Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
April 8, 2018
George Bernard Shaw (a very famous and successful white male who married into financial independence and later became legit wealthy thanks to royalties from his plays) once said:
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.”
The people who “get on in this world” are the people privileged enough to “make their own circumstances.” IMHO: For anyone so privileged, the “circumstances” we should be making are circumstances that assist and empower those in need. And we must do so without question or judgment.
The women I meet every day are amazing -- far more amazing than GB Shaw, I propose -- and I dare anyone to explain to them why they just need to "stop believing in circumstances.”
The women I meet every day did nothing to bring their situation upon themselves. They didn’t “fail” at positive thinking or meditation. But they were beaten and abused by men who claimed to love them. They were raped and hospitalized by male “partners.”
The women I meet every day struggle with conditions like cancer, PTSD, HIV, substance addictions, severely compromised immune systems, a wide range of mental issues -- not to mention an ever-growing list of daily aches and pains.
The women I meet every day are spit on, mocked and scorned, have their money cups kicked over, told to get a job, called crackheads, accused of being “fake,” “propositioned” by men of all stripes (including cops), live under constant threat of sex trafficking, and mostly: they are made to feel and live as invisible.
The women I meet every day still get up each day and panhandle with a smile. They do whatever it takes to shower and care for themselves (something I cannot say about 95 percent of the homeless men I encounter). The women do their best to jump through bureaucratic hoops in the name of trying to get health insurance, food stamps, and one day: housing.
The women I meet every day go on job interviews but how many of us know how impossible it is to find work when you do not have a permanent address? They stake out their space on the streets all day and sleep with a knife nearby to fend off predators all night.
The women I meet every day cultivate survival skills few of us could ever imagine. How’s that for “making your own circumstances?”
The women I meet every day are unique individuals, not a monolithic “demographic.” There is no one way to help “homeless women.” I do my best to offer some individually geared relief and conversation and perhaps most of all, a compassionate ear. To let them know they matter and that someone is listening.
And oh yeah, the women I meet every day really, really don’t need pep talks.
“It’s time for you to get up.”
On a recent outing, I approached the usual corner for one of my “regulars” (I’ll call her T for the sake of this article). I could see from across the street that a woman had squatted down to talk with her. T appeared to be animated or perhaps agitated. When I got right up to them, I could see that T was crying. She was repeating -- over and over -- lines like: “Tell me where to go” and “Where do I go when I get up?” and “Do you have any idea what it's like for someone like me?” and “What makes you think I don’t want my life back?”
Not wanting to interrupt unless I was asked, I waited a few feet away. I heard the woman eventually tell T that she would be back tomorrow with some “answers.” Then she left in a hurry. I looked at T and, at first, we didn't even need to talk. It was basically clear what had just happened.
To recap: The woman must work in the area because she passes T almost every day and sometimes gives her a couple of bucks. Lately, she’s begun “encouraging” T to “get her life together.” Today, the woman squatted down close to T, looked her in the eye, and said: “I’ve seen you sitting here for more than a year. (pause for effect) It’s time for you to get up.”
Let’s be clear: T once built a successful and happy life for herself. The actions of an abusive and violent and nearly homicidal male “partner” landed T in the ICU Unit and then onto the streets. She goes on job interviews but doesn’t have a permanent address. All her ID has been stolen. If she takes a day to deal with the bureaucracy of getting an ID (an effort that has maybe a 20 percent chance of bringing success), she doesn’t panhandle and thus, cannot afford a room and sleeps on the street again.
T doesn’t need a pep talk. Homeless women aren’t just unmotivated. This isn’t a spin class. It’s a brutal reality that can consume any one of us in the blink of an eye. That woman never returned but if she did, the odds are, she would’ve brought a list of shelters. Two questions: Does anyone think that a longtime homeless woman doesn’t know where the shelters are? And does anyone think that any homeless woman would feel safe in a city shelter?
T needed to rant so I stuck around, secretly worrying about how much she’s unraveled over this cruel winter. “All these people walking past me think they know me?” she yelled. “I wish just one of them would stop and explain how it is that they know everything. That they have it all figured out. Share that news with me. Tell me the magic words that will make all this end. Do they think I wanted to lose everything? That I chose this life? I didn’t even lose everything. I had it taken from me!”
Friends, save the pep talks for Crossfit. When you see a homeless woman, ask her what she needs or simply give her whatever money you can afford to give and wish her luck. Let her know you see her and sincerely want her to have her life back.
If you're not in a position to do any of that directly, then please donate here and help me do more of it. Thanks…
Mickey Z. is the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on the streets of New York City. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and make a donation right now. And please spread the word!
Homeless women need support, not pep talks by Mickey Z. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://worldnewstrust.com/homeless-women-need-support-not-pep-talks-mickey-z.