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No one ever told me there would be people who would scar me in ways that would make me want to feel pain because that’s what I believe I’m worth. No one told me that there were words that would provoke me to have lunch over the toilet bowl to make it more tolerable. No one ever told me how easy it was to hold it in and that the most dangerous addictions and methods were always easy. No one ever told me to love myself before loving someone else or else that toxic, cheating, manipulative partner would depict the definition of love with a mirrored self-reflection that was ugly and worthless. No one taught me about inner strength and self-righteousness in all their talk of Hamlet and the Pythagorean Theorem. They say those kinds of personal issues aren’t meant to be learned through textbooks but are meant to be instilled in the home. But I’m just a thirteen year old foster kid, bounced around in a broken system full of parents looking for a pay day while I’m looking for a parent. I take the beatings; the bloody nose and broken ribs because I’m too clumsy to make it a week without falling up or down the stairs, whichever excuse the hospital believes this time. Turning a blind eye is what makes the broken system turn. So what do I know about love and self-respect and what a family should teach you? I walk these halls obediently with my nose in textbooks to learn about how the United States came to be and the importance of language but no one wants to educate me on friendship and identity. Our bright minds are supposed to pave the future, not end up splattered on the train tracks because we didn’t know there was another option. Because we didn’t know there were other ways. Because we didn’t know anything more than how to grammatically write our suicide letters and mathematically compute the probability of our dangerous methods working out exactly how we imagined. I’m just a thirteen year old foster kid getting kicked around a broken system, how was I supposed to know anything outside of these walls?

-AR

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