In one month, I'll be turning thirty. And, up until now, life for me ain't been no crystal stare. (That's a Langston Hughes reference. If you've never read the poem before, check it out because it's all kinds of inspiring.)
I still remember when my mother took my sisters and me to my grandmother's house. I was four-years-old. It was nighttime. It was after we were evicted from our apartment and after we spent a few days in a city shelter. My mother told us she'd be back for us in a few days.
Two years later, I was still living with my emotionally and physically abusive grandmother in a kingship foster home. I was slapped, choked, hit with a belt, yelled at, called every bad name you could think of, and even punished by being denied food. But after working up the nerve to speak up about the abuse, I was removed from my grandmother's house and placed into another foster home. I was no longer being physically abused, but the emotional abuse certainly made up for it.
Being in the foster care system has taught me many things. I learned strength and resilience and what true grit looks like. I learned faith and love and how to believe that God has something better in store for me. I learned how to work. Hard. And how to push. Harder. I learned how to do well in school and how to figure out how to be successful in life. I learned how to be a good student and how to be a dedicated professional. I learned how to get degrees. And I learned how to climb the career ladder.
I'm doing well professionally, and, from the outside looking in, I have all the markers of success: three ivy league degrees, a successful career, a thriving blog, a son in private school, vacations, day trips, cultural outings, a fun social life, and "work/life balance."
But here I am, one month before my 30th birthday, and I know this one thing to be true: degrees and professional success does not necessarily equal emotional soundness.
My first serious adult romantic relationship started out fast, furious, and fiery. And then it burned out just as fast and just as furious (read: domestic violence). I went through a year of therapy after that relationship and I still struggle with PTSD at times. Now that I'm in another serious romantic relationship, at times, I still struggle with opening up, trusting, and effectively communicating.
I don't think I'll ever be fully over the trauma of living with my grandmother and, at times, it still scares me to speak to her.
It took me years to restore my relationship with my biological mother and, at times, I still have to work at trusting her and maintaining a positive relationship with her.
Worse of all, deep, deep, deep down inside, I fear that I will not do right by Aiden as a result of all of the crap I've dealt with in my past.
I'm healed, but the scars from my past are still there. And I'm still learning to deal with them in a very real way. I'm still a work in progress.
We all are.