Photo of a note. The word "hate" is crossed out and the word "love" is written.

As a child I was beaten, spit upon, and told that I “wouldn’t amount to nothing, like [my] nothing-ass mother.” My father told me that so many times that I believed him.

I can still feel his cold, wet, slimy spit dripping down my face.

At one time, me and my older brother, who is now deceased, were accused of something we would never have thought of doing. My father took his loaded shotgun and placed the barrel of that gun in my older brother’s mouth and asked him if he had done that awful thing. My brother replied, “no.”

Then he placed the shotgun in my mouth and asked if I had done it, and said if I did not tell him the truth I would die. I said “no.” Later that day he found out we were telling him the truth. But he never apologized to us.

That is just a little of what I went through as a child.

Because of abuse and madness in my life, I grew up a very angry person: mad at the world because of what I had been through.

My anger made communication with other people very difficult. I believed that everyone hated me or was trying to bully me or cheat me. I had lots of trust issues. I got into many fights and street wars. I could have been a boxer or joined the Army.

Making the wrong decisions caused me pain and regrets. I started to realize my life would not change until I changed. But old habits die hard.

Because of all the mental and physical abuse, the hatred formed my face, my physical look and my actions. I hurt people like I was hurt. I went on, stuck in my abusive, childhood state of mind.

It wasn’t easy to live on the streets of Northeast D.C., where drugs destroyed strong family homes. They turned good mothers into prostitutes and fathers into strung-out junkies; boys into killers, leaders into followers, good neighborhoods into war zones, good cops into bad cops and so on. Me and my anger fit right in.

A speeding car on East Capitol Street killed my baby stepsister when she was only six years old.

That dreadful day in 1996 was the saddest day of all for my family. After her death, the adults in my family went out and began using drugs. We kids were left to do what we wanted, when we wanted. Now, after being raised in the house and never allowed to go outside, suddenly we were free to roam.

The younger kids were taken by foster care. Drugs and alcohol took us older ones. And the pain of our abuse would control us and take over our minds. We still bear the scars. Things like hugging and saying “I love you” are still strange to us, ’cause that was rarely said in my household.

Though I am still recovering, I feel more peaceful than I have ever felt in my life. God is good.

My father never said he was sorry for all the beatings and abuse. He went to the next life in 2002. I hope God forgives him and allows him to pass through the heavenly gates.

I ask all the members of my family, friends and random people who I have hurt to please forgive me for all the pain I have caused. God is in my life now, so he guides me toward all that is good.

When it is my time to go, I hope people will be able to think of the positive things I have done, not the negative ones. Though I am homeless, I am trying to live my life in a new way, to get my own place.

Street Sense has given me a chance, and I am thankful with all my heart and soul to be starting over. When you see me standing on the corner of 14th Street by the train station I hope you will show me some love. And please remember that love is something that is still new to me.