Fun Fact #10 – Foster Children Lack Confidence

 

Fun Fact #10 – Foster Children Lack Confidence


I must have heard it a thousand times growing up the way I did,

“You’ll never amount to anything”

“You’re going to be alone for the rest of your life”

“NO ONE will love you”

I still remember the look on my biological fathers face as we sped down the freeway – his hands flailing wildly in the air above him as he shouted and glared at me from the front seat of his red Chevy pickup. I always hated that obnoxiously loud truck and the way it roared like a diesel that was 3 bolts short of falling apart or losing a tire.

Every time I hopped into the backseat of that truck I would close my eyes and take a deep breath in attempt to prepare myself for the toxic car ride that would soon follow. When he wasn’t screaming profanities at me, or howling from the front seat about what a failure I was, he was sputtering an exchange of hateful words to his wife in Spanish. Eventually, I learned to tune his voice out and found solace in the little things that flew past my window outside. I would watch people walk down the busy streets and stare at other drivers as we hurled past them, picturing myself in their backseat as someone else. Anywhere else. I grew accustomed to people telling me I wasn’t good enough and I’ll never be worth anything, After years of listening to the same things from different people it slowly bore a hole in my confidence and self-worth, I started believing them!

I mean, maybe they were right? Maybe that’s why my placements in the system never lasted. Growing up, I was extremely shy, withdrawn. and little rebellious. I hated being the center of attention and I had this terrible stutter that just wouldn’t go away no matter how many speech therapy classes my teachers enrolled me in,

I was broken and nobody wanted me– or so I thought.

It took a long time before I was able to extinguish those little voices in my head telling me I was worthless,  It took about 10 years and a few therapy sessions in fact.
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Fast forward to now and it looks like my next adventure (in 10 days!) will be on a train to Monterey to join forces with a local Foster Care Agency so that I’ll be able to share my experiences and become a voice for youth still in the system. I’ll have the opportunity to help guide hundreds of foster parents while I sit on their “Former Foster Youth Panel” and give advice on how they can help children currently living in their home. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to shed a little bit of my perspective on what it’s like going through the system, in hopes they will be able to find something beneficial from listening to the story of a foster child that once was.

I was asked not long ago,

“Well, what do you want people to gain from your speech in Monterey?”

and I didn’t really have an answer until now, I guess the truth is that — I know that being a foster parent is not easy, and I know that it gets overwhelming and frustrating at times, when you have a child that is rebellious or withdrawn, or when you have children that come into your home and leave quicker than you expected… It’s difficult to encourage and promote the development (FYI READ THIS AWESOME BLOG) of these young children when you don’t understand their background or where they came from. I know this because I was both a foster child and foster mother, and I hope that by the end of our talk, I’ll be able to give them a fresh perspective or new tool for patience.

Sometimes, patience comes with the ability to understand and I’ve learned that if you’re struggling with patience it’s likely because you are not able to understand someone’s past and if you can’t understand their past, then how can you help shape their future?

Other than that, I’m sure there will be a million questions that I’ll be able to answer. I’m so beyond excited for this opportunity to help Foster Hope Sacramento. This is going to be such a positive and uplifting experience for everyone involved. I was told there are going to be a lot of team building activities and group exercises to help encourage and promote one another, and I think that’s exactly what I need right now! It’s going to be amazing I’m just not sure that I’m entirely ready? I mean do I prepare the speech beforehand? Or just wing it? I’m usually pretty good at “winging it”

Well, I suppose I’ll have 10 days left to prepare a little confidence and muster up the courage to stand there in front of everyone including my fellow peers and former foster youth on the panel.

**Takes a deep breath **

Alright Monterey, Here I come!

© 2018 All Rights Reserved Erica DeCima

Fun Fact #9 What is Closure

Fun Fact # 9 – What is Closure?


This blog is long overdue, I guess I just needed more time to let that trip to LA sink in.. I think I just needed some time to fully comprehend the events that took place over the course of my three-day adventure in the city of angels, It was such a bittersweet ending.

Well, I did it! I sat there, a complete and utter mess in the studio audience for Ellen Degeneres as my favorite band performed merely a few feet away from me while the camera crew zoomed in on every tear. I’m not going to ask what happened to the footage, and frankly, I hope it never sees the light of day. I was literally, A screaming, SOBBING mess. I told myself years ago that I would eventually see that band play live, little did I know that it would be on the set of Ellen Degeneres.

An old friend introduced me to Mumford and Sons a long time ago, I still remember the first time he serenaded me with “After the Storm” there was just something about the way that he sang it which comforted my broken soul. At the time I was going through one of the most difficult things I had ever encountered, and those lyrics unexpectedly poured new life into the emptiness that lingered in my soul. It awoke something in me that I didn’t even realize existed, it gave me H-O-P-E. It was a depressingly beautiful song, and I’ll never forget it.

Have you ever felt so utterly connected to someone, that no matter what you try and do to forget them, their voice just plays like a song on repeat in your head? I fully believe that everything happens for a reason, I believe that people come in and out of your life for a purpose, even if you don’t fully understand it, and it’s only momentarily – it’s exactly what you need at the time. In this case, it was the music that he left behind which gave me the power to push through some of the darkest moments in my life and for that, I’ll always be thankful.

Beautiful soul breaking songs like:

  1. After The Storm
  2. Where Are You Now
  3. Ghosts That We Knew
  4. Ditmas
  5. White Blank Page
  6. Timshel
  7. Only Love

and 8. Home gave me the ability to slowly twist the cap from atop the glass bottle which contained my bubbling heart. I didn’t know how to deal with emotions, I told people what they wanted to hear, I was a compulsive liar and I hated myself and everything I had become. I hated my parents for leaving me in the foster care system, my family for never caring enough to pull me out of the system and the many social workers and probation officer’s that tossed me around, barely giving me enough time to breathe between placements.

Over the course of a few months and between the sobbing and drunken nights watching the ceiling spin while I kicked bottles of wine over, I played these songs on repeat, for hours on end until I couldn’t remember what time of the day it was. I could feel the pain between the lyrics with every word that was sung and I loved it. I loved knowing that I wasn’t alone in feeling helpless and defeated, I loved the message between the lines and the boisterous banjo that rattled in sync with the keyboard that somehow tuned into my heart. These were the songs that gave me the ability to heal, and for some odd reason that I’ll never fully understand – helped cleansed my thoughts.

After months of writing, and months of realizing that there were two paths in front of me,

  1. I could take these life experiences and drown in them, letting them succumb me, OR
  2. I could take these memories and put them on a shelf  (literally a book) somehow make peace with them, and move forward.

What do you think I did? I’ll be honest, I wanted to say fuck everyone and everything and give up because life as I had known it thus far was full of pain and I was sick of hurting. But instead, I remembered the soft melancholy voice that first introduced me to my favorite band, and then I knew. If this stranger, somewhere in the middle of bumfuck nowhere believes in me, Why couldn’t I believe in myself? So, I dusted myself off and wrote a book. I put all of my pain into the pages and word by word I found myself through writing and I hoped that one day it would help someone else.

That year after writing the novel went by terribly slowly, There were moments of doubt. Moments I didn’t know if I could survive my husband’s lover, his family and the loss of my niece all at once. There were times of regret and moments when I thought about burning the pages of my sappy little book and leaving everything in the past, But I’m sure glad that I didn’t because… then there were moments like last month when things couldn’t have been more perfect.

I told myself for years that I would see them play live and when I finally had the opportunity I purchased crappy seats in a huge Colosseum knowing full well that I would never be close enough to feel the magic of their performance, But I didn’t care because I knew just being there was enough. EVEN IF! I had to drag my family on a road trip and drive 6 hours to a city I had never been – bankrupting us along the way. I just didn’t care, I knew that I needed to see them, little did I know that I would end up merely a few feet away from them on the set of Ellen Degeneres watching them belt out “Only Love”

What an adventure..

I left a piece of myself in that city, I suppose that’s what closure is all about. Leaving the past behind no matter how much it hurts.

To be continued…

© 2018 All Rights Reserved Erica DeCima

Fun Fact #8 – It’s Ok to be HUMAN

Fun Fact # 8: It’s okay to be human.


There is something about the way music illuminates my soul. I typically listen to that really depressing kind of music that makes you want to cry or scream into a pillow. You know, the kind that’s really impactful and deep and when you listen to it, it almost feels like ripping open old scabs that haven’t fully healed. I love the sad stuff because it makes you bleed and feel again. I think the ability to feel and embrace a variety of emotions is so beautifully human. Emotion is what drives us to make every decision we’ll ever make, whether it be out of love, anger or hate. If your taught properly how to channel those emotions and deal with your feelings then it helps you to become a stable person as you grow into adulthood.

When I was younger I had no idea how to deal with my thoughts or feelings, My opinions and viewpoints were never validated and I believe for children that are learning and still growing – THAT is so important. Validation, if you’re never taught the importance of validation then its very difficult to become empathetic and for me, I would have to say empathy is my favorite feeling of all. It’s what gives life meaning and value. I feel like without knowing that its O.K to feel and be human, we spend a lot of time and energy focused on beating ourselves up over things we don’t understand, we become selfish and focus on us, forgetting that the world isn’t just about us. Its about US (as a whole) if that makes sense?

Anyways, sometimes I ramble. so yea, back to what I was saying!

That really depressing music is what makes me feel most alive and it usually ALWAYS involves some type of screaming over an acoustic guitar, piano or banjo. Music is what pretty much what pulled me through the foster care system, music is what changed my life and helped guide me to where I am today but every few years I’ll come across a song that just tears into my soul,

This song gets me EVERY TIME, I’ll be honest. I cry like a baby! I love the soft melancholy keys that play in the background while Charlie Puth rips into the intro with an undeniable passion, like its pulling at the seams of your heart. I love the hope that lingers behind each word as the lyrics embrace loss yet somehow manage to instill hope. There’s just something about the way he sings,

“I’ll see you again”

This song reminds me of the time when I fostered my niece. I thought growing up in the system would give me some sort of insight on what it would be like to be a good foster mom. I used to tell myself when I was younger: I’m going to grow up and take in LOTS of foster kids.

But the reality is, I could only do it once. I know there is such a huge need for more foster parents, Trust me, I KNOW. Maybe one day in the future I’ll be ready to foster again, but for now that little girl left a hole so deep that it still hurts two years later. Every now and then when a 50 ft wave comes crashing in (read this post to understand my reference) I somehow find my way back to this memory.:

I still remember the way her tiny hands felt against my face when she would look at me and call me “momma” her little fingers were plump and soft and not yet fully formed. I used to take both of her hands and place them on either side of my cheek as I looked her in the eye and say ” I love you girly”

She would spread her little fingers wide across my cheek and squeeze, ” I love you, momma”

I would then take her little open-faced palm and softly nibble while she giggled and pulled away laughing, only to place them right back and my cheek and make me do it all over again. She loved it! She loved us, we were different than everything she had known before and she felt safe, I could sense how happy she had been with us. She made everything brighter when she was around.

At one point, before my marriage dissolved we had this big oak table that sat in the middle of our dining room. It was a beautiful hand-carved piece of furniture that, funny enough, was given to me by an ILP Worker when I turned 20 and moved into my first apartment. The table was round with a thick base that made it extremely heavy to move around and was difficult to squeeze through doorways, but we somehow managed to haul it around over the years. By the time I was 24 and fostering my niece it had already taken so much of a beating that I was nearly ready to throw it out, so when she began carving pictures into it with a pen, I wasn’t really upset. Instead, I told her,

“baby, we are not supposed to use pens like that”

She looked at me as though my words had peaked her interest. Squinting her eyes, I watched them shift from the table and back to me as her mouth slightly dropped in awe.

“if you want to draw, let’s use paper, okay? ”

“look we can do it together,” I said.

I placed a crayon in her hand and slid a piece of construction paper in front of her.  Sitting beside her, I watched as she spun the colorful wax in circular directions on the paper. Licking my finger I placed it atop her scribbled letters and pressed hard into the oak, but it was useless, The damage had been done. Rubbing away the ink only revealed the depth of her carvings. They were permanently etched into the top of that oak table and weren’t going anywhere. A few months later before she left she asked me with tears in her eyes,

“Are you gonna keep the table momma?”

“Yes baby, Yes. I’m going to keep the table” and just like that we never saw her again.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved Erica DeCima