August 17, 2011

A Boy's Rage In A Bottle

My name is Asia an I am a youth at (a youth center). I a 17 year old boy an I have lost a lot of people. I am reading your book on grief and loss. It is a good book. But I need help on other things to.

My mom is strung out on every drug you can think of. When I was 2 my mom sold me to a drug deler to pay them off for a deal. They put me in a floded basment and beat me. I spnt my life in the streets gangin and fightn. I shoot people, robed people shoot up peoples house n all that stuff. I wach my cousin get shoot in the face 7 times and that made me mad so I want to get even wit people and hut them. I hated the world. I hated everyone I seen. I got in lots of fights.

My grandad passd away and I had no one to go to but the streets. Every place the court sent me to I hurt people. Then I got lock up. It is hard, hurts I have alot lockd up inside me an I have been taking all this out on others all my life.

My life sucks. I never talk to no one. You are the only one I told this to. I think about killing my self all the time. Can you help me.

I hurt but never cry
I love but never loved
And still I stand

Dear Asia,

Thanks for writing me and sharing your story (and powerful drawing). I’m glad to hear you’re reading my book on grief and loss and I thank you for the compliment. I’m glad you like the book, I hope you find it helpful. It was written for young kids like you.

It makes me very sad and angry at the world that you, or any young dude, should be put through what you’ve experienced. My heart goes out to you. It’s hard for me, someone who knows a lot about the topic of grief and loss, to really understand how deep and crushing your sadness must be . . . . . and how strong a man you must be to deal with it all. It must be very difficult to hold all that pain inside you, and I can imagine you want to end it all sometimes.

From my experience, I do know that letting out that sadness, pain, and anger, in non-destructive ways, is where you have to start. I don’t know how you can do that, but keeping all that inside is like a poison. It  will make you crazy and keep you violent if you don’t. I’ve written to other guys in jail and I know that looking tough, being strong, and being on guard is necessary for survival. On the other hand, letting out the big feelings in the bottle you drew means being vulnerable, trusting someone, even letting down your guard. Eventually, doing that will make you a stronger man, but I don’t know how to tell you to do that where you are.

I do know that your true power as a man, your gifts, and so much that is awesome about you lies buried under all that hurt and sadness. Until that burden lifts, we won’t get to see the real “you.”

You are smart enough to read a book on the topic, and have enough faith to write to a guy you don’t know and share a little of your story. Those are good signs . . . really good signs. I’m proud of you for taking that risk. It gives me hope for you cuz you’re moving in the right direction. I hope you keep on taking those risks.

You asked me if I can help you. My response is that I can support you, but only you can help yourself. It will take real courage to face all that pain you have inside, but that’s my wish for you. You are worth it man. Take the risk. I’m on your side and I'm here for you.

Earl Hipp

Asia is out in the world now, living in Detroit, trying to be a good dad, struggling, but standing strong.

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  1. Wow, what a powerful post! And to imagine the hundreds, thousands, millions of young/older men who have gone through similar experiences and are struggling with all that pain, anger and hurt. Great response from you, dude!

  2. Earl,
    Nice article, Nice work with Asia. We have been working with boys in the foster care system and hearing lots of stories like his. It astounds me how little it takes for these kids to start to trust and tell us their story. Good to be in the game with you.

    Craig McClain
    Executive Director
    Boys to Men Mentoring Network

  3. Thanks Craig. I agree. Over the years I've been getting letters from guys like Asia, many in prison, with huge man hunger and desperate for an affirming touch. So much work to do.

  4. We tried a couple of years ago to bring Craig McClain's Boys to Men Mentoring Network here to Indiana, and we didn't make a go of it at that time. I hope we can in the future. I don't (yet) have first hand experience with Boys to Men, but from what I have seen it's powerful stuff.

    Often men can still be reached after they've become adults, but I can only think that it's far better to reach them while they're still boys. Thanks to all who are in this work.

    Doug Powers
    The ManKind Project Indiana

  5. Doug,
    Do let me know when you're ready to give the boys weekend rite of passage event another try. I'll happy to support that effort any way I can.


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