Danny Oosthuizen, #TheDignityProject ambassador, in his weekly daily column for the Cape Argus tackles the struggles homeless people face. Picture: David Ritchie
Danny Oosthuizen, #TheDignityProject ambassador, in his weekly daily column for the Cape Argus tackles the struggles homeless people face. Picture: David Ritchie

My friends helped me out during my darkest hour

By Danny Oosthuizen Time of article published Jan 23, 2018

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I messed up and I am deeply sorry. I have given people sleepless nights And I let myself down. 

Dear reader, I found myself on the other side of the law a couple of weeks ago. For nine days I found myself in a place I would not even wish my worst enemy to be in. I will spare you the details. I am sure there are people out there who can relate.

Since November last year, I cut myself off from everybody. I hate conflict. And I cannot really pinpoint the reason I felt like this. The festive season is a time for celebration. For me, it was sheer torture. It meant loneliness.

Everybody I knew was busy with their families, which is quite the normal thing to do. I can’t explain this, but I felt left behind. And instead of being honest about how I felt I walked away. The worst thing that can happen to me is to be left on my own. Demolition baby.

All my life I had this spot of darkness in my soul. I thought everybody had it. But I realised recently I created this space myself. And it is filled with broken dreams, resentment, self-hate and despair. There are boxes and they have labels on them. Orphan, Gay, HIV-positive, Department of Insecurity, Ministry of Self-doubt, to mention a few. The air in here is heavy. No windows. The soul is starved.

Here one feeds on suicidal thoughts and self-destructive ideas.

“I am not good enough” is the name of the main road. A dodgy cul-de-sac I am my biggest enemy, saboteur.

But ultimately the one who will break these chains of bondage.

Out of this hellish experience came something money could never buy: unconditional support, love and care. From where I never thought it would. My mind felt like a microwave by the time I got into the courtroom. I could not see a positive outcome for myself.

The very people I despised not so long ago, the very people I regarded as public enemy number one were there.

As I enter the court, all cuffed up, I walk into Mrs Pat Eddie. Then Mr Mark Williams, both from the Central City Improvement District. Still unsure why they there.

They were there to fight for me. Mark got me a place to stay. I was overwhelmed by their support. I then see Mr Gasant Abarder from Independent Media. “Oh s***, I am fired!” I said to myself. Stupid me. But Gasant was there to confirm I’m still working for the Cape Argus. There was a letter to this effect from the Cape Argus editor.

I also got a letter from Khulisa social services to say they have a diversion plan ready for me. I was a first offender. The magistrate made it very clear that I will be monitored. Free to go.

I say this with humility - I have people who dearly care for me. I had taken it for granted. Gasant said something profound: “I cannot judge you. I don’t know what it is like to be Danny.”

Now I need to love myself and find redemption.

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus

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