As a child growing up in the foster care system, there was a little piece in me that doubted a foster home would keep me. I had already been through a few foster homes. I couldn’t trust foster parents because they gave up on me. If my own biological family gave up on me, why would anyone want me? I think I was wired to think “why would you want me” or “are you going to give up on me too”? But given my love and appreciation for my last set of foster parents, I know they loved me genuinely and the fact is… foster care saved my life.
As a helpless, homeless and hopeless child that was relying on adults to give me shelter and food, of course I had many doubts. Doubts about if God even loved me, doubts that I would stay in one place for very long, doubts if I was going to make it out of the foster care system alive. I was full of doubts sometimes, very suspicious of others and what were there intentions for me. At that time I had no faith in anyone or a God that truly loved me or looked out after me. So my way of dealing with all of my doubts was to put them on the back shelf of my mind and create more erratic hysteria through anger, violence and disrespect. It would literally take my mind off all my insecurities and doubts and put the focus on my strength and power–or what I thought was powerful at that time.
Being a little kid full of anger and rage, it afforded me the sad opportunity to hurt others and by doing that it took away my own pain for that moment. I was able to inflict it on others and that became the focus instead of dealing with my own doubts and issues, I would simply pass my pain on to the world like some beast from another world. You have to realize as a little kid, I was sometimes withdrawn from reality and living in my own world and every now and then, this world would feed my inner world of pain. I loved to explode and deliver a powerful raging attack. It was a rush.
As an aged out young adult from foster care, it’s very different. I don’t focus on the past because if you feed it, you breathe life into it and it can turn out to be an ugly monster looking to destroy your present life. It could take years to slay that beast. So many wasted years and lost opportunities to improve life because the time is spent on something that is stealing the joy and passion out of your life. So, I just move on and am very careful of what I breathe life into. I have learned that what you focus on controls you. I want continued success and peace in my life and so I feed my spirit with great things that are going to bring out my best. Sure, there are times when doubt will try to settle in and make a home in my spirit, but that doubt doesn’t last too long in me. I never let myself be a victim!
I think it’s important to recognize that this ‘doubt’ probably exists to varying degrees for most kids in care, and some are able to manage, silence, control it as you are describing, and others may be more controlled by it. The doubt can cycle and spin in your head as a constant “why…why…why?” “Why me?” For me, that only happens for a moment, and I catch it as a crazy moment and say “what’s up with that?” I may talk about it with my wife or think about it for a minute and then that’s the end for me. For others it can suck the life out and take their power.
I don’t let anything steal my personal power. If you have plenty of love, gratitude and self value in your life, then the pain of the past cannot overtake your world. It can if you allow some pain to get through and dwell on it. Once you do that, you will then begin to feed it, fuel it and before you know you are encapsulated with pain. Pain can hold you captive for many years and steal all of your joy, enthusiasm and passion for life. I love that quote that states “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” We have to let go and grow.
Derek Clark is a popular motivational speaker for foster care, child welfare and social worker conferences. Consider reserving Derek and have him deliver an inspiring educational keynote speech at your next event.