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?
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…