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Side Note: Searching for good

I know this is not my usual Sunday night time-slot, but this is not my normal blog post. This is not the following chapter of my story that you might be waiting for (that will be here on Sunday).

This is a side note, a sentence hastily written between pages that turned into a fully fledged thought. It’s based on questions I have been asked by friends and family since starting this blog. Well, ‘question’ really. There is one that keeps popping up.

“How do you manage to write about the good things along with the bad?… How do you even see the good??”

The answer to this is simple. I CHOOSE to see the good.

I recently did the Academy (with Mel Wells) and she talked about life being a series of choices. It was like she had switched the light on to something that was always there for me but I couldn’t name it. I wholeheartedly believe in that sentence “Life is a series of choices”. I mean, wow! 

So, what does this actually mean? How do I choose to see the good?

Okay, take visiting my mother in a Psychiatric Ward as one example. She was severely ill and I was in foster care. Neither of us was truly happy and we were apart. Bad, right? Yes, it was. Let’s flip the coin though. My mother was getting the help she needed (GOOD!), I was able to visit her (GOOD!), the hospital grounds were gorgeous and fun to play in (GOOD!).

There is a lot of good in the world if you just open your eyes and see it. Seriously.

Today, I had massive amounts of anxiety which was obviously really bad. But what good things did I also have? Friends (and my boyfriend) who were there to listen, a job that distracted me for a few hours, music to listen to, a safe home to come back to, a cat to love, a boyfriend who is rushing home to me… The list goes on.

I was walking about earlier, feeling sorry for myself because of the anxiety, looking down at the dirty floor with litter on it and thinking “No wonder I feel so anxious” Then, I looked up! The sun was setting and it was absolutely stunning. That triggered my memory. 

Life is a series of choices.

I remembered that while I may not always have a choice in how I feel, I always have a choice of whether I want to focus on the good or bad in the world.

I choose to focus on the good. I always will.

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Memories of a fostered child

My years in foster care are a bit of a blur. I genuinely struggle to put a time frame on it all so forgive me if my blog post today feels disjointed at all. It’s just the way my memories flow.

If I had to estimate, I’d say I was in each ‘main’ home for an average of 2 years. There were three of these. By ‘main’ I mean long term I guess, not the respite homes.

The two homes after the not so nice one (previous blog) were better because the four of us were together and also we got to go to school on the estate where our mam lived.

The first was with a couple who had grown up children- they were lovely, actually. I liked being there, as much as you can like being separated from your parents… My sisters and I were well cared for and had a big house and garden to play in. My mother was also battling behind the scenes to see us more (and it was working!). Life could have been worse- it had been worse.

This didn’t stop me feeling constant anger though. I wanted to scream all the time. I had three personalities that were competing to get out. One was a happy go lucky little girl who was making new friends (two best ones especially), another was a child who wanted to withdraw and hide in her own world (and frequently did) and the third? Well, she was a nightmare!

I remember screaming and trashing my bedroom in my foster home when I was around 8 years old. I literally threw a chest of drawers across the room! On reflection- I know I couldn’t cope with all the different ways of being I had. I felt different to everyone else in the school. I had to get taxis in and have special permission to do anything after school.

One of my best friends, Rachel, was curious about this and asked her parents why I had different rules to other kids. They explained in only the way her amazing parents could and she asked if I could live with them! I think they probably would have had me if they could because in later years I practically lived in her house!

Life, Uncategorized

My Mother

I wanted to write an introduction to my Mother today (my mam, my mammy, my blood)

She was an amazing woman. She taught me a lot. She made me laugh.

I remember once, my sister asked for shelves in her bedroom- a few days later she got home to a full bench stuck to her wall with no more nails! I still laugh so much at that…

When I sat and wrote this blog though, something different came out. so I thought I’d share that instead.

My Mams Arms

My mothers arms told a story. Not in the traditional sense, with words and ink, but with scars. I think scars are a lot like words though; all made up of different sizes and meanings.

She hid her arms like she hid her story. Her arms were covered in all weathers in all materials and her story was covered with shame and fear.

I guess that was how I learned to wear shame and fear. I, like my mother, wore it beautifully. But, it wasn’t us. How could it be?

I never got the chance to tell my mother not to hide her scars, much like I couldn’t tell her to stop hiding her story. I never told her that the story on her arms added more to her beauty- It showed her strength and determination. I was too young to fully understand.

But, I am telling you now for you, for me and with the hope that the universe will carry my words to my mothers spirit-

Never hide your scars or your story.

They make you unique.

The make you so very beautiful.

My scars tell a story too. Mine are not written on my arms though, they are written on my heart and I plan to carry them through life with love and pride.

I invite you to join me.

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The Beginning

Where else to start, other than the beginning?

I was a happy baby/ toddler, growing up with my 3 sisters and my parents. There was no wondering whether I was loved or not. I knew that I was. How could you not love this cute little human?

baby me

The first time I remember questioning whether I was loved, I was 3 or 4 years old. My mother was sectioned at the time (she suffered with Schizophrenia so this was a common occurrence) and my dad was left with 4 girls under the age of 8. I imagine that this was not easy for him as next thing I knew, I was being dropped off at a foster home with just my eldest sister.

I don’t remember the drive there or when my other sisters went to their ‘home’ but I remember being so confused as to why we were being dropped off with a random family and our packed bags.

Looking back, I know my dad was devastated by this. He was a young man, separated from his mentally unwell wife and unable to look after 4 young daughters. But for years, I hated him for letting us go.

I wont name any names or locations for this foster ‘home’, the first I can remember, as the memories are not the nicest.

My strongest memory of this home was the fear and the hunger. We were not fed well at all! More often than not, dinner consisted of baked beans- which I despised so rarely ate much of.

I’d live for the weekends when I got to see my mother and my other sisters. We were happy and well fed. We would play for the entire time, even in the car, climbing all over the back seats. Sorry ‘Uncle Billy’ (Our poor driver)!

Then it would be back to separation, confusion and what would eventually turn into the feeling of not being good enough.

My eldest sister was my rock through the few years we spent with these foster parents. When I first joined the local school, I was so shy and lacking in confidence that I wouldn’t even answer the register. My sister helped me to make friends, she taught me to read, she gave me comfort and she made me feel so safe around her. Pretty heavy for a 4 and 8 year old!

Looking back, this is where the self preservation began- I was already so unsure of the world and my place in it.

This is also where I began to feel ashamed of myself for being fostered. I wasn’t aware of he stigma attached to me but would learn this pretty fast.

More on that next time…

Life

Introduction

My name is Becky (this is me, Hi!)

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I’d like to share my story with you so far.

It’s all honest and from the heart so some of it may be hard to read but all of it deserves to be read with love and respect in your heart.

The reason that I want to tell my story is simple. I have a massive stigma attached to me. A stigma that all children who grow up in care end up in prison/ with drug or alcohol problems/ amount to nothing in the end. Yep, another bullsh*t stigma.

I am already so much more than any of that and am here to tackle this stigma head on and take some of its power away.

For too many years I believed it about myself and gave it far too much power. I let make me ashamed. I hid my truth and in doing so dimmed my light.

I let it keep me in a state of self preservation, this served me as well as it could. It kept me alive and – for the most part – safe.

But, in the last year something happened. Something so magical and extraordinary that it turned my entire “truth” about myself on it’s head.

I fell in love.

And that’s not the best part. The person I fell in love with was me!

So, if you’re willing, I’d like you to cosy up and settle in. And when you’re ready, I’d like to begin to tell you the story of how…