Archive for drugs

Bond of the Street… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , , on January 3, 2020 by paulthepoke

Men and women who survive life on the streets share a bond like no other. This bond is an unspoken connection, commitment, respect, and love for each other that isn’t the same as the relationships we build outside of the life. The help we once offered each other out on the streets looked very different from what those outside of the life might understand.

The help we offered might look more like a hit of dope if someone was beaten or raped, or a shared sandwich. Or it might even look like a ride in a car or a night’s sleep in a hotel room to shower, if one of us had access to such a rare thing. Sometimes we watched over one another as we slept, particularly if we were sleeping outdoors or in an empty building. Sometimes we shared quarters for the dryers in the laundromat to get warm or dry off our clothes. I could go on. On the streets, we had each others’ backs, because no one else in the world did.

Once I heard an example of a similar type of bond formed among the survivors of a plane crash. Some died in the crash, and it took days for the survivors to be found. These individuals, who didn’t even know each other before this event, shared a bond and a connection that can’t be recreated outside of that event with another person. I think it’s the same for those of us who survived the streets and prostitution.

I was so sick with a cough, fever, sore throat—the works. A car turned the corner. I walked up and saw a friendly face, a “junkie–driver.” A junkie–driver is someone who gets high and has a car. His hustle is giving us rides to get dope. This particular junkie–driver drove a van. I heard voices and looked in the back. I saw a couple of folks from the hood warming up in the back. There were blankets everywhere. I asked if I could have one as I let out a cough.

They said I didn’t look so good, but I told them I was just sick and would be fine. I said, “I got cash for gas and for some dope if I can just ride for a while and rest.” They said sure. I gave them my cash as I climbed in the back. I said I didn’t need any dope; I just wanted to sleep. I curled up in a ball under a blanket and slept.

I don’t know how long they let me sleep back there, but I know it had been daylight when I got in and it was dark when they woke me up. “Ellie, it’s time. You got any more gas money?” I didn’t. They said they had someone
with some money, so they were letting me out and they would be back in an hour or so to check on me…

I share this story, I suppose, to show that we were there for each other. The help we offered one another might not look like help to an outsider looking in, but we took care of each other in the best ways we knew how. Ironically, I was offered more safety and true rest in that van with the junkie–driver than at many of the shelters around.

We recognized the brokenness we each shared, the hopelessness, the disparity, yet we always saw the humanity in one another—something the rest of the world chose not to see in us.

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Leaving the Street… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2019 by paulthepoke

I rarely share this experience, as it haunts me today in a variety of ways. It is not like the physical trauma that haunts me, such as some of the violence I endured, or the mental anguish of starvation, or the sheer exhaustion of being homeless and the need to continually be on the move. No, this is so different for me.

There was a time in the early ‘90s in Kansas City when I attempted suicide. I was back on the streets, hopeless, and in despair. This was one of my last attempts before I realized I just couldn’t take my own life.

I joined an outpatient treatment group. As part of this program, I would be given an apartment if I went and stayed in a mental health respite home. As you can imagine, drug addiction was really the least of my many demons.

Reuters, Claro Cortes IV

It is difficult to be off the streets yet not have money to get a soda or eat. When providing for yourself is within the scope of your ability, it is hard to refrain from exercising that ability. I had dealt with hunger for such a prolonged period of time because of drugs and poverty. I had lacked the freedom to eat whenever I was hungry, so hunger was something I wanted to avoid at all costs.

I wanted to feel free. I now had a place to sleep and shower daily. Even though meals were provided, having even a couple of dollars in my pocket felt empowering. Just knowing I could buy a soda if I wanted to, or purchase a snack if I was hungry, felt so, so good. It was natural to turn to what I knew so that I could have those dollars that gave me that freedom. For me and others like me, the ability to buy even little things for yourself is a new freedom that, when denied, becomes a trigger, making you desperate to keep that freedom and the ability to choose.

Plus, my value as a human being had been tied to the money I earned as a prostituted person for so long. My only sense of validation of worthiness came from the purchase of my body. As I tried to move beyond shame and find other things to validate my existence, I faced a twisted, deep, internal battle. People wonder why a prostituted person would willfully turn a trick when she finally has food and shelter at her feet. Yet the world of commercial exploitation is multifaceted, and leaving it is more complex than most people could ever possibly imagine.

https://www.gofundme.com/crypurplemovie

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

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