I never thought that I would say how beautiful I am at the end of the day.
My childhood was rough for a child like me.
I wanted so badly to feel alive and free.
I was beaten on a regular basis each day.
I tried to hide my marks from unfamiliar faces.
I was judged by skin color day and night.
I tried to defend myself; I put up a fight.
Two of my uncles touched me where they never should.
I tried to tell my mother, but never could.
I wanted to be happy, but they took so much from me.
Knowing how much I hurt, could someone have sympathy?
I started to drink and use drugs to ease my pain.
Hanging out with “the cool kids”; new family members I gained.
My actions started to get out of control so I decided to drop out of high school.
I was sent to a placement for bad kids like me.
The only thing I accomplished was getting my GED.
When I got out, things only got worse.
I was hidden in misery; struck with a curse.
I was raped and taken advantage of, trying to find a man to show me some kind of love.
But four of them took what they wanted from me.
My roommate did not help, she just let them be.
How could these men be so cruel?
Knowing my surroundings will forever be a rule.
I’ve always tried to do things to the best of my ability.
Hoping one day my mom would finally want me because she didn’t, I have low self-esteem.
I grew up to be a drug addict and I’ve been in and out of jail for so many years.
No one to stand by me or wipe away my tears.
My journey on the path of self-destruction has led me to prison for a brand-new production.
I am in treatment trying to get closure and some healing, so I can deal positively with the pain
I’ve been feeling.
My mother, her boyfriends and family have had a negative impact on me.
Some people will never know just how much pain they’ve caused me;
one cloudy day I will need a crutch.
But me being willing to change my ways.
I know eventually I’ll see brighter days.
Sharing with others just like me will give us hope and strength to be truly happy.
Talking with others feels so good.
If you get the chance, I really think you should.
Say to yourself, I am beautiful, every day;
because you’ll come to believe the words you say.
Don’t give up even if you think it’s too late.
Only you can choose your destiny and fate.
This was written by Nathalie, an inmate, for the “I Am Beautiful” book series Volume 5. Art is the creative work of D. Casson, an inmate.
The I Am Beautiful project represents the personal contributions of women inmates across the country who sent us their writings and art regarding their experiences of abuse. This work is their personal writing and art.
The project encourages them to express their past experiences, their road to survival over abuse, and their opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other women in prison who have experienced indignity and violence at the hands of others, often from those who were supposed to love them.