It’s not perfect, but it’ll have to do…

I’ve been in a homeless shelter twice in my life now.

The first time was near the end of my stay in Ireland. The friend who assured me I could stay at his place while I’d sort my life out and he’d take care of everything dumped me on the street with just the address to a homeless hostel.

I didn’t have the right to stay there. I’d only been in Ireland for a short while, and knew next to nothing about the workings of the place, but something got worked out. So long as I could prove I was working on a way to leave the country, I’d be allowed to stay for up to a week.

That wasn’t an easy week. The entire time I just kept wondering why and how. Why I was stupid enough to accept his offer to come to Ireland, and how he could just have me fly all the way over there and just drop me like that. In the end, based on what I’d heard and seen, I ended up forgiving him on the assumption he wasn’t in control of the situation. It had been his mother who had instigated the scheme to get rid of me, and I thought him blameless of it.

In the meantime, I managed to secure a flight back to the Netherlands through another friend, another friend who assured me I could stay at his place and sort things out.

That ended pretty much the same way, although it took longer to reach a conclusion. In the meantime, he repeatedly went through my things, digital and physical, and caused me so much of a constant headache that suicide started seeming like a solution.

I tried committing suicide in the past year. And since you’re reading this, it’s pretty clear I survived the attempt.

Not too long after that painful experience, I was sent out with no place to go. It was Friday, almost 8pm, and the weather wasn’t too bad.

All I could think of was getting as far away from everything I could, as fast as I could.

Not even 4 hours later, I was on the other side of the country. I’d taken trains to get that far, figuring that since I was homeless, I really didn’t care much about train tickets, or being caught without one. I was almost caught once, but the guy let me go on without a ticket, probably not wanting to deal with the hassle of giving someone a ticket near the end of his shift.

When the first night came, I found an alley somewhere not too many people would bother me and tried sleeping. No surprise that sleep didn’t come. The rest and solitude did make me change my mind on what to do and plan a course of action. The next day I decided to get enough money together to go to an internet cafe and see what I could do as a homeless person.

Money was both hard to come by, while at the same time being much easier than I expected. I begged for change, and got enough to go to an internet cafe after a few hours. Scouring the entire city, I could not find one though. I did find a pawn shop and sold my Nintendo DS. A little extra money wouldn’t get in the way.

After a few hours, I decided to give up and go back to The Hague. I’d at least know where to find a few internet cafes there.

Once in The Hague, I immediately went for an internet cafe, looking up all my possible routes of action. Within 20 minutes I’d pretty much gone over everything already. There wasn’t much to find, but it was enough. I found a homeless shelter that I’d be able to stay at, one that might even help me get things on track again. That was my best bet.

The shelter wasn’t easy to stay at. They’d open at 3pm, close at 8am, and cost 2 euros per night. Once you were inside, you weren’t allowed out again. There wasn’t much to do inside. With three major shared living rooms, and sleeping halls with between 3-20 beds a room there wasn’t much in the way of privacy either.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the people there were really trying to be around. A lot of drug addicts, alcoholics, and people with all sorts of mental problems all over the place. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the constant gossip about everyone and everything.

With the hours you’d spend outside during the day roaming around, and the hours spent trapped indoors with no air circulation or way out, I started having more health problems the longer I spent there. My lungs felt like they were filling up, and I developed a really bad cough, one that I’ve almost completely shaken now. My feet were bleeding a lot. My legs were in pain. I could barely move my back without it aching too much.

The food was… I can barely comment on that despite having been in the shelter for a month. I didn’t eat much. The few times I did eat, I got sick. It didn’t take long until I decided to just not eat anymore.

I’ve lost a lot of weight while being there. My body’s gotten a lot harder to. To the point I barely recognize the way it feels.

It wasn’t until the last week or so that it finally felt like there was a way out, and things started to move fast during it. Out of nowhere, appointments for government aid were suddenly sped up. Literally before I knew it, I had an appointment for a room to get out of that mess. Almost everything came at the same time, the government aid to pay for the place, the room I’m staying at now, and some more instances to help me get back on track again.

My current room is still a step between homelessness and a proper place of my own. I’m still not entirely out. But at the very least I have a room to myself again. I don’t have to carry all my belongings with me everywhere I go, and there’s no rules about having to be out between 8am and 3pm or anything of the sort.

It might not be perfect in any way, but it’s a hell of a lot better than what I’ve been through in the last month.

Even this post still doesn’t cover half of what happened. But for now, it’ll have to do.

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