Birthed into poverty and violence, my early life was one of extreme vulnerability. I spent long evenings in the spell of neon lights outside the military bases of my childhood where my mother picked up men. My mother prostituted me for the first time at age nine. I found refuge in the world of language, books, music, nature, and the world of Spirit. There were human angels who came into my life, each for a short time, with the face of compassion and whispers that left behind miraculous seeds of hope and the ability to reach out and past the unbearable circumstances of my life, again and again.
Institutionalized shortly after beginning college, I would not have survived if not for Sydney, a courageous nurse who fought for my release. When I first began this book, I searched for and then learned from her that the institution I was held in was conducting experimental research. My unwillingness to be compliant and take prescribed pills led to my commitment to the worst state hospital in the Illinois System.
As I began writing this book, Sydney and I returned to Elgin State Hospital for a visit and conducted archival research. We discovered that throughout the Cold War our nation used thousands of vulnerable, unsuspecting citizens as research subjects: newborns, institutionalized children, African-Americans, Native Americans, prisoners, mental patients, and our own military. But this book is not just about surviving the impossible, it is about recovery of the soul, healing into wholeness, and the possibility of living a luminous life.
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