The Dirty Truth

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…

#friendship, #homelessness, #new-york, #passive-aggressive-behavior, #safe-space

Holidays

I have a love-hate relationship with the holidays and each year when November rolls around I am struck with this mixture of giddy depression and a longing for my childhood years before my family started breaking apart.

While my family (my wife, children and I) don’t celebrate Thanksgiving now because of what it truly means, when I was growing up my family (my mother, father, siblings and I) did. The memories of my mother cooking all evening the day before Thanksgiving and then most of the morning and afternoon the day of Thanksgiving are still etched into my mind.

If I close my eyes and try my best to remember I can still see my mother making pies from scratch while cookies and cakes baked in the oven, or can smell the turkey while she mashed potatoes. I can feel all of this like it’s happening around me, a sense so overwhelming that I feel if I opened my eyes I’d be eight-years-old again standing in the kitchen begging to stay up just one more hour so that I could help finish the deserts the day before Thanksgiving.

I feel a twinge of guilt because of what Thanksgiving means to the Native Americans, and being part Cherokee, what I means to the Native brothers and sisters I never had the chance to grow up with. These are my memories though, and they are not forged from hatred, they were a time for my family to all gather together and to spend time with one another. It was a time of love and caring, something that I can never have again, because I am not welcome in my parents or my sibling’s lives. Sometimes I wonder if transitioning and becoming more comfortable with myself was worth the loss of my family, but then I remember where I was mentally when I started and how far I’ve come. The loss wasn’t worth it, but becoming myself and being more comfortable with myself has been.

I feel like I’m about to get over the emotional roller-coaster brought by November and then I’m struck with December which brings Christmas. Christmas is my favorite holiday, tied with Halloween, but still my favorite. I love the lights, decorations and the music, especially the bells. I’m sure I’ll never live it down, but I really like Carol of the Bells played with just the music. (My wife reads my blog and that’s her favorite Christmas song. I like to tease her all month about it. She likes the choral version though, and for me just the music alone is enough.)

For children though, Christmas is all about presents, and while my children may not be the most materialistic kids, that isn’t always necessarily true of their classmates. Children can be cruel to each other, especially those without a lot of money. This is painful lesson that I learned growing up. Without a lot of money presents aren’t as fancy or plentiful as other better off families, and when kids return to school after the break they get picked on if they didn’t get the latest or coolest gifts.

I can’t begin to put to words the amount of guilt I feel for this. It makes my depression even worse knowing that because of my disabilities we struggle each and every day which makes Christmas even worse. Often we’re lucky if we even have a tree while other people go crazy and spend thousands of dollars for one day. So I’m left with that feeling of giddy depression for the entire month of December with the hopes that the following year will be better.

I feel lucky that I have a family now to spend these holidays with even if they can be mixed bag of emotions for me. I think of all the people that don’t have someone to spend these times with, times that from grade school are so ingrained in our lives that we feel like we are horrible people if we don’t or can’t be part of society’s idea of holiday normal.  

It’s really tough.

Though over the past several years I’ve seen more people coming together for some of the holidays that don’t even know each other. Businesses are opening up and inviting anyone to come together for a meal regardless of anyone’s ability to buy gifts or pay for food. It may seem like a small act, something trivial to most but for some people it’s all the family they have and it can make all the difference in the world.

Seeing things like this, give me hope that one day, we as a people, can finally come together as one race and live in unity and understanding.

#caring, #childhood-memories, #christmas, #community, #family-2, #friendship, #holidays, #thanksgiving

Expendable Friendship

On August 1st, my son’s birthday, my family went to spend the day at the river which is a favorite of said birthday boy because he can swim there. We had a pretty good day overall while there. The birthday boy got to paddle his kayak around, swing out into the river on a rope, run around our own little island and have a good time together. It was nearly 1:00pm when we started to head back to where we launch into the river so that we could get cake and ice cream before heading home for dinner.

As we were leaving there was a group of about six or seven people putting air in a “floating island” for a trip down the river. I loaded up the trailer with the kayaks and put our canoe on top of “Bessie” (my Ford Explorer) all the while listening to these guys and girls carry on chattering with each other. They were obviously excited about their trip and were planning to have a good time with one another. When they had launched, as I was tightening the back strap on the canoe I broke into tears.

That’s something I’ve never had, and I don’t feel like I ever will. Friends to hang out with, to float the river, go kayak fishing with, or just spend time together. Sure I have friends online that I talk to through Facebook, but the only people I have to spend time with are my family. I’m not saying that they aren’t good enough because I love them and I enjoy spending time with them. It’s just that I wish that I had friends to spend time with and do things that I enjoy that my family really doesn’t.

I have a friend here and there, but it never really lasts long. They suddenly don’t have the time for me because I a)have children and have to make plans for said children to be cared for before going out b)don’t have a lot of money so I can’t go out partying constantly c)I live too far outside of town because of my sensory issues and therefore I’m too far away to bother with.

Any time that I’ve tried to talk to a therapist about this I always get the “but you have Emily” speech. They don’t want to take the time to deal with my loneliness that contributes to my depression because “I have Emily.” Yes, I have my wife, but my wife can’t keep up with me. Her disabilities prevent her from being able to physically keep up with me, and my disabilities make it impossible for me to go somewhere by myself. None of this matters to these so-called doctors, though.

So I’m left lonely, without friends and totally depressed about it. When I see other people posting pictures of themselves with friends having a good time it makes it worse. I have this little voice inside my head laughing at me, telling me that I’ll never be good enough for anyone to want to spend time with. Why should I even bother, why not just give up…completely and on everything.

I feel like the only time that anyone wants to be around me or have anything to do with me is when I can do something for them. Create a website…fix a car…set up a non-profit…run a workshop…and then when it’s over I’m thrown away.
I feel like I’m completely expendable…

#depressed, #depression, #expendable, #friends, #friendship, #used