Fun Fact #14: Sometimes You Just Can’t Cope

Fun Fact #14 – Sometimes You Just Cant Cope


So many wonderful things happened last year, and then it hit me. Depression, out of nowhere. Most days I feel like there are two different versions of myself. A curious and creative child, yearning to grow and absorb as much information as possible, taking in vast amounts of knowledge and piecing together the world through fragments of broken glass that lay shattered around me. Sometimes, with that glass, I can create a mosaic of bright vibrant color that glistens when you look through it. Sometimes I can color my world and leave shadows of light in the darkness that surrounds me, but most days I can’t find the energy to create anything.

This past year sped by so quickly, I hardly had the time to catch my breath. It’s been a while since I last wrote or posted anything, I kind of went on a social media hiatus. I mean, sure I clicked the “like” button a few times or threw together random videos and pictures but for the most part, I’ve been out of the loop on everything. I tried my best to avoid anything and everything that connected me to the outside world, and without realizing, became extremely withdrawn (which is totally not me). On top of that, that I lost my Macbook Pro, yea! That sucked a whole lot. It was the only outlet that I really had to be creative and make sense of the world through art and writing. So I’ve been kind of behind in that department as well.

At first, I told myself I was too busy with my work and everything that I pushed to achieve everyday and THAT was the reason I stopped talking to friends, accepting invitations to go out, or taking my daughter to the park. Sure I was busy and that may have all been true, but after a while it turned into something else entirely. I spent this past year filling my day to the brim with things that would help others, so much… that I forgot to take care of myself and my family in the process. I think a part of me was secretly still hurting and trying to avoid feeling anything at all. Staying busy in a world that never stops moving was my way to cope with everything I suppose. I know it wasn’t the right way, but it worked at the time. I mean, it’s much easier to stay busy and pretend like nothing else existed because at least then, I’m making a difference right? I’m using every fiber in my being to make something special happen. Creating opportunities for people so that I could convince myself there still was a bit of good left in this world. All the while, trying to convince myself that everything I went through was for a reason.

I spent the past few years working at a non-profit agency, hiring over 300+ instructors, teachers and employees to work in title one schools throughout Sacramento. I ignited a new hiring tactic to recruit staff members, “Hiring Parties” I called them. I went from school to school, opening themed parties to the public and hosting two hour sessions in lieu of interviews. Candidates would walk in and play games, crafts, and engage in activities that allowed me to truly see their personality and potential. We had fun and it allowed me the opportunity to hire the right person to work with youth in our schools. I loved it! (for maybe a year or so) After time I really began to feel as though my efforts, while important, were not feeding my soul in the way that I needed. Up until this point, I’ve always felt as though I was O.K because there was a bigger picture or purpose that I had yet to see. I was never a prostitute, gang member, on drugs, or alcoholic, “I made it out for a reason.” and I was going to use that reason to help others survive too! One of my old bosses called it the “savior” complex, what the fuck does she know right?

Meh, maybe she was right! But yanno what, I didn’t care, I know that what I’ve been through and how far I’ve come was for something greater, something inside told me that my story needed to be heard, shared and read. Had I been a younger version of myself, and read a book that I was able to connect with and relate to, I know that I wouldn’t have felt so alone and that in itself would have made a difference. That’s what life is about right? Love, connection, helping each other move forward in this world. My time at the Center was fulfilling, until it didn’t become enough anymore. No matter how much I loved my co-workers and friends that I had made through my time there, my soul wasn’t being fed. Between the struggles I faced at home and the environment at work, I just fell into this deep, dark depression.

I went through a phase where I was filled with a constant reminder of everything that ailed my soul. Laughter, smiles, and painful recollections of all that I had lost in this life constantly spun through my mind and like a spider web collecting dust, I became stagnant in this dreary cesspool of places and people I missed, things I’ve encountered or aspirations I never achieved. I worked 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM and sometimes on the weekend to distract myself, but even that became too much. Life became too much and I began suffocating in the work that I surrounded myself with, so I kind of gave up. I wanted to help establish transitional housing for foster youth, begin work in marketing through video creation. I wanted to establish a solid platform for our social media network at the Center and create a campaign that helped ignite the work that we did back at the office. For awhile I was on track. I started seeking partnerships with local shelters, some closer than others. I traveled to San Francisco often and met with executives of various organizations to learn and discuss the possibilities of our shelter idea. I worked on video interviews and engineered advertisements to help start and fund a campaign. I connected a local foster care agency and students throughout Sacramento with Paramount pictures and hosted a free screening for Foster youth, families and social workers to, “Instant Family.” I pushed to impact as many people as possible.

In my time there, I did so much! So why did it feel like so little? Because I forgot to heal my soul before feeding my soul? Perhaps because most of my time was spent tucked away in a little cubicle, hidden from the world and confined to the thoughts that scavenged my mind. For the most part, I was able to motivate myself in new and exciting ways, but mostly I suffered. Like a caged bird, I needed to spread my wings, and after a while I grew tired and depressed. When the chaos of life began to slow down, my mind began to wander, and where did I find myself? At the end of my rope, again.

I’ve been here before, twice. Once as a child suffering at the hands of adults, and another as an adult, just before I wrote my book, “Dandelion.” What I remember the most is the feeling of hopelessness, like no matter what I do, or how far I push myself in this life, it’s never enough. I’m never satisfied with anything, and I can’t find something that quenches my thirst, this insatiable hunger that pains the pit of my stomach making it difficult to breathe, let alone move. Hell, maybe its the unresolved issues that I never had the true opportunity to dive into and fix. If I’ve learned anything from living in the past, it’s that nothing will ever be “fixed” per say… but at least addressing them makes me feel better. I suppose that’s why I write, because it feels better, its therapeutic.

Anyways, Just before my emotional break, I started going back to school again this past January… I’ve known the direction I want to take in life, I know where I want to end, but I don’t know how to get there I suppose. I picture myself, living a comfortable life, perhaps somewhere along the beach or in the busy streets of the city with my family. A place near the ocean, where I can still smell the salty breeze. Maybe, I’ll write on the beach at night or crochet as I watch the tide swell. During the day, I’d help families and as many youth as I could, I don’t know to what capacity but I’m thinking some type of social worker to say the least. I just want to be able to use my experiences and impact others in a way that helps them continue to grow and learn through trying times. I want to save all the little versions of myself that I see in these kids, mostly because no one saved me. I want to make a difference. My goal was to work toward that Master’s in Social work degree, I have a long way until I get there but at least when I enrolled for school this semester, I knew I was fighting for something. Now I just feel weighed down by the intensity of life and everything that comes along with it.

I’ll be honest, I spend most of my time sleeping or crying. It’s pretty pathetic. I feel like a shroud of dark mass or energy wrapped itself around every molecule of air that I’ve inhaled, weighing down my lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Most days, I feel like I’m stumbling through life, listening to the world pass by in a haze like a muffled conversation behind closed doors. In fact, most days it’s difficult just to get out of bed and take my daughter to school. I stopped working about two weeks ago, I knew it was the right decision but it was difficult. All of these people, coworkers and friends that have turned into family and held me together like glue just vanished. Like everything else does. Gone. I’m close with my biological sister now, but it took years of learning each other and figuring out how to get along. Other than that.. It’s just my husband and daughter. A part of me feels so guilty because it’s not enough to keep me going. I can’t rely on my tiny child to push me through difficult times. My husband, as supportive as he is… just doesn’t get it. I don’t think most people do.

Last week, I lay in bed everyday crying and watching re-runs of stupid TV series and movies I loved as a kid. One day, my daughter comes up to me and says, “Mommy, sit up!” It took her about 10 minutes of arguing with me to convince me to pull the blankets off myself and sit at the edge of my bed, but she was persistent! After vanishing for a minute, she popped back into the bedroom and carefully tip-toed to the edge of my bed with a big pot from the kitchen sink full of cold water. She placed my feet into the frigid water as I screamed in shock and laughed through tears once I understood what she was doing. She was washing my feet! After a thorough scrub with scented bubble gum soap, she began drying my toes and painting my toenails a variety of colors. She then moved onto to brushing my hair, massaging my back and tucking me back into bed with a cup of orange juice and silly bent straw to sip from. She’s so sweet and observant. I felt guilty in that moment, upset at the fact that I hadn’t been there for her lately. I stopped helping her with homework, I stopped playing dolls with her. I spent the majority of my time distracting myself from living these past two months, that I forgot about her. I tend to be selfish in that way when depression hits and hits HARD. I think a piece of her knows that something is wrong with me, it’s why shes been so kind lately. Instead of begging me to go to the park, she plays with her toys quietly on the floor or draws pictures upon pictures of imaginary worlds that she creates. She also spends a lot of time on mine craft now days, but what 8 year old doesn’t right? Most the time the time, I let her do pretty much whatever she wants because anything other than laying in bed is exhausting. When she spends time with her daddy, he keeps her pretty occupied but he works a lot these days so it’s tough to spend quality time together.

I recently went and saw a doctor, yanno the kind in white jackets? The kind that wears tiny brimmed glasses that sit at the bridge of their nose, making their eyes seem more exaggerated than they really are, “Now tell me, what’s wrong?” he says.

“The fuck if I know?! I wouldn’t be here if I did, jeez.”

Sobbing, I couldn’t seem to keep my mouth closed and all at once the floodgates to hell were kicked wide open, I was a sobbing mess. I think we talked for about 2 hours before the doctor finally stopped me and suggested that I attend an IOP classes daily. Apparently Intensive Outpatient Therapy classes will help me become more mentally adapt and stable. Give me tools and resources to use that I can implement in my life. I’ve been attending “sessions” everyday about 4 and a half hours each day and so far… I haven’t learned anything except that I know I’m a little distressed about some of the events that happened in my childhood. I’ve been going for a little while now. We have community meetings, art therapy, mediation and skills classes. Oh! We also do that fun little “open discussion” in a small white room with about 15 metal chairs. Yanno that cliche, ” Hi, I’m America” …”Hello, America”. Ya that bullshit.

In all honesty though, it helps. Just sitting there and listening to others share their story makes me feel less alone. And when the person sitting next to me says something out loud that I’ve been struggling to say to anyone for years, it really hits home and makes me feel understood. Things have been really dark lately so it’s nice to find meaning in some of these sessions. It’s just so intense, and overwhelming at times. That week I stayed in bed crying until my daughter scrubbed the sadness out of me, I missed a lot of school. I fell so far behind in my English class, I wasn’t sure I could catch up. A part of me just wanted to say, screw it! I’ll just focus on myself and quit school like I did everything else. Then another part of me battled to stay in class. I begged my instructor to let me make up the assignments, and somehow, she magically said yes. I wrote 4 essays, completed 3 homework Reading response journals, drew a thought bubble and read 3 lengthy excerpts from novels that she gave me as handouts in less than a day, before zooming over to Kinkos to print everything out before class. If I learned anything from that lesson it’s that,

  1. I’ll never miss class again.
  2. I need a fucking printer and a new computer.

If I could pinpoint my downfall into this dark place in life, I would have to say it started with the release of my book. Re-reading a few experiences really set something off inside me. When I started seeing the sales roll in through Amazon, A part of me became excited… Then the stress and anxiety of having my story “out there” really got to me. I haven’t taken it down yet though, so you might as well grab a copy on Amazon HERE: before it disappears. I’ve been heavily contemplating quitting at that as well.. Until next time.

America XOXO,

 

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

Fun Fact #11 Teens In Foster Care & Attachments

Fun Fact #11: Foster children have a difficult time with attachments and.. basically everything in between.


I’m mid-twenties and I’m still trying to figure life out, especially when it comes to forming friendships and developing bonds, I’m just not good at them, and for the VERY few people that I somehow manage to keep around for more than a few weeks or months- it’s an accomplishment, I swear. For those of you that have stuck around for at least a year or more – you must be some kind of special. Remember that.

I’m still learning how to love people and develop positive attachments or let-people-in. Growing up, I never let anyone close and rebelled a lot. Today, I’m very selective about the few people that I keep in touch with. I’m great at making friends, and very social, but keeping them is a whole ‘nother story. Trust me, it’s not because I like being alone or that I don’t want to have people in my life, its because people will inevitably let you down in one way or another and I prefer to avoid uncomfortable situations. Or at least that’s what I learned at an early age, I know that’s not always the case, I KNOW there are good people in the world doing amazing things to help each other, but as a kid, I was hardly ever exposed to that sort of thing, so here I am years later trying to cope with years of abuse, neglect and everything in between.

Pushing people always my way of letting people know  Hey-you’re-getting-too-close-I-don’t-want-you-even-though-I-need-you kinda thing.

Most foster kids – by the time they have reached a certain age will have built this emotional brick wall that disconnects them from the rest of the world. Its something that took years to establish and it’s not something you’re going to fix overnight, I promise. It’s something that is going to take years of work and months of you restoring their values and views of decent relationships and trust (also keep in mind It’s not something that a therapist is going to fix or help with until THEY are ready to receive the help)

In fact, most (keyword) OLDER foster youth will avoid therapy sessions at all costs, and that is because therapy sucks! You know it sucks, WE know it sucks, so don’t expect therapy to be something they look forward to. In the bigger picture YES, therapy is helpful and positive and makes changes from deep within that are necessary in order to grow and move on from the past but that’s not something you are going to be able to explain to your foster children because they won’t care. It’s difficult to sit there in front of someone you hardly know and bare your soul, I can guarantee you that no one who is forced to go through therapy will enjoy it, nor will they gain anything from it.

But I promise you, they will let you know when they are ready. We all come to a point in our lives where there is nothing that will numb the pain. There isn’t a drink or drug available that will cure the void that fills our heart, and for those children that develop bad habits that are hard to break, understand  that its a soothing mechanism. The best thing you can do is re-direct and guide them, hoping they will take on healthier habits. TEACH them, what life is really about and show them new sports, games or physical activities that will interest them.

The “teenage years” are supposed to be one of the most difficult stages of life, it’s a time when children are just figuring out what they like, who they are and what they want to become.

It’s:

  1. High school
  2. Getting A License
  3. Preparing for college
  4. Playing sports/music
  5. First loves and first heartbreaks

and so many other things that we as adults, forget because it’s been so long. Back then is what what made us who we are today and we lived in a different decade, so let’s be real. No one understands teenagers, I was a teenager and I didn’t damn well understand myself, and they know we don’t get it. Don’t they? Don’t they tell you all the time? how you never “understand” them.

Let me tell you something, How do you expect a kid who is in the system and experienced more than most adults you’ve known your whole life – How do you expect them to react when you start giving them rules, expectations, normal chores, responsibilities and consequences like every growing teenager should have. I’m sure more than half of the time you get hostility and backlash in response (It normal I swear) The only difference is, we are emotionally damaged and need more attention than most. Basically, we need you to hold our hands like children.

I’m sure you get frustrated with a million different situations that you can’t control right now, you’re probably feeling powerless, like your never going to get through to them, or you’re hurting because: “why do they keep doing this to me?!”

Right? Wrong.

It’s time to get over feeling defeated and unsure of what to do, and its time to start UNDERSTANDING what it is these kids are going through and what it is they need. They need you to be there for them through all of their good and bad days, because yanno what? no one else was.

This wall was built after years and years of attachments gone wrong and broken “happily ever afters” that never happened. Right now, as these older youth are transitioning into adulthood they are still learning what positive relationships are, WE are still learning that there ARE good people in the world that won’t hurt us. So stick with us through our bad days, and our good because even though they may run out screaming they “hate you now” or they “don’t care” or “Screw You” what they are really mean is..

 “Dammit I messed up again, I don’t know how to fix this””

“It’s the only thing that makes me feel better, I hurt”

“No really… I NEED you, Please don’t leave me or give me back

I feel like everyone is entitled to a bad day but the difference between foster children and maybe a child you have raised since birth is, We are going to have bad months, bad weeks and bad years. It’s going to take time, I mean A LOT of time to reverse and rewire all of these negative thoughts. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it a million times because it’s so important. BE PATIENT and understand that the only thing that you need to do right now is BE there FOR them.

As an adult, I’ve tried my best to become the person I never had, a person that is loving, caring and genuinely good and loves unconditionally because that’s what children need (especially foster children), someone who loves them unconditionally, so become someone that loves them unconditionally. We all have a child within us that is fragile and just needs a little care, sometimes I still feel this lingering void of a girl that was never loved or sheltered. Sometimes I still have bad days because once you’re a foster child, You’re always a foster child.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

 

 

Fun Fact #10 – Foster Children Lack Confidence

 

Fun Fact #10 – Foster Children Lack Confidence


I must have heard it a thousand times growing up the way I did,

“You’ll never amount to anything”

“You’re going to be alone for the rest of your life”

“NO ONE will love you”

I still remember the look on my biological fathers face as we sped down the freeway – his hands flailing wildly in the air above him as he shouted and glared at me from the front seat of his red Chevy pickup. I always hated that obnoxiously loud truck and the way it roared like a diesel that was 3 bolts short of falling apart or losing a tire.

Every time I hopped into the backseat of that truck I would close my eyes and take a deep breath in an attempt to prepare myself for the toxic car ride that would soon follow. When he wasn’t screaming profanities at me, or howling from the front seat about what a failure I was, he was sputtering an exchange of hateful words to his wife in Spanish. Eventually, I learned to tune his voice out and found solace in the little things that flew past my window outside. I would watch people walk down the busy streets and stare at other drivers as we hurled past them, picturing myself in their backseat as someone else. Anywhere else. I grew accustomed to people telling me I wasn’t good enough and I’ll never be worth anything, After years of listening to the same things from different people it slowly bore a hole in my confidence and self-worth, I started believing them!

I mean, maybe they were right? Maybe that’s why my placements in the system never lasted. Growing up, I was extremely shy, withdrawn. and little rebellious. I hated being the center of attention and I had this terrible stutter that just wouldn’t go away no matter how many speech therapy classes my teachers enrolled me in,

I was broken and nobody wanted me– or so I thought.

It took a long time before I was able to extinguish those little voices in my head telling me I was worthless,  It took about 10 years and a few therapy sessions in fact.
________________________________________

Fast forward to now and it looks like my next adventure (in 10 days!) will be on a train to Monterey to join forces with a local Foster Care Agency so that I’ll be able to share my experiences and become a voice for youth still in the system. I’ll have the opportunity to help guide hundreds of foster parents while I sit on their “Former Foster Youth Panel” and give advice on how they can help children currently living in their home. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to shed a little bit of my perspective on what it’s like going through the system, in hopes they will be able to find something beneficial from listening to the story of a foster child that once was.

I was asked not long ago,

“Well, what do you want people to gain from your speech in Monterey?”

and I didn’t really have an answer until now, I guess the truth is that — I know that being a foster parent is not easy, and I know that it gets overwhelming and frustrating at times, when you have a child that is rebellious or withdrawn, or when you have children that come into your home and leave quicker than you expected… It’s difficult to encourage and promote the development (FYI READ THIS AWESOME BLOG) of these young children when you don’t understand their background or where they came from. I know this because I was both a foster child and foster mother, and I hope that by the end of our talk, I’ll be able to give them a fresh perspective or new tool for patience.

Sometimes, patience comes with the ability to understand and I’ve learned that if you’re struggling with patience it’s likely because you are not able to understand someone’s past and if you can’t understand their past, then how can you help shape their future?

Other than that, I’m sure there will be a million questions that I’ll be able to answer. I’m so beyond excited for this opportunity to help Foster Hope Sacramento. This is going to be such a positive and uplifting experience for everyone involved. I was told there are going to be a lot of team building activities and group exercises to help encourage and promote one another, and I think that’s exactly what I need right now! It’s going to be amazing I’m just not sure that I’m entirely ready? I mean do I prepare the speech beforehand? Or just wing it? I’m usually pretty good at “winging it”

Well, I suppose I’ll have 10 days left to prepare a little confidence and muster up the courage to stand there in front of everyone including my fellow peers and former foster youth on the panel.

**Takes a deep breath **

Alright Monterey, Here I come!

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

Fun Fact #9 What is Closure

Fun Fact # 9 – What is Closure?


This blog is long overdue, I guess I just needed more time to let that trip to LA sink in.. I think I just needed some time to fully comprehend the events that took place over the course of my three-day adventure in the city of angels, It was such a bittersweet ending.

Well, I did it! I sat there, a complete and utter mess in the studio audience for Ellen Degeneres as my favorite band performed merely a few feet away from me while the camera crew zoomed in on every tear. I’m not going to ask what happened to the footage, and frankly, I hope it never sees the light of day. I was literally, A screaming, SOBBING mess. I told myself years ago that I would eventually see that band play live, little did I know that it would be on the set of Ellen Degeneres.

An old friend introduced me to Mumford and Sons a long time ago, I still remember the first time he serenaded me with “After the Storm” there was just something about the way that he sang it which comforted my broken soul. At the time I was going through one of the most difficult things I had ever encountered, and those lyrics unexpectedly poured new life into the emptiness that lingered in my soul. It awoke something in me that I didn’t even realize existed, it gave me H-O-P-E. It was a depressingly beautiful song, and I’ll never forget it.

Have you ever felt so utterly connected to someone, that no matter what you try and do to forget them, their voice just plays like a song on repeat in your head? I fully believe that everything happens for a reason, I believe that people come in and out of your life for a purpose, even if you don’t fully understand it, and it’s only momentarily – it’s exactly what you need at the time. In this case, it was the music that he left behind which gave me the power to push through some of the darkest moments in my life and for that, I’ll always be thankful.

Beautiful soul breaking songs like:

  1. After The Storm
  2. Where Are You Now
  3. Ghosts That We Knew
  4. Ditmas
  5. White Blank Page
  6. Timshel
  7. Only Love

and 8. Home gave me the ability to slowly twist the cap from atop the glass bottle which contained my bubbling heart. I didn’t know how to deal with emotions, I told people what they wanted to hear, I was a compulsive liar and I hated myself and everything I had become. I hated my parents for leaving me in the foster care system, my family for never caring enough to pull me out of the system and the many social workers and probation officer’s that tossed me around, barely giving me enough time to breathe between placements.

Over the course of a few months and between the sobbing and drunken nights watching the ceiling spin while I kicked bottles of wine over, I played these songs on repeat, for hours on end until I couldn’t remember what time of the day it was. I could feel the pain between the lyrics with every word that was sung and I loved it. I loved knowing that I wasn’t alone in feeling helpless and defeated, I loved the message between the lines and the boisterous banjo that rattled in sync with the keyboard that somehow tuned into my heart. These were the songs that gave me the ability to heal, and for some odd reason that I’ll never fully understand – helped cleansed my thoughts.

After months of writing, and months of realizing that there were two paths in front of me,

  1. I could take these life experiences and drown in them, letting them succumb me, OR
  2. I could take these memories and put them on a shelf  (literally a book) somehow make peace with them, and move forward.

What do you think I did? I’ll be honest, I wanted to say fuck everyone and everything and give up because life as I had known it thus far was full of pain and I was sick of hurting. But instead, I remembered the soft melancholy voice that first introduced me to my favorite band, and then I knew. If this stranger, somewhere in the middle of bumfuck nowhere believes in me, Why couldn’t I believe in myself? So, I dusted myself off and wrote a book. I put all of my pain into the pages and word by word I found myself through writing and I hoped that one day it would help someone else.

That year after writing the novel went by terribly slowly, There were moments of doubt. Moments I didn’t know if I could survive my husband’s lover, his family and the loss of my niece all at once. There were times of regret and moments when I thought about burning the pages of my sappy little book and leaving everything in the past, But I’m sure glad that I didn’t because… then there were moments like last month when things couldn’t have been more perfect.

I told myself for years that I would see them play live and when I finally had the opportunity I purchased crappy seats in a huge Colosseum knowing full well that I would never be close enough to feel the magic of their performance, But I didn’t care because I knew just being there was enough. EVEN IF! I had to drag my family on a road trip and drive 6 hours to a city I had never been – bankrupting us along the way. I just didn’t care, I knew that I needed to see them, little did I know that I would end up merely a few feet away from them on the set of Ellen Degeneres watching them belt out “Only Love”

What an adventure..

I left a piece of myself in that city, I suppose that’s what closure is all about. Leaving the past behind no matter how much it hurts.

To be continued…

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

Fun Fact #8 – It’s Ok to be HUMAN

Fun Fact # 8: It’s okay to be human.


There is something about the way music illuminates my soul. I typically listen to that really depressing kind of music that makes you want to cry or scream into a pillow. You know, the kind that’s really impactful and deep and when you listen to it, it almost feels like ripping open old scabs that haven’t fully healed. I love the sad stuff because it makes you bleed and feel again. I think the ability to feel and embrace a variety of emotions is so beautifully human. Emotion is what drives us to make every decision we’ll ever make, whether it be out of love, anger or hate. If your taught properly how to channel those emotions and deal with your feelings then it helps you to become a stable person as you grow into adulthood.

When I was younger I had no idea how to deal with my thoughts or feelings, My opinions and viewpoints were never validated and I believe for children that are learning and still growing – THAT is so important. Validation, if you’re never taught the importance of validation then its very difficult to become empathetic and for me, I would have to say empathy is my favorite feeling of all. It’s what gives life meaning and value. I feel like without knowing that its O.K to feel and be human, we spend a lot of time and energy focused on beating ourselves up over things we don’t understand, we become selfish and focus on us, forgetting that the world isn’t just about us. Its about US (as a whole) if that makes sense?

Anyways, sometimes I ramble. so yea, back to what I was saying!

That really depressing music is what makes me feel most alive and it usually ALWAYS involves some type of screaming over an acoustic guitar, piano or banjo. Music is what pretty much what pulled me through the foster care system, music is what changed my life and helped guide me to where I am today but every few years I’ll come across a song that just tears into my soul,

This song gets me EVERY TIME, I’ll be honest. I cry like a baby! I love the soft melancholy keys that play in the background while Charlie Puth rips into the intro with an undeniable passion, like its pulling at the seams of your heart. I love the hope that lingers behind each word as the lyrics embrace loss yet somehow manage to instill hope. There’s just something about the way he sings,

“I’ll see you again”

This song reminds me of the time when I fostered my niece. I thought growing up in the system would give me some sort of insight on what it would be like to be a good foster mom. I used to tell myself when I was younger: I’m going to grow up and take in LOTS of foster kids.

But the reality is, I could only do it once. I know there is such a huge need for more foster parents, Trust me, I KNOW. Maybe one day in the future I’ll be ready to foster again, but for now that little girl left a hole so deep that it still hurts two years later. Every now and then when a 50 ft wave comes crashing in (read this post to understand my reference) I somehow find my way back to this memory.:

I still remember the way her tiny hands felt against my face when she would look at me and call me “momma” her little fingers were plump and soft and not yet fully formed. I used to take both of her hands and place them on either side of my cheek as I looked her in the eye and say ” I love you girly”

She would spread her little fingers wide across my cheek and squeeze, ” I love you, momma”

I would then take her little open-faced palm and softly nibble while she giggled and pulled away laughing, only to place them right back and my cheek and make me do it all over again. She loved it! She loved us, we were different than everything she had known before and she felt safe, I could sense how happy she had been with us. She made everything brighter when she was around.

At one point, before my marriage dissolved we had this big oak table that sat in the middle of our dining room. It was a beautiful hand-carved piece of furniture that, funny enough, was given to me by an ILP Worker when I turned 20 and moved into my first apartment. The table was round with a thick base that made it extremely heavy to move around and was difficult to squeeze through doorways, but we somehow managed to haul it around over the years. By the time I was 24 and fostering my niece it had already taken so much of a beating that I was nearly ready to throw it out, so when she began carving pictures into it with a pen, I wasn’t really upset. Instead, I told her,

“baby, we are not supposed to use pens like that”

She looked at me as though my words had peaked her interest. Squinting her eyes, I watched them shift from the table and back to me as her mouth slightly dropped in awe.

“if you want to draw, let’s use paper, okay? ”

“look we can do it together,” I said.

I placed a crayon in her hand and slid a piece of construction paper in front of her.  Sitting beside her, I watched as she spun the colorful wax in circular directions on the paper. Licking my finger I placed it atop her scribbled letters and pressed hard into the oak, but it was useless, The damage had been done. Rubbing away the ink only revealed the depth of her carvings. They were permanently etched into the top of that oak table and weren’t going anywhere. A few months later before she left she asked me with tears in her eyes,

“Are you gonna keep the table momma?”

“Yes baby, Yes. I’m going to keep the table” and just like that we never saw her again.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

 

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Fun Fact #1 -SCARED

1. Foster children typically have a tough time keeping people close.


This new house is empty and cold, It has this eerie quietness to it, A complete and utter silence during the day… then when night rolls around it all seems to come to life.

The refrigerator seemingly breathing sounds from the kitchen and into the living room, a hefty buzzing with the occasional stutter. It’s creepy.

As I sit here with my computer on my lap staring off into the distance I can’t help but notice the ceiling fan above chattering as it spins, creating a stale wind above. A flat stale wind that blows in my direction making me rethink the idea of keeping those windows closed. But I can’t bring myself to open them at night, I’m too afraid of what might be lingering outside. I feel like behind every little sound or noise there is something or someone waiting to jump out at me. This house terrifies me so much that I find myself awake late into the wee hours of the night.. or shall I say morning? When 5 am rolls around and the sun begins to break the skyline, I know it’s about time to sleep.

“After all, it’s not likely someone will break into the house this early in the morning right? ”

Plus, it just feels right going to sleep when the sun is out, I feel safer for some odd reason. Sometimes just watching that sunrise through my bedroom window gives me a little sense of hope.

As the sky awakens and hits its peak, I fall into a deep sleep and forget the world around me exists, forget that I’m alone in this empty house with nothing to do, and no one to call.

Once a foster child, always a foster child.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

Fun Fact #2 – LONLINESS

2. In foster care, you spend A Lot of time alone.


Well Hello, there old friend, Your back. Why? I thought I rid myself of you long ago. I thought when we partied ways things were going to be different, I had hope for a future that I wasn’t sure existed but I fought hard to create.

I had this picture in my head of what life was supposed to be like and I dreamed of something so beautiful I needed to see it for myself. I wanted it to exist so badly that with enough motivation and hard work, I made it to that little place without you dragging me down.

Damn your such an asshole.

And now, As I sit here typing in the midst of this future I created for myself I realize how quickly this future is falling apart. Something always brings me back to you and I can’t seem to escape it. We knew each other well at one point, You were always by my side and though I despised you, there was some solace in knowing that at least you wouldn’t leave because there was nothing beyond the emptiness you brought with you.

Your presence sucks.

Yet here you are again filling my soul with your wickedness. Loneliness, you’re a malicious son of a bitch. Why have you returned?


I’ve been flooded with memories and things I haven’t thought about in years. Its like gates to hell have been kicked open and thus pours in the demons of my past haunting, taunting and torturing me every day now! I don’t recall ever hurting this much.These memories haunt me, these people, this past.

People call me strong, They tell me how amazing I am for being so brave through all of this.

  • She still goes to work
  • She still takes care of her daughter
  • Shes is still pushing forward

Some days I don’t feel like I’m moving much at all, some days I’m stagnant and falling backward slowly drowning in these memories. Sometimes my old pal “loneliness” decides to keep me company

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

Fun Fact #4 – WHAT IS LOVE

4. They never teach you what love is


When everything first happened I used to go to this cafe for months on end trying to figure myself out through words and typing. Every other day or so I would find myself there to work out emotions and steal the free wifi. I suppose it was never really considered stealing tho, huh?

That quaint little cafe kept a hold on me for longer than I could remember. I’m not exactly sure why I kept going back day after day, week after week.. Perhaps it was the sugary caffeine.

I used to sit in the same corner and waste away hours reading, writing and listening to the kind of soulful music that heals your heart because for a while there, when my marriage dissolved, I found myself losing my thirst for life and music was a way to melt into another world. When it first began, it was pretty unexpected. It was one of those things that just happens out of the blue.  At first, you have no idea whats going on until it sneaks up on you, then your suddenly in awe because you could have seen that coming from a mile away if you had paid attention. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so shocked when my life fell to shit If I knew how to love properly and paid attention to the signs of this sinking ship in the first place. I suppose all of those abandonment issues really took a toll our marriage, I suppose I never really knew how to love anyone.

Even though its been over a year now and things in my life have been better than I could have imagined, I still recall those first few months like it were yesterday. Sometimes, I still dream about those lonely days back when I wandered into that cafe sobbing behind thick shaded sunglasses. Behind the tears and beyond the loneliness I found solace in knowing that I was surrounded by a sea full of faces and a continuously revolving door that never ceased to bring in a flood of chatter. I guess you could say it was sort of relaxing bathing in the existence of busy people as they go randomly about their day without noticing me, and hell! it sure beats sitting at home with nothing to do and no family to turn to.

Sometimes, that cafe still haunts me. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and hear lingering chatter from that noisy cafe I used to sit in. I used to find comfort there, Now its just another haunting nightmare I can’t escape.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

 

Fun Fact #7 – ADULTHOOD

7. They don’t prepare you for adulthood.


With the last of my money, I slid the silver coins across the counter and toward the dark-haired barista. Embarrassed I said, ” Sorry, its all change! I think its $2.55 though”

I was always terrible at counting, I don’t I think ever made it to Algebra. In fact, I was pretty terrible at everything in school, but mostly because I never stayed long enough to retain anything. I guess growing up with shitty parents and bouncing around in foster care will do that to ya! I keep telling myself that even now, 10 years after I emancipated that I’ll be okay. But truthfully, as much as I try. I don’t think I ever will, It’s like this piece of the system is ingrained in my bones. There is still this empty void that lingers behind every smile that seeps from between my lips. It’s almost like a stench really, this foul cloud of emptiness, shame, regret and sorrow that fill the air around me.

“One everything bagel with cream cheese please,” I told her,

I waited for her to finish counting the nickels…

“Eighty-Five, Ninety-Five… Two. Two-Fifty Five, Alright! Thanks”

With a sigh of relief, I made my way back toward the table where I left my daughter on my laptop. She giggled as her tiny fingers pressed the keys rapidly on the keyboard.

“Careful with my laptop kid,” I told her.

Her eyebrows gathered together in the middle of her forehead as she glared at me slightly annoyed, “I know mommy, I’m not a baby. I’m S-I-X” she announced with a fierceness.

“I know, I know” I mumbled as I pulled out my phone and began fumbling through emails and messages from work.

I was tired, overwhelmed and completely unsure of what to do for the next two hours while we waited at the cafe for school to start. A little old woman sat in the corner staring at me with a smile on her face, an adoring smile almost as if she wanted to say: “Aw how cute.  look at that mommy-daughter duo sharing a bagel and cup of Joe at 6′ O clock in the morning”

Like no, Stop Staring. This is not cute. This tiny whining child sitting next to me is not cute right now! and my overly tired morning eyes and scraggly brown hair is nothing to smile at.  Just no.

I wanted to yell it at her, I wanted to tell her to stop staring but instead, I took my half of the bagel and crammed it down my throat begrudgingly, wishing for the day to end even though it just barely began.

I let her play on the computer until about 8 am when it was time to leave for school, and oh goodness did the time go by ever so slowly as she complained every 10.5 seconds. I was cranky, Tired and didn’t get the chance to let my patience meter build up just yet.

“Mommy I’m hungry” she would announce as loudly as possible. I wanted to be sweet and tell her softly, I know baby, but we don’t have money for more food right now, you have to wait until we get to school for breakfast.

I wanted to tell her, but she just kept whining and complaining. She started getting fussy and smacking the keys on my computer, talking loud enough for the whole cafe to hear and each time I would tell her, “Shh let’s use our inside voice” she just kept getting louder and louder…

“BUT WHY MOMMY, I’M just H-U-N-G-R-Y”

“YEA! Me too!”

Guess I’m not a morning person. Fudge sickle.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

Fun Fact #5 – THE EASY ROAD

Fun Fact #5 – They take the easy road


A close friend of mine once said, “There are two paths to life – The easy one and the hard one, and more than likely if it’s easy then that probably means it isn’t the right choice.”

It’s something I’ll never forget and probably the most important thing I’ve ever heard someone say. Because it was at that moment, I started making decisions that would change the course of my life. I started doing things differently than my parents had done, differently than everyone I had ever known. I’ve watched so many children make choices because they felt like it was their only option.In fact, Most (Not all) of the kids I grew up within the system lacked the knowledge and parental guidance the be successful in adulthood. They were denied the Simple things that were essentially built in for other kids, love. The kind of love every child deserves.

When I emancipated foster care at 18 and was no longer a ward of the court, I told myself I would leave and never look back, that I was going to be a different person than everyone I had seen growing up in the system.I knew that I didn’t want to be like them, I wanted to make a difference I wanted to be the link that broke the chain. I wanted more than anything to be free and in control of my own life and I thought that leaving that part of myself behind was the answer. The day I walked out of those doors and stepped into the world was one of the most defining days of my life.

When you grow up like I did, When you grow up in the system, you learn at a young age that the only person you can depend on is yourself. You constantly question everything and everyone you’ve ever known, and in order to survive you grow up pretty fast. Trust is seemingly nonexistent and you never truly learn what it feels like to be loved. As a kid in the system, there were always decisions that were being made for me, decisions that I had no control over. I was always told that my voice “didn’t matter” because I was too young to decide what was right for me. At least that’s what the social worker told me when I requested emancipation from the court at 16 and they denied me. At the time, I was furious.

HOW DID THEY KNOW WHAT WAS RIGHT FOR ME?

They didn’t, In fact, no one did, because the truth is no one knew how to deal with children in the system back then, I mean can you imagine what it’s like to raise a child that’s been through more trauma than most people have ever experienced their entire lives? It’s difficult, and I know first hand because I was that child and at one point I was a foster mother to my niece when I became an adult.

I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times by now, “Not everyone could be a foster parent, but anyone could help a foster child” and that’s because

Raising a child is difficult.
Raising a child is difficult.
Did I mention that RAISING A CHILD IS FUCKING DIFFICULT!

But as difficult as it may be, it’s also one of the most rewarding things you can experience.There’s so much to worry about, so many things you want to protect them from and sometimes things you can’t. It’s hard, figuring out how to raise a stable loving well-rounded person. So I couldn’t blame people that turned me away after I was dropped off on their doorstep by the social worker. After the multiple homes that fell through and groups homes that never lasted. Good foster homes are hard to find, and not everyone gets lucky. For about a year or so I felt lucky, I thought I found the perfect home with Frances, turned out I was wrong. But that’s okay because When I turned 18 and realized that I was never going to be adopted, I let it sink it. I let it hurt because it made me stronger and I learned that it wasn’t because there was something wrong with me like I had come to believe for years, It was because there wasn’t a right place for me.

I was never given the emotional support or the stability that it takes to raise a child. And that goes for most children in the system. They say “It takes a village to raise a child” But I wasn’t born into a village, I was brought into this world by two people who were incapable of being parents and decided I wasn’t worth the effort.. decided that hurting me was easier. I didn’t have a mother or father to guide me through my teenage years, I didn’t have a home. I had social workers, therapists and probation officers who made decisions for me because they THOUGHT it was for the best, but truth be told, If I could have avoided the therapy sessions, the medication, The multiple foster homes, and the hours I spent locked in that room by myself with those dreadful blue cerulean painted walls then it probably wouldn’t have made me who I am today. Today, I am a strong, smart, brave and fearless young woman looking to make a difference in children’s lives because they are the future and I believe that every child deserves a voice, The kind of voice I never had.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur