Fun Fact #16 – Boredom Drives Creativity 

Fun Fact #16 – Boredom Drives Creativity


 

I’ve had a lot of time on my hands lately so I decided to open an Etsy shop for fun! It seems to help time pass, plus I LOVE creating things.

Anyways, I decided to start selling fun little Foster Care related items to promote positivity and de-stigmatize the negativity around this topic. Check out my new Etsy and share laughter, love and positive vibes through branded products.

 

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CLICK HERE

 

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

Fun Fact #15 – Sometimes Love Just Isn’t Enough

Fun Fact #15 – Sometimes Love Just Isn’t Enough


 

My family is broken, they always have been since as far back as I can remember and no matter how much I try to help them, there’s nothing I can do because they are not ready to help themselves. (At least some of them) The “System” it breaks you, the cycle of abuse that everyone talks about. It’s real. When I left foster care at eighteen I told myself I was never going back (I know you’ve heard me say this a thousand times) I told myself that my life was going to be different because even though I didn’t get to choose the family I was born into, or my beginning, I could definitely change my ending. Well, A few weeks ago I reconnected with a part of  my biological family that I had shut out, it was the first time in a long time that I let them into my life without restrictions.

I received a call from my grandmother. She was screaming and yelling on the phone, “Help! Save Me! SEND HELP!” but my uncle grabbed the phone out of her hand and hung up too quickly cutting the call short, before I could actually figure out what was going on. I spent the next 30 minutes on the phone with emergency services, giving an in depth explanation as to why they needed to send someone out to their house to check on her. I didn’t know her address, but I described the street to the best that I could remember. It had been so long since I had seen her, I felt guilty. A few hours later I received a call from my uncle, he was fuming on the other end of the line, I could hear it between the drunk mumbles and angry stutter. He knew that I called the cops, and I didn’t deny it. I spent the next two days at the hospital with my grandmother and for the first time in a long time, I felt something. Something other than this depression I have been dwelling in, I felt a simmering rage build up from the bottom of my bones. My grandmother was weak and bruised with infections that needed antibiotics. Weighing less than my eight-year-old, I could see the skeletal indents on her cheeks, and every vein in her body as it burst through her thin flesh. She had been abused, neglected, malnourished and held against her will in that house with him for months. 

It took weeks of emotional stress, depression, fragile encounters, and an acute mental breakdown before I’ve realized that I had made the wrong decision of letting them back into my life, or letting her back in. Then a few more weeks to push them out of my life. I spent the past few weeks with my biological family, working around the clock to ensure that my grandmother was well fed and cared for, “Nourished” in essence.

 Before I came back into the picture, my grandmother lived with her son, my uncle, in a small duplex in the heart of the ghetto. The kind of street where people get shot, and car windows get smashed; trust me, I know from experience (It’s pretty costly to replace a windshield) They live together and slowly they are dying together. He is a terrible alcoholic and suffers from bouts of aggression whenever he consumes a drink; he also is legally responsible for my grandmother because she’s disabled, slowly deteriorating and can hardly walk herself. Between the both of them, I’m not sure who will live longer.

Anyways, I had distanced myself from my family to escape the cloud of toxicity that surrounds them, but I left my grandma behind; mostly because she wanted to be there and I couldn’t stand the toxic environment. For the past twenty eight years she’s chosen her son over everyone and everything, but when I saw her in the hospital I could tell she was at her breaking point (or so I thought) Between making police reports, following up on those reports at the department, calling Adult Protective Services (APS) and collecting her things with police escorts, I barely had time to catch my breath and actually comprehend what was happening as my life picked up pace. She moved in with my sister, at the time it was the best option, though looking back now, not the best idea either. 

You see, my sister and I have a difficult relationship, between the never-ending arguments and drama it’s actually not healthy at all; just another example of the effects that our broken childhood had on us, and trust me, I’m not trying to give you a pity party or anything, It’s the damn truth. Childhood trauma effects you well into adulthood, no matter who you are, or where you come from. It’s that trauma which boils over and spills out onto everything we call life, making it difficult to sustain anything. 

Anyways, Between my sister and my grandmother… I apparently thought that wasn’t enough self inflicted pain, so I started becoming a part of my brothers life again as well. The first time I had seen him in over two years I was straddling a cold metal chair behind a thick wall of glass. As I sat there staring at him trying to make sense of everything, I kinda lost my shit internally but I couldn’t tell him that. Our relationship, much like my sisters, was toxic. I pushed him away, we pushed each other away (for good reasons) yet there I was holding a thick black phone to my ear trying to console him while he fell apart on the other end of the line. I tried my best to tell him everything I would have wanted to hear. 

“You’re going to be okay.” 

“Don’t worry, I’m here for you, how much do you need on your books” 

“I love you.”

“We have to be better than this, Parker. We HAVE to for our children. We need to be here for them.” 

“You’re not alone.”

I was actually pretty proud of myself after walking away from that glass window, I thought I had actually made some sense to him, got through to him and helped him see things differently in some way. Some inspirational voice inside burst through my seams and gave him one of the best speeches I was capable of giving at the time. After my sister and I buzzed through the steel door and made our way down the elevator, I took a deep breath. Speechless. Lilian looked at me with an odd expression and said, “What the fuck, that was awesome.” and it was, in that moment it was AWESOME.

After that, both Lillian and I called him, went to see him multiple times a week. I told him that I would attend all of his court dates and support him through the process (I did) For a while, I tried. We really tried. But between balancing my grandmothers drama and his upcoming needs, I was exhausted. I connected with the social workers on his CPS case so that I could potentially become a placement option for his daughter if needed. I went to family CFT meetings. [CFT meetings are structured, guided discussions with the family and other team members about family strengths, needs, and problems and the impact they have on the safety, permanence, and well-being of the family’s children. CFT meetings always have a clear but open-ended purpose.] I submitted fingerprints for processing and started the process on getting my house cleared to become a  foster parent. 

My sister and I delivered his rent check to his landlord so he wouldn’t lose his apartment during the time he was “locked up” and I picked him up from the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Facility at 4:00 AM in the morning. Why the fuck do they release people at 4 in the morning?!

I wanted to help him as much as I could, I drove him around town to do errands upon his release. I was there for him because at the end of the day all we have is each other. Mommy and daddy won’t come save us from a fucked up situation if we get stuck, find trouble, make mistakes or get lost along the way. At some point or another we all need each other, and even though we were at odds. I did as much as a good sister would do and then I became angry. But not at him, angry at life, at the situations we ended up in as adults. The struggles we all faced. The four of us kids (my siblings and I) magically lived through our childhood, and sometimes I like to think we survived it too. But a larger part of me knows that we are all fucked up in our own ways. So much that it all affects us differently and though mostly I want to believe it all happened for a reason, I still have times where I struggle. Like recently for example. 

Somewhere between feeling helpless and trying to be helpful, I became angry and hurt, upset, depressed even. I started losing MY ESSENCE. Then somewhere in between that anger I found, I started giving up. At some point, everything over the past few months became too much. I was doing too much, spreading myself too thin. And then I realized that everything I had been doing for people wouldn’t change a thing. My brother was still angry, and battling his own demons that I couldn’t help him with. My grandmother, abused and neglected still wanted to go back to her son and there was nothing APS could do about it, even after the multiple reports, police visits and removal. My sister, was still difficult to hold a conversation with, angry and volatile as hell, we would never get along. 

After everything that happened,  I realized I was beginning to lose myself, so I did the only thing I knew how. I left them behind and pushed everyone away, because I knew that I would fall apart if I didn’t. I love my siblings. I always will, but sometimes love just isn’t enough. Just because you love someone, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good for you, or vice versa. I miss the version of us as kids. Little messy haired-bare footed-yellow stained-baggy t-shirt wearing- dirty – foul mouthed- rambunctious- kids. I miss us like that; before our innocence was stolen.

After pushing everyone away, I felt better. For a while it worked. Life was back to it’s slow pace and things were quiet again. I have my family at home of course, but for the most part, there was a painful silence. And sometimes where there’s too much silence, I get lost in thought, memories, moments. LIFE. After a while of self inflicted solitary confinement, I started becoming lost. (So if you thought I was drowning during all of this, the struggle during the silence was worse) But if life has taught me anything, it’s that I’m strong. I just need to learn how to balance everything I guess. I suppose that’s why I’m here, blogging again. For some reason, being able to say “Fuck the world” makes me feel better. Though I don’t really mean that, because obviously I want to make this world a better place. Still, the power of turning thoughts into spoken word frees the mind somehow, so thus! Here I am. 

Every now and then I just need a little reaffirmation that I’m doing the right thing and maybe a little self care. I’ve never really had the opportunity to be selfish because i’m so busy taking care of everything else, everyone else.  But this time around it has to be different because I have to say fuck everyone else, It’s my turn now. It’s about time I nourish my mental health and stop letting this cycle of abuse drag me down. I’m tired of being consumed by what I went through. I want my daughter to never have to experience what I went through as a child, and what everyone around me continues to live through as adults.

 I’m going to give her a childhood she doesn’t have to heal from. But first, I know that I’m still working on healing myself, which is why after everything happened and life slowed down, I spent an obscene amount of money on seeing Mumford and Sons live at Bottle Rock Napa (post soon to come) They are so soul refreshing it’s ridiculous. 

So now what do I do ask? The fuck if I know. Hmmm..

Well, I started volunteering at my favorite foster care agency again, it’s been awhile since I’ve been there but it definitely lifts my spirits and puts me in a positive state of mind. Other than that i’m just cycling my favorite songs on repeat, feeding the stray kittens on my porch (anyone want a kitten? Seriously…Do you want a kitten?) and watching reruns of old tv shows until I can figure out what to do with my summer. I’ll probably spend my next few Saturdays around the Sutro Baths or Ocean Beach. Hell, maybe I’ll write more. Book number two? Lord knows I have enough to fill a library with. When’s my lifetime movie coming out? When do I get to watch that? 
PS: I need ideas on fun things to do with my daughter for the summer.. Drop a line below. Until next time.

America XOXO,

 

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

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

Bad News Bears…

I’m running behind on production and last minute details, (SELF PUBLISHING IS HARD) 

Sooo it looks like they won’t be shipping today. =(

Sorry guys! I know you have been waiting,

I’m so excited to finally get this book in your hands but it’s just going to take a little bit longer. Thanks for holding out! Feel free to send me an email.

With Love,

America

Have you emailed me through the “Contact Page”

Hello Everyone,

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful feedback and comments on my blog, I truly appreciate it! This is such an inspiring community.

I wanted to apologize to everyone that has sent in an email through my “Contact” page. Apparently, all of the incoming emails were randomly routed to an email address that I no longer use. I’m not sure when this started happening? But I’m working on having that corrected right now!

I’m currently sifting through all of your emails and should be getting back to everyone very shortly, Thank you all for being so patient! So sorry it has taken this long for a response,

Love

America,

Foster Hope Sacramento

Last weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time at FosterHope Sacramento and it was amazing! Just listening to people share their stories was INCREDIBLE. I’ll be honest, Foster Hope is one of THEE best agencies around, They put so much effort and love in everything they do. You can tell how much they care. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to become involved with them! Thank you guys, and keep up the amazing work.

TODAY is Big Day Of Giving! Make sure to stop by www.bigdayofgiving.org/fosterhope to donate to #FosterHopeSacramento #BDOG2018

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