I know there may be people that will never understand why I have to write. It’s not an easy story to read. It’s wasn’t easy to live through. And it’s not an easy story to tell. But it’s my story. There are people in the world that have suffered through similar or worse things than I have. I think that the saddest thing is that those people have passed, and no one ever found out, not even their closest family, about what happened to them.

What kind of world do we live in if every single person can’t express themselves fully, without any fear of being made to feel unwanted, undesirable and dispensable? I matter. My story matters. The things that happened to me really happened, and that matters too. Everyone’s story matters because we’re not all the same.

___I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I ever hurt your feelings. If I made you feel like I didn’t love you. Like I didn’t have the guts to tell you this in person: I should have told you a long time ago what happened. I should have told you in person. And I’m so sorry that I didn’t. I wish I had told you. Because we wouldn’t be where we are now. But I’m trying to make things right___

Mr. Romens

I remember the first day of middle school. I was in the 7th grade and I remember thinking wow, “Did every guy grow over the summer?!” It was a crazy time. I was at a new campus, and I was curious about what the new year would bring. A lot of things changed, we now had schedules and classes to remember to go to on different days. People were getting caught “doing things” in the bathrooms. And then there was worrying about where and who to sit with at lunch.

I don’t know what sparked my interest in wanting to dive into my homework. Maybe it was everything going on at home. Maybe I was bored. But school stuff just became easier for me. I had decided to start trying to move ahead in school and was doing a mix of 7th and 8th grade classes. It was okay for awhile. I got to see a lot of different things that way, I was forced to exist in a class who probably had kids who had been together since kindergarten. And then I had to go back and deal with the drama of the class that I had been with since kindergarten.

I decided to try to move ahead even more so I would visit the high school counselor, Mr. Romens. My goal was to just move into the 9th grade instead of going into 8th grade next year. If anyone could make it happen it was Mr. Romens. After a few weeks of meetings, the school approved the plan and mid year I moved into all 8th grade classes. If I could pass all my classes, I would go into the 9th grade.

I studied. Passed all my classes and the following fall, I walked unto my campus as a freshman. High school is an entirely different jungle. More things changed. But I still needed to worry about where to sit at lunch (that was still a thing). I felt like those classes were pretty easy as well. And I wanted to move ahead more. So I talked to Mr. Romens about how I could double up my sophomore year so that I could graduate a year early. I talked to teachers, talked to the principal, mapped everything out, and got started…

Different things happened during my freshman year. Things at home and things at school. I took the “counselor” in high school counselor pretty seriously, and told Mr. Romens about things that were going on with me inside and outside of the classroom. One of those things was telling him about getting hit in the face by my guardian. I don’t know why I decided to tell him. I just wanted someone to know what was happening with me.

What I didn’t know was that as a school employee, he had to report anything a student told him regarding any abuse, suicide, drug problem or anything that might cause harm to the child. Child Protective Services got involved. They came to the house and asked questions, they interviewed everyone. I don’t know what everyone else said. I didn’t talk about the rape. I decided to tell my interviewers about having thought about killing myself. I wanted to sometimes.

I’d go back and forth. And when my interviewers asked if I would or wouldn’t do it. I just couldn’t answer. Things were bad but not that bad. How does someone answer that question. I know I can kill myself, I don’t want to. But sometimes it seems like that would be easier than living.

I don’t know if they understood my answers. Mr. Romens had offered for me to live with him and his wife, and CPS approved them.

Mr. Romens drove from Anthem to Cordes Lakes to pick me up. I don’t remember if I said bye to any of my sisters. As I packed my things, there was a weird tension. I didn’t know how to feel. For most of the car ride I didn’t say anything. I felt a mixture of feelings: sadness, guilt, relief, worry…


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