I am honoured to be featured in Anastasia Amour’s Blogger Spotlight for February. If you haven’t checked out her blog as yet, you are missing something special. This young woman is highlighting what it means to have self-esteem, and encourages her readers to stop listening to the negative voices in their heads. She has become a dear friend, and I love her dearly.
Lived to Tell is now available as an ebook. How it came to be is extraordinary, as is the story behind it. I sought refuge in writing, from the time I was a child. When I was eleven, I wrote a story about being thrown through the air, a bad man behind the plunge. I would […]
In 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.
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.
My book, Lived to Tell.
Thankyou for believing in me and for the unbelievable support I received during this year. Having my book launched in 2013 was both thrilling and terrifying. The messages and love made me buoyant. If I could give you one further message as this year winds up, it is this. You can survive, you can endure and you can overcome. I have a situation at the moment, which has rocked me to my core. That is how these things happen isn’t it? Unplanned and swift, without any notice. Here we are, minding our own business, ambling along, when thud! I was stunned by the visage of my tree of life falling. I started shaking, and then I cried. I talked my truth, and held my child. Shocks have a habit of seeping into the festive season, have you noticed? Everything is so concentrated. The need for more time, more energy. Day five, I am feeling stronger. I will make it. A tree fell, and I am crestfallen. If I put it in a pot, decorate it with bells and lights, it will be pleasing throughout Christmas. In 2014, I shall plant a new tree. It will be small, but with dedicated care, it shall grow. I shall grow. Remember throughout this season, to gather your thoughts, make time for a cup of tea, and breathe. Just breathe.
My book launch is in a week’s time. I am feeling a little disassociated (as I do when I am overwhelmed, and my soul feels the urge to take flight). I am excited, and scared. Long car trips are carefully planned over a week, so that I can prepare a body already in inordinate amounts of pain. I will be sitting all day, before the launch that evening. Painkillers and Tens Machines, heat packs and stretches. The first concerns of my mind. Getting through the day in comfort. I know that hearing two fine men speak, an ambassador from the White Ribbon Foundation, and my friend Brian Bell, will render me teary. In a good way. The cleansing kind of emotion, where your chest is wracked with primeval rhythm. Seeing friends who have been with me throughout the years will leave me humbled. I am so grateful. I am terrified. I am relieved. I know this is the beginning of a wondrous journey. I am ready.
http://www.jojopublishing.com/html/s01_home/home.asp I received a text from an old friend, telling me my book was listed on a site. She sent me a link. I found it confronting. The girl in the picture is me. This is my story, condensed into a book. I don’t know how I feel tonight, as I am so tired. Confronted, scared, proud. Not ready. Over-prepared. Why do we have big experiences? Simply to endure them, and hopefully survive? Should we put them in a box, sit on the box, bind it tightly with packing tape and shove it into the recesses of our mind? There are many people who are seared into my heart. They are the ones who shared their stories with me. The teacher who was tutoring the kids in the children’s ward when I was sixteen and having more surgery on my beat-up body. She had been told that I had been raped and thrown off a building. What it must have taken to sit with a traumatized teen, to tell me of her own rape… I looked at the beautiful, functional woman in her thirties, heard her describe her family, and her life. It gave me hope that I could do that too, and have what she had. I saw a survivor, not a victim. Yes, we must tell our stories. They die inside us if we don’t. Before they perish, they rot our souls and our minds, and destroy anything worth having. I took my packing box, opened the bastard and let the light in. I am now in my thirties, and I have a family too. Thank you for sharing your story, teacher-lady, whose name has been lost in the mists of time. I remember your face, your spirit and more than these, I remember your story.