***A warning to my readers that may be dealing with trauma and/or addiction. The material in this post may be a trigger for you. Please proceed with caution or check out some of my other content here.***
I got home at about 9 pm after a great dinner and some drinks with a friend. We had talked for 3 hours about the mind, relationships, business, trauma, and getting greater perspectives in life. It was a great evening full of great intellectual conversation.
I snuck into my kids’ room to say good night, give them a kiss and tell them I love them.
Recapping the day with my partner, she mentioned that there was no food in the fridge and the kids needed food for the next day so, I had to go to the grocery store to get a few things.
I pulled up to the grocery store at about 9:45 pm and parked the car. I made my way towards the front door and saw this young guy sitting on the curb with his golden retriever.
He was grubby looking and I assumed homeless because of the sign he had in front of him asking for help. As I walked by, I quickly asked him if he was hungry and he replied with, “Yeah a little bit”.
I told him, “ok, I’ll be right back I’ll get you something to eat after I do a quick shop.”
He said okay and I headed into the store to grab him a few sandwiches, some bananas, apples and a couple of Clif Bars so that he could have a little bit of food for the next day or so.
I finished grabbing all of the stuff I needed, I looped back around the front door to see if he was still waiting before heading to the checkout and he was still sitting there.
I paid for the groceries and headed out the front door. I walked up to him and gave him the bag of food and he was very appreciative and thanked me right away.
He seemed like an articulate guy and could communicate quite well so I decided to ask him what his story was and what he was doing here and why.
Without hesitation, he started to tell me his story in a very quick manner like he had told this many times before and this is what he told me.
“I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) and I’m addicted to dope.”
In this case, the dope was fentanyl.
He continued telling me his story explaining that, “9 years ago I lost my two-year-old son. He died unexpectedly and it crushed me. Soon after that my fiance just couldn’t bear living with this anymore as our little boy was our heart and soul and all of our life. She decided to take her life as she couldn’t live with the pain of such a huge loss.”
“After that happened I just stopped caring about life.”
“I was an entrepreneur, I had a business, I made great money, I had close friends and family but I just didn’t care anymore. I sunk into a deep depression and started to experience all of the post-traumatic stress disorder effects.”
“That depression let me into becoming addicted to heroin and now addicted to Fentanyl. I’m maintaining with fentanyl and trying not to do too much, just enough to keep the addiction at bay and feel somewhat stable but I know inside I have to quit but it’s so hard. Especially when it’s all around you on the streets.”
He showed me the tracks on his arms, saying “I have about $80 to $100 thousand dollars in these arms” while laughing it off as what I figured was his way of dealing with the shame of it.
He went on to explain his struggle with coping and dealing with life and why he now lives on the streets. We talked about trauma and how it’s what has caused so many people to be in the same situation as him.
Traumatic things have happened to so many people and many of them land in the exact same place as this young man.
He went on to explain a few of the things he’s done that he’s ashamed of that he would never do before like stealing so he can eat or get drugs or just to get by day to day.
We talked about the shame cycle that he gets stuck in where he would do something stupid that he knows is wrong, only to quickly regret it and feel shame about his actions which then would send him to use drugs to cope.
He definitely seemed like a pretty smart guy. He had been a business owner, a father, a fiance, an employer and he lost it all because of a terrible trauma.
I’ve had a hard time writing this story as it has really affected me quite a bit. I feel for him. I put myself in his shoes and thought about what I would do if this trauma happened to me and I couldn’t help think that this could easily happen to me or anyone.
My kids are my life and the thought of losing one makes me so emotional that I completely understand how he has gotten to where he is today.
As the conversation was coming to an end after about 15 minutes with him, he still had optimism in his words and voice.
He wanted to get better and knew he was going to get better. He still wanted to live and was going to keep trying to get off drugs and get his life back on track. He knew that he still wanted to live and make a better life for himself.
I shared with him some of my backstory about my experience with abuse and dealing with trauma from my childhood and we talked about coping mechanisms.
I tried to encourage him as much as I could. I just felt a connection to him and wanted to see him win and to keep fighting the fight.
It was now 10:30 and I had to get back home. I thanked him for sharing with me and told him that, “Every day is a new day and a new chance to write your story. Who you are today, doesn’t have to be who you are tomorrow.”
We said goodnight and I got in my car and headed home.
I started crying in the car. His story affected me hard.
So many people struggle with trauma and end up in this same situation. Trauma is a silent killer that slowly kills people from the inside and without love, help and support spiral out of control and into hard times.
9 out of 10 people walk past people like this, judge them because they look dirty, rough and even scary sometimes. For me, every time I have stopped to ask how they are doing and why they are on the street, I get the same answer. It all started with some form of traumatic event.
I guess I wanted to share this story because so many of us stigmatize people like this guy. Most people that see them walk by without even glancing their way. Without even acknowledging their existence.
If we all had more empathy and compassion and looked at everyone regardless of their life situation as our neighbors, our brothers, our sisters and our friends we might actually be able to help make our world a better place.
We need to treat them with love and respect because you never know if a trauma is going to completely take your life from you.
Thanks for reading this far and I hope this story resonated with you and if it did, I want you to do something for me.
Next time you see someone on the street that looks like a homeless addict, say hello and just acknowledge that you see them. This simple act takes no money and very little effort. It can have a huge impact on that person.
If you’re dealing with trauma please don’t deal in isolation, please reach out, find help and talk about it.
No matter how hard or how challenging your trauma is, you can break free, you can find happiness and you can live a life of growth and fulfillment.
Peace & Love