Out From The Shadows

I watched her walk out from the shadows. The darkness is her cover; her friend and her enemy. The night is her guide. As I called to her she looked suspiciously around, not understanding my intention. I only wanted to talk and she couldn't understand why I didn't want to take from her. It was who she felt she was; the one whom life had placed a label. Her experiences became her. As I approached her, she stiffened, scared, frightened, defensive. I immediately began to put her at ease. I offered her some food, some condoms, and a cold drink. It may seem an odd combination, but on the street these are invaluable. She declined the food and accepted the drink and condoms. I asked her how she was doing and she looked at me with disbelief. "I know we have never met", I explained, "but I'm out here often and thought I would stop and see if there was anything I can do for you." I drive the streets late at night in order to reach out to the women that are working in the oldest profession in existence. I want to reach out and let them know they are not alone. I never tell them to stop what they do, I never tell them to stop using drugs, drinking alcohol, selling their bodies. I only tell them they are not alone in the darkness, someone cares, someone is here. I have often seen into the eyes of these women, sometimes empty, sometimes cold, always painful. Their walk along the streets is one of sadness and of hopelessness. I want to give hope and encouragement. My presence never seems to be enough. I want to do more, but it never seems enough. I let women know I am here if they desire to go to treatment, get off the streets, join one of my classes, make that difficult change. I wish I could do more. When she joins my class it is like the beginning of any difficult challenge, but it is magnified by the struggle of addiction. There are scars from a difficult life that run deep. I can see the pain, feel the sense of worthlessness. I see more than the ill fitted clothes, the missing teeth, the poignant odor that is carried from the life on the streets. I see beauty, creativity, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a woman. A woman who is courageous, strong, talented, and wanting nothing more than to free herself from the ugly grip of untruths that were fed to her throughout her life. She can escape from the belief that she is nothing, that she is no one, a woman without purpose...she can live free. I will be by her side. I will watch her grow. I will teach her and I will learn from her...For I see her as a WOMAN, I see her as me. We are not different even though our walk has not been the same, we embrace each other and we grow and we learn...for she is me and I am her...