And there I was; 17 and homeless. It was a time of invincibility, false confidence and complete naivety. I remember thinking how my credibility on the street was about to get a serious boost and my coolness was about to skyrocket. Oh how I learned the opposite quicker than you can say crackhouse. Luckily I never had to sleep on the street as I always found a couch to sleep on. Eventually with the help of some amazing and caring people I secured a job at a plumbing store and found myself a room to rent. Perfect. So, happy ending and smooth sailing, right? Nope. The room was in a house full of addicts who stole my food and knocked on my door looking to score at all hours. I hid inside on my bed when I wasn’t at work. I hid my life from my friends. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed and I was getting knocked around by the cruel hand of reality at every turn. The kid who knew everything was suddenly the kid who knew nothing. My spirit was beaten down by a boss who did not respect me and a constant hunger from my food constantly being stolen. I’d hang out on the streets until it was late enough to go to my rented room. I was a scared little boy and I hid that from everyone. Eventually I quit my job and looked for something better. I found it at the University of Alberta Bookstore where I worked for the next chunk of my life. I was paid enough to leave the crackhouse and find an apartment downtown. Life improved, but my fear still lingered. One day I was attacked by a group of men and beaten up pretty badly. My fear increased. One of the men was my neighbour. My fear increased. What do you think happened to me while I put up the tough exterior while being consumed by fear? What became so ingrained in me? I now long to feel safe, to hold on to it, to crave it. I fear being abandoned, left to the cold, cruel world. I find myself panicking at even the slightest hint that that life could return. I’m an emotional infant stuck in the fears of yesteryear. I was damaged by that and now I am facing every little thing from that time. I’m learning to name this, to beat this, to live through this. I’m learning to grow. Sometimes pride damages us more than humility ever could. Live and learn.