Thank you all for sharing your stories. I can relate to Rapaire's and other's. Susan- what a wonderful way with words!
When my parent's divorced I lived with my mother and her new boyfriend (who turned out later to become my stepdad and still is), he was off and on drugs and my mom was off and on alcohol and there I was sometimes left for days trying to keep out of the notice of neighbors and people who could take me away. Some of those times, there wasn't any food, and I mean- no food. I once tried to eat a stale kind of moldy slice of bread with a can of gravy I found in the cupboard. I cried for hours because I couldn't keep it down and I was angry because I was so darned hungry. This was somewhere between the ages of 8 and 12. I actually got pretty good at going into grocery stories and stealing a can of soup at a time to eat. I haven't mentioned the fact that we always lived in apartments, always, and several times (I've lost track in my memories, at least 3), there was a notice of eviction for us to move. We actually kept moving back and forth on one street as it was the only sort of low rent area of that are of Orange County in CA.
When I was twelve, my mom got me a job working at the pet store where she was working. I would work in the front selling things and cleaning out cages or I'd be in the back bathing dogs for the groomers (One of the hardest jobs physically I ever had- talk about bone tired after bathing ten dogs on a Saturday). The money I made went towards bills and school clothes (mostly bills)- the good thing was I was able to save a bit for food so I was never THAT hungry again.
Later on, when I was in a situation where the place I was moving into wasn't ready and I didn't want to add stress to my friend's lives, I've slept in my car and took showers at the university. I had already graduated by then but since I worked everywhere on campus, they were good about letting me clean up there. I lived like that for about 2 months. Not the greatest but I considered myself very lucky as I had CHOSE to stay in my car and that I had a car to sleep in too was very cushy.
Two things- I'm now 40 and I've been working 28 years with little, if any break- like now I usually had two or more jobs. I feel so tired and when I think back to when I was young and I was tired then too- just younger. But man was a I rich with my youth! I wish I had spent it better.
Also, my mom and my stepday, always had money for cigarettes and booze... I find that amazing. I survived and it all made me appreciate :)