On this #GivingTuesday, just a mere days after Thanksgiving I sit back and think about what I’m thankful for. Over the last few years, I’ve found it difficult to find the good in my life, because the bad has pulled blinders over my eyes and refused to allow me to see. That’s changing, and I’m doing so with my story of being homeless.
In 2000, Oh. My. Goodness. I just realized that was 17 years ago! I feel old. Anyway, In 2000, I ran away from home with what would be my first husband. We ended up in the Owensboro area of Kentucky with his mother and stepfather. It wasn’t easy. That was the year that I dropped out of high school, ran away; upsetting my dad who I was close with, and causing him to utter the words that still cut me through the heart today: “If you want to be an adult, then fine….be an adult.”
The guy and I wouldn’t get married until the following year after I was 18 though we told everyone back home we were already married, so I wouldn’t be sent back to live with my dad and stepmom. (More on this from my Memoir lol). However, we spent a rough few months living with his mom and stepdad who was just terrible. He was rude, sloppy; but I was grateful because he and his wife gave us a roof over our heads.
In the Late Winter of 2001, I can’t even remember what month it was, but just after the first of the year, we decided that it might be better for us if we made our way back to Florida. He had gotten a job and bought a van off his stepdad, but it was an older model. The heat didn’t work unless the car was running, and it didn’t run unless there was gas. We made plans to move in with his sister-in-law and brother in Florida and were just waiting for his final paycheck at the plant. The agreement for living with his parents was that we would pay $50/week to live there, plus help with groceries and I’d help with cleaning. I always did my part and we paid every week.
I remember the night so clearly, we told them we were moving and our plans and they were even encouraging. But, something snapped with them, and 5 days before he could pick up his paycheck, in the middle of winter, snow covering the ground, they kicked us out. We had $20 to our name, and 5 days to get through. Thus, we became homeless. The first night we stayed at his stepsister’s home, but she made us move on out of respect for her dad.
Now, I’m a Florida girl…I don’t do cold well. ***POTENTIAL GROSS ALERT*** <—there’s a couple of these, just warning ya.
The first night they kicked us out, I started my time of the month. I was one of those who practically died during the week every month, or wished I were dying. Being homeless didn’t help. With a little less than 1/2 a tank of gas, we found a truck stop and sat in there, but it wasn’t ideal. I couldn’t shower, buying food was crackers and maybe some water. It was the first time I begged for money and vowed I’d never put myself in that position again. By day three, I developed a UTI on top of my time of the month. Death was looking better and better for me. We alternated between sitting in the truck stop, and the van…which had no heat because we couldn’t turn it on. Had to save gas. The van was loaded down with our stuff, so even sitting in there was a nightmare.
I can’t remember why we didn’t call my dad, I think we didn’t want people in Florida telling us, “Told ya!” and etc. The day payday finally came around, we had just enough gas to make it to the plant he worked at, got his check and then….no gas. We couldn’t even leave the plant. Thankfully, a co-worker drove us to the store for gas.
We got a room for the night and I had my first shower in a week. The emotions running through me should have told me, “Marriage likely isn’t a good idea, go back to school,” but I didn’t. My nieve mind went ahead with it that June. No one showed up to our beach wedding. No one.
In May 2001, when my class was graduating high school, my soon to be husband had to work. I had no car and it was too far to walk. Even though I wasn’t graduating, I still wanted to support my friends. I went to the payphone down the road and called my Aunt, Stepmom, etc and I heard the same snarky/harsh tone from each of them, “Why? We don’t know anyone who’s graduating.” I went home and cried.
We separated later that year having been married less than six months. In 2002, I finally got the divorce because he was “unreachable”, so the judge granted me the divorce.
In 2003, I got my Adult High School Diploma from a Community College in Iowa where I moved. 17 years after that horrid week of being homeless, I am remarried to a man who’s stubborn but definitely made for me, two amazing kids who are better than most kids I’ve ever seen, a hand full of really great friends, and a few family members that I’m still to this day trying to make up to.
If you’re giving this year and are struggling to know where to put your few dollars? Try this link…Rebecca is a 55-year-old mother and grandmother who’s battled an abusive husband and estranged sons. Her daughter is going to school and working two jobs, and they are struggling. They bit the pride bullet and allowed friends to put up a go fund me page. All I ask is for you to give it a read. Then, let your heart lead you. If you don’t want to give money without getting something in return, check out Rebecca’s books here…and the purchase will be a big help as well.
Thank you for reading my story. If you’ve donated ANYTHING to ANYONE today, Thank you for being a rare gem in our society!