On May 26th, 2017, I will be participating in a new event, the first ever all women Sleep Out, to raise awareness and much needed funds for the youth that depend on Covenant House Toronto.
Just because it looks easy, does not mean it’s easy. Sharing my past, the victimization, my homelessness is NOT easy, but it’s right…for me. Sometimes I have to take a long deep breath before exposing a moment of my life that I find shameful on some level. I’m not carrying the shame, I’m just conditioned to feel the shame. Conditioned from the voices in my head and the handwriting on my wall that was placed there both verbally and non-verbally by my mother. As a child who became homeless at the age of 13, I can tell you it was not a choice. The misconceptions as to why children run from home need to be shattered. I look brave, but I struggle in a “fake until you make it” sort of way - a mantra that I live by. Better to speak out, better to do something good…no GREAT out of what I went through than to hide in the shadows that I don’t belong in.
I can remember when I was 5 or 6 years old my mother telling me “people don’t like children who talk to much.” Typically, this would be related to an adult engaging me the way that grown-ups who enjoy children do. It was one of her methods to silence me out of the fear that I may accidentally divulge the horrors…the truths in our household. How ironic, she spent years trying to silence me. It worked for decades as I was wore the duct tape across my lips labeled “tramp, unworthy, liar, user, damaged goods, follower…” the list goes on. Those labels live deep within me, in a dark place that sunlight no longer has access to. I have tried to excise those words and associated feeling from my body, from my soul with no tangible result unless you count the realization that sometimes it’s better to work with the ghosts rather than against them. I accept that those are words my mother needed to label me with to keep me down. As I have very obviously found my voice I have risen far beyond them using those terms as guide to remind myself of what I am not. No longer and never again silent. Not to spite my mother, but to live light…to do for others what I wish was done for me.
The broken bones from her dropping me out of a window, the bowed legs from her not feeding me will never compare to the words she attempted to define me with. That is the true and lasting effect of the unprovable emotional abuse. The emotional abuse is the primary reason that I ran from home, over and over again until I had perfected it…until it stuck for over 3 years.
Now, as I am devoting my life to demolish the stigma that is attached to runaways, all she took…stole from me is insignificant. In the big picture what we do with what has been done to us matters so much less than what we do with those experiences. It is for this reason that I am participating in the Covenant House Sleep Out and becoming homeless for one more night. If I can impact even one child, if I can prevent even one child from spending a night uncared for and in harms way on the street - I would spend a million more nights living homeless. This being said, please give generously. Support the Covenant House and save runaways, homeless youth, trafficked youth and at risk youth from a life on the streets.
No donation is too small as it all adds up.
93% of funds will directly support homeless, at-risk and trafficked youth at Covenant House.