#MeToo: The Child is Beautiful by Jade Gleason

There were other little children there.  There were others.  Why did I make it out alive?  Why didn’t they get to be free?  Walk.  Walk.  Walk.  They walked.  They walked to.  They walked to their deaths.  I hid.  Where did I hide?  Where could I hide?  In myself.  I’m choking.  I don’t feel anything.  I don’t feel my body.  My body is numb.  I don’t have a body.  Where are those children?  I’m hiding.  While they are walking to their deaths.  I have a friend.  I have invited her into my hiding spot.  We are in a closet.  I love hiding in closets.  She loves me.  I can’t save the others.  I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.  You were just children.  I was just a child.  We were just children.  Who could treat children this way?  I am looking at their graves.  They haunt me.

I’m walking into a room.  There is a white queen sized bed in the middle of the room.  My body has been invaded.  It is not my own.  It has been used, abused and robbed.  It is not a home.  I am not in my body.  I have left.  Left my body.  I am tasting death on my lips because it tastes better than what’s in front of me.  The warmth of death embraces me.  Someone take me out of this misery.  Let my physical body be free from the constant invasion.  Man after man.  I am nothing.  Child prostitute.  Man after man.  I am not here.  Child prostitute.  I was a commodity.  I was a sex object.  I am a sex object for men to use and discard.  Child prostitute.  They never loved me.  You don’t see me.  Why won’t you love me?  I am not here.  I don’t feel anything.  $300 an hour.  I can’t breathe anything in.  I can’t take anything in.  If I take anything in, I am going to suffocate in a pain I cannot bear.  I am not here.  I have left.  Walls.  Walls of protection.  Conditional love.  Conditional love.  Where is my mother?

You violated me too.  You never loved me.  You never cared for me.  You don’t see me.  You never have.  A burden I was to you.  You left me at the disposal of letting everyone have a taste of me.  Including yourself.  I’m heartbroken.  I trusted you.  I loved you.  How could you do that to someone you love?  Your child.  I was your child.  And you weren’t my mother.  I’m still looking for her.

They are entering inside my soul.  My soul is being invaded and they’re looking in it.  Except the reflection they see in my soul is like a mirror.  They are looking at themselves as they are inviting themselves inside of me.  Nine men have looked inside my soul.  And never saw me.

Rape.  Did you know a child could be raped if there’s an adult just as small as the child.

I am vulnerable.  I am humiliated and I can’t stop their laughter.  I am an object of their amusement and I must stay an object of their amusement.  I am an object of their hatred.  Do they hate themselves?  Who can help me?

I am mocking them.  They’re weak.  I am amused by them.   I will spit on your grave.

They are drinking in my innocence.  Gulp after gulp.  They took away my innocence.  I hate you for it.  I have been robbed of life.  I wanted to be a princess.  I wanted to wear a crown and a pink sparkly dress with glass slippers while living in a castle.  Except I am tainted.  I am tainted with ugliness and you have stained me with your poison.  I am too ugly to be a princess.  It’s too late to have innocence.  My flowers have been plucked, dried and burned.

I am ugly.  I am carrying an ugliness inside of me.  I have carried it for the past 21 years.

Why can’t I look at myself and not see ugliness?  It glares at me.  It carries itself on my shoulders and dances with me in my madness, wrapping its tentacles all over my body.  When I find that I am freed from one of their strongholds, I find that there is another one around my ankle.  It consumes me, ugliness has become me.  I am not pretty like all the other girls with their voluminous hair and carefree smiles.  Pretty hair.  Gentle eyes.  Cute nose.  Soft skin.  They carry themselves and can embrace their beauty.  They are free to feel beautiful while I am choking on the reflection I see in the mirror.  I want to be pretty too.  But I see nothing pretty in me.

I have always wondered why I could never feel pretty.  My ears would hear the words but the letters fell onto the floor and shattered there.  Give me your eyes so I could see what your see.  I can’t see anything here.  All I see are ugly remnants of prostitution leaving its trail inside of myself.  There’s nothing pretty there.  There was nothing pretty when I was being violated.  There’s something so disgusting in me.  I am an object of disgust.  Everything inside is so disgusting to look at.  I am disgusted with the traces left behind by these men.  Angelic beauty is something I could never attain; it has already been taken away.  I will never have the innocence, delicacy and gentleness of beauty.  Beauty is precious and I was precious to no one.  Beauty is to be preserved and all I’ve preserved are other men’s discarded hearts and leftover footprints.

All I know how to do is sabotage. Sabotage.  Sabotage.  Sabotage I destroy everything that was once beautiful.  Like an omen.  Or a virus.  I infect everything I touch.  I could never create nor be beautiful.  I want to be perfect but I can’t be.  And that makes me sad.  Will I ever be perfect in anyone’s eyes?

God are you there?  Why’d you let this happen to me?  Did you laugh with those other men?  Were you going to stop this?  No.  The answer is no.  You let this happen to me.  You didn’t stop them.  You’re laughing at me because I am an object of your amusement.   Why didn’t you care for me?   Is this how you show your love to those you care for?  You left me in the wilderness to be prey to those animals.  You neglected me.  You walked right past me as I screamed for someone to save me.  Why didn’t you put me out of my misery and let me go with those other children?  You should’ve because I am still living there.  You shouldn’t have spared me, how dare you spare me for a life I never asked for.  I never asked for this.  I never asked to be spared.  You never asked me what I wanted.  You don’t care.  Am I ever going to get a say over my own life.  You watched those men violate me.  And where did you stand?  You don’t care about what I want for my life.  It was never truly mine.  I don’t want to glorify you.

I hate you.  Where was your hand of protection?  I am not special to you.  I have no meaning to you.  I am meaningless and worthless to you.  You don’t care about me.  I am terrified of you.  What if you let this happen again?  How do you ever expect me to trust you?  If you let it happen then, why wouldn’t you let it happen now?  If I’m angry with you are you going to punish me into a life of prostitution again?  I don’t know if I can be honest with you. You gave me nothing I wanted.  What you’ve given me now is not enough to make up for everything.  It’s not enough.  You are not enough.  Trust. Trust. Trust.  I want you to fight for my trust.  I want you to fight for me.  I want you to show yourself to me and how precious I am to you, if I’m precious at all.  Is this what happens to precious people?

I am uncomfortable in my body.  There is a distance between Body and I.  Body, you are not mine.  You belong somewhere else.  Maybe with those men who entered you.  My body is still with them and not with me.  Body will you ever be mine to care for?  I can’t move.  I am tense.  I am paralyzed in my own body that doesn’t feel like mine.  Help me get out of myself.  I cannot work out today because I am scared of letting my body go.  I cannot eat today because I don’t know what will enter into my body if I do.  I am scared to not be in control of my body.  And yet it is vacant and distant and feels uncomfortable to live here.

Body, where do you think angels are?  Do you think that they protect us?  I saw one.  It told me to hide.  It protected me.  Do you think the angel loved me?  Do you think anyone loves me?  I wish I could love you Body.  But I don’t know you.  You have footprints inside that I don’t recognize.  You have been the tool used to enter into.  You did this to me Body.  Your physical availability did this to me.  You have been the object of disgust.  And I can’t seem to settle back into you.  You are unknown to me.  I am uncomfortable in you.

You are not capable of doing anything right Body.  You are capable of being exploited.  Again, and again. You let others exploit you.  It’s all you know.  Can you really be mine if you can be allowed to have this horror story take place inside of you?  You have been weak body.  You were weak.  You should’ve known.  You should’ve known better than to exist.  You did this to me.  You made me this way.  It is because of you that there was invasion at all.  You caused all of this.  I don’t know how to embrace you.  I don’t know how to stop your conditioned responses.  You seem to have a mind of your own and I don’t think I can come to the reality of your exploitation.  To reconnect with you means to feel the invasiveness of those evil men who spread themselves inside of you.  Like peanut butter, their thickness and stickiness never seems to rub off.  I can’t wash their stains away.  I keep scrubbing but I see their marks and scars and I can’t stop seeing them in you.  I can’t stop closing you off to the world because I see them taking you and not giving you back to me.  I want you back and I don’t know how to feel like you’re not theirs anymore.  You still feel like you belong to them.  And you weren’t even theirs to begin with.  You were mine.  You were supposed to be mine, you were born with me and I can’t even feel comfortable inside myself.  I can’t run away because I exist right in here.   And I can’t even feel safe in my physical body because there too many stains to rub off.  I want to be comfortable in you but I don’t know if you are mine or how to make you mine.  You were vulnerable for just existing and I can’t understand how and why.  I feel the empty vacancy in here.

People have approached me, wondering if I am a prostitute.  Like somehow the remnants of childhood prostitution have remained with me and left trails behind for others to find.  There are traces of sexual exploitation left inside of me, and others have found the traces when my mind couldn’t recall them.

I am me.  I cannot be anyone else but myself.  I cannot pretend.  I cannot meet anyone’s expectations.  I never have nor will.  I cannot measure my success.  I cannot redeem my pain.  I can only be who I am and offer who I am.  My honesty is all I can be.  I cannot give you someone else other than myself.  I am devastated.  That I will never fit the norm nor that my life will never be measured by the standards of the world.  I will never think like everyone else.  I will never walk the path of everyone else.  It has never been that way and it never will be.  I can only give you myself and who I am.  I can only find my beauty inside of my self-acceptance .  I accept that I will never be anyone else but me.  I will never live a normal life but my life is normal to me.  And that doesn’t take away my beauty.

My beauty journey begins here.  What was broken was never lost.  I will just have to find what others have taken away, because I have the power to take my beauty back and redefine its lines.

I am beautiful in my pain and suffering.

I am beautiful in my pain and suffering.

I am beautiful in my pain and suffering.

Never again will the world have the power to take away my freedom and life.  Those men do not have power to take my innocence nor beauty away.  Men do not define my inner nor outer beauty.  I have been given the power to choose what to fight for.  And I choose to fight for my inner and outer beauty.  I will always be the owner of it.

It is mine and no one else’s.

It is mine and no one else’s.

It is mine and no one else’s.

I won’t stop until I find it.  I will continue looking for it, sweeping away the shattered pieces of glass that left me with my broken perception and feelings of beauty.  I will solidify my beauty into such a strong foundation that I will stop allowing others to define my beauty for me.  The truth is I am beautiful.  And no one can take that away.

The little girl was always beautiful.  What happened to her was ugly, disgusting and horrifying.  But what happened to her is not her identity.  It is a tragedy.  And her beauty was always there, it was always a part of her.  Being so young she didn’t know what could or could not be taken away from her, and then unable to remember her early life lead her to not know what made her feel ugly.  But now that she knows, she has the power of choice.  And choice is the most dangerously powerful weapon.

I choose hope.  I choose to fight for myself and my worth.  I am on a journey to find my inner and outer beauty.  I am getting closer and closer.  I will get there one day. I am already being transformed.

The child is beautiful.  She always was and will be.

Jade Gleason was born in New Jersey and is graduating from Rutgers with a B.A. in Journalism and minors in English and Social Justice. Her creative outlets include writing in poetry and prose, modeling, acting, dancing, makeup art and photography. During her sophomore year of college, she delivered a TED Talk style presentation about the traumatic impacts of her mother’s mental illness and how survival at home lead to a lost childhood. After experiencing 17 years of trauma, she was adopted and has spent most her life recovering, healing, and reconstructing blocked memories, experiencing much growth in the process. Her plans after graduation include beginning a life for herself that renews and redeems her identity, where she is recognized for her work and abilities rather than the horrors and tragedies that occurred during her childhood. Her vision for her creative work is to portray how she’s been able to receive and discover her own inner healing while becoming an influencer to encourage others to reconcile their own broken identities and receive acceptance and healing for them.

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