by Dawn LeAnn
In Chapter One I shared with you a little background and what led to my becoming homeless. Over the next nearly 2 years, I struggled greatly with getting clean again and was homeless not once but twice. Now I will be telling you a little bit about that first time.
When we were selling everything, it was not our conscious thought to become homeless. I mean at least it wasn't mine. We didn't wake up and go hey let's sell everything and become homeless because that just sounds like such a great idea.
I have to tell you it felt pretty weird to have people coming into my house buying my stuff and when I say we sold everything, I'm not kidding you, I mean everything. The pets, plants, even the spices from my cupboard. But we knew we couldn't afford to pay rent and hadn’t made a car payment in like two months. When we were done selling the stuff in the house, we still had the car afterwards, and in it was all that was left of my life. Which amounted to some clothes in a couple of tubs and in those tubs, I had photo albums and memories and things like that.
We had enough money to get a motel room for a few days and of course drugs. Several days had passed and we still didn't have a plan. The money was going fast and knew the motel stay would be ending, which of course it did. I asked the man I was with if we could get just the smallest storage unit so that I could put my tubs in it. And he said yes. I knew that my stuff would be safe for 30 days and besides we needed the room in the car to sleep.
When a person is using drugs and when we were using them we were using meth. When you're using meth you can get some pretty crazy thoughts and the man I was with, I mean, he was the cream of the crop. He had this idea that we should go stay in the desert for 30 days and 30 nights just like Jesus had. Now mind you, I had a lot of fear of him so I didn't say anything to the contrary and I didn't correct him in the fact that it was actually 40 days and 40 nights. In any case we headed to Nevada.
I during our six days in Reno I got a job at the Dollar Tree. He made me quit after two hours. We ended up resorting to roaming the casinos looking for partially smoked cigarettes and finishing any drinks that people had left behind. On our last day in Reno we had five dollars left and it wasn’t enough to put any gas in the tank to get back to the valley. Being homeless was starting to hit me. I was walking through one of the casinos with my head down, when I came across a one-dollar coin. I sat down and I put it into the machine. I ended up walking away with eighty-seven dollars and to me that was like this huge relief. So, we filled up the tank and headed back to the valley. Between the gas, cigarettes, a little food and of course more drugs that $87 was gone in no time.
It was summertime and sleeping in the car at night wasn't too bad so long as the windows were cracked and I was thankful that there was a locks on the door cause it kinda gave me that false sense of security. We went to St. Mary's a few times to eat, you know the food wasn't bad, I definitely preferred dinner over lunch but in either case it stopped the pains of hunger that I was feeling. Our days were mostly spent in the park laying in the grass under a tree and I slept a lot for a few days. And then I was left with this pain in my soul. I missed my kids greatly and I felt worthless. What have I done? How could I let this happen? I never thought I'd be homeless but here I was. I couldn't bring myself to panhandle I kinda felt like it wasn't anybody else's problem or fault, the situation that I was in. I just felt so embarrassed. The way people would look at me, I mean I did the best I could to clean up in the gas stations restrooms but that really only goes so far.
So we headed over to Manteca. I knew someone there that I thought might allow us to take a shower and when she saw me, I mean naturally, she was curious, she wanted to know what was going on. I broke down in tears and I told her. I mean I didn’t tell her the particulars you know as far as the relationship but I did share with her that we had relapsed and that we were homeless. She said that we could take a shower and she talked to her husband and they agreed that we could use a tent that they had and stay in their backyard, under one condition, we had to stay clean. And for a while we did. We were allowed to come in to shower, to use the restroom and eat. My friend took me to pick up my stuff from storage just before the payment was due. I got a job and so did the man. We managed to get an apartment after a couple of months and my friends were gracious enough to give us a few pieces of silverware, a couple of plates, some glasses, one pot, and one pan. I mean seriously, we didn't have any of that, so we were starting completely from scratch. My oldest child moved back in and I just felt so grateful for all that my friends had done to help us.