An Unspeakable Dilemma
A friend or family member is homeless; your children and grandchildren are living on the streets or in cars; an old buddy of yours sleeps under a train overpass near you; an ex-spouse has gone missing; or perhaps you are homeless, using a library computer to try to find help to rebuild your shattered life. In a culture that often turns a blind eye to those who have failed to establish secure financial or social stability in a community, the world can seem both empty and hostile.
- Help for those close to the homeless.
- Setting secure boundaries.
- Providing sane help and aid.
What Path to Take?
When you’re involved with a homeless person – be it a friend or relative – you’re faced with a bitter challenge of how to help, how to cope, and how to still protect yourself, your home, and your assets. Finding an experienced counselor to walk you through the maze of conflicting demands, expectations and overwhelming needs may make the difference between successfully navigating these waters and ending up in a wreck, with more and more individuals damaged by the effects of poverty, homelessness and displacement.
By gaining an experienced ally, you can better determine what limits the homeless are facing and what limits you must deal with. Your first impulse is either a ferocious desire to help, or an equally intense desire to escape. Finding a path between those two desires is a job for a trained professional. You can find such professionals and draw on their knowledge, support and understanding.
The first concern you should have before pursuing a desire to help a friend or family member who is homeless is the issue of safe boundaries. Generosity can easily morph into levels of sacrifice and self-destruction that aren’t expected on the outset. A common truism among those in the caring professions is never to attempt a rescue until you have first established your ability to keep yourself safe, and maintain an exit. This vital piece of wisdom comes hard to most of us: we love whom we love; we wish to give to the last drop of human kindness; we wish never to betray a friend or family member. Learning to accept the wisdom of restriction and care is a challenge.
A catastrophe can draw people in, leading to escalating levels of helplessness, poverty and destruction. Before you can save others, you have to be capable of securing and saving yourself. With experience in drawing boundary lines, counselors can help you establish your own, as you deal with the obligation to protect yourself while helping those dear to you.
Once you have established a secure basis and set boundaries, a counselor can help determine what aid is available and truly useful, how it can be offered, and what routes out of homelessness can be found for those you love. By drawing on many services and help organizations, a support network can be set in place that will help a victim of economic or emotional collapse find a way back to a settled life in time, that is if they choose to accept help. If a family member is unable to make that transition and holds the safety of minors in his or her control, a counselor may be able to help you find legal support to remove children from ongoing homelessness and poverty.
Homelessness is a pervasive and often intractable problem. For those suffering a temporary setback it may resolve quickly, leaving emotional scars but no lasting alienation from the mainstream. For others, homelessness is a coping technique, allowing those shattered by life problems to escape to a more primal living pattern. A counselor can help you accept those situations you can’t change. When the homeless choose demand the right to their lot, you must learn to let go.