Blue Sky care leaver Anna writes a second blog for Young Person's Voice. She reminisces on the hard times from her childhood and reflects upon the person she has become since leaving Foster Care.
I’ve found that as you grow older, you realise that the things you’ve been brought up with, aren’t always the right things. And actually, not how a normal young person should be bought up.
Learning these things for me, has been hard and I’ve been through stages much like the stages of grief; denial, isolation, anger, depression and acceptance. With denial, I began to question myself. Maybe I’m just remembering wrong? Maybe there is a different side to the story? Everyone is different, maybe there’s no right or wrong way to be brought up? I isolated myself which meant me shutting people out, especially family. I didn’t want to hear about my upbringing any more and even though I knew in my head the truth, I was still somewhat in denial. I didn’t want it to be true so I shut everyone out who told me I was wrong.
Anger, oh boy, anger! Getting angry at your parents for doing you wrong, for the trauma that they have left imprinted on you, for the pain they have left you in, for not protecting you. It was fun to get angry because I would put on some really hard rock music and just dance and scream to my hearts content. I got it all out and cursed the world. Depression, I would say, plays a big part in all three of the above feelings. For me, I struggled with it when everything was going on in my house and I still do to this day. I know people want to hear that as time passes it gets easier, but for me it didn’t, I just became numb to it all and if you’re lucky to get help with it, then you learn different tactics for dealing with it. Acceptance is a part I haven’t really gone thought yet. In some way I have, but it’s always going to be there. I’ve learnt to not let it get in the way of my life and future; I won’t let it destroy my future as well as my past.
With all the things I've been through, and with what I’ve learnt in the few years being away from my childhood home, I thought to myself 'what would I say to my fifteen year-old self?' I know at that age I felt alone and didn’t know what to do, so if I could speak to her, what would I tell her just to help her get through the years to come? Just to make it a little easier on her. If I could speak to her, I would say:
"Speak up about what’s going on at home. Tell your teachers, tell your Social Worker everything, let them know that dad hasn’t stopped drinking. Don’t hold back, because you’re not just hurting yourself when you’re not speaking up, your hurting your little sister too. Go to CAMHS while you can still get help for how you feel, because I know it’s eating you up inside and its making you become a person you don’t want to be. Tell them how dark things are getting, let them know you need someone to talk to and that you’re willing to help yourself. Go with your older sister and take your little sister with you. Don’t look back, mum can’t hurt you, she can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do, stand up for yourself, she can’t hurt you. Don’t blame yourself for dads drinking, you have no control over him, you can’t make him stop. If he really loves you like he’s said so many times, he would get help. Don’t listen to any of the words that come out of his mouth, they’re all lies, he calls you names but those names mean nothing.
You are doing your absolute best to protect your little sister and dealing with depression and your GCSEs. With what’s going on at home, all at the same time, you can’t try any harder. You can’t always be there for your littler sister, you fight and argue with her but it’s not your fault you’ve been put in a situation that no fifteen year-old should have to deal with. She has grown up great, she’s turning into a saucy, annoying young teen; a lot like you at that age. She is more girly now and is much happier at her Foster Carers place then she ever was at home. She is so much more social and she’s doing so well at school.
I want to let you know that you are so strong, a beautiful young lady and are so much smarter than you think you are, and talented in so many different ways. Remember that and don’t listen to the rubbish anyone says. Smile more and don’t start smoking, love yourself for who you are and don’t dress tarty, just be you. You can act out a bit, it will make the last few years of school more fun. Put yourself out there, go talk to more people and go and make friends that will last you a lifetime.
For the very last bit, it’s so important that people are only trying to help you and your little sister. They’re not trying to destroy your already broken family, just talk to them and tell them what's going on and maybe you will get more of a chance and a longer time as a child, instead of this mini parent that you’ve become for your little sister. Maybe you could actually get more of a childhood, just speak up."
Writing this has been hard for me but I think I got a lot out of it. Whoever it is reading this, I suggest writing a letter to get out all the things that you ever wanted to tell your younger self. If you’re a Foster Carer, then try getting your foster child to write one, it might help them understand some part of them that they never knew they felt about their past. If you've got something to say, then SPEAK UP!