She’s not my mother

I’ve been struggling at work. And not with the physical aspects — though I do get overwhelmed at times with the amount of stuff I have to get done in a short amount of time. I’m used to all of that, though. I’m used to working while I’m sick. What I’m not used to, however, is working with someone who is just like my mother.

She’s not like my mother in every way, of course. I’m not sure anyone can get to that level. But her personality traits, definitely narcissistic, surely sociopathic, are so similar to my mother’s that I feel like they are one in the same.

It’s only been nine months that she’s been here, but it’s been nine months of hell. Employees have left because of her. Morale is at the lowest I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been at the lowest I’ve been since I ran away.

She ruined my birthday, bashing me for being “out of dress code” because I was wearing Crocs, which I had been wearing the whole time I was working. I wear a size 13 and have a growth on the top and side of my foot that makes wearing shoes painfully impossible. Everyone understood that. But she wouldn’t have it. She, the person who wears dirty, worn-out, used-to-be-white sneakers to work every day, which isn’t part of dress code. It was my first, but not only, experience of her hypocrisy.

I could never talk about myself. She always found a way to turn it into something about her. It didn’t matter the subject; she’d find a way to switch it around. Just like my mother, it’s always about her. One time I mentioned how I bought something to donate to the homeless shelter I used to stay at, and she went on about how she bought hundreds of items to donate to different shelters. Upstaging me on an act of kindness. Acts of kindness don’t matter if you continue to be a shitty person.

She makes jokes about me that are really just bullying in disguise. The ones that hurt the most are about my body. She’s mentioned several times that I’m flat-chested, have “nothing up there”, and made jokes about it. I went to try on my new uniform shirt one day and she just on about how flat I looked. I was mortified, especially because she did it in front of other people.

My mother used to do the same thing, and followed it with “that’s why no one will ever love you.” It just brings everything right back. Am I ugly? Does everyone see me like this? What’s wrong with me? It doesn’t even matter that people close to me are telling me that it’s not true. It’s what I’ve been brought up to believe, and she’s bribing it right back up to the surface.

She lies. All of the time. About little things. Big things. Everything. I’ve caught her so many times. It’s gotten to the point that I can’t trust her with anything. But the problem is that other people aren’t able to see through her consistent lying. They fall for it, each and every time.

I got a mediocre annual review because she felt the need to get involved in it, even though she isn’t my manager and wasn’t even at our location for the majority of the time the review covered. I could’ve gotten a raise. I could’ve gotten praise. Instead I got negative feedback, in the exact phrases I’ve heard her speak. I worked my ass off, working 60+ hour weeks while we had no staff, working every holiday, getting everyone through a tough transition by studying and learning everything that I could on my own time, only to be put down by someone who didn’t even work with me long enough to judge me. She’s been with the company 30 years. I’ve been there not even two years and know more than her. She knows that. She doesn’t want anyone to be better than her, because that takes the spotlight off of her. Because everything is always about her.

She tried to have me fired. Not for anything legitimate, of course. Because I hurt her feelings. She decided to take me to the back one day and unleash a load of negative criticism on me. I mean a LOAD. Bringing up stuff from months prior, lying about what other people said about me, saying things I didn’t actually do. I worked nearly a week straight because my coworker was in the hospital, and still knocked out both of our workloads. She went off because she found dust on a shelf that I had already cleaned, and she watched me clean. She told me I didn’t do it. I fought back that I did. She said you need to knock yourself down a few pegs. You think you’re perfect and you’re not.

Trust me, I never think I’m perfect. I have the self-esteem of a potato. Years of trauma will do that to you. It’s the exact opposite. She is the ones that thinks she is perfect, and anyone who goes against her will feel her wrath. And that’s exactly what happened to me. Because right after that “meeting”, I went on my Facebook and said what had happened, and someone called her out on it. Her response was not to admit that she was wrong, but to have me fired for speaking poorly of her. Her plan didn’t work, but she sure as hell tried.

After the incident I spoke about in my last post, I voiced that I was uncomfortable working nights, especially because I walk to and from work and don’t feel safe being at the store with only one employee. The response was to schedule me even more nights. When I approached her about it, she told me that wasn’t true, that I was reading the schedule wrong, that I was just confused. I had three other people check the schedule and confirm what I said. I approached her again, same response. The essential it’s not me, it’s you response. I gave up. And I continued to work every night, running to the bathroom every hour to throw up from anxiety.

I asked her countless times to make a copy of the security footage of my incident for the police. My coworker asked as well. We even went so far as to write down the exact date and time, the case number for the police, everything. When I came back to work two days later, the paper with all of the information was gone. She was making a copy of footage for a car accident, so I asked her what was going on with my incident. Oh, he told me it wasn’t important and there was nothing to be done. She threw away the paper with all of the information on it. Like it was trash.

My boss never told her it wasn’t important. Those statements were never made. She lied, once again. We wrote the information down once again, and left a blank USB drive. It’s gone again. The copy has yet to be made. It’s now been 30+ days since the incident happened, and the security footage won’t be available much longer. I don’t have a case without it. And she treats it like it’s a joke. She calls the man who assaulted me my friend.

We had a potluck at work. Everyone knows I’m allergic to cinnamon. She made meatballs with cinnamon. And the kicker — she left a note on it that it wasn’t for me. I believe in my heart it was a purposeful exclusion. On its own, maybe not. But everything she does is against me. And it brought me right back to when my mother did the same thing. She’d leave notes on food, saying things weren’t for me. They both take plays from the same book.

It’s a constant struggle for me. I want to work, but work has become a constant trigger of things my mother did to me — the psychological warfare I fought so hard to run away from. I’m right back in it again. And it’s making me miserable. I cry every day.

I know she’s not my mother, but my mind keeps thinking that she is.


It’s weird how one small incident can turn things upside down.

My life hasn’t been perfect by any means. I still struggle — physically, financially, and emotionally. But I’ve been handling it reasonably well.

I haven’t been to therapy since I moved out west more than two years ago. I could have started back up when I came back, but I wanted to try living my life without constantly diving back into my past. In many ways, I think therapy was keeping me stuck. I came to the realization that, no matter how much I talk about or try to process it, the trauma I endured from my mother just won’t be resolved in this lifetime. And that’s okay.

For the most part, my day-to-day life has been considerably uneventful. My work became my central focus. It was (and still is) something that I’m good at. It keeps me busy. It lets me focus on things that aren’t at all related to my trauma. And even amidst the coronavirus pandemic, work has continued to be my escape at a time when I otherwise would have been feeling very trapped. It was my safe haven.

Then something happened. Something that people wouldn’t think was a big deal. But it was a big deal to me.

I needed a break. I stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. It was the same spot I’ve been smoking in for the last two years. My little spot away from people so I could get a few minutes of peace.

A guy walks over to me. I know him — he comes in to buy things sometimes. I’d see him around the neighborhood where I used to live. But I never knew his name. I never cared enough to even learn it, because it was never anything more than a courteous wave hello relationship. But for some reason, I always got an uncomfortable vibe when he was around.

It was dark. I didn’t even see or hear him approaching until he was already at my side. He tried to put his arm around me. I cringed and turned away. I just tried to keep smoking my cigarette hoping he would get the clue to go away.

But he didn’t go away. As I lowered my hand down to flick the ash off from my cigarette, he leaned in and kissed me. I immediately pulled back, turned my face away, and told him not to do that.

He didn’t react. It’s like my rejection didn’t even phase him. He leaned in and kissed me again. I pulled back, turned my face away and stayed looking at the ground. I told him I had to go back in. But I was cornered. Bushes on my left, the wall at my back, and him hovering over me on my right. I couldn’t get away.

He kept talking. I kept saying I had to go, but I couldn’t move. He said it was his birthday the next day and that I owed him a gift. I knew what he meant by the look on his face. He kissed me a third time and I completely froze.

I froze.

At one point, he moved away enough that I had an escape route. I managed to muster up enough strength to get away. I ran to the bathroom and washed my face with soap and water. I even rinsed my mouth out with soap and water. But I still felt disgusting. I still felt unclean. And I spent the rest of the night alternating between crying uncontrollably and disconnecting from myself to the point of being totally numb.

Then everything started flooding back. Emotions. Memories. Flashbacks. All I could do was ask myself what I did wrong. I would understand if this was the first time this has happened to me. But this isn’t the first time. So it must be because of something I’m doing wrong. Why didn’t I run? Why didn’t I yell? Why didn’t I punch him?

I watch the security footage. I try to find out where I went wrong. They tell me it’s not my fault, but I find it hard to believe them. This isn’t the first time. And it’s been a harsh reminder of what happened to me a couple of years before.

I still have the recording saved on my phone, when a social worker sexually assaulted me. I started listening to it over and over again, trying to figure out what I did wrong. What did I say, what did I do to make him think it was okay? Did I do it again? Why does this keep happening? What’s the connection?

I can’t find any answers. That makes it even harder to deal with. I am left feeling things I can’t even explain. I’m not okay. I’m riddled with anxiety. I can’t even go to work without worrying if he’s going to show up again. Work was my escape. It was my safe place. And now that’s been taken away from me.

I cry. A lot. I get so upset that I throw up. I shouldn’t be taking it this hard. It’s not that serious. It could have been worse. It has been worse.

I just can’t stop thinking that maybe it’s my fault. Maybe it’s me.

Three years ago

Three years ago, I wrote this.

I had forgotten about it until today, when it came up in my Facebook memories.

I think about the three years since I wrote that poem. So much has happened.

I’m living a different life now. I don’t even go to therapy. I don’t process any trauma. The exact opposite of what I was doing the first couple of years after I ran away.

That’s not to say I am unaffected. I still have flashbacks. I sill have unresolved grief and anger. I still live in fear. I make jokes about my trauma. I’ve always been great at deflection.

I talk about my illness and of dying as if it were normal, as if I’ve accepted it all. I stopped going to doctors. I use work as a distraction and an excuse.

But the denial, the distraction, the deflection — it keeps me going. It keeps me alive.


After an incredible amount of time and frustration, I was finally able to get a copy of my birth certificate, which then gave me the ability to get a valid ID so I could get a job. While my writing work pays, it’s definitely nowhere near enough to live on.

I was scared but excited to start work again. I haven’t really been in the workforce since I got my cardiac implant surgery a year and a half ago. I’ve missed that sense of purpose. I’ve missed that feeling of normalcy, of being a capable, competent adult.

I had almost forgotten — or purposefully chosen not to remember — what work was like for me in the few months before it had ended. Things had gone downhill. It wasn’t from the knee injury that left me on crutches. It was all of the mysterious issues that started wreaking havoc shortly after I was hospitalized with the flu. When I started passing out for no reason. When I started using a wheelchair because I was getting too tired at work. When I fell off the front porch because I passed out while closing the door on my way to work one morning, scraping the entire side of my face.

This was going to be different. This job was going to be easy. No one would have to worry about me. No one would have to know I’m sick. I didn’t tell them anything during my interview. Why would I? No one is going to knowingly hire someone with my medical issues. I look normal on the outside. Capable. Healthy.

I breezed through orientation like it was nothing. I started taking care of guests like I had been working there for months. It got slow for a bit, so a few of us were talking. Somehow random math problems came up, and I solved them in my head. It then came up why I was working there if I was so smart. I didn’t go into too much detail, just that I got sick awhile back and had to take a break. I saw it as an opening to say, very light-heartedly, that if I ever pass out, not to call 911, that I’ll be fine and up in a few minutes. It’s become an annoyance when I pass out in public and they call 911, only for the hospital to try to keep me for observation when I know they are not going to find out anything I don’t already know.

To my relief, her reaction was calm. She said it was good that they know so they can be prepared in case anything happens. I didn’t feel any shame in that moment. I felt okay.

It wasn’t until yesterday, my first full shift of work, when I realized that my abilities are not what they used to be. Fifteen minutes into my shift and I was already short of breath. I could feel my heart racing, which only made it harder to breathe. I wasn’t even doing anything but walking up and down a few stairs and walking across aisles. That was it. My heart rate tripled like I was running a race and would not slow down. My coworker kept asking if I was okay. I know he must have seen it in my face.

Five hours in, and all I had gotten was two minutes to sit on the toilet and pee. I was burned out. I could barely lift mats to clean. I felt weak. I felt sick. I felt useless.

I cried as soon as I left, and again as soon as I got home. I’ve been crying off and on today. I used to be able to do everything. I unloaded trucks. I moved furniture. I lifted grills. I did anything my male coworkers could do. I could work from opening until closing. I had energy. I had strength. My heart was functioning. I was okay.

And now I struggle with everything.

But no one notices. And if they do I immediately push them away. I refuse to use a walker or a wheelchair. Because I don’t want people to see.

I’m tired. I’m tired of walking out of my house and hurrying to find the nearest bench because I’m so dizzy I’m afraid I’m going to pass out. I’m tired of laying on the floors of public restrooms just to avoid a big scene. I’m tired of needing clothes in multiple sizes because I don’t know how long it’s going to be before my digestive system starts working again. I’m tired of not being able to do my school work because my mind is so foggy I can’t think. I’m tired of mopping my bedroom floor every other day because I’m rapidly losing the ability to control my bladder.

I’m tired of the medications, the hospital stays, the doctors’ visits, the specialists.

I’m tired of the loneliness. Everyone else I knew is out living their lives with their families, advancing their careers, having babies. I’m struggling just to get out of bed.


I don’t have much energy lately.

Not that I ever had a remotely normal amount of energy in the last several years, but I am probably at my lowest energy-wise.

I’m doing my best to not stay in bed all day. I go out, even if it’s just for a few hours. I’ll ride the bus around, sit on a bench somewhere and just people watch, or window shop at the mall. Then I get tired and venture my way back home. I don’t get much done. I’ve barely made a dent in my thesis. I don’t write much anymore. I’m just tired.

Then throw in the added frustration of chronic illness. I can’t even count how many times I’ve had to bite my tongue the last couple of months. People comment on my appearance asking me if I am pregnant, which is especially difficult considering that I was pregnant around this time last year. Then I’ve had other people say outright that I’ve gained a lot of weight, and others suggesting diet plans and even fasting for one week. Completely. Unsolicited. Advice.

Instead of cursing them out like I want to, I just nod or change the subject. I know engaging with them will only ignite my emotions, and I’ve been doing really well keeping them under control, considering everything. But it gets frustrating when it comes up so much.

It’s even more frustrating because I can’t help it. My autonomic dysfunction has spread to my digestive system full force. I had mild problems before, but it has gotten severe over the past few months. I’ve stopped going to the bathroom for weeks at a time. That’s what causes me to look pregnant, because all the weight is in my belly. And I can feel it all there. It’s uncomfortable as fuck. So is the nausea and the reflux and everything that comes along with it.

But it’s not like I can pray for poop, either. Because my digestive system knows no middle ground. It is either paralyzed or on speed and dumping out everything like it’s toxic. I’ve had to wear diapers. This is my life now. I’m thirty-fucking-two.

There’s not many foods I can eat anymore. No dairy. No cheese. No fruits. No meat. No to most veggies. No corn. No chocolate. Nothing high in fiber. Nothing spicy. I’m lucky if I can handle one small meal a day, and it’s usually pretzels. I’m living on pretzels. I’ve been using liquid supplements, but they’re expensive and I can’t keep that up for long.

I see a specialist — a GI doctor with experience in autonomic dysfunction. But it’s not like there is much that can be done aside from what I’ve done already. There’s no medication for this shit, no reset button for my brain. So I’ve just been dealing.

I’m just getting tired of pretzels.


I’ve wanted a tattoo for a quite a few years. Every time I planned to get one, I ended up not following through because I couldn’t settle on what to get. I wanted a Phoenix, because if it’s significance in rising from the ashes. But it would have to be a reasonably sized tattoo, and I wasn’t sure I could handle something that intricate on my first go.

I thought about getting a butterfly. Once again, for its significance and relation to growth. But butterfly tattoos had gained popularity, and I didn’t want the meaning to get lost in the hype. But I always wanted something to symbolize my freedom.

Then when I got sick, I was told tattoos were a no go. Too much risk of infection, I assume. So I didn’t think about it for awhile, until the other day. I filled out a short get-to-know-you thing out of boredom. One of the questions asked about tattoos, and I wrote no. When my friend saw it, she said we should go and get my tattoo. Admittedly, we were both overly tired and I was not in the best frame of mind. But when I thought about it the next day, I really wanted to do it.

I’ve had to avoid so many things in my life. Can’t get vaccines anymore because my body isn’t strong enough to fight them. Can’t eat high-risk foods, like raw vegetables, because any contamination can make me sick. Can’t be around anyone who may be sick.

But what’s the point if I still get sick anyway? I can’t live in a bubble. I can’t avoid everything that will hurt me. So why deprive myself of something I wanted just because it might make me sick?

Just a day before, I had gone to a buffet — Golden Corral to be exact. They don’t have those where I’m from, so I was a little excited when I saw one here. Buffets are not good for me — not only because of the higher risk of contamination, but because most of the foods there aren’t good for my GI Isaura. But I said fuck it, I want to go. And we did. And I suffered for it, as I expected. But even through the discomfort and pain, there was a sense of joy in doing something I wanted.

So I took another risk. Today, I got my first tattoo. It wasn’t anything ornate or fancy. I didn’t want to take too much of a risk.

I couldn’t think of a more meaningful tattoo. The date I ran away, and birds of freedom. It’s a constant reminder for me, in those times when I do want to give up, to remember how far I’ve come from where I was.

Guard down, guard up

Sometimes, I let my guard down.

Then, I am quickly reminded of why I shouldn’t.

It’s a complicated thing. The fear of trusting anyone, yet the seemingly innate pull to open up to someone. The desire to be alone, yet the need to be in contact with others. The want for a family, even when family has continually been nothing but toxic.

I made a mistake. I should have seen it coming; looking back, I don’t know why I even put myself in that position. But it’s that seemingly continuous push and pull of two opposing wants that seem to lead to these mistakes.

It was the right timing. I was vulnerable. I had just left to go across the county. I left everything and everyone behind. I was disconnected, not only physically, but emotionally as well. And I wanted so much to reconnect to something or to someone.

And I did. I got a friend request on Facebook from a distant cousin — my mother’s niece. Years ago, I would have immediately deleted it. In fact, I may have even had her and others blocked. But over time, I let my guard down. I let my fear dissipate. But, given the circumstances, I felt okay enough to accept her request. After all, I was nowhere near her or my mother physically. After all, this was someone who hadn’t seen me since I was 14 years old. After all, this was someone who my mother avoided having any physical contact with, someone who my mother spoke ill of (along with her sister and others in her own family). So how much of a danger could it have been? I added her.

I soon learned that was a bad decision. In response to my last blog, she posted several comments, all of which focused on how I was loved and cared for, how I chose to leave the home where I was loved and cared for, how my mother loved her children and wouldn’t ever molest them…you get the gist. I did, too, because I heard it before. Almost word-for-word, in fact. Because they were my mother’s words, her defensive speech. We’ve all heard it before.

I was trying not to engage, but I eventually gave in and defended the truth. I reminded her that she was barely in our lives, how the last time she saw me was when I was 14, and that she really couldn’t have had any realistic idea of what was going on. I told her that I could connect her with people who witnessed the reality first hand — not just of the physical environment we lived in, but of my mother’s inappropriate words and actions. I suggested she be open to hearing both sides, as it seemed she was taking my mother’s word for truth without taking any initiative to find out what existed outside of my mother’s words.

But my words to her didn’t get very far, because when I woke up the next morning, her comments were deleted and so was she.

I had a tiny bit of hope that a friendship could have existed before all of this happened, that I could be connected to a part of my family, even if it was just in this small way.

I’m not that hurt over it. I got over it quickly. I think what stuck out to me the most was just how gullible people could be, how easily they could drink my mother’s Kool-aid and believe everything she says just because she says it. I’m fortunate enough that many people didn’t fall for her lies. I just wish that more of those people were family.

I find the timing interesting. Adding me as a friend a week before my freedom anniversary. Waiting until that very moment to let it out. I highly doubt it was all just a coincidence. But it doesn’t even matter. My lesson has been learned.

In her last comment, my cousin talked about how my mother was sick and suffering.

Good. I’m not going to lie. Good.

And that’s even if she is really sick, because I really don’t think anyone is close enough to her to truly know.

But, I will not feel bad about my anger or my grief. She is in her 60s. She got to live. I am 32 and can barely make it a month without a stay in the hospital, dealing with health issues that people my age (or anyone really) shouldn’t have to deal with. I’m not going to feel bad for being angry at her. I’m not going to feel bad for hating her. And I’m not going to feel bad for not caring about her, because she sure as hell never cared about me.

Three Years of Freedom

My three year freedom anniversary was three days ago. I wish I could say that I celebrated it in some way, but I didn’t.

And that is not the normal for me. Ever since I ran away, I have celebrated every milestone — one year, 500 days, two years, 1,000 days. I’ve always done something symbolic, something meaningful to celebrate the day. The celebrations helped remind me of where I was, and where I came from. I know some people thought it was a bit much, but you never really understand just how important these days are unless you’ve escaped from hell. And I know many of you, unfortunately, can understand that.

But as my three year anniversary rolled around, I didn’t feel like there was anything to celebrate. Over the last few months, my life has fallen apart. I found myself homeless. And even though I found a bed in a shelter, that stay ended up damaging me even more. I wandered the streets. I slept on friends’ couches. And out of desperation, with no options left, I found myself on a bus traveling west to stay with someone I never actually met other than through online conversation.

How did I end up here? Why did I end up here? I still don’t understand what happened. I still don’t understand how, despite everything, I am ineligible for any type of assistance. If I was an alcoholic, or a drug addict, I could get help right away. In the midst of my desperation, I actually considered breaking my sobriety because I knew it was the only way I could get help. But why should I have to? It makes no sense.

I’m angry. And not just because I am homeless. Not just because my only option was to leave the state where I had everything, including my medical care, in place. I’m angry because I’m sick.

It’s not like being sick is anything new to me. I’ve been sick for awhile. But I think, in that time, there was a part of me that didn’t think it was a really big deal. Until I started getting really sick. Until that hospital stay back in May when everything took a turn for the serious. Pulmonologists, infectious disease specialists, doctors in and out of my hospital room telling me that I was very sick. This wasn’t just a cold. This wasn’t something that was going to go away. I must have answered a hundred questions as the doctors tried to figure out just how I ended up this way. It doesn’t make any sense, they’d say. Little did they know, nothing in my life has ever made much sense.

As much as I hate to admit it, I was (and still am) scared. A part of me wanted to run away from my medical problems. If I just left my doctors, left the hospital, that somehow my issues would just disappear. Until five days into my stay in another state, when I passed out at lunch and found myself at the hospital once again.

The hospital did chest x-rays just to be sure everything was okay and there was no pneumonia (as I had a massive thrush infection — completely unrelated to me passing out). The doctor walked into my room and I could see the confusion and concern on his face. There’s no pneumonia, so that’s the good news, but — before he could finish his sentence, I told him it was okay, that I knew I was sick. I realized I’m going to have to have this conversation every time I end up in the hospital. A consistent reminder that I’m sick, no matter how hard I try to pretend like I’m okay.

How is this fair? How is any of it fair? I fought so hard to get out alive and this is where I end up after three years. My mother is free. She is healthy. She doesn’t struggle.

And I am nowhere, sick and struggling.

All of the things I learned along the way have left me with nothing. The people that said they would support me have turned their backs on me. The system that says it helps those in need has left me stranded.

So what’s left to celebrate?

Do You Trust Me?

I just wanted to fly under the radar. I didn’t want to bother anyone. I didn’t want to cause any problems.

When you have next to nothing, you tend to hold on to whatever you do have with whatever strength you have. For me, I wanted to hold on to having a place to sleep every night. I wanted to hold on to being able to stay at the shelter.

So I did everything I was supposed to. I made my bed every morning. I did my chores. I was nice to the other residents. I couldn’t afford to lose my spot. I thought the shelter was going to be a safe place. But that’s not what it turned out to be.

I didn’t realize what was happening. I’ve only read about it briefly in ethics books when I was doing my graduate work in counseling, how social workers and counselors would engage in inappropriate relationships with their clients. I’ve only seen it in a few TV shows and movies. I never witnessed it in real life. And then it happened to me.

It started out with conversations. He knew about my trauma history — I had to reveal it upon my intake at the shelter. Shortly after, he started asking questions. I didn’t mind answering; I thought he was just asking out of curiosity. But then the questions turned into asking for details. He wanted me to tell him exactly how my mother hurt me, down to every detail.

Then it turned to questions about sex. My discomfort increased. I didn’t want to answer. I hesitated, but all he kept saying was “Do you trust me?” He said he needed to know all of this stuff so he could help other clients. That if I answered his questions, I’d be helping them, too. And isn’t that what I wanted to do?

I was confused. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t want to upset him, or get him angry enough that he would turn around and kick me out of the shelter. So I obliged. I answered his questions, hoping that eventually he would get all of the answers he needed.

“Do you think you could ever have sex with me?”

It was then I realized this was going somewhere further than just questions. I felt sick to my stomach. I was trapped. Physically and emotionally trapped. What do I do? I hesitated as much as I could. I tried to make jokes to stray away from the conversation. But he wasn’t budging. All he kept saying was “Do you trust me?”

He told me he could help me be normal. Like he could fix the 29 years of abuse I went through. He was so insistent. I couldn’t say no. All he would say was “Why don’t you trust me?”

Everything always came to trust. I didn’t understand. I didn’t trust him. How could I? I felt like I was right back to being a kid again. It was so confusing. If I said no, it would get me in trouble. I can never say no.

I felt disgusted. I kept what happened to myself because I was so afraid of someone thinking it was my fault. Maybe I did something. Maybe it was something I said. Maybe it was something I did. I didn’t understand.

I spent my days at the shelter on edge. I never knew if he was going to come in my room at night, like he said I could. I never knew what I would have to do next in order to keep him happy. I was miserable. But I was so used to it, I thought that maybe this was just how everyone was.

I debated for weeks about telling someone. I wasn’t concerned about me; I was concerned that he might have done it to other women. If I didn’t tell, I’d be responsible for any women he hurt in the future. No matter what I did, it was going to be my fault. I feared I wasn’t going to be believed. But I was smart. I started recording what was happening on my phone, because part of me knew I needed something to stop him.

I had a panic attack one night when I was on my way out of my room; there was another resident walking through the hallway in his underwear, and I panicked because I thought it was him coming into my room for me. I couldn’t explain why I was crying. I couldn’t explain why it upset me so much. All I could get out of my mouth was you don’t know what happens here sometimes.

And that was enough. It initiated a conversation the next day. I hesitated, fearing that somehow I would get in trouble. But they told me I wasn’t going to get in trouble. They said if something not right is going on, they needed to know. Through tears, I told them what was happening. I couldn’t get everything out. I was overcome with shame, believing they thought that this was all of my fault. After all, something must be wrong with me since this keeps happening.

He is gone now. But I will soon be, too.

All I am left with is shame and confusion, and an even greater inability to trust.

Do you trust me?

I trust no one now.


I am exhausted. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. Possibly the most exhausted I have ever been.

Social services found me a bed at a homeless shelter today. It’s a temporary shelter — 30 day max stay. It’s on the other side of the county, in an area I don’t really know. But it’s a bed. There wasn’t much else they could do. I don’t qualify for any assistance because I am in the small percentage of people that fall within all the loopholes of disqualifications.

I’m trying to pick up the pieces. I’m trying to catch up with all the school work I got behind in when I was hospitalized. I’m trying to figure out if I’ll ever find a stable place to live. I’m trying to figure out how I’ll pay my bills.

I hadn’t cried until today. I’ve been pretending to be strong, when inside I’ve been a mess. It finally came out when I was sitting at social services and they told me I would be going to a shelter. It finally sunk in that I was homeless and alone.

It’s really hard to see the positive in anything in times of crisis. I could totally see myself having a complete meltdown. I could see myself giving up entirely.

But I have so much support. Friends, some I’ve met and some I’ve only known online, have continued to be supportive throughout these last a several days. Phone calls and emails have helped me get through the day. People have donated money to help me with transportation and food costs. And their messages of hope and gratitude for how I’ve helped them brought me to tears.

To those that have donated and help me in any way, I am incredibly grateful. You have given me hope.

I’ve always been the person who helps everyone. It’s hard for me to be the person in need. It’s hard for me to focus on myself and not caretake for others. When I first came here to the shelter, I donated half of my clothes. Because even in the chaos of my own happenstance, I felt that I had to give back in some way.

I don’t really know what’s going to happen anymore. But all I can do is hope that this experience has some kind of deeper meaning that I just can’t see right now.