Michele Enli

Here is My Journey:

Homelessness and hunger are running rampant EVERY where! For people, organizations, and governmental bodies & agencies to turn a cheek, look the other way as if it doesn’t exist and these people, like myself, don’t matter is APPALLING!!! Where is the Compassion, Kindness, Love, & Care that is Yours’ and Mine’s TRUE Inherent Nature in ALL of us!?! Not just some of us! We are put on this Earth to BE these Qualities and help our fellow man in any way we can! Because TOGETHER, Yes TOGETHER as ONE, WE RISE! Not as an individual I, but as a Collective!

This is an epidemic! It is wide spread! It is everywhere! How do I know? Because I witnessed and am witnessing this first hand! It was and still is brutal! Yes, I am working my way diligently out of being homeless now! I don’t need a hand out, I need a hand UP!

Homelessness comes in MANY forms! One size does NOT fit all as most people believe or assume! People look down or straight through someone homeless like they don’t exist and they don’t matter, like I experienced ALL the time! You know what that does to a person who is already struggling dealing with the things in their life the best way they know how? It beats you down even further than you already are! Most people do not choose to be homeless, but because of circumstances and experiences that occurred in their life they had no other choice (like in my case). And I believe from witnessing it first hand those that do, have addictions they can’t control and because of those addictions they stay stuck in those vicious loops thinking they don’t need or want help (which in of itself is a form of mental illness), mental illness, and no Love of Self (Self-Love, Self-Worth, Self-Esteem, Self-Respect)!

I did not, nor would I EVER choose to be homeless! Do You know what it’s like to be in chronic fight or flight mode 24/7 every day ALWAYS looking over your shoulder wondering if you’re safe, wondering where your next meal is coming from, and being looked down upon? I do!!! And because I have a beautiful maltipoo dog named Maui, I had to take her everywhere I went. People would come up to us and VERY meanly say, “You can’t have that dog in here! You’ll have to leave!” How am I to be able to do anything, when I am not able to go anywhere and have the right positive support around me? I can’t begin to tell you while being homeless how much I have cried and cried and cried and…to the point I thought I’d never be able to cry another tear again. And sure, enough another situation or experience would occur and the floodgates would open up again over and over again. I felt all alone and spiraled down so many times. But I kept My Faith, even if it was the size of a grain of sand at times, I kept My Faith!

I have severe PTSD from this and currently doing everything I can to help myself heal and grow out of and beyond this experience! For this experience does NOT define Who I Am! I decide Who I Am with Faith and God’s Love, which is LOVING, COMPASSIONATE, KIND, CARING, PATIENT, UNDERSTANDING, A GREAT LISTENER, PEACEFUL, CALM, with LAUGHTER & LIGHTHEARTEDNESS ALWAYS in ALL Ways! Even when other people choose to treat me badly, even toxically narcissistically badly! For in the end, it is between Me and God! No one else!!! You can reflect KNOWING You were LOVING to ALL and PEACE in Your HEART You did Good and left The World a Better Place! Or You can choose to be mean, not nice, or just ignore people and they will go away. What you don’t understand is they don’t go away! I choose the former! I ALWAYS have and I ALWAYS will! No matter how bad or toxic I am being treated or what I am going through! How someone treats me, is on them! Not me!

Homeless people, like myself, are Human Beings just like everyone! EVERY single person, whether they are homeless or not , wants the very same thing – TO BE LOVED AND TO FEEL LOVED!!! Not ignored or pushed aside! That’s it! IT”S THAT SIMPLE! So, the next time you want to walk away from someone homeless or down on their luck barely making ends meet wondering where the money is going to come from to pay the bills and for food (people choose to go without food, I did! Not by choice, but by the sheer magnitude of the reality they find themselves in.), think twice because that could be You!!! Be with that person RIGHT in front of You! Really BE with that person, even if it is to just acknowledge them with a smile, a kind word, and looking them straight in the eyes to let them know They Matter! This will go a LONG way!

I will give you my ‘story’ of how I became homeless to hopefully open your minds and your hearts to a whole new perspective that you didn’t know or have before.

Like I stated earlier, homelessness comes from MANY different forms. Mine was in the form of a VERY toxic narcissistic parent who is also bi-polar. Because they are older I felt obligated and responsible to stay with them to be their caregiver. I was there for three years. They didn’t think they needed help, even though they would call out for help at all hours of the day and night needing help, including many times falling down and not being able to get back up. If I wasn’t there, they would have layed there on the floor for a long time or their whole basement would have been flooded not noticing it until it reached the first floor because they could not get down the stairs any more. I endured the CONSTANT barrage of belittling and berating verbal abuse EVERY day ALL day long, which very slowly turned into mental and emotional abuse until I almost lost myself and almost had a nervous breakdown. I had to leave that VERY toxic situation or I would be dead! I just knew it! I left to go to another family member where I was told repeatedly over and over again that I could stay as long as I needed to. I thought I would also have the support I needed to decompress and heal mentally and emotionally. I have found through this journey if you don’t have your Mental Health and Wellness, you can’t function, let alone get out to support yourself with a job. Well, there were three people living in this house and ALL of them VERY toxic and narcissistic each in their own nasty mean way, bordering on evil! I was mentally beaten down further than I was before thinking it was me, because that’s what narcissists do. I put my own needs aside to help them and also deal with their stuff, including health issues. One of them was SO narcissistic that they thought everyone should cater to them. They were bi-polar, not remembering to take their meds because they were vaping illegal drugs and drinking a lot of alcohol ALL the time.

While this is going on, I receive a text message saying this parent I was caregiving for fell and is in the hospital needing back surgery AND the duplex they were renting was sold so they had to move. I went back to the first situation, in even a deeper darker mental state from ALL the abuse, from family no less! I became the POA (Power of Attorney) for this parent. It was pure hell having to deal with them, the other people involved, the hospital stays (two different ones), a rehab center who almost killed them (the parent walked into this facility with a walker and one person assist to an inch of death just three weeks later – the rehab center neglected them), landlords from the duplex harassed me to the point I had to get the police involved with a restraining order, and the senior care facility after the second hospital stay. It was a nightmare gone really bad!!! It was brutal!!! I almost had several nervous breakdowns during this time. My Faith kept me going! The verbal, mental and emotional abuse was horrific and got worse during a period where the parent was psychotic! I finally had the parent going in the right direction to come back from the dead. I had to leave! During this WHOLE time and the three years I was caregiving I wasn’t getting paid. I thought it was my duty, obligation, and responsibility to stay because they are family!

I left! I went back to the second situation with family because I didn’t have much money, I didn’t know where to go, they said I could stay with them as long as I needed to, and my mental state was not good. The person I described earlier moved out shortly after I got there the second time. That left the other two to do what narcissists do well, make you think it’s ALL you. Their actions also showed me that they didn’t mean what they said about being able to stay as long as I needed to. They even went so much as to ask me to pay them to stay there, which I did, knowing that I had very little money. One of them had just received a lump sum settlement and the other one had received a VERY large inheritance! Yes, that is what narcissists do! I finally couldn’t take it anymore! I packed up my truck and my dog, Maui, with VERY little money and left on 12/31/23. I didn’t know where I was going to go. I just KNEW I needed to leave for my own Mental Health and Wellness.

On 1/1/24 I became homeless! I knew being homeless had to be better than what I had INTENSELY endured for three years!

In order for me to heal, I KNEW I needed to be by the ocean, beach, sun, and out in Nature. I travelled around different places all over the west coast and panhandle of Florida. God kept pulling me back to Venice, FL. I have ALWAYS lived by Faith as far back as a young infant of two. For I have endured this mental, emotional, and verbal abuse my entire life, along with sexual and physical abuse by another family member and another authority figure. My Faith is My Constant! ALWAYS has and ALWAYS will Be!

That first month being homeless, I could barely function. I was a shell of a person! It took My Faith and Strength to make it through. I would pray to God all the time every day all day long! And it wasn’t just to help with the bad things going on, it was also to give praise for the Blessings that I received. At one point, I thought why has God forgotten about me. This happens when the mental thoughts consume you and you see no way out. The best way to deal with this is to go WITHIN, to your heart and pray! Allow God and Jesus IN! Invite them IN! Mental Abuse and Illness is Real! For people to judge me and others assuming that I am choosing to be homeless and why aren’t I doing something about it or doing more about it is crazy! People don’t have a right to judge! It’s been incredibly tough!

I would go to the ocean A LOT, to the dog beach so that I could walk in the ocean to help me heal. I listened to A LOT of positive uplifting videos on YouTube to help break me out of this DEEP dark Mental Abyss I found myself in. I had to become REALLY resourceful quickly, like finding safe free places to stay at night, electricity to charge my phone, good free drinking water, where to do personal hygiene, where to wash clothes (this was really important for me to do because it kept my dignity), etc. These are basic needs most everyone takes for granted! Being homeless opened my eyes to the magnitude of this crisis. EVERYWHERE I went I saw it! Because I had and have a dog, Maui, this made it even more challenging to find work. I had to think outside the box. I applied to many jobs on Indeed.com; I put my application in at Home Depot for overnight work; I talked to Real Estate offices offering my services of housesitting, pet sitting, and dog walking; and I kept my ears and eyes open for ANY kind of opportunity. NOTHING!!! People look at me like I am not doing anything and not trying! This is farthest from the Truth!!! You know what it’s like wondering where the money is going to come from to pay for the couple of bills you have and money for food and gas? Well, I do! And it’s NOT fun! I have gone without food to make sure Maui has everything she needs – ALWAYS! Because of the VERY traumatic experiences with the toxic family and others and becoming homeless from this, I have developed severe PTSD. Maui had to be around me 24/7. She had to be or I would not have survived! Maui became my service dog.

I realized I couldn’t do this on my own anymore and needed to reach out for help and support. I didn’t know who to reach out to because everyone alienated me or were REALLY bad negative influences! I prayed to God and I felt to reach out to a friend, Susan, I met on Facebook, but had never met in person. Susan and I had been friends for about five years. This was hard for me to do to admit I needed help to someone I had never met before, but I knew I needed to explain everything to her. So, Susan and I chatted via Messenger and we were able to see each other for the first time! It was a wonderful conversation! Susan has been such an awesome friend and positve support! She keeps checking on me to make sure I am doing good. This means everything to me!

I continued praying, like I always do. I prayed to God that the right people would come into My Life. On 3/19/24 I wasn’t going to go to our favorite park by the dog beach. But something kept telling me to go. So, I listened to that still small voice within and went. We sat at a different pavilion than we normally do. There were SO many people going in and out of this pavilion that God was making sure I would go to the right pavilion, our favorite pavilion. I left this pavilion and went to the big pavilion we usually sit at. I was there about a half an hour when a woman named Cheryl pulled up with her vehicle to unload stuff. I got up and went to the sign-up board and the pavilion was rented. I went to gather my things and Maui to leave. Cheryl said no, no stay. I ended up helping her with some things for set up. I just did it. She didn’t ask me to. I was getting ready to leave again and she said no stay. They were having a Celebration of Life for Delbert. Cheryl said to stay for the meal too. Different women would come over to talk to me and Maui. One woman, Deb, came over and started praying over me joined by Pam and Kitty. I told them I was staying in my truck. They supported me like I was one of them, fed me, and gave me extra food to take with me. A few of the women took my phone number. Pam has been such a positive constant support for me and is a great friend! Pam started sending me all these texts with resources of names and phone numbers, including churches to go to for support. Cheryl told me about The Center of Hope Church and that they also have resources for the homeless and the hungry.

I started reaching out to a lot of the places. One place would lead me to another(s) and so forth and so on. I reached out to Epic Resource Center and spoke with Angela. She and everyone there are awesome! I was able to establish a physical address so I could continue to look for work. Before I was using my last physical address I lived at, which was in another state. EPIC gave me the phone number to Suncoast Partners to speak to Ben. Ben has been by my side EVERY step of the way supporting me as best as he can, even if it was and is to just listen. I REALLY needed people that I could trust and felt safe to be able to open up to. Ben has been and is this person! He means the World to me! Ben helped me fill out the applications for food stamps and medicaid. The process and system is broken and takes forever! Which someone, like myself, doesn’t have when you’re homeless and hungry! I needed food and gas money! Ben told me about Salvation Army for food.

I started going to Salvation Army. Wonderful Caring people were and are here. While at Salvation Army, I asked about gas cards. They didn’t have those, but Irene gave me a few more lists of organizations and what they did.

I went to service on Sunday at The Center of Hope Church. I realized I needed to surrender completely and become completely transparent if I was going to get the help I needed. I was greeted warmly by Dee. The service was amazing and so were ALL the people I met – VERY welcoming! Pastor Jim Prayed over me and took away a block I had within me that I had from my childhood that no one knew about but me and God. I had not told Pastor Jim anything! I was crying INTENSELY during this time and during the service. It was SO Beautiful! It was very humbling, allowing and inviting God and Jesus completely IN. I talked to Pastor Lynette after service about me staying in my truck. She said to come back on Tuesday morning to get some help I needed. Then she said, “Do you need something right now?” I said, “Gas.” She asked what I was driving and told me to go up to the gas station on the corner and she’d fill my tank. I went to the gas station; she came and filled my tank…just over $50 AND she gave me a gift card to get some food! I started crying I was SO grateful to her for her kind and generous heart and offer!

I contacted Saint Vincent de Paul asking for gas cards because the services for homeless people are not in one area, they are all over the place and it takes gas to get around, especially a truck. I met with Andy and Mark. I told them my story. At first Mark is like not believing anything. I said I’m working with Suncoast Partners let me call him and you can talk to him. I called and Ben didn’t answer. I said Ben didn’t answer. He said, “Ben. Ben Petro?” I said, yes. He says he knows Ben and pulls out his phone to call Ben himself. As they are doing the paperwork and figuring things out, I go outside to take a walk with Maui because this journey is just so much. I go back in and Mark is speaking to Ben on speaker phone. I said loudly, “oh Ben, thank you for everything. You are awesome. I love you!” They all laughed. Mark left and came back after a long while, he hands me two $50 gas cards and said we are going to gift you 5 nights in a motel so that you can get cleaned up and get some much needed rest! I started crying deeply, I was SO grateful! Mark said it’s ok! I said I am just SO grateful. Thank you SO much for your kindness!

I was in SO much pain that first night from going from sleeping upright in the truck for so long to lying flat that I didn’t get much sleep. It just so happened that the motel was near Salvation Army so we would do our daily exercises by walking to Salvation Army to get my sandwich for the day. I could conserve on the gas and we would get our exercise. Pam called me to ask me if I wanted to see the movie “Cabrini.” Cheryl had free tickets. I said yes. Me and Maui went. Cheryl brought snacks for everyone and Kathy bought me a water. The movie was fantastic! Afterwards they asked me if I wanted to go eat dinner with them. I said I didn’t want to impose. Cheryl said I wasn’t imposing because they had offered and were going to split the bill between all of them. We went. The company of these women was so healing and the food was exquisite! I savored EVERY bite, thanking God for this Beautiful food and experience! I was given enough leftovers for two days’ worth of food. It was VERY special!

I needed a haircut. So, what do I do, I call Angela at Epic Resource Center to see if she knew where I could go. She said to come to the EPIC Resource Center Community Day, which was in a couple of days. On the last day of staying in the motel, the PTSD became severe because I knew I was going to be back in my truck the next day, which I didn’t want to do. But we had no choice! By 8 pm that evening, my body was shutting down and I didn’t think I was going to make it through the night. I hadn’t made any arrangements if something happened to me what would happen to Maui. I texted my friend, Pam, and told her that if something should happen to me to please find someone who would take REALLY good care of Maui and LOVE her DEARLY like I did. Pam called me in the middle of the night when she got the text. I talked to her and I was actually feeling a little bit better so it wasn’t necessary to call the paramedics.

I packed up in the morning and we headed to Community Day at EPIC Resource Center. I got my hair cut, I talked to a medical doctor named Dr. Jim who told me to come see him the following Monday when he would be working at the CARE Free Clinic. My legs were SO swollen from not being able to lay them flat out. I talked to Ashley from Jesus Loves You Ministry to help me find a place to live. They had free showers for people along with a whole host of other services and food pantries. They had a BBQ of free food that was heavenly! They actually gave me extra to take with me. Everyone treated me SO supportively, kindly, and compassionately! It was really nice!

I have been SO stressed out wondering how to pay for things, including a storage unit where I had to make decisions on what could come with me and what had to be left behind. I couldn’t take everything with me, which broke my heart! My great grandma’s dining ware set is in there along with a lot of other valuable and sentimental things. I couldn’t pay for the storage unit, so they had to put a lien on it on 4/3/24. I went into a deep spiral down and PTSD because I couldn’t find any help financially and I couldn’t do anything about it. The people I talked to could only listen as I expressed what I needed to express. I surrendered yet again to God knowing whatever was going to happen He KNEW and He had the Bigger Plan. This still hurts a lot as I continue to heal and make my way out of homelessness with Self-Love, Self-Care, and Forgiveness.

We’re sitting in the truck around 5 pm on 4/8/24 and I receive a call from Pam. She says, “How would you like to lay your head down in a bed tonight?” I said, thinking of conserving my resources and gas, “How about tomorrow night because I will be in that area the next day?” We get talking and I asked if this was for only one night. She says, ” Oh no, honey! This is for a while!” I immediately said yes! Pam said I could stay in this fifth wheel travel trailer in exchange for helping Cindy around her house to get ready to sell and move when it is sold. A barter system! Wow! When I first became homeless, I prayed to God to open up a situation where Me and Maui would have a place to live in exchange for helping them (in my mind I thought of as a caregiver, which I was burnt out from but I would do it.). God actually delivered something much better! I met Cindy at her house. She showed me the fifth wheel travel trailer and she even brought me some yummy homemade bean soup along with some other food. Pam came over with some sheets for the bed and loving support. Babs, another friend, came with fresh flowers, food items, a book, towels, toiletries, etc. I was beyond words grateful and very appreciative! The incredible Compassion and Kindness of these people is so Beautiful! Cindy said she was praying for someone to come help her get things done around the house in exchange for them staying in the fifth wheel. A barter system! God working Miracles again because I surrendered and BETTER than I could have ever imagined!

The next day I went to volunteer at the Center of Hope food Pantry and Clothing. Pastor Lynette was and is SO awesome! I immensely enjoyed being able to give back to others that I could really relate to and empathize with. I looked EVERY single person I met in the eyes and showed them Love and Compassion! Pastor Lynette and Pastor Jim are very Compassionate Special people!

On 4/12/24 I finally had my interview by an agent of the state of Florida for food stamps and Medicaid. First, she did the Medicaid. She asked some questions and I answered them. Then she says you don’t qualify for Medicaid! You are being denied! I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “Because You do not have children, you are not disabled, and you are not elderly. You do not qualify.” She then says, “You can go to the government website and choose a plan for a small monthly fee.” I immediately said, “I don’t have any money! That’s why I am applying for Medicaid!” She then said, “I am sorry you don’t qualify and you are being denied.” What a bunch of crap! Another broken system!!! I did get the food stamps and am currently waiting for the card to come in the mail. I will be able to regulate some of the food I eat now, because the amount I will be receiving for food stamps will not cover a full month of food. But it will help my body that had been fighting against itself eating the food from the food pantries that I shouldn’t be eating and had no choice but to eat because that is all I had. Don’t go and twist my words, either! I am so VERY grateful for EVERYTHING I have been given, including the food my body should not be eating! I have gained about 30 pounds from eating foods my body shouldn’t be consuming. It’s a process and an understanding of what happens. Now the healing can begin with my body because there will be a lot of the right foods my body will accept!

There have been SO many Loving Supportive people coming into My Life and Maui’s too in the last three weeks. I know they will continue to come in as well. Every time someone does something nice and special for me, I begin to cry because I have NEVER ever been treated this way before and I am beyond grateful! From people like Dr. Jim who on the second time seeing me, shared a bunch of funny comics that made me and him laugh (he knew I was having a rough time and he eased it with laughter!) to Paula, a nurse whom had only met me once and on the second time seeing us she got down on the ground to spend time with Maui and she offered her driveway for me to be safe for sleeping (asking her husband first if it was ok. There was NO hesitation on her part to give me her phone number. She said she could tell I was a good person.) to Lena being supportive in my mental health recovery from all the trauma loops that keep playing in my head from all the bad narcissistic verbal, mental, emotional abuse to all the other people giving me money in small bits here and there, gas cards, medicine, and other things that help. There are SO many other people that I would run out of space! And to the people who I call friend, thank you for ALL you do for me in EVERY way possible…calling me to see how I am doing, asking me to go to dinner and picking up the tab, inviting me to parties, stopping by to see me, bringing me things, and most of all your Love! Please know I DEEPLY appreciate each and every one of You with ALL My Heart!

Even though I am getting Myself out of Being homeless. It’s a Journey! I am diligently working my way back up to be able to fully support Myself and Maui. As I am doing this, I need to be mindful of how and when to use the limited resources I have and to be ever so grateful for all the Blessings that have come my way, especially in the last three weeks, and will continue to come my way! The more I surrender to God and Trust Myself more… more and more Blessings will keep happening. Yes, I will go through challenges. But as each new day comes more Blessings will come to be. The more I go WITHIN and LOVE Myself and surrender to God, the DEEPER the LOVE and more BLESSINGS come in!

Homelessness and hunger are real! A real epidemic! I plan on using my pain and experience I endured to good use by helping homelessness and hunger in some way, shape, or form. Because I walked and am walking in the trenches, I can assist those who reach out to me on a much more personal and deeper level. And if I can help at least one person by telling my ‘story’ then ALL of this pain was not wasted and worth it!

Here are some tips for those who are homeless, if you choose to want the tips that is, and that is to reach out to others for support, get the help you need however that looks for you, surrender and pray to God all the time Trusting and Knowing that you are fully supported, Forgiveness of others and especially to yourself, LOVE yourself and I mean REALLY LOVE yourself because You Matter, structure your day and stay focused every day (I was and am structured – each morning I pray and commune with God; Me & Maui are out in Nature; I look for jobs and opportunities and apply; We exercise by walking 3-5+ miles a day; I listen to sound healing videos, solfeggio videos, uplifting videos on YouTube to keep My Vibration high; I read inspiring books; I volunteer; and I make sure I am connected to the right loving, compassionate, supportive people.). Take each day as it comes and be gentle with yourself always. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of taking one small step, which will lead to the next step and the next after that. That’s what I continually have to do Trusting Myself and God that together I will make it because I will be led to the right people, situations, and experiences. And You will too! Believe! I do!

And to those of You who have never experienced homelessness or hunger, I pray you NEVER do! It’s brutal! There are supposed to be so many systems put in place by the government that are to help the homeless and the hungry, but they are all broken! There is something you can do! Yes, you as one person can make a difference! All it takes is one person to volunteer, to advocate for, to donate money to, to spend time with a homeless person to let them know they matter! IT ALL MATTERS! We ALL MATTER!

Here’s to ending homelessness and hunger! TOGETHER WE CAN!!!