I am in the process of writing my next book, which I am really excited about. What I didn’t expect while doing it was to uncover some things about myself, my life and what some of the things I have done or been through would be classed as.
I am writing on people who have gone from being homeless to entrepreneurs and the stories so far have been amazing and so inspiring. I cannot believe what some people have been through and how they have turned their lives around.
As I was researching it last night, particularly homelessness in Australia I came across the definition of homeless. To me, if you lived on the streets that was homeless. Or if you went from refuge to refuge that was homeless too.
There are three levels of homelessness and I apparently was classed as homeless for 3 months when I had my 2 daughters and lived in a friend’s garage. I never once considered myself homeless because I had a roof over my head.
The three levels are:
Primary – Living on the streets, in car parks, abandoned buildings and so on. No real accommodation.
Secondary – People who move between various forms of shelter such as refuges, friends homes, hostels, shelters etc. Basically they have a roof over their heads but it is all short term.
Tertiary – Living below minimum standards such as single rooms in boarding houses, caravan parks, without your own toilet, kitchen and basic amenities. Also those in long-term hostels or shelters.
The realization that I would have been classed as homeless was a bit of a shock last night. It was an insulated room in the garage and I had a key to my friends house so I could come in and use the bathroom/kitchen as needed. I had a double bed, which my 2 year old and I slept on then a cot my 9 month old slept in plus a little bookshelf. It was all my friends furniture. I will admit sleeping in the garage freaked me out at times and since I did it by choice I did not consider me to be homeless.
In my situation I had separated from my husband. We owned a house in Sydney neither of us could move back to because of the tenants and other things, also it was not selling so was pretty useless to us. Affordability wise, both renting elsewhere and paying the mortgage was not practical, so I moved to where I could afford. It felt like a real low point, but I knew it was not forever.
There are other things about my life that as I have done more research for this book I have discovered and it has become a whole lot more personal than I ever expected. I think I have had a good life and in many ways been very, very blessed. It was not until things were pointed out in black and white recently that I realized I am, in a way, “one of those people”, who you hear about and when you know their whole story, you sort of go “Oh my gosh!” Even my own family members do not know all of it. They know portions and some very major events, but not all of it.
I managed by compartmentalizing everything. I have made a couple of psychologists a little uneasy at how easily I can discuss things without getting emotional at times and have been told I have a very “male/logical” way of thinking in many things. For example, I can relay events such as rape, domestic violence and things like that with essentially no emotion, just factual information which is why I never saw myself as someone who had been through much. Each event has it’s own box in my mind that it is stored in and when it is opened it is opened logically and factually, then closed for the next one to be opened and discussed.
Yes, I do get very emotional over it at times,and the past few months have seen me more emotional than ever I think. My family could tell you just how bad! But, I only get emotional in what to me is a safe environment, such as with my siblings, parents, very close friends. Otherwise, it’s switched off, even at home alone it is usually switched off.
For example, I have shared some of my story in what I would call a ‘work’ situation. This means I am in work mode and there is no emotion involved in what I am discussing as I was presenting to a group of women.
I do not plan on wallowing in self-pity now that I know exactly what certain events in my life are classed as. They happened. They were hard, but they are in the past. Yes some of it I still need counseling for, but I want to move forward, not stay stuck in the past and I really feel this book will be a huge step forward for me to be able to do that.
I’d love to know, have you ever been homeless and turned your life around? Or even hit rock bottom, not necessarily homeless? Have you ever had something happen in your life which at the time you did not realize was as severe as it actually was until someone else pointed it out?