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Monday, May 5, 2014

Six years as a homeless dad...

Yesterday marked six years of homelessness.
It’s not something I’m proud of. I didn’t celebrate with dinner and a cake and party favors. It’s humiliating. It’s embarrassing. It crushes my soul. It makes me cry.
A lot.
Six years ago, I was hastily loading every single thing I owned onto a friends open trailer and driving them to a barn where he said I could store them for a while. It was an all day job and it was made longer by the hurt of what was happening to my world and my fatherhood. I had no idea where I’d go. No job prospects, no friends with an extra room or a couch I could crash on. Six years later none of that stuff remains. I have no beds. No furniture. Not even silverware and dishes. Nothing.
About six weeks prior, the mortgage company I had worked for, for the last four years, folded it’s operations and moved out of Tennessee. Within another year, they’d be out of business altogether, bankrupt and the owner slapped with a two-billion dollar federal lawsuit.
It wasn’t just the fact that the company I worked for was gone. They were all gone. I couldn’t just latch on with another mortgage company because the entire industry was imploding. In one year, the entire industry went from about 600,000 employees, to about 100,000. That’s 80% of the entire mortgage workforce gone...looking for something else in a collapsing economy.
I’ve detailed my life over these last six years so there’s no need to do it. But there are some highlights...or lowlights.
Since 2008 I have worked for FOUR companies that ended up going out of business. FOUR! How many people can make that claim?
I graduated from College while still homeless. I thought it would give me a chance at a better future but this economy is far to damaged to provide opportunities for anyone with qualifications. And we have a president who wants it that way.
I remained here in Nashville when I could have gone to one of the few areas in this country that still have employment opportunities, but that would have required me to leave my daughter behind. I could never do that and the events in her life over the last 4 weeks have borne out the fact that I was correct in that decision. Me staying here likely kept her alive.
I wish I could rightly describe what this life feels like. What it’s like to wake up at 3 AM and break into sobs because you snap out of the fog of sleep and realize “I am someone’s dad and I’m homeless.”
I wish I could express to you what it feels like to drift from place to place when it’s raining and you can’t work, because you have no place to call your own.
I wish I could tell you how demeaning it is to be entirely dependent on public restrooms and showering at the gym, having to arrange your work day so that you get a shower before they close at night.
I wish you could understand what it’s like to open the door of your car and feel the rush of shame when you realize someone caught a glimpse of the inside and they surely realized you are living in there.
I wish you could grasp how all this feels when you have a daughter and she knows you are homeless and she tries to encourage you because you stayed in her life and you did this for her sake. But she really needs you and needs you to have a place to live so she can escape the hell she is living in.
I wish you could understand what it’s like to literally feel the days escaping your grip.
I have doubted God. I have wondered where He was and why He wasn’t answering. I have shaken my fist at Heaven and spit at the ground. Then, always, I have broken down in tears and confessed that I still believe in Him and trust Him that somehow...this is part of His plan.
There is nothing left for me to try. Nothing I haven’t done. I work 14-16 hour days as a carpenter, hoping to scrape together enough to move my daughter and I to a new town that promises a new start. I need to succeed this time. She needs me to succeed. I need a place to lay my head.
I need a home.
It’s day one of year seven.

I hope not many more of these days remain.

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