Finding Oneself

“Finding yourself is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. You are also not lost. You’re true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. Finding yourself is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering of who you were before the world got it’s hands on you.” ~ Emily Marshall

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on

I know from my own experiences growing up . . . when you are a child, you believe that the way things are done in your own household are the way it is in everyone’s household. As you get older and visit friends’ houses, you begin to realize that not all families are alike. As a young pre-teen or teenager who isn’t old enough to drive or work, it can be frustrating to be stuck in a situation that you cannot change. Especially, if the situation involves mental health challenges – the frustration mounts and/or evolves into depression and anger.

The well-meaning do-gooders say, “It should be reported.” And quite correctly, it should. However, the consequences of making the report can be just as overwhelming as the current situation.

  • Being removed from the home with only a small amount of clothing carried in a small bag.
  • Not knowing the family taking you in.
  • Uncertainty of how long you’ll be staying, or when you’ll go back home or IF you’ll go back home
  • Wondering where you’ll sleep, how you’ll get to school, what the expectations will be, how you’ll be treated.

Going from a bleak situation with known risk factors to an entirely new situation full of unknowns is scary, confusing and disorienting.

In our situation, these kids have never known security or at least not for 10 years since their father passed away. Moving from place to place, sometimes staying with family for several weeks when mom had an “episode” or staying with friends, at one time staying in a deserted store front for a few months without electricity. As young children, they knew no different. Getting older, they knew it was off but not to what extent.

Having lost their father, they did not want to lose their mother as well. Extended family helped out on occasion, but were unwilling to take the children long-term. Mother would get better for awhile and then have another “episode.”

After having been with me for several months, the kids had a taste of what “normal” life was like. And with the legal issues behind us, they are angry. With good reason. They are furious – that no one helped them instead returning them to mom’s care – that mom didn’t get help and follow-up – that they qualified for public assistance which mom refused to use – just furious in general. They are able to see through the excuses mom has given them for years and see them as weak excuses to deflect blame and avoid responsibility for her actions.

My daughter had been through something similar when living with her father — erratic behaviors and actions that placed herself and her brother in situations they should never have had to be placed. She is still recovering from the fallout of the expectations that had been placed on her to be the parent when he was not.

We all have a potential for great things in life, despite what other’s may say to us or what experiences we are subjected. According to my own mother, I was a failure from a young age and would end up in prison. Far from it. It may take years for them to realize it, but their success is not dependent on what they’ve been told, their parent’s past mistakes, their genetics or the assumptions that others may hold.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where you go . . . . ” ~ Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go

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