Jade Helena is a writer, poet and Community Artist at SKETCH. Her autobiography, The Teen Sex Trade: My Story, will be published this Fall. In the meantime, you can follow her on Instagram or her website, and her hashtags are #stagesbyjadehelena and #authorpoetsurvivor.
Art transformed me into a woman. Before, I was an angry, misguided teenager who didn’t care about life, and it wasn’t because I didn’t care, it was because I was hurting so badly. Writing allowed me to ground myself. I’m so much more comfortable in my skin; not many things can shake me. Nothing that a good writing session can’t heal anyway. I look forward to life now. Having journals full of experiences and now with my autobiography coming out, I’m able to go back to those times through my writing and remember everything I went through. Being able to read it helps to ensure that I won’t experience it again.
I used to think I was so dumb. I would get treated badly by a guy and then get with a different guy and go through the same shit. Like, I’d forget about what happened with the previous situation. Now, when something doesn’t feel right, I’ll flip through my journals and it’s like “Oh yeah!”
But, probably the most important thing is that art taught me how to trust my intuition a lot. When I reflect on my life, I realize that my mind and body were trying to tell me something was wrong so many times but I ignored it thinking I was exaggerating. Or that I was strong enough to get through whatever it was. I mean, obviously I was strong enough cause I’m still here, but a lot of trauma and pain could have been avoided had I just listened to myself.
Jade taking a picture of her business cards during Indie Studio
For my inspiration, immediately Assata Shakur comes to mind. I’ve read her autobiography at least five times and it’s become my bible. That woman has been through so much and she still retains her spirit. I look up to her a lot. I hope I can get a copy of my book to her somehow because she was a large influence behind it. Besides her, the women in my life inspire me. My elders like my mom and my godmother. Their resiliency is crazy. It almost makes me want to cry. You go through stuff and you wonder how you’ll get through it but you just do. I don’t know how they did, but I’m glad they did. Any woman can really be my inspiration at different times, it depends on what I’m experiencing. I love women. They’re so strong.
I’ve been wanting to be an author since I was a child, now it’s becoming a reality. It’s been a long time coming. I’ll be glad when I can finally give my story to the world, to share everything I’ve been carrying. It was hard to hold by myself. But I did it!
I’m just happy to be here in this world, living, existing. I never used to have the type of optimism towards life that I have now. Everything felt unattainable so I told myself not to bother striving for it. I’m proud that I’ve made it this far.
I have a publishing deal, I just became a mother to twins recently, I have a healthy relationship…I’m just happy.
I turned out alright…