Today I've been reading this book - "God in the Alley". It's actually been a pretty disturbing read. To think of all of the crazy things that have taken place i nthe lives of Toronto's homeless. I guess you assume that people have been through hell and a handbasket, but I guess it really hits home when you read about the fine details of thier lives.
I was working a split shift today and had a break so I went down to "the path" and sat down in a food Court down there to read. it was pretty funny becasue I nearly broke down in tears numerous times while reading this book and was trying desperately to hide it from the numerous business men who were on break....I was holding it in...but the odd tear would sneak out - I think it just made matters worse. And I guess the ultimate irony is that here I was reading about the exrtreme vulnerability of the broken people described in the book, all i can do is try my damndest to remain all cool so that these business men wouldnt think I was a freak, crying in my tim hortons coffee.....oh the irony.
I think the thing that has hit me the hardest about the book and the people in it is that even though I'm not a hooker, crack addict, alchoholic, schitzophrenic, etc...I felt an eerie sense of sameness with them. Even thought I've neevr lived in a gutter (thanks be to God!) I have totally echoed the sentiments many of them ...one of the storys about a man who had almost gottne off the streets but ended up back there...when asked why he didnt stick in out in rehab he said, pointing to the garbage heap which was his home, "I'm just a piece of shit...and this is where I belong". I read that and was like - "wo - I have felt exactly like that!". I think thats what made it difficult to read....because I am just as broken as him. and thats a hard thing to face. I think the truth is that we are all that broken...but we hate to admit the ugly places....so we hide. becasue we think if people really knew us - I mean REALLY knew us - that would be the end of it.
I think thats the wierd beauty of the utterly vulnerable. They have nothing to hide. They have given up the pretense of having it all together. the homeless, who are disdained..ignored, are living our nightmare....they are living my nightmare. Becasue I work so hard so that i can maintain some level of dignity, i like to be respeted and loved, I want people to think I have it together - and I will fight tooth and nail to make them think that that is the case. That is also a harsh relaization.
this has been a long post. this will be an even longer inner dialogue for sure.