Systematic Fatigue

The other day I made a post

That compassion fatigue has gotten the best of me

Then someone corrected me

And said what’s really testing me

Is more systemically

Pragmatically

I agreed

I’m so god-damn tired of these systems

Malfunctioning

Taking the dysfunction that these children were born in

And exacerbating the situation even further

Further down the rabbit hole they go

Falling through the cracks:

Cracks of Schools

Group homes

Foster homes

Public Health

Private health

Mental health

Until they land —smack—rock bottom

Sleeping on concrete streets

System fatigue has gotten the best of me

But won’t get the rest of me

Because I’m preserving that

To do whatever I can

In my scope

To advocate and fill in the cracks

My ex called me a purple squirrel

In the work world

That’s someone highly valued yet rare and hard to find

I have the passion, will and power, in addition I have the mind

People like me, willing to endure hard work to fulfill all the title’s meant to be

Shouldn’t be

Praised

This shouldn’t be going out of the way

It should be the standard

If everyone did their part

There’d be less socio-political cancer

Excuse me for my candor

These are just the memoirs of someone who fell through cracks

Trying to pick the pieces up and give it all back

It takes a village to raise a child

And we’ve all been broken children before

So to see them is to see us

And every one of us needs to remember that

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No Home

Little boy

I remember you

Back in high school

Tall and lanky

Your goofish grin

Being black but sounding white

Kid’s didn’t know what category to put you in

Back then

But today is now

And I can’t seem to wrap my mind around how

You fell through the cracks

Of every social service system

As I watch you turn your back

Leaving a homeless shelter

To walk down the street

Looking just like you did in high school

More scraggly, but still meek

Though your grin is gone

Much like what must’ve been your support systems long,

Before you ever had the chance to figure out what navigating life was about

Now I watch you trying to get in, but left out

No home

The Homeless

Systematic desensitization

Of the human race

Race relations

Makes no sense

Non-sense

Impotent

When ignorance is potent

What’s more, important

In poor tense

Poverty

People like, “What dad ever fathered me?”

Fathering

Furthering

Fathoming

What did life ever have on me?

We think we’re less crazy

Than the people who talk to themselves

When all the time, we tell ourselves

Reasons why they deserved to be underserved

Ignored

Like it’s the norm

Why?

It’s okay to keep doing the same things as before

Not anymore.

Sitting outside Albertson’s

I think that life affords us these opportunities in disguise as trials. We’re so stuck sitting up in front of the TV that anything else allows us discomfort. Here I am sitting, draining about my problems. Work, relationships, school, life… And up walks this homeless lady, with her plastic bag of cans and a sign. Automatically I am taken aback. I want to pull my backpack a little closer and I even contemplate walking away. I don’t because it’s too obvious, and I care enough about people that I don’t know, not to make her feel bad.

I look up as she moves coolly across the parking lot to receive a whole cigarette. I scoff, “Is that what you’re worried about?” My prejudice and I… That thought is followed by, “Maybe she would do the same for food. Maybe she’s taking anything she can get.”

I think about the dance my sister performed that told the story of how the public makes the homeless population invisible. As she returns to the bench with her retrieval, I wonder if she’s the stereotypical “territorial” homeless person, who doesn’t like people touching their things. “Have I invaded her bench?” Then I realize I’m being prejudice again –labeling people and putting them into categories.

We have minimal eye contact, but I can tell she’s troubled. And by the phone conversation that I’m having with my co-worker about a CPS case, she can tell I’m troubled too. Her random chuckle drew my eyes up to her and she moved me out of her peripheral vision. I wonder does she need someone to talk to? Or am I pre-judging that a homeless person doesn’t have conversation?

I continue my work on my laptop, as I wait for my ex to pull up and make up with me. She doesn’t. My phone runs dead and my tummy rumbles.

The lady with curly, shoulder-length hair picks up her plastic bag and leaves, but not before apologizing for bothering me. Being the people-pleaser that I am, I mechanically reply, “ Oh no, it’s okay.” But what did I just communicate? That I didn’t mind her bothering me, or that she wasn’t bothering me?

That’s when I reach my epiphany.

This is a public table; she has just as much right as anyone else to sit here –homeless or not. Who beat it into her head that she didn’t have that privilege?

My tummy rumbles again, and then I feel bad because who knows when’s the last time that she ate? I could be just like her. She’s young, white and half-decent looking for a homeless person. I bet she came from a well brought up family, with some issues that led her down the wrong path. A path that led two totally different people, like she and I, to the same place at the same point in time. Sitting here right now. How easy would it be for us to get our paths crossed and we end up in each other’s place?

I think about how everything hangs in the balance for me right now. Work, relationships, school, life…. and she has nowhere to go but up. We’re not so different. And it doesn’t take much for us to switch places.

All this learned, by reluctantly sitting at a concrete table outside of Albertsons because I got into an argument with my now ex-girlfriend and I really have no place of my own to go.Homeless sign