“I used to sleep under a bridge.
There was a time when I slept at Four Freedoms park on Cape Coral Parkway far more than I care to admit…
If you go to that park during the day, there are people sometimes lying in the grass, enjoying the sun and the view, looking out over the water. I could lay down and catch a few ZzZz’s, but at night, CCPD was all over you.
The North Fort Myers bridge was close to all the cheap dope. There, beneath it, was a spot you could crawl under that led you to a few pieces of wood. You could walk across them, get way up under it, where no one could see.
Hiding from the police, yes, but also hiding from the shame of my situation.
I can’t quite explain the feeling of sheer hopelessness. I knew I was under that bridge because of my own issues, but getting out of there, with no help, seemed utterly impossible.
I fell into the water once and when I was climbing out, I sliced the bottom of my foot open on some barnacles. I remember limping down the street, so far past humiliation. I would look at people’s faces while they’d pretend to not see me and I was thankful, because I didn’t want them to see me either.
There was even a point when I saw my own father, getting my baby sister out of his shiny white truck. He looked right at me, we locked eyes. Then, he loaded the baby right back in her car seat and left while I glared at him from the street. Even the people I had spent an entire decade with dropped me like the bad habit I was.
I began seeing a small-time dealer at the time, but he was only concerned with robbing people and getting his next fix. There was no one…except God maybe.
One night, there was a beautiful stranger, who I saw at a gas station. I was barely able to swallow my embarrassment, but I was so desperate at this point. I locked eyes with the man and he approached me to ask if I was okay. Mind you, at this time in my life, I was, and very much appeared to be, a junkie.
I was wearing a wife beater and a bathing suit because it was all I had and I was bleeding from a fight, a lot.
This man took me to his home where his girlfriend was waiting….they gave me clothes and let me shower. She gave me a soda and a sandwich. I was literally too hungry to play shy, so I scarfed it down and chugged the soda until I hiccuped. The woman kindly and gently dressed my wounds and I left at dawn. Even in that moment of pure desperation, I saw the tremendous beauty of this kind act.
It’s so important for me to constantly UN-forget all of the things like this that brought me to the beautiful life I’m living now. When you come out of a situation like that, the appreciation for a simple sandwich and a little kind, human-to-human interaction is greater than any Christmas gift iPhone could even come close to.
I’m thankful I was sleeping under that bridge then just as much as I’m thankful for having a big beautiful house to sleep in now.
Next time you’re walking past that junkie under the bridge, just stop and ask them if they’re alright. You don’t need to offer money or showers or even food, just ask….Your kindness may breathe them back to life.
I’d like to go ahead and thank you now for your future gesture. Trust and believe, together we can.”
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Marker. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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