Lessons from homelessness.

One thing I’m finding interesting about being “homeless”* is the sense of insecurity it creates, not just the feeling of physical vulnerability, but also the sense you have no authority to speak or act. When you have four walls to your name, even when you’re outside of those walls, you feel like you’ve earned the right to say something about something. It’s like a whole dimension to your self-confidence goes missing, and you kind of have to pull it from somewhere else.

Even though our homelessness is intentional, it’s hard to find a certainty or place of confidence to think from. I’ve lost half a dozen frames of reference in my life. And I feel like I need to be really careful I don’t piss someone off. Because I’m probably going to need them. The bed I’m sleeping in tonight is under their roof. The plate I’ll eat my food from tonight belongs in their cupboard. I’m thinking the necessity for meekness could increase as the weather grows colder.

Also, I feel guilty. Dependance on others brings with it an overhanging sense of shame. As we potter about helping our hosts with household chores and yard work, waiting for the school year to begin (our son is enrolled in distance education and we are waiting for his work to arrive via mail), writing in blogs and talking about our tentative plans, there’s a creepy feeling of  “you really should be doing something to help yourself”. As if intentionally not living in a house and intentionally not having a permanent job were a kind of failure in and of itself.

And then there’s the politics around how much or how little you can really “be yourself” in someone else’s space. Your personality changes. And let’s not even mention what happens to sex when you’re staying in the spare room.

I thought this would feel like freedom. This doesn’t.

I think I’m learning more than I thought about what it means to live in community.

Cheers, Jo xxx

*We’re not homeless in the sense of living on the streets. We quit our lease several months ago and have been living with friends and relatives, ever since we withdrew our application to work at the rehab. We are exploring the possibility of starting up an intentional recovery community, while we travel and work itinerantly.

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