Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I've known a lot of homeless people. Ferret and Clara come to mind as the most pertinent examples. There seems to be common themes. Substance abuse and/or mental illness are the most glaring causes of homelessness. I was homeless mainly because I was an alcoholic who couldn't get sober no matter how hard I tried. I lived to drink and lived for the next drink. I couldn't afford rent with my drinking problem when confronted with my paltry income. I made a conscious choice to be drunk and homeless, than sober with a home.

Another thing I have noticed with homelessness, is the petulant and childlike qualities a homeless person will exhibit. It is as if they never grew up. I've been reading The Homeless Guy for years and it never ceases to amaze me what he will write and say being a 46 year old man. I often have to remind myself that this man is not much younger than my father yet he cannot feed or house himself. Like Clara and Ferret, The Homeless Guy is blown around on the winds of change subject to the charity of others. And get this... he still complains constantly about it. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

I saw these same patterns in me as well when I was homeless for six months. Everyone else was to blame. I loved to blame my ex-wife for my problems. Things like... I wouldn't be homeless if she didn't divorce me and took our house. Go ahead and get out the world's tiniest violin and play it. Luckily, unlike Clara, Ferret, and The Homeless Guy, I had a wealthy family who bailed me out when things got too rough. I had to pay a dear price though. I essentially gave up my autonomy and freedom to have a home. My behavior is carefully monitored and controlled by my family through conditioned responses. If I try to go against the set established rules then I am threatened with various aspects of my life taken away. I am sure Pavlov would find me an interesting subject to study much like his dogs.


Barb said...

Andrew, Good post, insightful and extremely honest of you.
We are conditional creatures, and sometimes that behavior or behaviors leads us to temptation that yeilds a negative response. Pavlov had something there, dont you agree?
My question is, do you see it as negative?

The people you reference, that are choosing a homeless lifestyle, are undergurded with an illness, or illnesses that alter there decision making.

You are blessed by a family that bailed you out of several pickles, and I applaude them. It is a "cut off your nose to spite your face" type of thing, but what ever works today, is the best way to live.


mosiacmind said...

Interesting made me think back about how the homeless people acted when I worked at the downtown library. People who were homeless came into the library to either cool down from the summer heat or get warm from the cold winter which makes sense to me...I just did not understand when people came in with bags or carts with all of their belongings why it was such a huge thing for them to let security watch those things because of all the room it would take up on the library floors plus often times it someone left their stuff and went somewhere else someone would steal something. It made me quite sad to see young girls come in and a man who was obviously a pimp would befriend them and nothing any of us who worked at the library would say would stop the girls from going with him. One thing that was different that seperated me from the others who worked there is that I could not let myself let someone be hungry or need a cup of coffee and give it to them. I would not give out money since there was a place there that sold coffee and some food and it is not up to me if someone chooses to use the money to drink or do drugs but it made me feel better knowing that at least there stomach was full or that they were warmed or cooler because of a good cup of coffee or a juice or such. Interesting thoughts...oh by the way andrew....IT IS SNOWING HERE IN OHIO AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL AND GRACIE LOVES THE SNOW.

Lynette said...

This is a thoughtful piece of writing. I think the choices we make always come with strings. Yours are different, and today you laid them out pretty clearly.

impromptublogger said...

I believe you are right. When my cousin was going through his alcohol problems, at one point his mother finally kicked him out of the house. Luckily he did immediately decide to get help and moved right back in. But I know it took him a while to get straightened out after he sobered up and also a while for him to really grow up and he was in his 30's by that time. But he has been sober for many years now and is taking care of his elderly mother all by himself, bless his soul.


seems to me THG never grew out of his own have structure and regardless of who created the helps you curb that appeal when your senses are heightened with your illness and those pills..(Ever done acupuncture? as if you need more needles, right?)

Whereas I don't think that threatening a grown man by control and rules, flipping it around as a parent of young boys I can't help but hope that I will always be there to help them should they fall, or get hurt, or have a hard time coping with life skills.

One of my brothers has a very difficult time with lifeskills, money skills,..etc..and my father has him working at his company..but yet they won't open up their home to him to have a place to sleep, and they won't bail him out anymore-even though they have time and time's so's just so hard.

I think this was a lovely post by the way..truly!!

Kelly Jene said...

Very honest and well written post, dear friend.

My brother was homeless for a while... well, he lived in his car. My parents turned their back on him. As soon as we turned 18, they said, you're out of the house and on your own. My brother blamed everyone but himself. When he got tired of it, he worked his butt off and got a place to live.

Shore said...

For your own sake, you may want to stop reading Kevin's blog. Everyone thinks Kevin is some kind of model homeless person or something, but the truth is as you pointed out, he's immature and dysfunctional in so many ways. The deal with the newspaper was the latest example of that. He wants everything to be this 'perfect little world' he has in mind and he won't compromise or accept anything less. Not too long ago, he got an apartment but went back on the streets for some bizarre reason, citing that he got 'no support'. Well welcome to the real world!