I wrote this two nights ago, when we thought we’d be spending our first night in our car. We didn’t. My friend saved us by having us sleep at her boyfriend’s house, but here is where my mind was before I got her text:
It’s raining. The thumps on the roof make a tinny symphony. The sound is reassuring. The rain is outside and we are inside which means we’re dry. Its summer so we’re warm. We’ve eaten well all day. None of this is calming my son. He hates that we’re spending the night in the car. Tonight, this is all we’ve got. The minimal truth is pacifying to me. Nobody can take this away. To him its terrifying. He’s never lived in a home that terrified him. He’s never been happy to have the street lights and pavement for company. I have. So this situation we’re in doesn’t scare me. But it scares him. And it embarrasses him. I don’t give a damn what people think; accept for him. The fact that he’s scared and embarrassed mortifies me. I don’t want him to be hurt. He’s hurting now. He’s learning a hard lesson. And I hope he learns to be nothing like the people that turned their backs on us.
He spent last night at his dads new place but his dad wouldn’t offer to keep him tonight. Yeah….he knows we don’t have a place to go. Another story for another day.

I didn’t get to continue that evening. My friend’s text sent me rushing out of the Walmart parking lot, eager to move on to the house and bed that awaited us. I’m really not sure how people view my son and I, but I feel it’s always with reservation. They don’t know if they can trust us, these needy people that they might get stuck with. Sort-of like the way people feel around a child with a cough and runny nose.There are two instincts at play. The first instinct is to help the child; it’s a child for God sake, we’re programed to care for children. The second is self defense; this particular child has the flu, and you could catch the flu which would make you sick. Nobody wants to get sick. So now, what do you do? Help the child and risk your health or ignore the child and feel like a piece of shit for doing so? The general compromise is to help the child but keep them at arm’s length; serve them what they need to get well with plastic gloves, a face mask and Lysol and hand sanitizer readily available. That is of course unless you are a mom. Which case you just plunge right in whipping the boogers away with your bare hand, providing full hugs and kisses for comfort. I guess this is where most of my disappoint has come from. Because I asked help from friends I expected them to react more as a mom would, thinking only of our well being instead of their own safety. Most have behaved like the general person, wanting to help, but protecting their well being first. I am grateful for all the help I’ve received. But I am a little more wary of my friendships. Times are hard for everyone, this is certain. People, friend, family or stranger, are hard pressed to keep themselves afloat let alone take on the responsibility of helping someone else. And we have not had backs turned on us. We have had that in between help, with the plastic gloves and face masks. And it’s changed the way I see people. I can’t help it. I really want it to go away, but for now, all I see are plastic hands and half faces. People who said they loved us have held us at arms length for their own protection as if we carried a contagion. I get it. Logically, I get it. We don’t carry a contagion but we do carry a responsibility. And in all fairness it is a responsibility that is intimidating. I hear loud and clear every body’s unspoken sentiment: Don’t get too comfortable here. We can’t let you stay forever. I’ll do this for you, but nothing more. My question is, do they really think that little of me? Have the years these people have known me really not taught them anything about me? I hate when people pay for me. I can’t even take a complement with ease. I’m never good with hand outs. I love paying for other people. I don’t know why anybody would think that I would settle in anywhere with the assumption that I’m taking over or staying for good. But then, maybe they just don’t have that much to give and that is what is scaring them. Their bills are at the brink of not being paid. Their mortgages are on the line. They’re being asked to give in a time where they may be putting their own stability at risk if they do. I get this. I really do. You can’t give away what you need to survive. But you can share it. Just share. Not give over, not give away, but share, just for a while. Until things get better. This, once again, is coming from the perspective of the receiver. I’m sure it looks different from the givers end.
My son and I were lucky enough to have a place to sleep that night, and yesterday night as well. I’m happy for that. Because let-me-tell-you, deep inside, I was scared too. I wasn’t comfortable and wouldn’t have slept a wink. The lights in the parking lot were too bright and there wasn’t enough room in the car for me to recline my seat. I wouldn’t have slept all night. I would of been thinking of my son and my dog and not been able to relax. That last minute text from my friend saved us. Thank God. And thank her. Which I did (both of them) and continue to do.
Last night my son had a sleep over. His friend’s family knows our situation and always apologizes for not being able to offer me a room as well. I never think of it. Wouldn’t have crossed my mind to stay in their home that way. They aren’t people I’ve known long enough to feel comfortable being that vulnerable around. They know our situation, but I don’t want them to be a part of it. Our sons really like each other. That makes me feel great. It keeps things normal for my son during this difficult time. His sleep-overs feel like sleep-overs not like charity. I like that. If Shelby and I stayed too it would effect the space, his friend’s house, in a way that would mar the feeling he gets when he goes there. That house is a fun place for him. It’s his own; part of his “normal” life. I want to preserve that normal for him.
I guess that puts a burden on my friends and family that isn’t fair? But define fair in a situation like ours. Lines are blurred. I really don’t feel comfortable asking anyone for help. But if I’m going to ask anyone it’s the people that I’ve known the longest. The ones that really know me. Or, at least, I thought knew me. This is where the confusion starts to happen. That’s when I know I’m over thinking things. I have to keep things simple. This simple:
We had a safe place to stay that night.
We both had safe places to stay last night.
We’re well fed.
We’re healthy.
Simple. Shut up and be happy.
I feel better already.
AND… Good news:
We’ve found an apartment. The town of Wilton has come through for us and been able to provide the safety deposit that we so desperately need. We can start moving in tomorrow.
My friend told me to send the request out to God. To ask for the deposit. I’m not a big believer in “God” as a being as much as “GOD” as this transcendental everything. But someone/thing was listening. I got the phone call from the Social Services office the next day (yesterday). Miracle. Yeah… so I why am I still  focusing on the negative and allowing it to confuse me? Stupid girl. That’s why. And now onward, to my day. I really can’t wait for the future. But I gotta slow down. Today isn’t as bad as it seems. All my experience with hind sight has taught me that. If I could look at today with the clarity and lack of fear that I will look upon it tomorrow, then I might actually be able to enjoy it. Hmmmm, no more arms length for me. I’m a mom after all.

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