The Scary Truth

Nikki Bell
Survivor. Founder & CEO, LIFT. October 6, 2020

It’s cold, raining, my emaciated body is shivering from the inside out. I make jokes with my sisters about how thin I am to laugh off the pain of the recognition that I am literally withering away and can’t seem to do anything to stop it. So I laugh – better to laugh with than be laughed at.

I am hungry, at least my body is, but I haven’t eaten in days. Every dollar that I get passes through my hands to the dealers so quickly I don’t have the time or desire to eat. The hunger pangs stopped three days ago and it’s not food that will numb the agony in my soul, so why bother?

The past few days, or has it been weeks? Maybe months? I don’t even know… it’s been this ongoing cycle of men paying to access my broken, abscess¬ and sore covered body, with intermittent horrific violence, and rapes, and the just the plain old regular violation of my non-existent boundaries and self-worth. I don’t even think they care that I haven’t showered in weeks, or that I can’t even stand the smell of myself. They just ignore that like they ignore the fact that I have tears streaming down my face as I beg them to hurry up and finish so I can buy another bag to forget about what they just did to me.

How did I get here? How the fuck did I end up here? With men ignoring the fact that I am human, with police stopping to tell me that if I don’t get my junkie ass off the corner that they are going to lock me up or worse. I can handle the arrest but not “the worse” — being forced to have sex in order to avoid jail. The reality is I wouldn’t even care about the sexual assault at the hands of the officer, I would just be upset that I didn’t even have any money when it was done and would have to go back to that corner and be violated again just to feel dead inside.

Everything hurts. The way the men who are buying me ignore my suffering so they can get off, no longer a human being, just an orifice for them to dump in. The way the community members avert their eyes because it’s too uncomfortable to look at me, so they look the other way and pretend I am not there. That is almost worse than when people drive by and call me horrible names. at least they see me. I want to scream FUCKING LOOK AT ME! I am a human being and I am hurting. It hurts to watch parents walk by holding their children’s hands, pulling them ever so slightly so they don’t accidently touch me, as if they might catch what I am if they do.

I wonder where my children are? Do they think of me? Do they know what I have become? Then I thank God they don’t know me because I am poison to everyone and everything and they deserve better than me, everyone does. I pray they don’t end up like me, then I pray that the bag I am about to shoot takes me, takes me from this agony, this endless cycle of drugs and violence, and from this everlasting search for something to take this pain from my soul. I have no one. NO ONE. The last person who showed me any kindness was the guy behind the counter at the pharmacy giving me a muffin and a soda with my needle, encouraging me to eat it and maybe try to go get some help. Help? Where? EVERYWHERE I go they treat me like a bother and ask me why they should allow me to come back again? I mean they’ve tried to help me before and I am going to be taking a bed from someone who actually deserves it? Someone that they have some hope for. Apparently, there is none left for me, nor is there any kindness or compassion left for me either.

I know I am difficult, but I am suffering. My life has been an endless cycle of violence, loss, fear, and pain for as long as I can remember. I don’t know what safety feels like, or love, or hope, or anything good. I don’t know what those things feel like so why is it so hard for people to understand that I don’t know how to accept them? Why don’t they understand that I don’t trust you, or you, or you, or anyone? Why should I trust anyone? Everyone in my life has either hurt me, or left me, or abused me, but somehow I should know that you are different? How? How can I be sure? I can’t. So instead of taking the chance of letting someone else in, I push you away, and I run. Running feels good. If I stop running, I start feeling, and I hold too much pain to feel.

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