Show People That You Care About Them

It happened right there on this road, on the exact spot where the bracelet is. A young person tried to throw herself into traffic. When I pushed her back on the side of the road, I fell onto the highway. I’ll never forget how close a bright blue, Dodge Ram truck came to my head before it swerved out of the way.

I kept her away from the highway until the police arrived. In the few minutes that it took for the police to arrive, she screamed at me, over and over again, “You don‘t give a fuck about me! Why didn’t you just let me die!” The police took her to the adolescent psychiatric hospital to be evaluated and treated, not punished.

A little over a week later she was discharged out of the hospital and back to our emergency shelter. When she handed me the bracelet, she said, “Mr. Tony, I made this for you in the hospital. Thank you. I love you. I don’t remember everything from that moment on the highway, but I remember what I screamed at you. What I meant to say is that I couldn’t believe someone actually gave a fuck about me.”

I wear the bracelet quite often as a reminder that there are many hurting people in the world who think no one cares about them. My life’s calling is to prove them wrong.

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A Survivor’s Scream

Do you really understand?
You say you do,
but I can see in your eyes
that you cannot read
between the lines,
so if you really understood,
I wouldn’t have to spell it out

Besides, when I stood
before you as a youth
telling you my truth,
you rejected me

Where I’ve been,
what I’ve experienced –
the sights, sounds, smells,
pain, brokenness –
the colors of the institutions
isn’t something you understand

You think words like
fuck and shit are offensive
So when I enter a room
and instantly connect
with those you can’t
I see the condemnation in your eyes
the same looks
those like you
gave me when I was a youth –
daggers of self-righteous condemnation
emitting moral vomit,
puking your credentials, expertise,
and religious verses on us survivors
that we’ve heard so many times before,
but you’re not even strong enough
to listen to the truth we’ve lived
because that would interrupt
the delicate images in your mind
of how we’re supposed to be,
and cause you to miss our beauty –
the truth of our perfection
forged in fires of hell

We talk because we need to
not because we think you understand,
not because we think you’re listening
because you’re too busy
trying to protect yourself
from the realities
of a survivor’s scream –
a scream you cannot recognize
when you hear it,
and so you’re also blind
to
those
Sacred
moments
when
healing
is
happening