One day, I will throw off my past and use the awful things I’ve experienced to truly help others, but I’m not there yet. I want to help. I want to shield all the innocence in the world, but my exterior is crumbling and the interior is soft. I want to help anyone going through any of the terrible things I’ve experienced, but so far, I can’t even help myself.
I don’t want to hate anymore, but I absolutely cannot forgive. I don’t want to be broken, but I am in so many pieces, I don’t know where to start putting it all together.
A few years ago, I checked into volunteering. I even downloaded a form to volunteer at Children Of The Night, a rescue organization that helps get kids off the streets.
They end up on the street for many reasons. I was on the street as a kid, too. Child sexual abuse and my family’s failure to do anything about it led me there. I was a homeless teen prostitute. I took drugs to dull the awful reality of it, which just led me so deep down the hole that it’s a wonder I survived.
It breaks my heart that there are neglected, abused, unwanted children living the same life I led so many years ago. They are seemingly as alone as I was. I want to help them, but I am no role model. I’m hardly a paragon to aspire towards. I have nothing to offer them but experience.
Maybe just having survived is enough to inspire. I got off drugs and off the streets, but I was lucky that I had somewhere to go. I survived, but I didn’t thrive. I just went through the motions and I still am. That’s not enough. My story wouldn’t have helped me when I was there myself. I wouldn’t have listened.
I was raped repeatedly by so many monsters and I did nothing to stop it. On the contrary, I went out on the streets in search of it. I just wanted to die.
It took another child for me to fully realize the horror of my situation. It took watching a child sold to a drug dealer to be the object of twisted men’s desires as I once was to get out of the life. She was about the same age I was when the monster came for me the first time. Seeing her sitting there alone on a bare mattress waiting for the her mom, but knowing she would get a monster instead was enough to do it. I wanted her survival, not my own. I didn’t leave the life for me, but because I had nowhere else to go.
Then, a few years later, I fell prey to another monster. They say once you’ve been around evil, you can’t really see it anymore. You don’t see the warning signs as others do. It’s a vicious circle of depravity. Once you’re trained as a child by a monster, you don’t really see them for what they are anymore. Everyone is a monster, yet, at the same time, no one is.
I often wonder if those of us were abused early on give off some sort of pheromone to the monsters, since it seems that very few of us who’ve lived through the first one have encountered only one. There are two big monsters in my life who cast a shadow so large that I tend to focus mostly on them, but there are so many others.
There was the monster who put a gun to my head and raped me. There was the monster broke into my house, the one who followed me home one night and rammed my car from behind, and the one who got me addicted to drugs in the first place and turned me out on the streets. There were the ones who paid for me, used me as they saw fit, and threw me away as if I was not a person, but a collection of holes. There were the ones who bullied me at school, pulling at my clothes and hair, and throwing things at me. There was the Vice President who sexually harassed me at work, forcing me to quit even though I had a lascivious voicemail recordings as proof of his misconduct.
So many monsters. So little trust. It’s not just the monsters who can smell the pheromones we give off though. If there’s one thing street kids can read instantly it’s abuse. We may be blind to the monsters, but we recognize our own kind. I can see it in others and they can see it in me. It’s in the eyes. But, some who have it in the eyes turn into monsters themselves.
How can I ever inspire a child to get off the streets when they can see all the monsters who came after written on my face? They would see right through me if I told them it gets better. There is a way out, but it is not easy. It is made of hardship and broken promises and more monsters, just like the years they’ve survived until now.
I chickened out. I never filled out the form to volunteer. Partly because I was afraid of confronting my past by witnessing their present. Partly because those kids need to see real hope, not mere survival. Maybe one day I can turn all of the evil I’ve seen into a tool to help others. Maybe one day I’ll fill out that form and make all that monstering count for something, but I am not there yet.