my vehicle and leave to find somewhere else. We weren’t even prepared for the massive amounts of snow that upstate New York was getting.
The answer came in the form of a new friendship. Just when I was at the point of having a total breakdown which may have ended in a horrible outcome, we were able to get a camper and place it on a property of another friend away from the city. I cried when we were able to move the camper to a place that I truly felt safe at, and move into it. I thought the hostility towards me had come to an end, and that my family could really start rebuilding our lives, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the case now.
I now feel like my family and I are being blamed for this person suddenly not being able to do everything that they want to do. When my wife first got her job at one of the local colleges, she offered to pay this person for the space we were using and to help with bills. My wife was told no, it was better to save that money so that we could get a place of our own. Now the tune has changed. We stayed in this house for about three months, and our ex-host is professing that it was six months, not three. It’s now May, in order for us to have been in that house for six months we would have to have moved towards the end of last year.
Call me crazy, but I remember spending Christmas Eve last year sleeping in our truck, and the early part of January was spent frantic trying to figure out what we were going to do. We didn’t even sign the papers for our new vehicle until January 14th of this year. So, it’s impossible that we’ve spent six months in New York, let alone one location.
Now once again I feel like everything that has started to settle down has been thrown into the fray once again, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if we should stay in this area, or New York or move somewhere else. I’m at a loss. It’s being insinuated that my family and I ruined this person’s social life, and they can’t do anything and are now in a bad place.
Just when I thought we were safe…
My name is Aydan O'Connor, I am a:
Father, Husband, Brother, Advocate, Transman, Author, Friend, Liberal, Activist, Human Being, Otaku, and a Pagan.
I am proud of who I am and how far I have come. I fully understand that there are people in this world that either don't believe in who or what I am or are terribly afraid of it and react to any of the labels I proudly wear with fear.
I challenge anyone with that outlook to engage in respectful and meaningful conversation with me. I am just one person, but one rain drop can raise the level of the ocean. A small difference for the better is still a difference. I assure you, I am like anyone else.