Facing abuse and teen pregnancy, Christina Richardson left home when she was 17 years old. Being homeless on and off for seven years, she trekked her way out of the New York City shelter system three years ago, and in her debut book titled “The Pleasure in the Pain” — she talks about her life.
“My story doesn’t start off unique,” said Christina Richardson, the formerly homeless author.
“I had my daughter at 17, so I left the house and went to my first homeless shelter with the father of my children. I was just so lost.”
Richardson titled her book for three parts that make up her story — the pain, the pleasure, and the painful pleasure. Those were feelings she experienced during homelessness, she said.
“I wanted to explain that even though what happened to me happened, there were things I could to take from it,” said Richardson.
The Bronx-bred Richardson lived in every borough in New York City and not out of leisure or exploration. Richardson was one of many New Yorkers who bounced from shelter to shelter around the city. She struggled to pull herself out and feelings of depression stood in her way of freedom before she came to a realization that instability was not the life she wanted.
“I was really depressed and I wasn’t motivated. There were times I didn’t bathe — that’s how depressed I was,” said Richardson. “I was homeless five times and the fifth time I went in by myself and I said enough.”
Giving birth to two of her children in shelters, the mother of four eventually experienced a journey of acceptance that helped motivate her. Richardson discovered a substance abuse program where she had the opportunity to interact with women facing similar issues to hers, which inspired her to come out of her shell.
“One day someone else inspired me to talk, and I knew I could express myself better through poetry,” said Richardson. “I do want my story told and this book reveals what I want people to understand.”
During the program, Richardson gained valuable therapy that would put her on the path to climb out of homelessness, along with the downtrodden mindset she observed from women in the shelters — the lack of motivation opened her eyes to the lose attitudes.
“The city has economic problems but women — I noticed that a lot were in abusive relationships or they didn’t have education,” said Richardson. “They were just stuck in their ways but they were comfortable, and seem like didn’t have anywhere to go and it was sad — I felt like I didn’t belong there, but some were okay with that.”
“I got bored, and I can’t be bored. Other than having children I had nothing else, but I have so much to offer,” said Richardson. “One day look in mirror and I said I don’t care what everyone else sees, what do I see? It was difficult — extremely difficult, but crying myself to sleep was harder.”
Richardson says although she was initially nervous about sharing her story, she feels she can provide insight to people who do not quite understand the struggles of people living with mental illness and homelessness.
“I want people to be understanding and be a little more mindful. There are people who have suffered but don’t settle,” said Richardson. “If I do one good thing with my life, that’s to raise my kids right and I want to live to see that.”
“The Pleasure in the Pain” can be bought on Amazon and CreateSpace.