Could you walk in Rosy’s shoes?
Perspective means everything, as our opinions are often altered by what and how we see things. But words, when heartfelt and genuine, can offer that like nothing else.
And that’s the way it was Tuesday when I read the writing of a local woman facing challenges many of us could never imagine the only way she knows how: by putting pen to paper.
This 38-year-old — I’ll call her Rosy — is struggling daily, looking for answers wherever she can and finding strength in opening a window to her mind, her heart and her soul.
Here is Rosy’s letter, lightly edited but in its entirety, not shared because she wanted it printed but because it is all she knew to do to tell her story.
One question: How are you doing?
Well, I’ll answer my own question. I’m currently at a local homeless shelter. I am the one who wears funny clothes; probably not matching, no name brand, dirty shoes and messy hair.
Don’t worry, I wear a funny hat to cover my nappy hair.
My heart is filled with love. My eyes are filled with pain. Only faith keeps me alive.
Here, clients are asked only to do a few simple things. One thing is to attend weekly meetings with a case manager, Sabrina, to see how the client is doing, what their plans are about jobs, counseling, their goals, family needs, to help better themselves and lifestyles.
So, during that time, 21 questions start popping out. Well it’s all good until this question: How are you doing?
This question is so very hard to answer. I’d rather not answer, maybe shake my head, say OK, shrug my shoulders.
Or I laugh. It’s okay to laugh. It helps cope with the pain.
Well, why? Who really cares? I’m homeless.
“How you doing?” is the hardest question to answer at this point. Yeah, I know, things could be worse!
This shelter provides beds, clean living space, nice warm food. I can wash my clothes and take a shower. All my needs are covered, right?
Well, I still worry about how I’ll get me and my family a home and how soon it will be and how to keep it. With time passing and a lot of never giving up, hoping, praying, crying and good faith, there is hope they can help.
But, honestly, it takes time to become stable — a job to pay your bills, some counseling to help cope with everyday worries and some financial guidance.
So, my worries are over. Just stay focused and concentrate and do everything I can do to build myself up.
Well, easier said than done. I can only think how awful I feel inside for becoming homeless.
I have a family. I can’t understand what went wrong. I have pity for myself ‘cause I couldn’t hold it together for my family. I couldn’t provide for them; whether because of work, addiction, health problems, or maybe nobody took time to give me half a chance.
How am I doing? Well, maybe I don’t know. Not well it seems, as I sit here looking out this shelter window. Is anybody looking in to see our pain?
I want to be a productive member of this community. I need a job.
I’m seeking counseling, trying to take care of my mental and physical needs to become somebody matters.
How am I doing? Well, as homeless person, you feel as if you are not important. You are frowned upon, viewed as lower class and poverty stricken by your community, your peers, even your family. It’s a disgrace. I’ve dug myself in a hole I can’t get out of.
How are you doing?
Well, again, I am ashamed of myself. I shake my head with self-pity. I’m all the way down, without hope, but I still keep my faith.
How are you doing?
For the last time, as I sit here reminiscing, I’ve had top of the line; from a house on the hill, two cars in the driveway, big yard, mortgage payments, full-time job, and the cutest little puppy for the kids. My family was together. We had it all.
Whew. Gone like dreams in the wind!
So, don’t think I don’t know what it’s like to be that person, to have it all together.
But the real question is: How are you doing?
Throughout my triumphs and downfalls, I’ve realized the richest man is the poorest man. I’ll never win the Powerball. My thoughts of being homeless are very overwhelming.
I’m not sorry for who I am. I’ll live stronger, wiser and more faithful.
I’m thankful for (the shelter) for not letting me become just another statistic of homelessness, for giving me and my family another chance to survive.
It’s a hardship, but I’ll survive. My faith helps keep me calm when nobody else is there to know what it’s like to be behind these shelter walls.
Thank for listening to my words. I got a lot on my mind.
How are you doing?
I am not sure I could walk in Rosy’s shoes.
Perspective is everything and this woman’s heartfelt words offer one that should be eye opening for everyone.
Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine. He can be reached at (859) 469-6452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.