Melissa "Existing But Not Living"

Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

I was forty-one or forty-three and I got hooked on meth, lost my children, was with a guy that was in love with meth and he ended up dying on me Easter of 2011. Springfield police department ordered me out of my home, boarded up the windows, and that’s how I became homeless. I had moved here after thirteen years of being married to a man who was abusive in every direction you could think of. And then I got with my last boyfriend and his daughter died before she turned sixteen. He’s in Hawaii; we’re trying to stay friends. My life has went stale. I decided to go to Oklahoma because I need to get up, dust myself off and continue. Otherwise… existing is wonderful and I thank God for my life. But to just exist isn't living, and I’m not living.

I just finished my degree in building and maintenance. I got off of probation for good behavior. Five years probation in two and a half years. I did make a lot of accomplishments. I’ve never had so many friends until I became homeless out here. I’ve even had jobs since 2011 and then with the economy the way it is, one day you’re sitting in your apartment late at night eating chocolate ice cream, and the next morning you're having to sleep under a bush somewhere. I did stay in a woman’s shelter - Safe to Sleep - because I don’t like small groups. Well, big groups and small spaces. And I’m a loner. I’d rather be by myself, underneath a tree, reading a book. That’s where I used to spend a lot of my time. That’s how I got through probation. I just read. Read, read, read. I had a book in front of me all the time.

When I first started off, I was pretty much alone. Just the loneliness of being homeless even though you’re surrounded by a group of people that know you and are supposed to be your friends; you’re still in a sea of many faces. I’ve looked at people and have honestly thought to myself why are they so phony, you know what I’m saying? Because people tend to only care about themselves, they don’t care about their brother or sister. I’m the type of person that will give you my coat. You’re standing there without a coat and I got a coat? I’ll go to my locker and get you a coat.

Always remember the person that’s breathing the same air has feelings too. You should always think of everything you do has consequences. People tend to be selfish and self absorbed. They don’t think about their actions, what they do to somebody else. I’ve always been a strong person - I’m not that person no more. I’m broken. See why I’m leaving? I know it’s not going to be easy and I’ve got a long road ahead of me. But it will be a blank piece of paper to write - just start writing a new story. I’ve never depended on anybody or put my faith in somebody so much. I don’t know who I am anymore.

(Story chronicled in 2016)