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

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 #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 #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

Fun Fact #6 – GRIEVING

Fun Fact #6 – GRIEVING


I always felt as though writing can be a fantastic form of healing, It’s a way to express emotion, linger in memories and relive a story over and over again, which for some can be a wonderful coping mechanism. I know it’s been the only way I’ve ever been able to understand myself and evaluate situations. Writing gives me the ability to look back into the past and give life meaning, without being able to express myself through words, I’d likely go crazy lost in my own thoughts, Especially when it comes to my niece. It’s been about 2 years since I last saw kelleigh, but honestly, it still feels like yesterday. I can still hear her voice in the back of my mind, I can still see her smile and hear her call me “momma.”  I’ll always love Kelleigh, in fact, it was the love that I had for her, that pushed me to make one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. It took a long time before I was able to see that the best thing I could have done for her, was give her a better life, a fresh start with people who knew how to help her. Everyone told me that I tried my best and did everything I could, but my best wasn’t good enough. I feel like if you love someone, you won’t hold them back from the life they deserve out of your own selfishness. You’ll let them go because, in the end, that’s what’s right for them and that’s what we did for her, we let her go.

Even knowing all of this, It took a while before I could patch that hole in my heart and it took a while before the sporadic fits of tears that seized my entire body stopped. I was broken and found that writing helped ease the pain. When grieving a loss, any kind of loss… it’s difficult to understand what’s happening internally and it can be confusing because you’re not sure what to do or how to go about things anymore, I know I didn’t. Then one day I came across a post that perfectly describes the different stages of grief. Thank goodness for the internet, I swear! This post helped me understand things from a different perspective, it was marvelous and I really encourage you to read the post HERE: 

It’s one hell of a journey being able to dig into someone else’s mind, There’s a certain kind of beauty in seeing someone when they are vulnerable, which is why I believe that writing is a beautiful tool and I believe more people should exercise their minds with it. So, with that being said, if you’re ready to go on an emotional journey with me check out the rest of my blog. You’ll find my thoughts vary from day to day, One day I could write an entire post describing the sound that gum makes when it sticks to your shoe, or you’ll find me rambling about how much I hate Brussel sprouts. Hell, I might even dive into painful memories and fill a page with some cheesy ass love story. Either way, These thoughts are what makes me who I am, these memories are what’s made me stronger. My past is proof that you can survive even the deepest cuts. Even though I’m stronger now, every now and then I find myself swimming through a hundred foot wave but I guess that’s just a part of life and that’s what will keep the posts coming! That 100ft wave metaphor makes more sense when you read THIS POST, seriously. Read it.

And for anyone grieving a loss, the best advice I can give you is time. TIME heals all wounds or at least teaches us how to live with the pain, as cliche as that sounds I promise it’s true.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur