Sometimes in life, you know you are falling, only when you are already heading full-speed half way down the cliff…
Once upon a time, I lived in a different world. It was the first week I arrived in that foreign city, before I was abused. That first week constituted long streak of seeking (jobs, apartments), making payments(hotels, taxi, bus, food) and settling in the new place. I was living on borrowed money and fairy tales.
See, I had spend the last 3 years in my own university bubble, where you spend 24 hours being thought new things, writing academic papers, meeting new people, and being convinced to express your opinion, take chances and be a leader. Or pretty much that it depends on you how successful you will be.
Then I was going back to home, where truth hit me on the head every time. My parents had not had the same chance as me. Whether I approved their choices or not was besides the point. But after spending one semester home for leave of absence, something was forming in my head, loud and clear.
I can not depend on my parents money(or lack of them) anymore.
When I started university I had thought my fight for making my own living would start after I graduate, but it was becoming more and more obvious it was time. And so I did what people around me did when they had university and needed to make money over the summer. I went abroad.
I borrowed money to go, certain in my success. To the last moment I wasn’t sure if I had borrowed enough to pay for my trip, and kept borrowing. It was all set. I was going to travel, work, pay back my friends. And for many people, that was how things went.
Oh, how naive of me…
I spend most of my start-up money(the ones that are supposed to get me through until i have a job and payment) to return the first of the loans to someone who needed them and still loaned them to me, temporarily. I pay more for hotel and transportation than anticipated, and after paying my rent for the first week in the new house, I am almost at the end of what I have. And close to the end of my food too, for that matter. For a first time in my life I am heading down a fast track for disaster.
I’m hungry, a lot, but here I don’t have home, I don’t have friends for to count on them, and I don’t have anyone to count on. I don’t yet have a job either. Worrying about finding a job has been enough anyway. I have no one to call. And unlike in math, unless I want to break my principles and do something illegal, I don’t have much options. Especially that I don’t have my computer with me, so online work is out of the question too.
I can only do 2 things: pray, and look for job.
Meanwhile things are happening, around me, on the street, in my house, things I hadn’t thought of that much before. With all my education I have fallen short of getting outside of the bubble in which I live. I’ve seen homeless before, but seeing homeless people, and addicts, and people who break the law on daily basis- it’s too much for me to comprehend. But I disregard it all, because on the good side of my education to keep my eyes on the prize, to dream, to keep my focus.
I do my best to do so. For a minute, I’m on training wheels. Sure, that world I’m in, it’s completely different than the one I come from, but I’m learning about it, and adapting well. But the end of the first week, I have a job. One that thankfully pays weekly.
The first day of my first working week, our landlord comes by and tells us they have about 10 pies that are expired from 2 days or so, and she knows we are saving, so if we want them…we take them. Most of the people refuse to eat them. Seeing how they drink on the balcony at night(and sometimes even in the morning) I’m not sure they are here to save much either.
But for me it’s not about the saving anymore. It has been okay to live on hope while I had some money left. But there is a week of 12 hour work days that I need to pass before I get paid(with one meal sometimes provided) and no money for food- zero. Nada. No one to call, nothing much more to do. And let us not forget the hours I’m not at work I’m still looking for another job(this one is okay for hours, but minimum hourly pay)- I can’t be hungry all the time.
I’m sober then.
I’m sober for a first time in my life. I can’t afford to pass on out of date pies at that moment.
That week, I live on those pies, if I get some food at work, and dark coffee that I had bought before realizing how bad the situation really is. My bubble is burst, and my concentration, and grand dreams of traveling the world and doing many things when I finish my education start to fade pretty quickly, even though I refuse to admit that to myself.
I start to actually look at the people on the street, see how they are living. I ache from what I see and for a moment, it only pushes me to go forward…but sobriety is double-sided. Finally seeing, I start to question if I can make it in such cruel world. How idealistic is to dream of traveling the world when some people don’t have a roof over their head?
I want to help everybody in bad situation I see, but I can hardly help myself. I push myself to ignore some things, but that’s the thing about sobriety and knowledge.
Once your eyes are open, it’s much harder to shut them again.
Yet I try. Which pretty much works okay-ish and perhaps could have worked for longer, if something else doesn’t happen few weeks down the line.
I get raped.
Of course, I refuse to let even THAT slow me down, but things like that, they have their own special way to hunt us. We can’t run or avoid them. They lurk in the corner of our brain until we finally deal with them.
Thing is, I’m Hungry. People around me don’t have where to Live. I have rent to pay. I can’t be thinking of what happened.
So, I adopt a very special sobriety- the one that allows me to register the hunger and all those things, to get me to keep looking for job; And the same sobriety that let’s me shut my eyes to the rape, pretend it wasn’t so bad, take painkillers until the bruises fade, and keep looking for job.
It’s my own personal brand of hell.