As a young child I used to sing into my hairbrush “microphone,” dreaming that ONE day I would be just like the teen idol “Tiffany”. I would sing “I Think We’re Alone Now” at the top of my lungs, no cares in the world. Having a natural disposition that leans toward orneriness, my imaginary world was quite fantastic.
The walls of my room were adorned with posters of Duran Duran. I would spend my nights listening to records and cassette tapes. Writing in the perfectly rounded script as only a junior high girl can, I would set in ink the lyrics of songs that struck me as meaningful. I am grateful for these memories, my childhood held some wonder and amazement. I was so fortunate it was not full of abuse and suffering. It was clear that my parents loved me, this I never doubted… even during the throes of adolescence when my fiercely independent spirit struggled to maintain control of my environment.
Life does not always turn out like we think it will. My childhood fantasies did not exactly come to fruition. I still sing to myself in the car, but gone are the childhood dreams of singing on a stage to an exuberant crowd. (We can all be thankful for that!) I pass on the legacy of love to my children. They, in turn, will do the same for their children.
Through the filter of my own experience, I asked the foster alumni who contributed their stories to our book “This Is Mine: My Story, My Life” what… if any… childhood dreams they had. Their formative years were fractured by grief, loss, abuse, neglect, and unbelievable suffering. This is a stark contrast from my experience of growing up in a loving family where my basic needs were consistently met. I have been forever touched by the words of those who so poignantly shared their “childhood dreams”.
Philly wrote, “When I was a child, I wanted to overcome my circumstances, but I also wanted to be someone I could respect. I did not want to end up like others I saw cycling in and out of the system. I wanted to be a mother and feel unconditional love first hand. I wanted to be a writer, and I wanted to make an impact.“
Philly, you are living out your dream!
Missy Jay wrote, “I wanted to be dead… or at least invisible so that no one could see me, no one could use my body, or hurt me. Surviving would have been a pretty big aim when I was getting beat so bad that I wasn’t sure how much more my body could take.”
Missy Jay, I am so thankful you are here. I hope you find healing as you tell your story. You are giving a voice to someone who has yet to find their own words.
All of the foster alumni who have contributed to our book have incredible courage and strength. They have each dedicated their lives to ending the abuse that plagued their childhood and to making life better for children who are enduring the same. I see great hope in each of them.
My childhood fantasy did not come true…. but I have to say, this is so much better.
A special Thank You to our foster alumni contributors:
Helen Ramaglia, Jesse DeLuna, Leroy Berrones-Soto, Jr., “Marija Sophia”, “Missy Jay”, “Nikki J”, Phyllis Amalfitano Kessler Guilmette Thompson, “Sheniqua”, ShirleyAlexis JohnsonBrady, and Tenisha Edwards.
*Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net