Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Fear in Skid Row
It is almost two in the morning. It is quiet, so quiet. I love it when it is like this. I can hear myself think much better. The noise in Skid Row is so loud it deafens one's ability to hear one self, to feel oneself. Sometimes I think it is a mass conspiracy by everyone as most people in Skid Row runaway from themselves and everything else in this world.
"A lot of people do not want to be found", is a statement that you hear quite often when there is a discussion about the homeless and assisting the police or family members in the successful end to a long search for a loved one.
It is only tonight that I realized that that comment about not wanting to be found could mean more than one thing. Perhaps, indeed, people do not want to find themselves. The process would include too much pain.
Each night I check to see how many people read my blog. Tonight is one of those nights when I pray that my blog is read. Why? Because it will provide some insight into the pain that people go through in the Skid Row world.
You see, everyone in Skid Row views this place as a prison. There is the Skid Row world and the outside world. Things are done differently in the Skid Row world.
I asked Maria about the people that she has met on Skid Row. She has worked on Skid Row for nine months. She tells me that the people on
Skid Row are afraid to leave it. They are afraid that they will not be able to adjust to the outside world. That is why they refuse help from social workers.
For instance, I was talking to Andrew Conner. He runs the SOS program for PATH, People Assisting The Homeless program at the Central Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. When a homeless person gets arrested for drug use, he offers them a choice. They can opt for treatment and get shelter or they can go to jail, maybe even prison and then eventually return to the streets and continue in their homeless plight. Most decline the assistance and resist vigorously.
The popular belief is that They are afraid to begin hoping again. They have resigned themselves to the fact that their lives will not change. Their world is what it is. To begin to want again, to dream again, to hope again would not be too much in and of itself. However, it would be too much if they were made to hope and had no one to hold their hand to assist them through the process.
I know how they feel. I was not worried about relapsing. I was worried about giving up hope. If I gave up hope, then I would let the fear of reaching out overtake me like it has taken over and controls most of the people of Skid Row.
They do not want to reach out. They know that they will not survive it if they were let down and go over the edge. I see it every day. You see most of these people become Skid Row institutionalized. It is a special type of institutionalization because it is so hard to identify. There are so many layers of interwining complexities that impact on the psyche of an individual down here. So much is taken away from a man and woman in terms of them believing that they have a say in how they take care of themselves. It is now different from prison. Indeed, it is a prison. Most people have resigned themselves to believe that they will stay in prison and not know what the outside world is like any longer. They do not want to grab for it. If the dont reach it they fill they will lose their sanity and not even be able to exist in this prison. They will implode mentally. That is the fear that takes place and thrives on Skid Row.