Updated: Oct 13, 2019
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I was consumed with anxiety, rage, regret and a whole host of other negative emotions, stirred up from an uncomfortable encounter earlier in the day. Most of Saturday was perfect; a trip over to Winchelsea Beach with Polly, Marek and Sunny for a sea swim and plenty of sun. Gorgeous! Then, during the football as it’s just not my thing, I’d gone down to St Leonards to pick up some bits from Boots for my poorly Nana. On exiting Boots, I was met by a woman who made a beeline for me from across the street.
‘Alright love, I like your dress, where’s it from?’
We had an exchange about my outfit (Vintage Laura Ashley, Crocs and Socks. Don’t judge, I had foot moisturiser on and needed the Crocs/ socks combo!) and then, as I was about to leave, she tapped me for money.
‘I need to ask you something. I’m homeless love, I need to pay to stay in the Shelter tonight. I’ve gotta get another £7 and I’ve been begging since 5 this morning and no one will help me’ (accompanied by much arm flailing and sad eyes)
‘I’m so sorry, but I only have £8 to live on myself. I would help if I could, but I just don’t have any spare money’, said I.
‘I’m desperate, please love, I’ve been out since 5 this morning. I’ll pay you back next week, I need to get into the shelter’
‘Erm… ok, well, you can have my change (£3) but that’s all I can do. No need to pay me back, I just really hope you find the rest of the money, good luck’. As I turned to leave she started to plead.
‘Please love, it’s not enough, I saw a fiver in your purse. I’m going to kill myself if you don’t give it to me. Life isn’t worth living.’ (more wailing and arm flailing perilously close to the busy main road)
‘Please don’t say things like that! I’m on Universal Credit myself, I’m so, so sorry, I really am, but this is all I have for the rest of the week too’. (True story)
‘I’m going to kill myself!’
You can imagine what happened next. No, I didn’t tell her to eff off. I gave her the fiver, of course. Plus the £3. My last pennies.
I’m the type of person who would give anything to anyone if they need help. I mean that sincerely. I have a bleeding heart which, I think, radiates from me, hence why I get targeted a lot. Cue this bangin' tune...
… they see me rollin’, they hatin’, they patrollin’ tryin’ catch me ridin’ dirty…. They see me coming. In my Laura Ashley uniform and turquoise Crocs, little red dog in tow. Normally I don’t bat an eyelid, I do my thing and move on. But something about this woman rankled. I’d been totally manipulated, and it hurt. My initial judgement of her was ‘Junkie’, based on her appearance and her general demeanor. Before the money bit we’d had a pleasant conversation, because, why not? She’s not a leper. But then she threatened to kill herself if I didn’t help her. If I didn’t give her my last few pounds. So, I did, because what if she was going to kill herself? Just, what if. I don’t know what led her down this path, but here she was, begging on the street. She was desperate. Maybe desperate for heroin, but desperate nonetheless. And I had £8, so I gave it to her. Her desperation was greater than mine at that moment in time. I will be ok this week because I have a roof over my head and am surrounded by people who love me and care about me. I don’t know this woman’s circumstances, but I can imagine her social circle and trust me, I’m in a much healthier position.
One thing I have learned this year is that I have some real-life guardian angels doing their best to take care of me; not actual angels, although I like to think I have some of those too, but real-life people who look after me and keep me safe. I’ve had very good luck and brilliant support, so I try to pay it forward in any little way I can as a ‘thank you for saving me’ type gesture. One of my very strong beliefs and rules is that if I’m going to do something kind, or nice, or altruistic then I must do it with grace, for the right reason and with good intentions, without a big song and dance, because I honestly believe I am doing something good. Then move on from it.
Last night I cried. I wasn’t doing a good job of being graceful or moving on. I cried because I felt that giving this lady money was not in her best interests and I’d only done it because she’d taken advantage of my good nature. It played on my mind that I couldn’t take my dog to her training class today because I had given away my last pennies to an undeserving person. But this morning I re-framed my thinking. Maybe this lady was really going to commit suicide. Maybe she really did need it to find shelter for the night. Maybe her day was a little bit brighter because she had £8 in her pocket and could afford something nice to eat. Maybe she ran into someone more in need than herself and gave it away. I know, I know, she may have skipped off and bought a bag of heroin and blown Polly’s training money up her arm. If so, I can’t be angry because drug addiction is real and painful and makes you desperate and maybe, just maybe, she had a restful night and a blissful drug-induced sleep, and all her worries melted away.
So today I let go of those negative thoughts. It’s done. That money is gone. I gave it to her with good intentions and I hope it helped her in some way or at least bought her some respite from desperation. Today’s affirmation: I give gracefully and let go. Today’s other affirmation: No one wants to resort to begging on the street, it's not anyone's life ambition. Third and final affirmation: it’s too darn hot for more affirmations. I’m going to watch Thor and cuddle my dog. Peace out.