Before I begin, let me preface this by explaining that a lot of the things I'll describe will sound outlandish or outright made up. In my experience, those are the the stories that are most believable, since lies tend to be more uniform than that. If you decide to take what I'm saying as being untruthful, I'll understand. Here goes.
Where I come from ===================================================================
I was born in a criminal family.
It wasn't always like that and I remember a time when things were simple, if still stressful. By the time I was in my early teens, however, things had changed.
When I say "criminal", I don't mean anything to do with violence (I do, however, remember one time when my father shared he had burned down a store a few days prior to telling me; he was shaken). The nature of my father's work mostly had to do with housing schemes of varying scale.
Still, a crime is a crime, and in my country even petty crime gets you connected to local groups. You'll know them under the umbrella term "the Balkan mafia". As housing schemes are lucrative, that got him into contact with people that were less than unsavory. Things that once scared me as a child, making me wonder who exactly I was living with, steadily began to be commonplace. Men with guns barging into our home. People following me after school, taking pictures of me leaving (I eventually found out they'd show these pictures to my father as a way to threaten him through me), telling me to give my regards to my dad, he'd know who they were.
I must have been 11 or 12 at the time.
How I got out =======================================================================
Not to sound self-congratulatory, but I was a pretty bright kid. I was very empathetic of those around me, I loved reading and writing, and I taught myself English. By the time I was 11 I had already read through all of Shakespeare's tragedies (except Titus Andronicus, I managed to get to that one much later) and by the time I was 13 I already had an English Certificate of Proficiency.
In high school, I spent most of time time reading and writing music. I had taught myself to play the guitar, the piano, drums, bass, to arrange music for orchestra, etc. One thing I fell in love with as a kid that was further developed in that time was my love for Japan and Japanese culture. Not just anime and video games, either. Movies, literature, history - I was enamored with all of it.
So when things started to get really dangerous around my family (outright threats, people following us more often, guns being drawn against my father), I decided to go into university studying Japanese philology. If my upbringing was violent, sadistic, and corrupt, I was going to be well educated, thoughtful, and ambitious.
All the stress I was under meant I wasn't the best student by a long shot, but I did put my all into it. And for the first time in my life, something paid off - I won a scholarship for one year abroad in Japan.
This was it. This was my way out.
I like to describe that year as the only happy year of my life. I met many wonderful people and had many wonderful experiences. This was the first year where I had friends. It was also the first time I had people be nice to me. I grew and flourished and changed rapidly, more in that one year than in my entire life up to that point. I was able to overcome both my shyness, my depression, and even my stutter from all those years being physically mistreated and emotionally kicked around.
But it had to come to an end. Only having a student visa meant I couldn't work during my stay there, so I had to come back. Sitting in the train towards the airport on my last day, I felt like I was on death row. I was terrified of going back, because I knew all the horrors that entailed. Still, I had changed. I was stronger now. I wouldn't let my environment drag me back down.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
How I lost everything =================================================================
Coming back, I was a hero. I was someone who had made it out, even if for a brief year. But it didn't last.
My health rapidly deteriorated and I had to get two surgeries done. My university professors were apathetic to my situation, instead opting to expel me almost immediately. I had my first real suicide attempt (my first actual suicide attempt was when I was about 6, when I tried jumping off the balcony because my parents had locked me inside my room for a few days with no food).
I was then put on medication that was supposed to make me better. Instead, I was left in an old apartment to rot away for years.
During that time, having nothing and no one else to turn to, untethered, I fell into the banal downwards spiral of drugs and girls.
That whole time was hell.
I was emaciated. I was sick. I was manic and suicidal in equal measure, one giving way to the other at seemingly a set amount of minutes at a time, swapping in and out so fast it all became a blur of panic and uncertainty, a hyperactive non-existence. I was often taken advantage of. I was raped numerous times.
4 years later, I was different.
I hope you'll understand, I was lied to about the effects the medication would have. Instead of helping me, I was heavily sedated. Turns out, my medication was one of the most addictive on the market. No one ever told me. Drugs were the only way to be active and regain some sort of energy and character.
I had gone through a few jobs in this time, but they were all disastrous and exploitative. It was coming out of this hell that my father reached out to me and told me my mother was ill and needed an operation. I left my country for the Netherlands, where I lived and worked with Polish criminals for about half an year unloading trucks before saving a bit of money for my mother's operation and coming back.
There was no operation.
That same family who kept me hungry, beat me to tears, and manipulated me had lied to me about my mother's illness to keep me away to sell the apartment I had thought was mine. They sold their apartment, too. They also took the money I had saved for them.
That was the last I saw of them.
I stayed on the street after that.
Managed to keep a couple jobs for long enough until I lost them again and ended up back on the street.
This is where I am now. Crashing at a friend's couch. Until I have to hit the streets again.
And this is where I ask you for help.
What I need ========================================================================
I need to go back home. I need to go back to the place I once felt dignified. In order to go there without a working visa, however, I'll need to study. One year's worth of studying and living there comes out to about €/$25,000.
The main thing I lost over that period of time was the boy I was. 4 years of being sedated meant that when I was ultimately able to conquer all my addictions, including the one to my medication, I was left with a 4 year gap between me and the person I was last time I was myself.
I need to give that boy back what he deserved. I need to reconnect with him and salve his spirit.
What I'll offer in return ================================================================
I don't believe in being handed anything in life. It never has been and I don't require or request it. So for every donation over €25, I'll offer something in return. I'm a decent enough musician and a professional copywriter, writer, editor, and translator with a lot of wildly different projects and accomplishments under my belt. Whatever you would need me to do, even if not mentioned above, I'll do it.
- Want me to write an article for you? Done
- Want me to record a song for you? Easy
- Live near me? I'll come and vacuum your backyard
Whatever it is I can do, I'll do it to the best of my abilities.
Thank you for reading all of this.
Good luck out there.