Dear Johnny,

Some people are born with a chain around their hand, feet and neck. For others, the shackles are put on by a loved one who would rather control them like a dog with a choker. With time, not unlike the boiling frog, you get used to the weight and the cold of the metal. You learn to live with less oxygen. You accept the chokings as being part of your reality. They become a part of you, as natural as the hair on your head. They were put on by someone you trust and love after all, so they must have a purpose.

All your life, the one responsible for your condition has the pleasure of pulling your chains as he or she pleases and you choke everytime but then you get on with your life. You ignore the red marks on your neck. You put a bandage on your wounds and you keep walking. You will be reminded that it’s your fault if you’re in pain and you will believe it. That’s how you’ll learn to keep your mouth shut and toe the line.

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll eventually understand that you’ve been enslaved. Maybe you never will as it’s hard to see clearly when you’re airways are blocked. Maybe you’ll meet someone who will make you see your chains. That person will of course be lashed and shamed. If strong enough, that person will stay by your side. But you will remain powerless no matter how hard you want to protect that person.

The hardest part is not coming to terms with your condition but seeing that your chains are attached with those of all the people you thought could be of help. You become isolated because they won’t believe you when you tell them they’ve been emprisoned and they will violently defend their tormentor. It was all part of the plan you see. If one gets out of the ranks, they will be either pulled back or shot at.

Once you accept you’re alone, you need to regain your freedom. All the others will constantly try to pull you back. You’ll want to help them but you need to leave them behind because if they bring you back in the rank, you’ll become a prisonner again but this time you won’t have the luxury of ignorance. That is a worst position than the one you were in before.

You see Johnny, I’m almost free but the more I pull the more they pull back. My arms and legs are sore. My neck is blue. My head is light from the lack of oxygen. The more I breathe, the more they choke me. Being blinded was easier. But now that I know I would have been boiled to death, like the boiling frog, I need to jump out of the water and heal my burns.