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I've had #psoriasis since I was 16, or I guess my DNA always had it but that is when it started. It didn't start with a rash or hives. Almost overnight, while I was living with two roommates in a 2 bedroom place, working nights, kinda going to school. Then is got me.
My skin blistered and bled on my arms, my legs, my chest, my face peeled back in bloody infected layers. I lost the hearing in my ears as the infection of over produced skin cells wrecked me. My penis split wide at the head, shaft covered in lesions.
The pain was excruciating. I lost my job in the restaurant. I had no insurance anyways. Homelessness followed. People could not bear to look at me. My eyelids bled freely.
How long I stayed like this. Physically unable to move without sending cracks along my flesh into scaling, decaying, flakes which littered my path. My unwashed clothes spreading bacteria.
I had a remission around 22. A return to hell at 31. Again, no insurance. Again, joblessness. Again, untouchable. My body this thing that hurt with chronic pain like cigarette burns. Always alive. Without relief.
Now I'm on extravagantly expensive drugs to suppress my immune system, which open me up to all sorts of other issues, but my skin is clear thanks to these injections, these poisons I consume while I can afford them.
In my various freefalls in life, no one to call on, alone in a shuffle beneath street lights, town to town, watching people do things like buy things at convenience stores, watching them look so pert going to work or on dates. And me, outside thinking up another hustle.
The sounds in houses when I walked through neighbourhoods. TV sounds. Chatter. Voices murmuring. Maybe I'd crash a party if I saw party lights.
I thought I was dead. I had no future. No one knew where I was. I didn't know where I was. LA, Chicago, Mississippi, wherever.
And if there were drugs, I'd take them. And if there was opportunity to take something, I'd take it.
And days were long while everyone worked. And nights were weird as I walked and huddled and got into things with my fellow night creatures.
And, it's not like my mental issues, still a problem today, weren't there, fucking me up. Hurting me inside and out. Always hurting. Always moving on and on in a restless movement through meaninglessness.
Ultimately, no one gave a fuck.
This was no pleasure cruise through the streets from which I could escape to some father's home or mother's breast. I didn't know a single phone number of anyone. I was not anywhere where I knew anyone.
And yet, despite guns and storms and illness and strange waking dreams, I did not die. Or I did and I'm in an Ambrose Bierce dream as I die on the interstate underpass.
I don't know when I stopped smelling myself. Or when I stopped retching or caring about the retch as my stomach fought to keep me from eating found food in trash cans.
Years later, at a leadership dinner, a fancy fucking affair for law students and various community and university leaders, I was seated at a table with the topic of outreach. I remember pissing off some folks for saying, "You people don't give a fuck. You spend money wrong."
The cold. The night. The fear. The day. The miles and miles on busted shoes. The loss of anything you held because you can't protect it.
and everyone I saw looked rich and clean and their skin so smooth and they smelled nice and they could grab lunch anywhere and they drove a car and I knew they had somewhere to be, someone expecting them.
And all of this seemed how it should be. I had no fight. No sense that I was going to overcome anything. I was an abused kid, lacking all semblance of structure growing up, fractured living and homelessness even then. I dropped out of school and they didn't miss me.
And there were lots of us. Young people homeless. Old people homeless. Near homeless. Many repeatedly victimized out there by each other or by people who offered help. You'd see people for months then, poof. Had they been picked up? Where did they go?
Part of me is still there. Always there. Always waking up with a start. Full of terror.
None of this description is what it was like, or what it is like to be me. I am a skin sack full of rotten memories.
There's never been one defining trauma. There's always been the avalanche.
Oh, you're so smart. Oh, you survived. Am I? Did I? There's no capping trite nice thing to say about all this or the things I leave out in shame and horror.
I've whored my story out to University enrollment counsellors. I've had therapists weep and I, dry eyes, wonder when I'm supposed to cry. And now, I write and sell art, and am I leveraging this tale of shit for sympathy?
Do I excuse myself and say, Oh, you know, I'm not well, so let me be cruel to you. I've had a rough life, you know.

Fuck no.
I despise sympathy like I hated the cans of creamed corn and powder milk and government cheese they gave us as donations when I was a kid, and the glasses I picked out of bin of cast aways from some charity box.
I broke those old man glasses that didn't fit on my little head. I lied and said I lost them and got beat for it, but I'd rather be half blind than take charity again.
The crime isn't to me, but all in the same boat. If I thought I was unique in this story, I'd be full of shit. I see it everywhere. I see myself everywhere. And when I hear, "but they can really walk" or "but they have a car," or "but they didn't want my sandwich." Fuck you.
Oh, in case anyone wonders, where were his parents? Without considerable content warnings, I’d rather not get into graphic descriptions of child abuse. I was not a run away. They were not part of this part of my story and were already gone and gone.
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