This is the first time I get to share someone's story from their perspective. What you will read below is mostly quoted from a couple with whom I spent time last Tuesday. Their names are Cecilia and Raymond.*
Raymond and Cecilia
"You ain't shit and you ain't never gonna be shit."
That's what her stepmom used to tell her.
"My biological mom had an affair with a John, got pregnant, and the John took me home and adopted me with his wife, because she couldn't have children. So [his wife, my stepmom,] always saw me as a product of his infidelity."
This is Cecilia's story, told through her words.
"When I was six, my biological dad died, and my stepmom got remarried to an abusive man. He started sexually abusing me at six. I started cutting at nine."
She was referring to the fact that she cuts her arms and her legs, and that she has since she was nine.
When I first met her last week, the bright purple stitches on her arms, now deep scars, were the first thing I noticed about her. We never expected, however, to hear her deeper story.
This might sound -- and definitely is -- cliche, but we hear a lot of sad stories from people on the streets. Daddies in and out of prison, Mamas selling their bodies, children growing up under the shroud of violence. Those children grow up and become adults. And those adults have now become our friends.
Cecilia and her husband Raymond live outside under the bridge in our little neighborhood in South Dallas.
In the midst of her pain, she was looking up, looking out, thinking about how she could help others.
"When I get paid tomorrow [for disability], I want to feed people under the bridge. Others come and do bless us so I feel I should do my part and try to bless someone too."
She was talking about feeding others who are homeless under the bridge, just as others from outside the neighborhood come to bless her and Raymond.
I asked Raymond what he wanted people to know about homelessness, and he said, "Homelessness is not something that we wish for. It comes on us from the experiences in life we've been through -- abuse, both physical and mental."
Raymond and Cecilia told me that every morning when they wake up, they pray together and say, "Lord, help us to be a blessing to someone today."
Cecilia has written over 500 poems, and she shared two with me, one we shared on Friday. The other is called My Master.
Watch it below:
I'm wonderfully and skillfully made
All by my Master's hand
Cause before my birth upon this earth
I was part of God's blueprint plan
He got something planned for me
Plan for me to prosper and overcome
Cause this world we live in is so wicked
True blessings only come for some
And I'm made in my Master's image
Therefore I'm totally complete and I'm whole
Because he knows every hair on my head
To him I dedicate my soul
My Master never cease to amaze me
His holy waters has washed my sins away
He molded me just the way he wanted to
For he is the potter and I am the clay
*This entire story is told, and this video shared, with the permission of Cecilia and Raymond.