Carrying On

My struggle for a different life

Michael O'Shea

Web-only article from "Housing and Homelessness" issue of Visions Journal, 2007, 4 (1)

stock photoDoing drugs for the very first time will give you a high that you never had before, but after that, drugs rob you of things you cherish in life and leave you with nothing.

A traumatic childhood

When I was about seven years old, I was sexually abused by someone in the clergy. When I told my mother and father, they beat me. They said a religious person would never do that and told me never to discuss it with anybody. When people visited the house, my parents would lock me in the bedroom closet.

Some time later, I was sexually abused again by a stranger at the dog pound. I was looking for a new dog after mine had run away. This man took my pants down and [fondled my penis]. The man then gave my sperm to the dog - he said this would keep the dog from running away.

I was ashamed and afraid to go home, because I knew I'd be beaten again. So I ran away and ended up living on the streets with two older girls working in the sex trade. They looked after me for almost a year before police found me and took me home.

When I was back at home, nothing changed in how my parents treated me. Any time my father came home drunk, he'd beat me and lock me in the closet. He also abused me verbally - threatening to lock me up in a mad house or sell me "to the gypsies."

All I wanted was for my parents to love me.

When I was 14 I left home for good. I started drinking alcohol and taking drugs to get away from the pain I was feeling. I'd get very depressed. I tried to kill myself many times.

Homeless at middle age

I'm now 53 and homeless in Kamloops. I have no family now. My parents are both dead. Sometimes I feel like going to their graves and pissing on them.

You might think it's great to be living under the stars at night, and you might think there's a bond between us homeless people, but that is far from the truth. It's not nice living on the street eating out of garbage cans, being cold and being very lonely at nighttime. Some days I really just want this life to end. I'm very tired and just want to rest.

I'm using drugs more now to help me deal with feeling lonely and depressed. I smoke crack and shoot up. I seldom share rigs, because I know the danger of getting diseases. I was checked for AIDS about four years ago and my results came back good. But today I don't know if I have any diseases or not.

Since I've stopped taking my medication, living on the street leaves me very vulnerable. Other addicts who are homeless will beat you and rob you; they'll even sell you out for crack.

I feel that if I don't get a place soon, I'll be lost to my addictions for good.

Trying for a different kind of life

Thankfully, there are still beautiful and good people in Kamloops. I'm working with one of the staff members at the AIDS Society of Kamloops to get housing. I need to get off the street, so I'll be safe and better able to look after myself. Then I can start taking the medication again.

Having good people at Mental Health and at the AIDS Society who are willing to help gives me hope. It gives me the will to wake up another day and carry on. Maybe one day I will find the love and happiness I seek.

 
About the author

Michael lives in Kamloops

 

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