WARNING: This interview contains mentions of things that may be disturbing or triggering for some including sexual violence and suicide.
This interview was hard. But it was a gift. I feel so honored that Lynette felt she could confide in us and get it all off of her chest. If I need to sit and cry while transcribing because of how emotional it is…that is the LEAST I can do and it’s worth it to tell her brave story. Lynette suffers from PTSD (understandably, and you’ll read why) and was the primary caretaker for a family member with a terminal diagnosis. Lynette put others first and ended up homeless. I deeply hope this will awaken the hearts of so many who things it’s always a choice and see some instances of homelessness for what they are, like Lynette mentions: a bad thing happening to a good person.
Born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Lived in Fort Bragg for a while while married to military husband, but moved back in 1999.
Are you close with your family? Yes.
Are they all local? Yes.
In school what was your favorite subject: Spanish
Then we laughed at her next comment…
“I can’t speak a lick of it but I had a good teacher and she was also a cheerleader coach.”
Mrs. Lee was her favorite teacher. “She was just fun, and we had a lot of poor children so she would bring stuff in. Like a thrift shop. She used to cook and bring food in every day. You could run to her for anything. She would also advocate on student’s a behalf when they were in trouble.”
Any jobs you’ve had that you didn’t like? I never got a job I didn’t like.
She loved her most recent job at the Naval Hospital.
What would you say your best job skills are? That job. I was in environmental services in NICU, Labor and Delivery and ER.
“You see some interesting stuff” – I loved it she said repeatedly.
What you would want people who don’t know you to know about you?
I’m a good mother.
I’m a good friend.
A good sister.
I’m a people person.
I am a good person.
“Bad things happen to good people.” Lynette mentioned.
Was there a specific event that led to your homelessness or a series of events? “Yes, oh God.”
We immediately could tell we needed to bring her a pack of tissues. The mood shifted instantly to heavy. It felt like a dam that couldn’t take the pressure anymore and was just waiting to break open. We held on tight and braced ourselves for what was to come. That’s what we’re here for.
In February, Lynette was diagnosed with PTSD. She lost her job because of this. They tried to help her out and give her short-term disability.
She was given medication..but it wasn’t right for her. It wasn’t helping, and it actually caused her to feel MORE emotional. Nightmares also occurred.
Lynette had a bad upbringing, and then married bad people.
Then Lynette let it all out.
“First, my sister died of cancer at 41.” Lynette was her sister’s caretaker. She had to watch her until the end.
Everything truly started going downhill from there.
“I just never got it together” Lynette said.
I had five kids, she [her sister] left two kids behind and I just never got it together after she died. She suffered terribly. I washed her up the last day. Til the end she told me what she wanted…she was exhausted, she was being beat down. She was ready.
Lynette also mentions other things that contributed to her PTSD.
When she was young, she was molested. Lynette’s molester CONTINUED to contact her throughout the years. He kept bothering her online and on social media.
She was put into the mental ward because of her severe nightmares (due to PTSD) and she also had an ex-husband that kept breaking into her home.
You guys – these are just direct violations of body, space and emotional health. NO ONE ASKS FOR THIS OR DESERVES THIS. This is not someone who is homeless on their own accord. I hope you can continue to see the pattern here with us that homelessness can happen to good people just trying to get through life and trauma.
After her last hospitalization she financially lost everything. She lost her home. She ended up staying with her sister. Her older kids ruined that opportunity with her because of their perpetual arguing.
Then, Lynette moves to her mom’s house.
They judged Lynette’s hospitalizations as a sign of weakness and she said “they were ON me and horrible to me, I had to leave.”
I told her how BRAVE SHE IS.
She was suicidal at this point. The only thing keeping her from committing suicide was knowing her youngest kids would have to find her that way.
Her voice was breaking a lot at this point.
She mentioned her two daughters were there at the shelter with her. She said “they don’t care that they’re here, as long as they got me”. She is very close with these two young daughters.
Her relationship with her other children is troubled. It breaks her heart.
She called the HER Shelter and told them that if she doesn’t come in soon, she doesn’t think she’ll make it.
They came to the shelter with NOTHING.
I am so grateful to the HER Shelter for taking her and her girls in.
Her daughters have been so good and not complained ONE time. They are such good girls.
“That’s the only thing that keeps me hanging on…but everything is gone.”
Regarding the HER Shelter, Lynette said: “Everyone in here is SO nice and they make it easy on you.”
“Everything was slipping away.
Everything was leaving so quickly.
My job, my finances, my two old kids acting up.
Then I lost my home.
Everything was CRASHING DOWN.”
We asked Lynette what the hardest part was about being homeless physically and she replied: The elements, it was FREEZING. It was winter. She slept in a car and it was so cold.
She reiterates that if it weren’t for her two young daughters, she wouldn’t be here. She said when she is feeling REALLY low, her daughters know and they come right to her.
Although their room at the shelter has a bunk bed and single bed, her daughters will get in her bed with her.
I can’t even deal. I am crying so much by this part of the interview because I can picture this. Having little girls that care so much for her and love her despite mental illness and know she’s doing her best – what a GIFT. Lynette deserves that gift.
Lynette’s rent was $1000 and she couldn’t make it happen anymore. $1000 for a single mom? It’s too much. I can’t believe how much the cost of living is in lower income areas STILL. This is something I research and Mike and I actually discovered that if our family depended on his salary alone, we would be JUST BARELY above the poverty line. How’s that for perspective?
We asked, “What’s the best thing that’s happened to you recently?” and Lynette replied: “I guess just being here and having a room over my head. Everyone that lives here, we are like a family. We all get along, we look out for each other. My kids love it here…they love the babies and the other kids.”
“This is the most stress free I’ve been in about a year.”
Did you ever think you would end up homeless? “Yeah, I knew it was coming.”
She knew it was coming after the hospitalization and job losses.
Every month she was losing something.
No insurance. No job. No disability.
Everything started leaving. She doesn’t have anything now.
What truth would you want people to know about homelessness? People always think you choose to be that way, NOBODY chooses to be this way. Nobody. It’s a hard life and you feel ashamed that you have come to that, especially when you have children.
If someone wanted to help someone who is homeless – what advice would you give them? A place to stay.
She then goes on to say there are no programs for mentally ill people with children to aid them. She wishes there were.
Lynette makes an EXCELLENT point when she mentions how serious of a problem mental illness is in our world. “It’s an epidemic”
“Depression and mental illness is on the rise.”
Lynette is passionate about wishing there was a program that helped her situation because in her heart, she knows it’s an extremely common problem. She states they have plenty of programs for post-incarceration and post-addiction – but nothing for mental illness. Schooling, funding, halfway house, etc. Nothing like the other programs offer.
Thankfully Lynette has Medicaid that is covering her medications for her PTSD.
What do you want your life to look like a year from now? “MONTHS from now, I wanna be in my own house… with my children, with some kind of financial situation that I don’t have to worry about.”
“I’m glad to get it out” she said after the interview.
She used to make plans for her death. Her final wishes. Now she sees her daughters as her main purpose to keep going on.
We loved meeting Lynette. She was wearing colorful clothes and just made us so happy to be around. She is a doll and I’m SO thankful despite her hardships, she is still on this Earth with us pushing through and seeing her purpose. Read more below for her shallow questions answers and see what you have in common with Lynette! XOXO
THANK YOU for showing up for Homeless Looks Like. If you want help support the H.E.R. Shelter – click HERE 🙂