Life is hard. All kinds of challenges show up in all kinds of places with all kinds of faces. I have lived through and overcome many in my lifetime so far, and I expect challenges will continue trending as long as I exist on this planet. To make it through the worst of times, one method I have relied on quite heavily is the “push on through” method. And while a dose of grin and bear it has always gotten me through to the other side of struggle, I never arrive unscathed. I show up with all the bruises, scrapes, and scars, emotional or otherwise.
I was witness to an interesting example recently. My friend is having a challenging time right now, their spouse having recently been diagnosed with a deadly disease. I went with them to run an errand and on our way out of the parking lot they hit a bedraggled chair that had been left on its side part way into the lot’s exit. My friend kept going, despite my announcement about the chair, which got stuck in the wheel well. About a block later my friend finally pulled over, obliterating the chair into a hundred pieces. Later they couldn’t explain why they didn’t just stop the car. It was like they couldn’t even hear the rest of us making that very suggestion with rapidly increasing urgency.
I think that moment is an analogy for how they have been trying to cope with their spouse’s death sentence diagnosis. It was unexpected news and nothing like anything they have ever experienced before. They are frightened and sad and confused and they don’t really know what to do. But part of their lizard brain knows they need to keep going, so they are pushing through it to survive. And while the pushing will probably get them through it, they might break some stuff along the way, including themselves.
If one of the major flaws of pushing through is all the collateral damage, the other barrier is that sometimes you just... can't. I haven't been the same volume of capable since I had Covid. I can't just push through things I might have had no trouble with only weeks ago. My body is simply not capable of doing the same things. Neither is my brain. I can’t just emotionally armor-up and charge-in. If I do that for this challenge, the collateral damage is gonna be me. And all I will have accomplished is lengthening my recovery time.
So I've got to make a new plan. Somehow I’ve got to adjust. Life keeps relentlessly occurring and we've all got to adjust to all kinds of things. Mental, physical, emotional, and practical. Sometimes it’s exactly the right moment to push on through. Other times it’s the moment for pausing to reflect and recalibrate. And still other times it’s time to call in reinforcements. Humans are a community-requiring species.
The good news is humans are also very adaptable. I helped someone I didn’t expect adjust their perception of people who don’t have indoor housing. During a group discussion one person said, “Aren’t we really talking about two types of homeless people? The ones who are down on their luck and just need some help, and the ones who just want to lay around on the sidewalk and do their drugs?”
“That’s a myth.” I began, and went on to explain that nobody wakes up one day and decides their life’s ambition is to become a drug addict who sleeps outside without access to sanitation, privacy, or stability. That’s nobody’s first choice. And people don’t go from healthy and functional to sidewalk drug stupor in an instant. It’s a process that starts with being "down on your luck" and the longer you spend without community support or access to resources the harder it is to escape the tragedy of your own circumstances. "I hadn't thought about it like that before," they said.
Many people who are currently without stable housing or who have been housing-insecure at some point freely share their stories for anyone to read and listen to. Stories of circumstances that deprived them of housing in the first place. Stories of what it was like to be seen as less than human by everyone else walking by averting their eyes. Stories of how they made it off the streets (for those who are so lucky). These stories are devastating and not always easy to read. And they are also important for everyone to know and understand.
The incredibly preventable suffering from a lack of housing is important for everyone in our extremely wealthy society to witness. I can't even imagine how difficult it would be to want to keep on living each day while public officials and your fellow citizens spend time and money making sure they don't have to look at you or know you exist instead of helping you out. If we as a society agreed that we should instead take care of people as a basic number one priority, losing your housing wouldn’t be devastating to the rest of your life and livelihood.
People can get through really challenging situations, including having no place to live, if they are otherwise cared for. I think back to all the times I have pushed through tough times when I could have chosen another way to cope. I made that choice in those moments because I felt alone. I felt like nobody else knew or understood what I was going through, and I often felt like I couldn't ask for help (which is almost always untrue). Humans are amazingly resilient, we can survive just about anything. And it's a whole lot easier with support from each other.
There's a lot going on in the world right now that's challenging to deal with. Racism, misogyny, war, climate change, capitalism. Bizarre and vitriolic politics. I see a lot of people using the push on through method, putting their heads-down and just trying to survive until the danger passes. But all the big existential issues we have to sort out as a society don't actually have an end... they just keep going. So we can't wait until they pass, we have to solve these things now while they are still happening. The good news is we have to do it together. So let's do it. Together.
Information and Inspiration
Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.