She couldn’t get away from the cords. One after the other, it seemed she was tethered forever, and perhaps she will be. Mother bore her unknowingly for months. Then came regret. She was the first of 8 children born into a legacy of angst, poverty, addiction, abuse, schizophrenia and dissociation. Those cords bind long after the umbilical is cut. As one psychologist writes, “neurons that fire together, wire together.” There’s not enough nurturing to undo this trauma. Only the truest Love could forge the narrowest of pathways out.
Her mother has a habit, with 4 kids and 4 more on the way, so many have used the woman already… so, Mama numbs all day. And who helps to make sure Mama is “okay”? The oldest, of course. Down the road she goes - from the house, around the corner, to the end of the street. She finds joy in the cool wind, and in the tiny package with a special rock delivered into her fragile palm. As an 8 year old, dignity can be found in supplying the most vile substance to soothe a hurting and desperate mom. She was a good drug mule - responsible, efficient, inconspicuous. By 12 Mama’s boyfriend took notice, and so did the dealers. Mama’s habit and the babies continued to heap on regret, and perhaps this is where the compounding effects of abuse and trauma set in. My friend is sold for sex over and over by her own mother.
My now 20-something-year-old friend, now mother herself, stares in the mirror of a strip club, a psych hospital, an agency, and has no idea that she has outlived a harrowing statistic. She has no language for domestic sex trafficking, she does not identify. She’s just surviving. The life expectancy of a human trafficking victim is only 7 years… I am sitting across the diner staring at an exception to this rule. She is a walking, breathing miracle. She doesn’t know it yet.
This miracle who has publicly tried to hang herself, overdose, and cut herself in multiple suicide attempts, is barely getting by. The cords keep finding her, Mama keeps calling telling her she’s not “crazy” and to “get on back here”.
I ask her, “what do you want to do?” She doesn’t want to go back. She wants to try and make it here, on her own, to prove she’s more than a worthless drug mule kid who watched after everyone while no one cared for her. Who chased after the affection of more and more and more men because they were who took her power away. She told me she can’t fill the void with more men - they just keep hurting her. It’s been years since we connected, but here she is - a walking, breathing, miracle. I tell her she is just that. With a trembling tummy, I testify to the statistic she has already beat. This was a risk. Her eyes get big, “wow, I didn’t know that.” I talk about the definition of trafficking and ask if she believes this is what her mother did. She nods, “oh yes, it is. I know now.” And I realize this is tender ground that could spiral downhill quick or empower her greatly. I have no degree or qualifications in this. I am totally following my gut in this conversation and begging the Holy Spirit to slather grace on my tongue like gravy on her mashed potatoes.
“This is a lot to take in,” she says. Her eyes get glassy.
“Have you tried the pear cobbler yet? Is it good?” I ask. She snaps to and takes a bite.
“It’s the most I’ve eaten in days. I haven’t been able to keep food down. I’m losing weight, and… I’m pregnant again, second trimester.”
So here we are. Surrendering all over again, both she and I. I am scared. I feel I am totally beyond any ability to truly help; and yet we make the calls, we plug her in, we make space at JSL for all of it. She is so strong, so brave to reach out - making that call after all these years had to be crazy hard. But, she is showing up to her life - even for today, and we can celebrate that with all the angels in Heaven! As much as those cords of dysfunction and death keep grabbing for her, this I know is true:
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
Keep the prayers and support coming! We need you every step, and then some.
Founder, Jesus Said Love