Remembering…

Sometimes it is so scary to remember what it was like the day someone finally convinced me to speak up for myself.  It is terrifying to put myself back in that moment, that week, or even the month that followed.  Yet, for the sake of helping youth find their voices, it is something that I must do.

I remember how I used to hide in my closet just so I could feel safe…how I thought that, as long as I was in there, I would not be found.  I remember how it felt to know that no one would come looking for me if I made myself invisible, as well as how if I was invisible, I could do no wrong for which I could be punished later.  I can also remember how afraid I was that because I told someone I did not want to go home. I can feel the fear that the consequences of my actions would be worse than the little bit of safety I afforded myself for just a moment.  I remember how it felt to know that my parents were sitting at a table with a lawyer, someone I had never met before, and talking about my fate day in and day out for what seemed like an eternity.  Although it was probably less than a month, it seemed like my life was hanging in balance forever.  Every day I dreaded my mother coming home from these meetings because I was scared that she would tell me that I had to go back to my dad’s.  I can remember feeling like he held all the power in our lives.  He was the one who always had control, and I just knew that no one, not even a lawyer, was going to be able to take that away from him…

I say all these things, bring back all these memories because over the past week, I have had the privilege to be in the presence of some very amazing youth. These young people have expressed openly in words so many things that I have been afraid to even think about for over 20 years.  Their courage has inspired me to once again dig down deep, to remember the things that as adults, most would prefer to forget.  It reminds me that it is important to keep children and youth informed, that every youth deserves the right to be involved when decisions are being made about their lives.  Not only this, but it also reminds me that no youth should ever have to feel alone and out of control because they made a choice to tell.

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