02 November 2012

Lease signed, keys in hand. Sleeping indoors is good.

Wake up view from my car
Wheels down. I have a place to live.


 I haven't moved much of my stuff yet, just some clothes and the things I normally carry in my backpack. It feels strange, being in an apartment again (actually, it's a room, but around here that qualifies as an apartment). Living here is more than just having a place to crash. There are rules. Meetings. Changes to make. People looking out for me. It has at times seemed overwhelming.

One change is that working more hours doesn't help me-- the higher my income, the higher my rent. Over the past year or so, perhaps longer, work has been a refuge for me. I'm safe at work, it's familiar, and I can get my job done even when I feel crappy. Not working as many hours also means that I have more time for classes, homework, sleep, self maintenance, and working on my own projects. Yikes, that almost sounds like a normal life. For me that's a huge change. My life has been anything but normal.

Part of the situation that makes me feel uncomfortable is that I'm accepting a lot of help. My most basic needs are food, clothing and shelter. Two of those are being provided by the VA right now. Especially after my divorce, I promised myself I'd be self sufficient. Then again, when I was going through that, I didn't know what PTSD was. It is hard to be honest about where I am. Normally, I'm pretty straightforward; I don't know how to say I'm in a transitional housing program or that I had been homeless for two and a half months before last Monday. I don't feel like I'd be laughed at or excluded from anything, but it feels strange compared to people around me who haven't been to those places (ever).

One option, I suppose, is just to keep it to myself. No one but me needs to know. The problem I have with that option is that I feel like I need some recognition for toughing it out, especially the past few months. I try to remind myself that such recognition may come later in the form of success. Some days, that's enough. Other days I feel like an asshole for wanting recognition for something that thousands of vets and others deal with for years.

I feel that way, because the experience was normal for me. After childhood abuse, war, divorce, bankruptcy, and PTSD-- after all that, sleeping in the car for a while wasn't much of a surprise. A part of PTSD for me is imagining the worst that could happen in any given situation, so my brain took the fear of losing a place to live and worked on a solution. I'd been having rent troubles in late 2011, and all through spring and summer of 2012. I knew where I'd park, how I'd get away with parking there, how to hide in plain sight. It took a couple of weeks to work the kinks out, but I had a good plan.

Having everything in order is something that I've managed before, but in those cases things got out of order. It was mostly events that I couldn't control, or that I didn't know I could control. The moments of stability always ended.

I'm in this program for two years, which is about the amount of time it will take me to finish my degree.
What happens after that will be, as always, interesting.

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