Off-the-Wall-Street: a Journal on To Be or Not to Be Homeless Again–the Stigma Blog and Paying the Price

When I’ve been homeless in the past, I did not have dependents, so it was relatively easy. I could always figure something out and find myself a way to have a roof over my head. So now, I see how tough it is for the women who are domestic abuse victims to make that leap into the abyss without support and finances when they have children.

Is it better to stay and be abused and risk being killed so you can be sure your kids eat? Or is it better to just leave and figure out the money somehow. Not so easy a choice, is it?

Every decent mother wants her children to have a good life, hopefully even better than hers. So I can really understand even better now what it was like for those mothers at the battered women’s shelter where I lived in order to escape my then-husband who hit me. What really made me decide to leave for good was when a policeman showed me a mugshot of when my husband spent over 30 days in jail for beating his mother. So then I knew it was not just me, that it was not just that I was a failure as a wife. He had issues with women–really big-time issues and I was out of there forever.

My then-psychiatrist ordered me to move to the largest city in the State and so to transfer to the battered women’s shelter there. They have more services there and he thought I needed them. I did not come to Montana to live in a big city, but when psychiatrists who can and do commit you to psych wards tell you to do something, you obey. Or I did. I was also obsessed by him which was my addiction to idolatry of men.

So once they told me at the shelter that my time was up and I had to find a place to live right away, I went for the only place I could really afford. My disability money was severely cut because I’d been married and my credit rating was the pits because I had lived with a woman who required that I take a phone out in my name for her. I lived with her after the first time he hit me and I ran out the door.

She did not pay the bill-ever-and so I could not get a phone at all until I paid it off. The place I found to move was a basement apartment in the South Side of Billings and it turned out I lived next door to a meth dealer. Oh joy!

His customers would come and go at all hours and he pounded his keyboards until 3 a.m. sometimes. I’d have a splitting headache from the shock treatments I’d begged to be given because I had this delusion that it would heal me. Wrong!

They fried my brain and I lost executive functioning to a great degree and have never been able to order and organize like I was able to do easily all my life. Another patient had ECTs (shock treatments) and he had gold-star parents that were always doing the best of whatever could be done for him, so I thought, if so-and-so has them, I want them too.

Well he was not so affected by them as was I. He ended up graduating from Notre Dame University after that, so it must have at least not harmed him the way it had me.

In spite of it, I can still read and write decently.. And I still can report, as I worked as a freelance health reporter after it, as well. Ask me to file and go through papers and it’s a real stretch at best, though.

So now it’s crunch time and I live under a manager who must be a Zen-wannabe whose only acceptable home decorating style is minimalist to the point of stark nothingness. I do not know.

I failed the inspection because of clutter, she said. That was after professional declutterers spent the day putting things in order and said they thought it would pass. I do not fault them. I do have to go through boxes of stuff and sort, and I did not want to just toss them as my mother had me do once, including old checks which an enterprising rummager found in the trash and went on a spree. Spending $10,000 at Office Max, this identity thief had a field day throughout town and it took months for me to clean it up.

Mom also had me toss files, as well. I tossed my entire file on Afghanistan because surely I would never report again. I had typed numerous letters to the editors of major newspapers imploring them to cover and fund the freedom fighters to defeat the Soviet Union. This was when I was in journalism school at Stanford. I had a letter from an editor of the Wall Street Journal giving me advice about the tone I used. I wish I still had it. To Mom and to the manager of where I live, that would be just clutter I guess, but to me it was my life’s work.

I am a writer and I have many, many boxes filled with journals I have filled of writing, which is a recovery tool for me. It doesn’t matter if Mom or the manager thinks it’s clutter. To them it is, so fine. That’s their judgment. They are allowed to have it.

My brother threatened to have all my papers tossed out because they were garbage at the condominium the trust owned for me. Well, some of that “garbage” was my resume and the clips of my articles I had written when a reporter. That was before online archives. I cannot replace them and they are buried in storage somewhere, but it’s worth it to pay for storage for years just so I can one day have them again.

My condominium was a home office and I had lots of files. Garbage to some or clutter or whatever but to me, it is work. It just is.

I do have old bills that need to be tossed and are now in boxes but then the trustee had this thing about not paying my bills unless he had every single receipt. Then when he’d get them, he’d still pick and choose which to pay. So now, I am very adverse to tossing old bills and receipts in case I can get them paid some day.

My own credit cards have quite a lot of charges that he won’t pay, so I do a little bit at a time each month. It’s a miracle I still have any credit rating at all because he has systematically tried to destroy it, so as to have me in his grips. His attorney let it slip to an attorney I took out a cash advance to have representation. I am still paying on that with no end in sight, because of course he refuses to pay for an attorney for me.

Even when I went up against the Archdiocese of San Francisco with my report of sexual abuse, he still refused to pay for an attorney to represent me. Thanks be to God that I found pro bono representation or I would have surely been further abused by the slick attorneys for the Church.

So, that is one of those things. I get people who sit in judgment of me and how I am disabled. Fine. It all began with the priest abusing me. I’ve been disabled since then.

So at least I am alive, as many priest abuse victims killed themselves or are seriously sick addicts. At least I am still trying for a complete recovery, and I have to fight every step of the way for it.

I don’t regret it. Not one bit. People may think I have a cakewalk having a special needs trust and disability money. Well, they are a blessing but also the trustee uses his lording over the money as a way to try to destroy my recovery now. It wasn’t always that way. It began once I started trying to get an accounting. I’ve not yet gotten one that is third party verified, but I won’t quit hoping to have the law enforced for him. It may never happen.

I could be homeless again because now I have a dependent–an equine partner who is a service animal and a senior like myself and I would be homeless in order to be sure he is cared for.

So that is that.

I would rather have my recovery intact and be homeless than have to become someone who is cowed into letting my rights be violated. That inspection was not legal because they did not give 24 hours notice for it. The inspection of the rest of the building was days before and we got notice. I did not get notice I did not pass until after I asserted my rights to have the hole in the ceiling and the mold taken care of and had called Fair Housing. It was after that that I was notified that I had failed the inspection and given 10 days to remedy it. So, I had already given notice. I intend to be true to my word this time and be out of here by the 13th of July.

Having women come into my space and use their judgments to threaten eviction based upon spurious definition of clutter is crazy-making for me. My mother who sexually abused me did the same stuff and did make me homeless the first time. These women are not my mother and this time I can and will get out of here and leave and be free to be the reporter than I still am.

They can decide to kick me out, but they won’t get to because I am already leaving and I intend to leave it completely immaculately and get all my deposit back. I am going to spend whatever it takes to get it up to my mother’s standards. I can still clean once the stuff is gone. And I will do it. It is my recovery work because I am not going to have to perpetually bow and scrape to tyrannical women in order to appease them when they have violated my rights. I paid good money here in rent.

I refuse to live in mold with a hole in the ceiling which may have had mold inside. I have three brain disorders already. I do not need to have my brain burdened by mold because they refused to deal with the issue. So I asserted my rights. I called the authorities and then and only then did they remedy the situation. So now it’s fine. They plugged the hole it the ceiling so there is no mold that can escape. I am 100% fine with that now. And I thanked the manager.

But I lost faith completely in the management and I will leave and go elsewhere, anywhere else because it is a threat to my recovery to continue to live here. I am still a mandated reporter of injustice and I will remain so. I am willing to pay the price for standing up for my rights.

Whether this is of literary merit, matters not to me now. What it is is a report of what I have to do to get recovery not just from addictions but from people who want to penalize me for daring to assert my rights. So, I will live with the consequences of what I did and I will leave, I know not where to yet, but I will be gone when I said I would and the place and space will finally be free of the clutter of my existence and the management will be happy and so will I. Win-win.


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