My father was a Vietnam Vet. He earned a purple heart. He got killed back in the 1980s. He was stabbed. After that, I just started to act differently. After my father died, my mom just did her thing and stuff. I’ve been bullied before. I didn’t have anyone to turn to and joined a gang. I started selling drugs and doing drugs. I’m an addict.”
Shedrick described his family and explained how he navigates those relationships. “I have five kids and two grandkids. I do keep in touch with them, but it’s a struggle for me. I have to get my mind back on track and stop being homeless and get out of this situation. Deep inside, I’m kind of hurt. I’m kind of embarrassed [about being homeless] and my family doesn’t want me right now. You know what I’m saying? I have siblings, but they don’t really talk to me anymore. I feel like I’m an outcast, but I don’t need anyone to feel sorry for me.”
Shedrick expressed sentiments with us that we often hear from others who identify as homeless. These sentiments related to a familial connection with those living alongside each other on the streets and the feeling of hopelessness. “Since I’ve been here these people are like family. I’ve been here for a month and at first I was embarrassed and didn’t want to live out here. I know I put myself in this situation. I feel like I am by myself. I’ve moved around a lot in the Midwest. Sometimes I do drugs to hide my pain. I really want to change my life. I really do. I want to get my life back going. I feel like an outcast. I feel like I am stuck. I have looked into recovery programs, but it feels like I am on the outside looking in.”
Click here to hear Shedrick’s words for yourself. [Transcription: I want to get my life back going. I feel like an outcast. I feel like I'm stuck.]
Most humans can identify with the feeling of hopelessness, and understand that feelings of hopelessness occur often when one considers the strains of homelessness. Shedrick vividly paints a picture of how hopelessness can spiral when experiencing homelessness. “I’m not able to take care of my responsibilities. It feels like I gave up hope. I still have faith. I have to get myself back out there. I’m a very humble guy. If I don’t work, I try to put in applications for work. I try to find something to do. In five years, I might be dead. I’m not going to lie. I start to think negatively. My mind goes backwards. I don’t want to see myself dead. I try to go back to church and find faith. I lost faith in myself and that’s what got me out here [on the streets]. Then my mind gets stuck and today I’m trying to find a job. I like to work and it keeps me going.”
Click here to hear another perspective from Shedrick on his viewpoint related to drugs. [Transcription: Drugs is a choice. Do the right thing.]
Authors’ Note: Each story we share finds a place to reside in our souls and enables us to develop a deeper sense of empathy. Throughout this story, Shedrick continued to share a message of feeling unworthy. We know Shedrick as a human being who exudes kindness, love, and compassion. His story makes the world a better place and we long for the day that he sees his value, worth, and impact on us and so many others.
Artists’ Note: The three images intend to capture portions of Shedrick’s story. The first image, with the marble, intends to convey Shedrick’s message of feeling stuck. The jar confines the marble, yet the marble sees through the jar and acknowledges the outside world. The second image displays the marble in a sea of river rocks to parallel Shedrick’s message of feeling like an outcast. The final image only displays the river rocks to demonstrate how the scenery changes when one marble wanders away. Confining ourselves or others removes individual beauty from the world and though many of us feel like outcasts, we each leave our mark on the world. Sometimes the mark of the outcasts leaves the most beautiful mark of all.