This week I put a homeless woman in an extended stay hotel for eight nights. I found her sleeping outside of a gas station, and she is my parents’ age. I got her groceries for the week, money, winter hats and coats for the season to come, and information on every resource I could find for her for a place to stay. I dropped her off at a shelter that offered to help her get an ID, printed out the bus schedule for her, called and got her accepted into a women’s home, and offered her rides to anywhere that might help her change her situation.  After a few calls, I even had a job lined up for her.

Tomorrow the eight nights are up. My new friend has accomplished nothing. The ID place made her wait too long, the shelters are asking for too much of her income, she has no interest in calling her family, she will not ride the local buses, and shelters, she says, do not really try to help anyone. All I have heard from her with every one of my solutions is why she can’t. Everything is against her. Nothing ever works out for her. She always tries, and there is just no point.

I am now out of solutions for my new friend and out of money for her, too. She will be back on the streets tomorrow with the little bit of money she has left, the clothes I gave her, and the same mentality she had when I picked her up. What’s the point?

There is one line she said that keeps repeating in my head – “Every time I try, nothing works out for me.” There it is – the reason we are where we are. She made the decision at some point that nothing ever works out for her, and so nothing ever works out for her.

In my obese days, nothing ever worked out for me either. The restaurant I ran worked me for too many hours to take care of myself. My arms and legs were going numb regularly, so it was too hard to work out. The dieting options were too restrictive, so they were not sustainable for me. The gym was too expensive, but I could not be inspired or accountable enough to work out on my own. There was too much stress in my life. No one expected me to be any different. What was the point?

For most of my overweight life, I was the homeless woman. You could have been a fly on my wall and watched me cry while eating cake or witness me watching The Biggest Loser with a pizza in my lap. You could have dropped me off at a personal’s trainer’s house with nothing but grilled chicken and broccoli and exercise clothes on for a whole day, and when you picked me up, I would not have a single sweat bead. You could have paid my gym membership, prepped my meals for me, and counseled me all day on self-care, but I still would have told you that weight loss and eating healthy never work for me.

When you decide on failure, you fail. When you keep asking what the point is instead of making a point, you fail. Once you decide you are a victim, you are a victim. A victim to what, is usually where people get it wrong. You are a victim to your own decisions about yourself and your capabilities.

I needed validation for a long time for my weight and emotional issues. Sometimes we wait so long for validation that we become a victim of not getting it, a victim to the non-validators, I’ll say. This can create the worst kind of inaction. We all can sit down and answer the question, “Why am I like this?” for lifetimes. This work may need some validation. But victimhood that keeps one in a state of inaction is not validation, and it is certainly not work.

There is help all around. Do not go back to that gas station. Do not go back to that couch with your Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls and wait for validation. Stop saying no with every reason you can conjure. Will you be homeless still saying no? Will you be morbidly obese with heart problems still saying no? How far gone are you willing to be before you say yes?

I recognized my eight nights when I got them. I am never going back to that gas station. I am never going back.