Beginning of September always brings back memories and flashbacks because it’s the time when school starts. Summer was easy. I was me or some version of me all the time. Bud during school, I was one person in public society (elementary school, activities, etc.) and someone else in the private society that occupied the rest of my time.
I didn’t have friends in the public society world. Everyone there looked down on me, bullied me, and pretended I didn’t exist. I helped by being rude, annoying, and quiet as possible to avoid attracting attention. But it didn’t make school easier. I thought school would make life easier because it took me out of the other world.
But it turns out, I enjoyed being in the other world more. The other world – the world of pedophiles, traffickers, dug dealers, predators, and other monsters – is where I made friends and learned life skills. It’s where I found family, a soul mate, and a purpose for surviving/living.
Those life skills and experiences may have turned me into a monster not fit for “regular” society in the legitimate world. But they gave me a secure and valued position in the criminal world and the gray world between legal and illegal. After I was freed – no longer belonging to the cult or human traffickers as a slave – I spent a good part of my life in the gray world while trying to forge a life in the legitimate world too.
Part of me didn’t want to give up the gray world. I had friends and family there. I had a purpose and helped many people. My job was exciting and fulfilling even if it was dangerous and involved lots of violence. Most important though, the people in that gray world accepted me as I was. I could be my real self with alter personalities, a quirky sense of humor, a bad temper and so on.
But in the legitimate world with my corporate job, I couldn’t be my whole self. My connections to the gray world and the criminal world put it in jeopardy. And as that personality, I didn’t recognize or have access to my friends and support network in the gray world. I couldn’t remember that other life without causing migraines and intense body pain.
But then my soul mate made a choice to leave on his terms. Other friends died or moved on. Instead of being free, keeping those friendships and connections made starting over more difficult. The criminals who remembered me kept harassing me and trying to recruit me. Kids I taught or helped before tracked me down and asked me to help again. My body gave out on me; I was in so much pain all the time.
Work wasn’t fun anymore. I tried to retire. I referred these people to the organizations I worked and volunteered for instead. And I focused on keeping the promises to my soul mate. To use my second chance at life wisely; be happy and free; and start fresh as my authentic self someplace else without the anger and pain holding me back.
I met my soul mate in a punishment cage when we were 3 or 4 years old. His family was rich enough that his parents traveled or worked a lot and paid people to take care of him. His parents trusted the friend who referred the caretakers not knowing or realizing where their son was all the time. Sort of like my parents trusting references from my pediatrician and taking advantage of free babysitting from local organizations.
It was my third day in training, and I was back in the punishment cage for talking back or not following the rules. I can’t remember exactly. Anyways, he came up and started talking to me. That became our pattern. I got punished (a lot). He came to talk with me. Then his trainers took him away. If he got punished (rarely at that time), I would walk over and talk with him.
Our friendship bloomed from there. Both of us were prostituted and raped, so our relationship never involved sex. We cared about each other too much to want to be involved that way after our shared experiences with human trafficking and cults.
Unfortunately for him, though, he didn’t share my problems with chemicals and other substances. Nor could he continue to separate his mind like I did to survive living two lives. The medicine, dugs, and alcohol did work on him. He got addicted and tried so many times to clean up.
But the memories, the shame, the anger, the pain were all too much for him. He couldn’t cope with our shared past. And he didn’t want me be stuck in that gray world forever even though that kept both of us safe. We made plans to get legitimate jobs in the real world and fulfill our dreams after college. We laughed and pulled each other out of trouble, but more often it was me finding and taking him home after a night of drugs and booze.
Sometime in our software year, we had a spring break that matched up – same weeks off – and decided to hang out together. But spring break has always been hard for both of us. My other family found him at a party with a bunch of people from the old gang – kids and adults who did jobs for the traffickers and the cult hoping to move up the ranks one day. He was still sober, but had the needle in his hand.
We talked. The others interfered. There was a fight. One that finally convinced those people wasn’t involved anymore; that I didn’t want to be involved and would stay out of their way as long as they didn’t target my loved ones. After the fight, my soul mate handed me the full syringe and asked me to help him get through the rest of the day and evening.
He wanted to spend one last day with me sober and clear headed because we needed to talk. I took the syringe and tossed it aside. It wouldn’t go to waste in that room. Then we left for my other family’s house.
He and I, we spent the afternoon talking and cooking our favorite snack food. That’s when he told me about his choice to leave on his terms. He wasn’t as strong as me, strong enough to live without the haze of drugs to take the edge off of his memories. But he didn’t want me to be stuck in our shady life or to see him spiral down into addiction. He wanted me to fulfill our dreams and keep my promises to live every moment with joy.
My soul mate wanted to leave in a dream where all of our wishes and ideals came true. I chose to support his choice. After all of his struggles, he deserved peace. The only promise I asked of him was that he wait until after college graduation to leave. We graduated college in 2004. He overdosed and died a year later.
I never saw him again after that spring break sophomore year in college. But I knew he kept tabs on me. And after my failed suicide attempt in 2004, he sent me a message reminding me of my promise to get help if I survived. I got help. Graduated. Started seeing a mental health professional and putting my life back together.
So you see, I can’t condemn suicide or people who want to commit suicide. In my mind, in my world, suicide is a legitimate choice – a fail safe option when nothing else feels right or good or safe – for people who’ve tried everything and anything and lost hope.
But I can’t support suicide – not the way it’s discussed these days – either. My soul mate lost hope. He didn’t want to drag me or the others in our circle down either when we still had chances to change. He made his choice after hours of talking (not just that day) with me and our circle, months/years of rehab and counseling, and working out issues with his family.
I couldn’t go through with any of my suicide attempts, but I never stopped looking at suicide as a fail-safe option until about 5 years ago when I decided to change my name and implement hazy plans to move across the country based on a recurring dream I couldn’t quite recall.
More than 10 years later, in the first two weeks of September when school starts and training started, I finally remember my soul mate and our friendship. So I guess the last two weeks of sleep deprivation, flashbacks, panic attacks, and pain were worth it. This story (with some details omitted), came to me between Friday and this morning.
We met 33 years ago and became secret best friends for over 20 years. I like to believe and have complete faith that my soul mate moved on to a better place where he can work on his plans for the next life.
Thanks for reading.