I had an uphill battle from the start. I was an addict. I was a woman. I was homeless. I was alone. When I came to San Francisco, the first thing that struck me was the fact that there were so many homeless drug users here. I had lived in many other cities across the South and Midwest. In all those places, I had known users and hard core alcoholics. None of them were what I would describe as homeless. They found places to stay each night.
There was a time when I was complete broke in Louisville Kentucky. I had left everything to get away from my abusive boyfriend. People would let me stay with them- a night here and there. No one even considered letting me leave their house with absolutely NO place to go. If they did, I just didn't know it. There was always a back room, a couch, a closed in porch. When I got too drunk, there was a few times strange men brought me home. I would wake up in strange t-shirts and shorts. They would be smiling, asking me if I needed breakfast. They all declared I was "too drunk" last night and they didn't want to "take advantage" of me. That would soon change.
San Francisco was a different place. I was struck by the volume of people sleeping in full view of the public. I had seen crackhouse, squats, even 8 people crammed in a van. I had never seen encampments of people at the corner of every block. I had never seen a public park full of urban campers. At first, the idea of complete freedom was exciting to me. After a few years, it became more and more tiring.
One day, I was laying outside on the concrete. I remember it was a hot day for the city. I was laying on a towel on the concrete. I was sleeping in an alley by a corner store. It was right of a major street. My head was facing the walkway. I had been up too many days. I was the kind of tired where it made it impossible to keep my eyes open. I hated sleeping at night because I had to worry about someone raping me. It didn't matter if you were male or female as I had known friends of both gender to get assaulted. It just happened more to women. I had no ID so I couldn't get a hotel, stay in a shelter, or get any kind of assistance. I was a non entity, using one of my mug shot print out to prove my identity.
I had this mysterious thing happen. It shouldn't have been a mystery but it was. I started bleeding. I was bleeding and bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. Bleeding for days. I had these yellow shorts on. They were kind of long. They almost came down to my knees. I bled all over my shorts, my underwear. I sat in nearly the same spot for a few days. I was so exhausted, I only got up to go to the store or go to the bathroom. Outside of course. Because that was where I was living at the time.
I was one of those nasty people you pass by where you can't tell if they shit one themselves or what the fuck is wrong. I didn't know myself. I didn't know if I had a miscarriage or gotten my period. It had been so long, I had totally forgotten about the functions of my body. The strangest part was no one thought to ask me what was wrong. No one asked me if I needed help. No one called an ambulance, No one covered me in a blanket. In reality, no one fucking cared. I walked around and sat around in two days covered in blood. I could not function for two days.
After sitting in my bloody shorts, by third morning I finally decided to take care of myself. The problem seemed so overwhelming. Where can I get clothes? Where can I change? How can I wash myself? I had nothing. None of these things. No money either. People want to help a cute young woman, one who is attractive. They don't want to approach one covered in blood. They only want to point at me and laugh. Look at that chick, she is so fucked up.
I went to the gas station. I walked around a 1/4 of a mile there. I knew the guy that worked at night would help me. He treated me like a human being. He had a low paying job and dealt with assholes all day. I think I made him sad. He saw his sister in me. Never did anyone ever imagine one day I would become a mother.
People asked me how I could use heroin all those years. At some points, using heroin was the least of my problems. Worrying about getting my throat cut was at the top, Getting raped was in the middle. Heroin provided a brief reprieve from the reality of my situation, I would think, yet it was the root cause of my condition.
I write this post to say a woman alone on the street is in bad company. It is amazing that I survived.