I have had a really rough time of things lately. After straightening out my life over the past year and a half, I lost my job last week, and I also lost my lodging. The former is through no fault of my own, but the latter is most definitely my fault. The only thing I knew to do was to take responsibility for my mistake, own up to it, and let the chips fall where they may.
So now I have to find both a new job and a new place to live. Right around Christmas. Fabulous. No stress there, right?
I've been taking concrete steps to make sure that my child and myself are alright, supported, and (overall) cool with the situation and with each other. It hasn't been easy, but it's been necessary.
So it should come as no surprise to me that I had a panic attack this morning. It was so weird!
The last time I had a full-on panic attack was in 2008. I won't relay the circumstances surrounding it, but I will tell you that panic attacks suck beyond measure. You're not sure what's happening at the time, and you think maybe it could be a seizure or a heart attack or just a loss of dealing with reality, or maybe you're really Trinity in The Matrix or someshit.
Unfortunately, I also had said panic attack while driving. Good times.
I looked for the nearest exit, got off the highway, and practiced some deep-breathing techniques I've used over the years. I called a friend and had her talk me through stuff. She told me I should go for a short walk, calm my head, and so I did.
It sucked, honestly. I haven't been this frightened, this scared in years! YEARS, people!
About 20 minutes after the Panic Attack From Hell™, I got back on the highway to meet my friend. We went to lunch and she talked to me about stuff going on in her world, so I wouldn't scrunch up like a repressed latent-homosexual and burst at the fucking seams.
(Which I appreciated, by the way.)
My aforementioned friend and I have, essentially, a car-share situation. She loans me her car when she doesn't need it, and I bring it back to her when she does. Today was just such a day.
So I had to take the lightrail and bus home. No biggie, really, but important to the story.
When I got back to the city I currently live in, I walked to the bus stop to wait for the bus that would take me as close to my house as humanly possible.
Upon arriving at said location, I had to walk past 3 panhandlers. 2 of them looked unfriendly and kind of stoned, and the 3rd one looked determined and disabled.
I arrived at the bus stop and waited. Because of how crazed my life has been recently, I've taken to smoking cigarettes again (don't judge me). I quit a few years ago but, in times of severe stress, smoking tobacco is a tool I use to calm the fuck down.
I wasn't at the bus stop more than 5 minutes when I noticed the 3rd, determined and disabled panhandler, walking towards me.
When she got close enough to converse with, she asked me what time the bus was expected. I told her.
She seemed shy yet friendly, and I just had to know. Because my day (my week, my month) has been so awful, I really wanted to know whether or not humanity currently sucked the big one. I need some hope here, people!
Me: So have people been nice to you today?While waiting for the bus, we got to know each other a bit. I found out her name is Kirsten, and that the 2 other people panhandling are a mother-and-son team addicted to heroin. We talked about how it's been hard for her to make ends meet with SSI, and we discussed how we need more of a safety net in this country to help the poor and the disabled, and that Kirsten couldn't even walk for at least a year. She has major disc issues in her back, and those prevent her from having a job.
Woman (shrugging): Eh. Off and on.
Me: What do you mean?
Woman: People yell stuff at me. Especially younger kids.
Me: Really? How awful!
W: Yeah, it is. I don't do drugs or drink, or anything like that. I'm just out here because I'm waiting for my SSI check to come in. I'm on disability. People scream at me, "Get a job!", and sometimes I say back, "I wish I could, but I can't!" I can barely walk. But at least I can walk. That's an improvement.
Me: Young kids are stupid sometimes. Remember how we were when we were 19?!
W (giggling): That's true.
Me: I'm sorry that happened to you. That has to suck, seriously.
W: It does. It's awful, sometimes.
Me: If I had money to give you, I would. I'm sorry that I don't.
W (embarrassed): That's OK, but thank you. Is this bus usually on time?
Me: Not lately. It's been late more often than not. If it's not here in half an hour, I'm probably going to get cab. Where do you live?
W: (same city as me)
Me: Great! So, if the bus doesn't show up, like it didn't the last 2 times I was out here at 1:30 pm on a weekday afternoon, I'll pay for a cab. I'm happy to drop you off at your place with the cab, and then go to mine.
W (clearly stunned): Wow, thank you!
Me: No worries. I just wish I could do more.
We also discussed addiction, and how it's so rancid and awful that it makes slaves of people who normally have their Ethical Behavior pointing due north. We talked about 12-step programs, recovery, and how she only needed to "make $10.00" today, to get her medication.
I asked her if her landlord has been cool about things, financially, thus far. She immediately looked like she might cry, and I felt like a total asshole for even bringing it up. I guess she's getting evicted within the next week or two.
After all the struggling I've done, all the shit I've put myself and others through (my friends, my family, and my daughter), I thought that today's panic attack was God's way of telling me that I wasn't emotionally ready for the shit I needed to deal with on a very upfront, realistic, permeable timetable.
That wasn't it.
God was telling me that I wasn't ready for how much I already had to be thankful for!
I was somehow amazed at this, like I was the center of the fucking universe or something. (Ha! Not likely.)
Kirsten and I boarded the bus together. She took off her shades for the busride and, while I wasn't on there long, I got to see her quick, beautiful, and genuine smile. I had helped her carry stuff onto the bus and, as it turns out, they were care packages from the gods. Some excellent, loving, and caring individuals have started putting together Mini-Care Packages for the homeless and/or the less fortunate.
They were enclosed in little (sandwich-sized) or big (freezer-sized) storage bags, and they boasted gifts honestly appreciated with the underappreciated crowd to no end. Lip balm, socks, mini-shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, bus passes, small amounts of cash, tickets to movies and shows, hand sanitizer, gift cards to Target, etc.
They were Packages of Care. And that means that humanity doesn't suck, isn't willing to suck, and still supports (sometimes) the less fortunate.
That's what me and my ungrateful panic-attacked ass needed today!
Thank you, Kirsten! I wish I had gotten your phone # ...