I grew up as an abused child, sheltered in secrecy. I always got good grades and had more material things than most kids my age. Unfortunately, the material things didn’t make up for the abuse I suffered. As I grew up and graduated from high school, I fell in love with my high school sweetheart. Shortly after I turned eighteen, I was thrown out of my parent’s home.
“My boyfriend and I mostly lived in my car; for weeks---I don’t remember how long. We survived on what money I had till that was gone and then we lived on pocket change. Around this time, my boyfriend had lost his job as well. We were (lucky) enough to have some caring friends, who would let us stay a night, or give us something to eat. There was a fear that was always with me, a voice inside me that asked, “how will we eat on no money again?” Another fear, was having to constantly hide from the police, who seemed to notice us sleeping and living in the car, no matter where we were. I grew to know how it felt to be a homeless person. It was shameful and it was scary. I never thought it would happen to me.
How many homeless people have said the very same thing? In the end, we got married and shortly afterwards, some friends let us live with them for a while. Surprisingly, my parents let us live with them (until) my husband got a job. We then moved out on our own and I was able to further my education.
“Through this experience of being homeless, I learned some valuable things. To never take (anything) for granted; and to fully appreciate everything that God has given me (just because one is without a roof over their head does not mean he is worthless); and the fact that homelessness isn’t just a “city problem”---people are homeless all over. Fear of someone different than us (different skin color, different predicaments in life—such as being homeless) plants a prejudice in us. (Only) until we open our hearts to these people, do we see in so many ways (that) we are all so much alike.
I hope this story leads you to be more giving towards those that are without a home---after all, who would you have to turn to if one day you found yourself with no place to go? Are you thinking, “It will never happen to me?” A startling question now, isn’t it?
Editors Note (she adds): As a result of an abusive home life, many teens run away and are left homeless. For them, it’s either life on the streets or a runaway shelter. Please help support Cleveland’s small number of shelters for runaways. They desperately need your help.