Runaways.

af14922d-da76-4c2d-88f4-14204f5161aeIn the last two days, I have heard three stories of runaways. Two of these people are now adults, and happily survived their tumultuous history. The other story I heard of, is about a little girl. We don’t know the full details as yet, only that she has been found. We hope she is happy, my friends and I. I was filled with dismay at how quick commentators on social media were to judge her. They said she needs a belting, to be screamed at, demeaned, reduced… Twenty years after my time,  it seems as though empathy is not forthcoming from all. A man I greatly respect told me that he slept on the streets of Sydney  for four years  as a youngster. He chose homelessness over staying in a house with a violent father. Another friend left at sixteen. “It was either run or die.” Some choice. I ran away for the first time at four years of age. I wanted to make it to my friend’s house. It was calm there. Instead, I was pursued, then beaten, and told  that I would never get away. It didn’t stop me trying. I wanted the pain to stop, to see who I could be and what I could do in this world. It was a positive gesture, assuring those on the periphery that I valued my life and wanted to live. I wanted to try.

13 Years.
13 Years.

Bad men came forth with generous offers of places to stay from twelve to fourteen. “How kind,” my mind whispered, before a cacophony burst forth from my intuition. “They will destroy you!” I declined numerous offers, and watched in despair as two of my young friends died whilst being sheltered by these characters. I rang a host of numbers on a payphone at fourteen, begging someone, anyone, to help me. The criterion was very specific, and you had to fit into the parameters. I was told I was too young, too old, and on and on it went. At fifteen, I was found after running away from a clinic. I was taken to the local police station. When I was told I would have to sleep in the cell in the corner, and I gratefully thanked them, they knew things were bad. They found me a bed in a refuge, the only bed free in the whole of Sydney. I was taken there at 11pm, and a bleary-eyed social worker opened the door. I fell on top of the mattress in the share room, and lay awake, wondering what was going to become of me.

 

In the morning, the boy’s came from their room, and we from ours. There were eleven of us. We sat at the battered dining table, and a young man wondered aloud what would happen to him when he turned sixteen, in a week’s time. He was trying to go to school, and would soon be without a bed. I was shown a binder filled with resources for kids like myself. You could have a shower here, then lunch here. By a miracle, a bed might show up over there… Nothing was coordinated. “You have to do a lot of travelling when you’re on the streets,” the social worker said. I came to the refuge with nothing, and the toothbrush, washer and soap I was given meant the world to me. I felt as though my identity had been reduced… Over the years, I have known many runaways, both teens and adult survivors of abuse. Their leaving had nothing to do with tiffs over freedom. Rather, they were fighting for their lives.

 

A friend of mine runs Street Pax, a wonderful incentive she started alone. She sources donations of useful foodstuff and toiletries, and prepares packs. She then delivers them to those on the street. They are always gratefully accepted. I will never forget my toothbrush, washer and soap. For further information, or to donate, please go to Street Pax on Facebook.

#Project Positive, Day 8. My Job…

Sydney Town Hall, reciting poetry. Ten years ago!
Sydney Town Hall, reciting poetry. Ten years ago!

I am great at my job because I love it! I have always loved reading and writing stories. I had my own newsletter called ‘The Weekly Mag’ when I was little. The subjects I chose to focus on were the environment and animals. I printed copies and distributed it for a donation, which I would give to charities. Hearing people’s stories is a privilege, and relaying them is a big responsibility. I believe that we need to table our stories, and share with each other. We garner strength and courage by doing so. I relayed on this blog a while back, the time I met a schoolteacher after my second spinal operation. I was sixteen years of age, about to endure the committal hearing, and had a lot on my plate. I feared I may topple. This lady wrote her story down for me, and as she sat with me, my eyes grew wide with wonder. She was also very young when she had been subjected to an horrendous act. She had endured the court proceedings too. She told me this as a woman in her thirties, with a beautiful life. At that moment, I could see myself surviving, as she had. What a gift she gave me. If I can do the same, then my life has been blessed. It is hard to open oneself up, and become vulnerable, but the alternative is far worse. What would the point be of all that you have learnt, been through and accomplished? We are each other’s beacon’s. I love writing, and am blessed to be able to do it consistently. Find what makes your heart sing, and do that thing!
photo (14)photo (12)

September 3rd. #ProjectPositive, Friendship

1455041_10151830646246409_1865694992_n
I was always referred to as an eccentric kid, who danced to the beat of her own drum. Group games and sports never interested me, and I was in fact scared of groups of people. I kept my own counsel, and observed. I loved the fringe-dwellers at school, those who also danced to their own music. I was welcomed to join the “crowd,” though never felt the need to. There were times when friendships ran hot and cold, and someone wouldn’t be my friend anymore after not doing what they commanded. It mystified and hurt me. By the time I was fourteen, I was a loved member of a friendship group I found on the streets. They were from different schools, though all had damaged homes. They were mother hens to this troubled chick, making sure I ate, and that I felt loved. When I was taken to the clinic, I lost my support base. I knew nobody, and was very alone. It didn’t take long for friendships to come into my sphere again. In a clinic, the façade of “the crowd” has been stripped away and there is a rawness that is as exquisite as it is confronting. No fake smiles or small talk. Straight into why you want to die, and what will make living bearable for you. Holding a friend’s bowl, whilst she dry-retches and sponging her forehead. Holding a wounded girl in your arms whilst she sobs. The sort of emotional intimacy it would take years to build up, is accomplished in five minutes. I hated this place, though I loved the people. My friends didn’t just break into pieces one day. It took years of chiselling and whittling to provide the circumstances in which they happened to be admitted. They tried to spare me my fate. They could see it happening, could see him circling. They would have done anything. They tried.
10578264_434221360051689_285437549_o
After several months in hospital, I went home after the fall. I had no friends, for my peers had gotten on with their lives and I had been forever changed. The next three years were spent doing correspondence school, seeing doctors and police officers. It was a strange existence, though one I am grateful for. When one isn’t exposed to a myriad of people each day, one gets to know oneself intimately. The downside was that when I went out into the world at eighteen, I thought everybody was lovely and had good intent. Some didn’t. Some wanted to use me, drain me, wound me. I had to learn to protect my heart whilst collecting friendships. When one comes across a forever friend, you know you have found a treasure. No need to hide. Love and support are offered in abundance. I love all my friendships, and wish I could see these dear people on a daily basis. I try to catch up whenever I can. When one has known profound loneliness and isolation, it makes you appreciate your companions all the more. Each is a gossamer thread in the tapestry of my life, contributing detail. I try to be a good friend, and when their heart’s break, mine does too. My dearest wish is that they all know how loved and treasured they are. It has taken a long while to find them all, but now that I have, I feel humbled. You cant orchestrate the natural coming together of individuals. Part of the joy is seeing it unravel over time. I love you all, my friends. All unique; the dreamers, artists, writers, doers of good. You have sustained me, and helped tie the loose ends of my life into a beautiful bow. I will try and be worthy of your kindness.
10592949_10154572657585556_3481138992299056743_n

The Fountain (part two).

I had been to a church service, and the people seemed friendly. It was mother’s day, and they had given each woman a lovely pair of earrings, which someone had made by hand. It warmed my heart. I was contacted by a lay preacher, and she invited me to a morning tea at a café with the ladies. I wanted to be connected, despite it being an evangelical church, with arms raised and eyes closed. Not a scene I was familiar with. Despite only being able to mumble, having my face bandaged, bruised and stitched, I decided to go. Hubby was going to drop me off, and mind our three year old daughter. The ladies gasped at my visage as I sat down, and smiled at this fragile creature. It was as though we were from two different planets. I was given a gift of a book written by one of their members, and said my thanks as I ordered a water. My back was turned to the fountain behind. A woman shrieked, “look at that little girl! Where on earth are her parents!” I turned slowly and saw my child completely saturated, in the fountain. “The water is dirty!” someone else chimed in. Hubby was trying to coax her out, to no avail. My free-spirited child was having the time of her life. In his flustered state, he finally handed over our dripping, shivering little girl to me, and hollered over his shoulder that he was going to duck into the shops to get her fresh clothes. He disappeared, and I shrouded my child in my coat as all chatter ceased. Awkwardness reigned, as did judgement. I felt exposed, not cut out for this particular group. I surveyed the perfect talons, the coiffed hair, the diamond rings and pressed outfits. It seemed like an age until hubby returned. It was the same week that he came back from an errand to the electrical store to buy a new speaker, and came back with a flat screen television and brackets, so our daughter could watch her shows from the comfort of her bed. He took it back on my insistence. As I slowly rose, I called out a meek farewell, and went off with my two ragamuffins. I drank wine that night, knowing I would not be courted by these ladies. I thanked the fountain, knowing that it had washed me clean. Clean of the misguided notion that I didn’t belong. Three years have passed. My scars have healed, and these two ragamuffins are by my side. These women are still having their coffee meetings. I was never invited to another.

The Fountain.

I love how time allows us to revisit experiences that were cringe-worthy at the time. Those bloody-awful events which made us want to curl up in a ball when they happened. Three years ago, I had plastic surgery after removal of some tumours on my face. Long story short, I had been on high doses of hormones to try and reverse the premature menopause I found myself in. We wanted to try IVF, and give our daughter a sibling. Instead, I found myself with what I thought were warts. “Great, I really am a crone now,” I thought to myself. I thought they would be frozen off, but instead, I was sent to a skin specialist, and then found myself receiving plastic surgery. I was chattering in a deep and meaningful manner, under light sedation, completely off my trolley. Not helpful when one’s surgeon is attempting to do a flap repair and remove a tumour to one’s chin. “We will need to knock this girl out,” I heard. Then, they knocked me out. Over the next few days, I couldn’t speak, as I had stitches to my chin and forehead, two black eyes and a bandaged face.

266367_229313330435853_4737459_o
I was waiting to see if these tumours were a nasty cancer, and also whether the HRT I had bombarded my system with had worked and I would be able to do IVF again. I would find out both sets of news at two different places on the same day. Feeling as though I had absolutely no control over my life, let alone the outcomes, I became desperate. Desperate to find my place. Desperate to feel connected. What happens next is why I view fountains with fondness.