by Dawn LeAnn
Have you ever been driving down the road and see a homeless person and wonder how did they end up in that situation? I can't tell you about anybody else but I can tell you about my journey with homelessness. In my series A New Dawn which will be broken into several chapters, I will share with you what led to my being homeless, what it was like and what happened that changed my situation.
So I had been working for the County for, I think, about six years or so. Anyways, they had announced that they were going to be having this mass layoff, which consisted of about 100 people and I was gonna be one of those unfortunately. Before I go any further though you know, I would really like to give you a little bit of background and so you can maybe more fully understand.
So back in 1998 I was strung out on drugs, which is never a good thing, I mean like ever, especially if you’re a parent. The choices that I was making they weren't good which ended up eventually causing a split up between myself and the father of my children. At first I wasn't doing anything to change my life and in fact instead of getting the help that I so desperately needed, I just simply continued to drown the pain with more drugs. About six months or so after my husband and I had parted, I was arrested and the the judge ordered me to attend 12 step meetings and to go to one year of outpatient drug counseling.
So once I was clean, I applied for assistance through the human services department. My worker was like OK well, you know, you need to get a job or you need to go to school. Now I had been a housewife so I had no skills and college just didn't really seem like an option. I mean nobody in my family had a college degree and nobody had ever talked to me about going to college. Everybody either was a stay at home mom or they had a job or they joined the military. So I opted to get a job. I started working at this hardware store and I really enjoyed my job a lot, but it didn't really take me that long to realize that between the job and the welfare that I was getting, yeah we could survive but I wanted more for my kids. So I talked to my worker who got me hooked up with going to San Joaquin Delta College. I ended up getting my certification as a substance abuse counselor. Subsequently got a job working for San Joaquin County as a counselor working with other addicts. My life was going pretty good, I felt pretty good, I had rented my first apartment which up until that point I had been renting a room. I was gainfully employed, and I was cleaning up my credit. I felt really good, my life really seemed to be on track.
Then in two thousand and two I ended up in a relationship. Now over the next several years I slowly lost myself. I had been alienated from my family, from my friends, my support system he had a problem with everything. No matter what I did or didn't do he always just had a problem and it wasn't right. And without going into detail or anything he was abusive. And when I say abusive, I mean he was abusive in every way imaginable. Needless to say when I had found out that I would be laid off, it was just one more thing added to the already emotionally vulnerable and very depressed state that I was already in. And because I hadn't been talking to people about things, I didn't know how to reach out. When I did talk to somebody or see them, I kept it very superficial. I wasn't letting them know the whole story.
And so when the guy I was with, he comes home with a bag of dope. And with the way that I had already been feeling like for quite some time I really just wanted the pain to go away. So I did the unthinkable and I joined him. And as I took that first hit of the drugs I knew that I was making the worst mistake of my life. You know, here I was I had been a recovering addict, I'd been clean just shy of seven years and I was using. And within two months of that fist hit, I had not only been laid off from my job, but I also had to have my children's father come and pick them up, and ended up selling everything in the house, and ultimately became homeless.