Editor’s Note: If you would like to help Loki, please visit her GoFundMe page.
In a previous column, I wrote about how I was robbed twice in one week. My van broke down the following week, also twice, forcing me to have it towed twice. Then, I was threatened with having to leave the home office I had been staying in. All this happened within three weeks. As of this writing, my van still has no diagnosis and has been at the dealership for nearly a month!
My situation has always been unstable.
I am disabled and autistic. I face so many challenges daily. I do not belong here. This is not a planet for me. It’s as though some malevolent entity loves to watch me squirm in torment like an earthworm on a hot cement sidewalk. The past several weeks are just a more extreme example.
For most people, when a vehicle is out of commission, they rent one until it is fixed. Or at least they can put it on a charge when the repair bill comes in. That’s the way it works, right?
However, for those who receive less than $10,000 a year to live on, there is no such thing as getting a credit card. I’ve been told that a secured credit card is my only option, and frankly, I see no point. I might as well use my debit card and run it as credit. You can’t rent a car either way since neither card would have enough money on it for a significant charge. So, where most people can “throw money at it” when an expense arises, for the poverty-stricken, it isn’t possible.
Make no mistake, if I could make enough money on my own, there is no way I would opt to live like this.
To live with unending suffering if I had a real choice would be insane. This level of poverty fuels severe instability, and that is what my life is: constant, never-ending, daily instability.
Amid all the instability, I seek some stable ground among my belongings, especially my childhood belongings. Not that my childhood was a good one, but those items that I’ve hung on to are things that brought me solace or joy in those dark days of being raised by a mentally ill abuser. Those items were the only stability I’ve known for years. Now, much of it is gone, having been stolen from me in the break-in at storage.
I am still sifting through the rubble.
They didn’t just steal from me. They threw bins and trashed the place. It’s been tough to figure out what was taken. Some stuff was very obviously missing, however, and I can tell you some of it hurt to the level of my soul.
There were a few surprises, though – moments when I cried in relief. My paranoia about being robbed led me to split things up so that not every egg was in the same basket, as the saying goes. In fact, “Never put all your eggs in one basket” was a phrase that fascinated me as a child. So, I was wise enough to learn from that advice and didn’t keep everything in one place, bin, or box.
I had no hope of finding anything remaining of some of my things, but I surprised myself. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I always had an exceptional recall. I should have remembered putting that stuff where I did. However, with all the upheaval and chaos since 2012, I have a few gaps in the memory banks.
My storage has been reorganized a few times, which compounds the problem. Since 2012, I’ve stayed in six different places – five of them since 2017. It’s easy to see how you can lose track of things.
If you have never been homeless or have never lived with chronic housing insecurity, you should count yourself fortunate. Aside from the most prominent factors, like having shelter, you might not realize the very precious, priceless value of stability. Stability is essential for people, and without it, one lives in constant states of stress.
Having stable housing makes everything in life possible, especially for people with special needs.
In the area where I am located, there is very little help to be found, and too many people need it. I have heard it said that this has been true in this area for decades, but it has gotten increasingly worse in the past few years.
It is expected to continue to get much worse moving forward as the divide between rich and poor continues to become more extreme and more people are priced out of housing.
One of the saddest parts of this whole catastrophe is that many of the disabled people who are priced out of housing or placed into inappropriate housing could be viable people if given the help and concessions needed to thrive. But, of course, very few are ever given that opportunity.
Without stability, we live in a constant state of high stress that taxes our immune systems and causes a worsening of many medical conditions, making it impossible ever to get back on your feet. The constant high-stress levels cause inflammation to become out of control.
When you see videos about stress management, they recommend taking a walk, doing yoga, making a hot cup of tea, or soaking in a tub. These are all things most homeless people cannot do.
If you take a walk, your belongings might not be there when you return. Have you ever tried doing yoga in a two-person tent or a passenger van? A hot cup of tea and a warm bath might be possible with a hotel stay, but you can never count on being able to afford that luxury.
Without a home, even storing health supplements that can help lower inflammation can be difficult to impossible. Most of those supplements need climate control or even refrigeration in some cases. So, every day, the stress chisels away even more.
In the weeks since the robberies and the van dying, the stress has been unbearable. I am utterly without hope of this ordeal ever ending.
Stress even interferes with getting a restful period of eight hours of sleep, which is also essential to good health and healing. I cannot remember the last time I slept well and woke up feeling like I had recuperative sleep.
Yes, I am so grateful for the things I’ve found so far that were spared in the robberies. And I am glad that I didn’t lose every last thing. But I am so run down and constantly unwell that it’s hard to muster any enthusiasm for anything anymore.