Through my early teens I was in extensive therapy with both psychologists and psychiatrists. I think it was supposed to be with regards to sexual abuse but I really only remember whining about being alone and not having a family. In frustration I think, one day my psychologist told me flat out that I will never have a family until I make my own. I never went back to see her again. Or any other therapist for that matter until I was well into adulthood. I still remember the absolute finality of her words and the total hearbreak after absorbing that one fact. All of my childish, silly dreams crushed with one small sentence.
I as fourteen at the time.
My teen years in general are a bit of a roller coaster. I managed to go through 19 homes in the space of almost four years. Some recieving homes, shelters, and what were meant to be permanent placements until finally, at 17 I ended up in a group home. A good portion of those moves were my doing. I learned it was easier to jump than be dropped. Its hard not to feel like trash when all you’ve ever been is thrown away. Fully aware that I was nothing more than a commodity and that if people wanted to get paid they’d have to tolerate me. All in all I still wasnt a bad kid. I didnt party or drink and had no interest in boys but I rarely went to school despite having been tested at genius level. I preferred instead to spend all my time at the library or museums or with horses.
I took a stand and revelled in my own power. I started shutting down abusive homes I had been in. Succeeding in closing two. I refused to be quiet and refused to just go away and accept my lot in life. I adopted something of a ‘get them before they get you’ policy. Leaving homes I enjoyed before they had the chance to ditch me and basically making the ones I didnt like actually work for their money. I got attached to no one. They were my employees and I was the boss.
In hindsight I was probably a bit of a nightmare for my workers to manage.
My attitude also got me invited to the Foster Kid Conference when I was 17.
That was a huge eye opener for me. As bad as I always thought I had it there were kids in the system there who were genuinely slave labour, living off dandelion soup at mountain ranches. One boy had been set on fire by his foster parents. Another had been stabbed. The system is so heavily flawed that it’s no longer a case of kids slipping through the cracks. The rare ones are the ones who have a good go of it. The rest of us are the norm.
How can a system like that be allowed to continue? In the same tone how the hell do you even begin to fix it?