17. How Being a Veggie Burger with Bacon Saved My Life

Whenever I am asked to ‘share my story,’ a bunch of red flags and alarm bells go off in my head about protecting myself from token participation, being made into a poster child for someone else’s cause and being defined by my trauma, loss and pathology. My own experience with homelessness, trauma and drug addiction when I was a teenager inspired me to work with youth who were homeless for 12 years. I approach my work from a strength-based perspective and I apply this theory to myself as well. Deciding whether to share traumatic experiences with others or not is made more difficult because of the effect that trauma has on one’s ability to trust other people. Having attachment issues and experiencing homelessness means that I have experience with over-sharing (because you have nothing to lose and you need reciprocity from someone), as well as under-sharing (by putting on my protective armour so as not to be vulnerable to further betrayal). Naturally, both of these extremes have negative consequences. On the street it is very dangerous to ‘have lonely in your eyes’ because you are broadcasting buttons that can be pushed. In the housed population, if you hug someone when you first meet them you might be rejected for a cultural misunderstanding.  

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Inclusion Working Group
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Publication Date: 
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness