Mark (2/13) What is it like to have an addiction? I don't know where to start. Disappointment and stress kick in from the time I pick up or get high. I think about all the people I have let down by my decision to get high again for the milionth time. I feel like I gave into the devil's temptation all over again and there's nothing I can say or do to get away from using. I feel trapped, but so good at the same time. I guess you could say pain feels good when you're high. You can be hurting inside but not feel any pain. All the worries on my mind don't seem like I'm worried too much about them anymore. It's like I'm not here on earth, living with the rest of the world off somewhere in a painless hell that I want so bad to get out of but can't because the rush feels so good and welcoming and begging me not to leave. It alters the way I look at things. It makes things that are hard or horrible seem not so bad and it makes me think that things that are wrong aren't really wrong at the time. I become careless, lifeless, and ruthless. No one matters to me any more. The only thing that matters is my bag and my needle, and deep down I am disgusted with myself every time I put the poison in my arm. I know what it feels like to die and get brought back to life from an overdose. It's the scariest think I have ever experienced in y 22 years of life. I don't know how to deal with life's problems, period. There's no point. In my head, getting high seems to be the only thing that makes sense. It's a horrible feeling waking up every morning knowing I have to go out and figure out how to get another bag so I'm not sick and so I can function normally. "Who will I have to rob, steall or lie to today?" was a normal daily planning for me and it is the most vicious lifestyle you could possibly choose to follow. It's very tiring and life consuming. I was taking my own life little by little every day that I chose to get high. Deep down I know this, but not really caring, only caring about feeling numb and good until the point where I can't hold my own head up, until I'm so far gone i can't walk two blocks or even talk.
J.D. (1/12): I’ve been homeless on two separate occasions and both were for completely different reasons. When I was an addict I simply chose to be homeless. The drugs at the time were more important than having a place to live. Yes, it was terrible, but it was a choice and I chose not to seek help (at least for shelter) because I knew I didn’t deserve it. Plus, I knew when I had enough I could just go to jail being that I was wanted. When I was a homeless addict I was in Allentown. There were many of us down there and we all sort of took care of each other and looked out after each other. I can honestly say I met many good people who didn’t have anything to their name, but gave as much as they could because they knew how it was.Back then, the conditions of being homeless depended on if I had heroin or not. If I did, I didn’t care at all where I was or what it was like. I slept in abandoned cars and buildings and as long as I was high it didn’t matter that it was only 10 degrees. As long as I had blankets and dope I was fine. Of course, I would clean these places up the best I could, but how clean can you really make an abandoned building? Getting food was never really a problem back then, mainly because I was an addict and had no real interest in food anyway. When I did want to eat though there were soup kitchens every day and there was always all the restaurants that would give us the food they had left over and would otherwise throw away anyway. If I was ever desperate I could always just go to a supermarket and shoplift something to eat.I tried to have a real job while being a homeless addict, but, it’s real hard. I managed to do it for a couple months, but decided it was just easier to shoplift to support my habit. It’s difficult to have a schedule or any kind of structure when you’re homeless.How did I feel through all this? Well, I was a heroin addict. I was absolutely hopeless. The only thing that I wished for was to die. I felt I was beyond help or being saved. I prayed, but I prayed to God for the shot of dope I was doing to just be my last and to let me end my life. I beat myself down so bad and just had no inclination or motive or want to be better. It felt so out of reach and impossible. I had no one to turn to. Being an addict I’d lost all family and friends long ago. I was just done and didn’t care about anything at all, especially myself.
Peter (2/09): I would just like to say first that I am just an ordinary man. I have hopes and dreams like anyone else. I was living and working in Carbon County. I was renting a nice place and had a decent job. I went everyday and I liked the people I worked with. I went in one day and was told that I was being laid off with no hope of going back. I was upset, shocked and kind of mad. I started getting the local papers, going online and talking to friends about what kind of jobs were out there. As it turns out, there were very little jobs to be had but a slew of men looking for work. My rent was due and I couldn't afford to pay it any longer, so I packed my things and tried to figure out my next move... I slept in my car for a few nights and figured I would look to another state for work. That state was New Jersey. I finally landed a great job working for Sara Lee. I was happy. But only for a short time. I was again laid off after only 2 and a half months with no hope of being called back. Again my rent was due and I couldn't pay it. So again I wound up sleeping in my car. I tried finding other work, but it was hard. Sleeping in the car wasn't a good thing for cleanliness and just very hard to take care of personal grooming so that you look good for a job application. My money ran out and I had no gas for my car. So I was on foot. That's when things went from bad to worse. I looked like a homeless man now...dirty, tired, and hungry. I tried going into stores to get warm but was always asked to leave. I was made fun of, spit on and had things thrown at me. And not being a man of great pride, I felt like I was losing what pride I did have left. I started panhandling...asking for a dollar to get a cup of coffee or just something to eat. Some people did help me, but most were afraid of me or thought that there was something wrong with me. Some people called me a bum, some laughed at me, and others said very mean things... The day was December 23, 2008. It was 6 years since my best friend passed away (which was my dad). I had no home, no food, no anything... I found a broken bottle and slit my wrist a few times. Someone saw I was bleeding and called 911. The ambulance came and took me to the hospital. I was transferred to a hospital for people who have mental issues. I was depressed, I was lonely and I was without hope. I was alone. I talked with a doctor and was released in 3 days. I somehow gathered enough money for gas and came back to PA in hopes of better things. Well I guess the old saying stands true, things are tough all over. I spent more time in my car and had a little help from a friend, but she wasn't able to give me the help I needed. Then I met Aggie. We talked on the phone for a while and I started to see a little bit of hope again...something I hadn't seen in a while. When we met I saw more hope. She lifted my spirits to a level I hadn't known for a long time. She resported my faith in people. She gave me purpose. She gave me the Bible which I have been looking for for some time. I will always fondly remember the words of this woman, "God has a plan for you". I truly understand now that He does and He will reveal it in His own time. Again, I am just an ordinary man. I will always have my faith and I will always aspire to be a better man.
John K - My nights were anything but Peaceful as my housing situation rapidly changed I found myself homeless. My insurance paid for a week at a shelter and a day before I was to leave I was told about Peaceful Knights. I was in the process of getting an apartment but the move in date was a week away and I had no place to go. Peaceful Knights and the Holy Spirit came to my aid. They housed me in a local motel, helped with groceries and basics and furniture and supplies for my apartment. I can't explain how easily this transition to a new phase of my life went. I honestly felt blessed. I'm in my new apartment and all is well thanks to Peaceful Knights.
JOSH - When I'm homeless I feel defeated and ashamed because I wonder how I let this happen. I don't blame anyone but myself. I've learned homelessness does not have any boundaries including age, color or gender. Even though I'm homeless everyday I realize I have to be strong and look the world in the face and know I'm still somebody. Sometimes I think my family looks at me different eventhough they know my life wasn't always this way. I had a great job, a nice car and a beautiful place to live. I know there is some family support, and even though it's not strong I am hopeful that someday that will change. It's funny, as I sit here and write this I think of something I was told by my mother. She said, "How can a man show love and compassion for God, whom he can not see, but can not show that same love and compassion for his fellow man, who he can see daily?" Now I understand what she meant by this.