A Rough Beginning to a New Start.

My childhood memories… cruel, piercing words from my mother that made me feel worthless… “Spankings” that left me in pain and unable to sit for days.  Every time I was left alone, I wondered if my mother and father would ever return.  So many times I remember carefully stepping over them when they were passed out, drunk on the floor.  I watched a parade of social workers come in and out of our home for years.    I was terrified because I  felt responsible for protecting my little sister when I was just a child myself. 

Eventually, we were placed in foster care…my sister and I were separated.  Sometimes I met the smiling faces of foster parents, often I met with apathetic stares;  always another move to a new place.  So many different schools - I can’t  remember most of them.  There were brief friendships that always ended with the next move. There was never a family that wanted to keep me; never a place that I could call home where I felt loved.  I guess there were good times, there must have been, I just can’t remember any of them.

After Foster Care …

Now, I live in Morris County.  I’ve been in the Roots & Wings program for three years.  Life is so different for me.  I’ve lived in the same apartment for three years.  I’ve had the same Roots & Wings advocate, counselor, and mentor.   I know they really care about me. There are other young people in the program who’ve had experiences that are so similar to mine.  We give each other a lot of support; it is so good to know I’m not alone.

I am so proud that I earned a high school diploma and  have a job now.  I was in more debt than I ever dreamed I could pay off but now I am debt free.  I even purchased my own  car!  I am continuing my education to help me plan for the future.  I am hopeful.

Sometimes in the still of the night, the horrors of my childhood sneak up on me.  They make me doubt my self-worth and my ability to be OK and to take care of myself.  But most days, when I awake in my safe apartment, I find the strength and determination to go about my day.  Meetings with my Roots & Wings social worker, counselor and mentor help me focus on school, work, and practical life skills training sessions.  I am getting stronger every day and I am learning to believe in myself.  

I know I will have a good life.