My weekend experience with the homeless

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by toughlovin, May 7, 2016.

  1. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    So through our church I went with some other folks and some teens to a program in the city working with the homeless. It was quite an experience. this orgnization does this once a month and it helps educate teens about homelessness, and then today they have "shopping" for folks from donated clothes and toiletries and feed them lunch. So last night we heard several stories by staff members who spoke about their own experiences being homeless and in the process we met and talked to several homeless people.

    So one guy G, who is about 40 talked about being homeless, and then he got addicted to heroin, then got clean through the use of methadone, and eventually got weaned off the methadone. He had a couple of jobs, was a very articulate guy and was quite inspirational. And he is still homeless and sleeping on the streets!!

    So today I got a chance to talk to him a bit without all the kids around. I asked him about his mom and her reaction to his addiction. He said she probably enabled him more than anyone which in some ways was good and some ways was not. When she died, he got fully blown into heroin.... And his sister was firm and wanted nothing to do with him. He said that is what got him to really decide to stop. His advice was not to enable my son.

    It was really good for me to hear this from someone who has really been there. And it is also a reminder that folks do find ways to live on the streets and in fact my son has done it before. I am hoping against hope that I don't have to take this tough stand and let my kid be homeless but I am at the point where unless he stays sober and goes to the IOP we will let this happen. There really is nothing else I can or should do.

  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    TL. You are not letting this happen. He is.
  3. ColleenB

    ColleenB Active Member

    I work with homeless youth at a shelter on Sunday's, and it's good for me to hear their stories.

    My biggest obstacle is I get into " why?" Thinking sometimes, because most of these teens have had trauma and mine has not. So then I get kind of frustrated at my own....

    I guess the biggest lesson is to take away that we can't do anything. They have to decide and do the work.

    I hope your son chooses wisely.....
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I volunteered a homeless shelter. Most were men who did not disclose much. Almost all were addicts who had burned all their bridges. We were glad to be able to provide a mattress and a wonderful home cooked meal done by church ladies. We talked to them if they felt like it. Most played cards with one another and enjoyed the night because they had to leave by 6am. We did send sack lunches with them.
    Our church did this once a week then gave the people train vouchers to get to next nights church.
    Was heart breaking at times. We had social workers and employment helpers they could make appointments with, but most never showed.
  5. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I am sorry this is happening. There is no one answer, or any answer, sometimes. When my child was ready to come in from the streets, she called and asked to come home. Prior to that she would call for the small amount of money we put into an account for her weekly once we'd heard from her. But she would not meet with either her father or myself, even for coffee.

    I don't know what I would have done without this site, and all of you.

    But I did have you.

    Trying to control anything about what she wanted or where she wanted to be or with whom, even after she did call to come home, was something she would not tolerate. She would disappear and come back, disappear and come back. It comforted me to buy sleeping bags and socks, personal hygiene items. To cook favorite foods for her and send them with her when she went back, which she did.

    It comforted me to do that.

    It gave her father comfort to put that money into her account once he'd heard her voice on the phone.

    I guess what I am saying is to try to take everything one day at a time. I don't know why the kids do what they do. (I know more about daughter's journey now. I was in ten thousand kinds of denial, then.) I do know it matters to them that we love them. It's okay to say we don't understand. Differentiating between enabling and what is a correct amount of help is a hard thing to know about. It was hard for us not to feel foolish and used. We were so angry, too.

    And we were so scared. And ashamed, and etc.

    So, we had to work to let go of outcome. To do the best thing we could know that day. We had to be so careful around the issue of enabling. It sounds easy to write those words, but there was nothing easy about any of it. I post so often that what we do or do not do for our kids, we also do for ourselves.

    More for ourselves than for the kids.

    Consequences can be very harsh. If the harsh consequence comes, knowing we have done what we felt was right is helpful to us. I sound like a broken record regarding the enabling piece, but that is the hardest part.

    D H and I gave or did not give based on whether we would be able to meet our own eyes in the mirror if we did not. Otherwise, we learned to say no. If we did or said something in anger and the child turned further away, we needed to be certain we'd said what we meant. We learned to say "I am sorry." We needed to walk this invisible line regarding which truths to tell.

    Whose truths to tell, or believe.

    There is more than one truth.


    That is why, for us, turning away altogether was something we did not choose. But then, we needed to have a look at enabling. That is why taking them home isn't right, either. They don't want to be home. They want to touch base with home.

    They want money. There is the enabling piece, again.

    Our son too has been homeless, but not in the way our daughter was. The reasons for homelessness for our daughter was a very different thing. We know now how big a part drug use played, for our son. We did not know at the time. We knew there was some drug involvement, but we did not know then that was the crux of the issue. We would help him get back on his feet.

    And he would do it, too.

    Things would go well for a time. Then, very ugly. Reading Darkwing Psyducks posts helped me understand, even at this late date, what was happening. How it looks to the addicted person when he thinks he's beat the addiction and learns he has not.

    Even at this late date, I found compassion for my son and myself in reading those posts.

    Reading those posts erased much of the feeling of betrayal and distrust for us where our son is concerned. Learning that accusation and seeming hatred is part of the addiction reality helped me forgive myself for the mistakes I made and he made and we all made.

    So, that's what I have to say this morning.

    We have to really learn about the circle of enabling. Recovering Enabler posted to us once that we know we are enabling when we resent the help we give.

    That is where everything goes wrong for our families, I think. We get stuck somehow in judging the kids. Or we think that who the addiction (or the illness) made them, is who they are. That kind of judging comes out in our words to them and they begin to believe it, too. When I post about turning our children into beggars, that is what I mean. If the story got bad enough, we always helped. The story always got bad enough. That is where we become destroyed. Saying to my kids the words "I am sorry this is happening. I don't know what you should do, but I know you can handle this. I love you. I want to know what happens." I would say things like, "What are you going to do?" I would say, "I am learning about detachment parenting. I love you. No money. No, you cannot move home. No, I will not take your child."

    "No. You cannot speak to me like that. I am your mother. I expect better from you. You do know better. You were raised better. I love you."

    I always would say I love you. He always would sneer at that, and say more terrible things. I said it, anyway, because that is what was true for me.

    We always think the kids know what they're doing and mean what they say.

    Sometimes, they don't.

    So we have to say what is true for us.

    It was hard to say the words. The other words I had been saying had only made everything impossibly worse, like a nightmare.

    My children are better.

    I am better.

    We are a healthier family.

    The other thing I would tell you is that believing these terrible things that were happening to the kids was my fault, and that I could fix it if I could just figure out where I'd gone wrong was the worst thing I could have done. That is why I worked so hard on FOO Chronicles. To address the way I was responding. Guilt and remorse are not helpful. They lead to enabling and there is that enabling piece again.

    My D H insisted we go on with our lives. That we buy and travel and enjoy our lives as we would have had the kids been okay. That was the right thing. It did not seem like the right thing at the time, but my D H was correct in his thinking.