Suitcase

The following essay was written by a seventeen-year-old member of our system, who was trafficked internationally. Trigger Warning: This essay contains descriptions of programming, spiritual abuse, and sexual abuse by a group.

Takeoff

I’m not sure what happened, and I’m not sure if I care to explain it to anyone. I’m not sure if I care for anything at all, anymore—after what has happened to me.

Who am I?

Well, the last thing I can remember is seeing the ominous dance of the tall flames reflecting in my partner’s eyes.

The first thing I can remember is being curled up in a suitcase.

When I was a toddler, it registered in me as a small, cramped box with no light. The walls were made of some sort of cloth. Sometimes the box would rumble. Sometimes I would hear a small squeaking sound.

I later learned that this box was called a suitcase, and that the rumbling occurred when we were moving over broken pavement, and the occasional sound I heard was a squeaky wheel.

I spent my life traveling—in planes, in cars, on boats. But I was not given a ticket, nor a seat, nor a beverage. I was crammed into a suitcase. Sometimes I was not allowed out until we had reached our destination. At other times, I was, because somebody wanted to rape me.

I spent my life traveling, always toward people—people whom I first saw in my mind’s eye, rubbing their hands together, gleefully planning what they were going to do with me.

The children in my system recall being told that our primary home was within this suitcase. Because we were considered property, rather than a person, we were not given a home. We resided in this suitcase, and from within it, we could be wheeled onto the property of whomever had purchased us.

In my mind, it looks like a dark purple suitcase, on wheels, with an extendable handle at the top. I am not sure why it appears purple to me. Was I even allowed to see it from the outside?

There’s a boy inside my system who says that his favorite moment was listening to the sound of the zipper closing around him. Not opening. Closing. It was a sound he was programmed and conditioned to identify with our owner, and our owner’s love for him.

This little boy knows not what gruesome steps were taken, one day long ago, to destroy us even more deeply, as they would routinely do, and then build up his particular identity, from the ashes and rubble that settled over us, as the torture ended.

I’m not sure I need to tell him what was done to make him feel that he is loved, as he is being zipped into a suitcase, for if he closes his eyes I know he can hear it, just as sure as he can still hear the squeak of the wheel—a sound that will always remind us of being pulled across a mysterious pitch-black floor, an airport floor, past gates and terminals, passersby whistling in the wind, none the wiser that there exists a tiny child in that suitcase, who cannot cry because he’s been told it’ll break the barrier between space and time, and rip everyone’s soul to shreds.

This isn’t true, of course. It is just the sort of larger-than-life fear that programmers instill into tiny children. He’s not scared of what it would feel like if the universe were ripped to shreds, he is scared of what it did feel like when our entire universe was shredded, internally, long long ago.

He was broken off of the system through electrical torture, and then placed into the arms of our owner. He was stimulated and given drugs to induce placidity, modesty, happiness, blissful peace, and heightened sensory stimulation, especially physically. The room must be very quiet, and the lights must be dimmed, if one is trying to induce a love child. This is because sounds hurt, in the little ears of someone who’s just been prodded with a needle that amplifies everything.

Imagine being newly born, feeling raw and new and blank, and simultaneously being treated like the developed mind of a child who’s already existed for several years—it’s paradoxical. This new child that they created was held like a baby, and like a boy, and like a slave, and he was told that this person holding him is God, and that God loves him, and that his role in this lifetime is to sit within a suitcase, and to love it. He was told that this is his role because he fits, he fits in the suitcase. He was given a chance to climb in, and see for himself.

A further injection was made. It made him happy, and drowsy, and confused. He heard the words “I love you,” and those words became the mysterious force that pulled the zipper closed.

The zipper closed over the entirety of the world he had ever experienced.

In the darkness, he mildly sensed something else, something to the effect of: It’s closing over my brain, too. It’s hiding my mind from myself. I am hidden from myself now. My job is to hide. My job is to hide my mind from myself. Can’t let them see. Can’t let them hear me.

Or God won’t love me anymore.

Landing

I don’t want to tell you that I recall the feeling of that suitcase as well. As a teenage member of this system, I am prone to shame and embarrassment, and I find it embarrassing to admit that I was born in a suitcase, and that the first years of my life were spent there. Nobody wanted me.

I carry that feeling around with me everywhere, now. Much like my owner’s assistant rolled me around on that terrible, smooth floor—the landing pad taking me back and forth between abuses. The feeling of being unwanted is amplified when I think of the places that broke me, that deepened my internal abyss of horror, grief, loneliness, and identity confusion, all permeated by the haze from the mass of drugs seemingly always hanging from my arm.

If you inquire within us, many little girls and boys will tell you many things about that suitcase. What I can tell you is, there were multiple suitcases. The network we come from knows better than to allow us to attach to anything. Even the mildly stimulating, mundane, cramped existence of a vehicle of life, with wheels. Much like a womb, if it’s all you have, it’s all you know.

But I do know more because I had ears, and they allowed me to hear the playful voices of other children. From my darkness, I could sense that there were kids out there, kids who were allowed to stand in the sunlight, or under the clouds, or in the rain.

Knowing there was more to life—knowing that life had enough room in it for me to stretch my legs out—left me stunned.

Slaves aren’t people. Only people can have plane tickets. Therefore I can’t have a plane ticket. Therefore, my owner says he will do me the immense favor of sticking me in this pit, in order to make me happy, in order to bring me home, in order to bring me to a land where the criminals see right past me, care only about my trembling, closed legs and what they’re hiding, just the same as the criminals in the other countries do—just in different languages or different accents.

And the air. The air is different everywhere. Everywhere I’ve gone, I have noted such vast differences. The climate is different. The voices of the people are different. The energy of the web of interconnectivity among beings and nature is different.

Hearing the voices of those children playing, while I was being rolled away, left a mark on me. Seeing the families, couples, and friends walking down the same roads I walked down, in so many countries, but not experiencing the same chains I experienced around my ankles, left a perplexing thought in my head.

There is more to life than being used, or being broken into, even though my legs twist together and plead for this man to stop, for that man not to shake me, for these fellas not to circle around me. Muffled sounds puff out through the cloth they tied around my mouth. I am a terrorized star. They hold me by my ankles, wrists, and head, and spread me out, and I realize that I have never seen the fullness of my soul before.

Living

He was tiny and his beautiful voice rose up out of him like a sculpture or a vine, creating itself as it woke from its own soul. While dangerous men abused us both, they forced him to sing to me, which felt like watching the shredding of a lawnmower, a tree trimmer, a rose picker—whatever barbaric method people having of cutting down nature in such a loud way that they can’t hear the wails.

A boy I grew up with, a boy I held hands with as we sang in a choir or witnessed a murder, a boy who became a man who became a partner, was the last person I saw, before my eyes closed and dissociation took its last swipe at my life.

We experienced many terrible fires together, over the years. Some were fires set in fireplaces during abuse, some were bonfires, some were house fires, some were rage. We experienced violence together, as children and as adults. We were allowed to save each other from it sometimes, only to be met with even more violence together afterward.

Somehow, it all feels so small when juxtaposed with my memory of his smile. When a soul smiles, it is big. It is bigger than when fifty souls set fire to the stage.

Several years ago, we experienced our last bonfire. Looking into each other’s eyes, we were both fighting the fear that we would be forced to watch the other burn. We were suddenly yanked away from each other, and that is where my memory goes dark.

From within the bag placed over my head, I heard screaming. Suddenly, I felt like a small child again, trapped in a suitcase. Except, I was not hearing the sounds of playing children. Slaves do not get to play, they get hurt. I was hearing the sound of my screaming partner, and I knew that I would soon be screaming too.

Though that night was so brutal that I cannot yet ask it to tell me the rest, I can remember that my partner and I were both made to believe that the other died. I know that neither of us did.

A part of me does feel singed, though, without him. Now I think of him and hope that he is safe. I think of him and I feel glad that souls don’t burn. I hate many of the lessons my life has taught me, but this notion offered me hope every time I was wheeled away from the arms and the home of my partner, knowing that flames were never too far away from him, or from me.

Happiness

There was so much of me that recoiled away from this life of terror, that I feared I’d never really know myself. So much of my soul burrowed inward.

I felt like a facade. I felt like a shield blocking something from knowing the worst of things, the worst of life, and the worst possibility, that this life was happening because of something inside of me that was rotten to the core. Dangerous. I was afraid that I was dangerous, like a fire.

For my entire life, I was afraid that this was happening because I deserved it.

In recovery, I am now questioning what it means to deserve. And I am experiencing what it feels like not to receive something that is deserved. I have not received acknowledgment, nor apology. I have not received justice. I have not received adequate support. I have not received a safe family. I have never been on a vacation.

One day I would like to go on one. I want to know what it is like to have a ticket, and a seat, and a beverage, and I want to know what it is like to be a visible passenger who will not be mistreated.

As a slave, the more I was trafficked and moved from place to place, the more it began to feel like I was losing pieces of myself along the way. I started to feel broken. During my time spent in suitcases, breathing carefully and slowly, I would try to piece myself back together, because I knew that the consequences for breaking would be far worse than the familiar, cold sound of the zipper opening.

I write to you now, even though I am still afraid. I write because I want to be free. When I write, I find a way to unzip my suitcase from the inside, and step out into the sunlight, and join the other children. I walk up to them earnestly, reservedly, and I do not say anything, because I am not sure how to speak.

But when I emerge, I hold the hand of freedom, and this wakes up everything inside of me. I know what it is to be awake. I know what it is to feel. And I want to know what it is to feel something other than darkness, or flame. I want to know what it is to feel happy.





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