I went to a memorial service today for an old family friend. There were many people there from my parents’ generation, including several teachers from high school and other folks who impacted my life growing up.
After the prayers and presentations, I was in the food line, when I thought to myself, “I was formed here.” It was an emotional moment for me.
All the things that formed me, good and bad, happened here in this valley. There were several good things I incorporated into my psyche as a kid that I kind of hid during my adolesence and college years. They were not considered cool, and I so desperately want to fit in that I hid them from myself. They are: a love of America, a love a family, a love of the outdoors and a love of Jesus.
Three events growing up also tore a pretty good hole in my young psyche; they happened within a couple of years of each other, if memory serves. My parents got divorced, my very kind grandfather died, and I was molested. A bunch of fear, anxiety and ghosts entered my head after that filling the holes those wounds produced.
I used alcohol to deal with the anxiety until I was 25 when I had a manic episode that landed me in the hospital. For a while after that I used lithium for anxiety. The manic episode felt spiritual to me and I read some alternative literature that called what I had a spiritual emergency. Regardless it reconnected me, briefly, with some joyful, loving feelings that I had kind of forgotten existed.
I spent the next ten years or so avoiding dealing with the shame, rage and self hate I had pinned down inside myself. Then I found myself on the streets. A trust walk is what I am calling it now; those seven years as a hobo. They allowed me the time outside of society’s structures and rhythms to rid myself of most of my shame and anxiety and claim my soul again.
Ironically, in the very same week that I gave up calling myself a hobo I became just a human again.
I am really starting to feel at ease with myself here in town. Those old mind ruptures are mostly healed, and I am trusting myself enough to fully participate in whatever is going on around me. It is interesting. It took me six years to feel comfortable on the streets and another six to feel comfortable functioning with the rest of… you folks again.
I may return to the streets, I do like the people and the adventure of it, but it won’t be because I don’t think I can’t function well in my home town. Lots of folks have had similar traumas to mine; honestly it leaves you feeling like you are on the outside of everything. So if that is you, I will let you know right now, I love you and you belong here…wherever you find yourself.