That night after I brought her home and she went to sleep, I tied a string from her doorknob to my hand so I would wake up if she tried to leave. And I decided that I had to tell her about my past no matter how hard it was for me. And I told her about everything I had been through when I was her age a few weeks after bringing her home. She never ran away again. She is 23 years old now, and I have a grandson who just turned 6 years old.
Lately, I have felt the contentment and strength of finally getting to know who I am — I am a strong woman who does not need to be ashamed of my past. I am a survivor who is alive today because of my strengths and vulnerabilities. I believe my inner soul remained untouched despite what I went through for so many years. I also believe I am alive today because someone watched over me during all those nights I was out on the streets. Call it what you will. I call it God.
I have had different reactions since I began speaking out and telling my story. Some have told me I am brave and that telling my story was a selfless act and helps people. Others have asked why I would break my silence after so many years. I believe I am alive today so I can tell my story of survival, and I believe overcame adversity to help inspire other people who are struggling with some of the same things I did. If I can help even one of those people, then I did what I was meant to do.