I have never been homeless,
though I have often felt myself to be near it.
In an economy where to be officially recognized
as a citizen you have to have an address
it takes 4-6 weeks for a homeless person
to become habituated to their situation.
That is to find themselves naturally ill at ease
with having more than they can carry,
mistrustful of exchanges with other people
of more than the few words it takes
to thank people for their loose change,
whilst restricting eye contact with them,
and never exchanging names with anyone.
Nor having a roof over their head that is theirs
to maintain for which they don't have to pay
more than is due for the space, in gratitude.
I know how long it takes a young person
from an average to poor household
to become habituated to long term unemployment.
It takes nine months, the length of time I spent on the Y.T.S.
I was pushed on two short pretend apprenticeships
in which, whatever the appearance of being instructed,
the actual intent was to get me to learn how to live
in a very low income, be patriotically passive
to the government and my family, and most importantly
accept having very few friends for lack of money
whilst doing the most minor tasks for 'my employer'.
All the while being unable to become more independent
or move house without a support from a family
that was always tardy and unforthcoming.
I was grateful to avoid homeless,
but still the feeling I had most often then,
which stays with me still, was one of being frozen.
Deeply Learned Helplessness is hard to forgive in one's self.