Twenty years ago I turned 18, graduated from high school and aged out of the foster care system. Various social services programs did what they could, time was up and it was up to me to sink or swim.
I sank like a lead weight.
Instead of spending my teen years learning how to get into college or maintain a full time job or learning to drive or understanding the long term effects of not doing my homework, I spent those years fighting monsters. The constant threat of being ‘reunified’ with my biological family was always, obnoxiously present. In the past I’d learned that the best way to get an adult to take you out of an abusive situation is to get yourself in trouble. It was easy to do, there’s never any difficulty in finding a way to get in trouble. I spent part of my teen years intentionally getting in trouble. I also spent my teen years getting in real, unintended trouble.
I also spent my teen years weighed down by what we now recognize to be a brain injury.
Even now we can’t quite pick apart which was real trouble, what was intentional and what was bad wiring.
I don’t really have an excuse, just this explanation. This is why I sank. I sank because I did not learn the skills necessary to be an adult.
My foster parents had given me 3 very reasonable options, live there rent free and go to school full time, go to school part time and pay partial rent, work full time pay full rent. Completely reasonable and generous options. Even the reasonable options were too much. I didn’t know how to get into college, how to get any financial aid, how to get a full time job. If I got into college what was going to happen when I left my homework incomplete day after day as I had in high school? What what what what what?
I had no idea how to do the things that other kids knew how to do.
I tried to hang on a bit, but my time was up. Time to go. In typical panicky reaction stye I packed up my stuff and left with no notice. I bounced a bit and then called a friend to tell her I could not go to her birthday party because I was kind of in a great big fat bumpy pickle of a problem.
She called me back and asked me to come live with her family. Just like that, come here and live with us. This was no time for pride and bootstraps or anything like that. I was entirely unprepared for life. I moved in.
That was 20 years ago.
They took me in as one of their own and never let me go. I was given a family. I was this obnoxious, surly teenager too smart for her own good with all kinds of ideas and strengths and weaknesses and misunderstandings about the world. They helped me get enrolled in college and figured out financial aid for me. I got to relax a bit and not perseverate on an unknown future. I got a mom and a dad and a sister that were all my own. There was a generosity of spirit that I cannot articulate but for which I am forever grateful.
This happened 20 years ago. Taken in and loved and protected from falling. I would not be where I am today, I would have crashed through the bottom if this hadn’t happened. I would not have survived.
I hold no ill will or anger or anything like that towards the ‘system’ as it were. Everyone did the best they could with what was in front of them. It’s not unreasonable to expect an eighteen year old to act like the adult she is supposed to be. No one had any way of knowing that I was so bent in the middle. I only have gratitude to every single person involved because without that set of circumstances I would not have gotten my new family and I would never want to give that up.
20 years ago.
2 decades.
That’s a long time to put up with someone like me and I am glad they did.

2 thoughts on “Twenty

  1. Well first of all: Happy Birthday!!! Sorry it’s belated. I am so glad your found your family after all. Blessings on their heads, and yours too, for accepting their love.

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