Life has a funny way of throwing you to the ground, especially when you’ve just bought yourself new shoes. In my youth, I spent one year couch surfing. I didn’t plan it. Honestly, if you looked at my upbringing you wouldn’t think that was something I experienced. I grew up in a typical two-parent household with all my basic necessities provided.
Now, how did I end up sleeping on friends’ couches, floors and beds? Well, it was part stubbornness and part fighter. After my first year of college, I couldn’t make ends meet. My parents helped out when they could, but they had three other kids to take care of and a newborn grandson. I didn’t want to move back in with my parents, which would have made life a lot easier; but, truthfully, there was no mental, emotional or physical space for me in their home.
Thankfully, networking came to the rescue. I met someone who sat on the Student Council Board with me. I stayed with her for awhile. She let me stay there for limited rent, if I helped her out with her two little ones. I thought, “Sure, I can feed kids.” Easy.
When I needed a break, there were always guys. I have never been in lust with a cruel man. Luckily for me, my “friends with benefits” were actual friends.
The final straw came when I stayed with a friend and her boyfriend on their ranch. Dear Lord, did they have a lot of animals. I sat on the guest bed and started to cry. I had to move in with my parents for the summer. The feeling of failure hit me like a ton of bricks. But, I made a promise to myself that it would just be for a summer. During that year of couch surfing, I learned a few things about myself.
- I can live out of suitcase: There is something reassuring in the fact that, if I had to again, I could live out of a suitcase. I can make life work with few items and a smile.
- Be grateful for the present: I try not to take for granted the material things I have now; because, I never know if or when they’ll be gone. For example, I love my bed and pillows. When I become pissy or start to whine about how hard my life is, I tell myself, “But hey Nicole, you have a bed and someone you love to sleep with. So, shut the fuck up.” It works when you say this in the mirror.
- Show love: Do you honestly think my friends would have helped me if I was a negative bitch? Um…no. Even if you hit rock bottom, try to show love to your friends. It can be kind words, a hug or a listening ear—whatever it is, it works.
Remember, you ultimately make your life the way you want it. But, the powers that be also want to remind you just how strong and weak you are.
Hugs and Smiles,