Saturday, January 15, 2011
Living Under A Neon Rainbow~~ Street life.
A friend once asked me, “Did you ever think of giving up, Soooz? Did you ever consider suicide?”
My response was, “Of course I did.”
That thought had entered my mind. More than once. It came, and it almost won. Almost.
I was so weary of fighting back when that thought surfaced. Just so very tired of surviving my damned life and not truly living it. Many people have asked me how could it be that at the age of eleven you were alone and on the streets.
We all had reasons.
Reasons—not excuses. There is a huge difference in my opinion.
Sure--some of the people out there on the street had less reason than others, but, my friends, the streets were not softer to sleep on or easier to deal with if you had more or less reason to find yourself there.
The streets are an egalitarian place. Everyone on them for whatever reason has the same hard choices to make.
The predators were no less vicious if your reasons were stronger.
We humans can be such a cruel, judgmental species.
The pecking order on the streets—any streets--in any damned country--is simple—only the most vicious in the food chain survive at a visible level.
Only those clever enough to manipulate, and use a weaker beings fears against themselves remain untouched.
Only those that have lost all traces of the humane aspect of being human; those for whom, caring, kindness, pity and love have become unknown words attached to long dead feelings. Only they become safely visible.
Even those living on the scraps of human remains—the pimps and the pushers, even they have a higher power further advanced by deed in the food chain.
Living on the streets—sure—you may survive it. To do it alone, with no back up, and sustain your humanity—not a snowballs chance in hell.
Being alone sets you apart—instantly. Make no mistake—the predators single you out, and wait.
They wait--certain of the fact that, fear, hunger, or one of a countless number of possible addictions—will drive you as part of an unwilling herd to the differing degrees of slaughter of the soul.
Some street dwellers fall into the visibly crazy category.
Who would dare in all conscience put that label on anyone out there, without looking at their own shaky versions of sanity first?
The sad folk who were labeled as such attracted attention. Their need was so obvious, it shone like a beacon to the few organizations charged with rescuing those who had slipped through the tears in the fabric of society. The obviously crazy people tended to survive far better than those of us that still walked the razors edge of what did and did not constitute visibly insane.
I lived on those streets. How the hell I survived those early months alone I do not even begin to know.
What I do know is this. I would not have made it to age twelve, without taking my own life. Or having a lifestyle forced upon me that would ensure I continued to breath whilst dead anyway.
I would not, could not have survived it alone.
I had reached the end of my endurance. I had witnessed too much of the darkness in the human soul. I wanted to just give up. Finish it. I wanted with everything that was in me to no longer be paralysed with fear. All I wanted was to feel safe…not rich, successful, beautiful or famous…just safe.
I would have taken my own life. Without further hesitation, or thought. Except for a bunch of kids just like me. A bunch of badly damaged, half-crazy--half-feral street kids. That’s what they were, not saints or angels sent from heaven. They were just like me—only they had each other for support.
They saved me, from--me. I have tended to gloss over the negative and focus on the positive. I have always done that, and will no doubt continue to do so. Dwelling on the bad things is not good for my peace of mind.
However, please make no mistake, I was not a young female version of “Huck Finn” setting off on some wonderful adventure.
I was just a girl with a dreadful past. An eleven-year-old kid who wanted so very badly to have a less than dreadful future.
I was fallible, very human and terribly afraid. I was also wary, untrusting—and very very angry.
I had never known a childhood. It was ripped away. It was torn apart--together with every fragment of innocence a child has.
I was an old woman in a child’s body--searching for the child I should have been, everyplace I went.
The fact that I survived all of it, reasonably sane—and still able to laugh—was not due only to my strength. I don’t deny I am strong. I don’t deny that I grow weary at times of needing to be that way.
No, my friends; I did not survive through my strength of will. I had no miracle to perform. I survived because I got lucky. Yes ... lucky. I was welcomed in a fashion, by a bunch of kids—strangers all, that clung together through all of it—and somehow formed a family of sorts.
I was taken in only because one of them had chosen to end her struggle with life. She died and left room for one more in their group. Only one.
Why did they choose me?
What complex issues did they discuss that caused me to be selected from the many, many, kids out there?
They chose me simply because they liked my street-name, ‘Sassy’ The leader of the group decided if I had managed to earn a name like that, then I might just be able to make it.
We had rules, standards of behavior that must be kept. Each one of us contributed to the wellbeing of all. Selfishness was punished by eviction from the family. There were no second chances.
This is written with love. They taught me how to feel it. I needed to honor them. I needed to acknowledge their existence in my strange life. Of the original fifteen of us, those that made it through to be celebrating the year 2010--number only four.
Only three of the eleven human beings that I owe my own life to, only three, died of natural causes. Eight people—eight wonderful valiant people, ended their own lives. Or got caught up in a style of life that caused it to be taken from them.
My memories are of them.
My heart aches for all the young ones that will spend another night on the streets of every city and every country.
I am asking each of you that may be reading this to please reach out if you can. Most churches have a donation of goods drive. Spend a moment with your own families, and think what it would be like for any one of them to be alone and afraid.
Spare a moment to think of all the lonely people who have no friends—no family, and no hope.
Try and allow the thoughts in, no matter how ugly they are. If you can. A smile from a total stranger can be all it takes to lighten the sadness and renew the hope.
I’m smiling, at the memories and the craziness of the time I spent with them.
Every day since those wonderful damaged young street kids entered my life is worthy of remembering. They allowed me to feel connected to something for the first time in my life.
They dealt with my anger, for it matched their own.
We fought each other fiercely…but mostly we allied against anyone or anything that threatened harm to the unified bunch that we eventually became.
No one is alone, while ever someone cares enough to think of them.
You can make a difference.
NB: When I wrote this a little over a year ago, there were four of us remaining.
Today there are only two.
Posted by Suzannah Burke at 2:23 AM