I was 5 when I realised that my childhood was going to be different to others; I wasn’t going to be raised by my biological parents. By the age of 4, I was able to draw and describe how to use a bong made out of a plastic bottle. I had witnessed my dad knock someone out at my school (we both then had to go on the run), I knew going shopping meant that mum and dad was thieving for their next fix and I was a distraction for any security guards. I knew that nan down the road was probably asleep on the sofa because she was so drunk. I knew I would be given money by drug dealers.
I was at a sleepover at family friend house; their child was my best friend, we wanted to do each other’s makeup, but needed to get supplies from my house. We lived on the same estate, so off we went down the road. Outside the block, I could see there two women at my front door (strangers turning up at the door was something I was accustomed to; police and drug dealers would often turn up looking for dad. “Can I help you?”, I remember asking in my best manner. They told me they were looking for my parents, which was difficult because my dad had been arrested and finding my mum after a session was basically mission impossible. Obviously, we were beyond stranger danger at this point. It was at that point, they explained they were from social services and were taking me from my parents for my own safety. Seemingly unfazed by all this, I was more concerned about hustling my friend for her favourite toy.
The reality of entering the care system was difficult; I wanted my dad, he was late a couple of times at the visiting centre and I’d just assume he was running from the police again. Sometimes he wouldn’t turn up and I would be left with this undesirable feeling of hurt. Whether or not my mum would turn up, I told myself I still had new toys to play with. I would say “she probably won’t turn up anyway” and I now realise this was a coping mechanism. My aunt and uncle from my dad’s side took legal responsibility for me and although they would probably describe it as a battle, they saved me. This lifestyle seemed normal to me, but I was lucky they stepped in.
“Being raised by drug addicts must have been hard”, a lot of people say. It was hard and unfair, but looking back I was happy most of the time I think. I was loved, I feel as if being loved kept me strong. But love did not feed me, clothe me, clean me. It did help me build resilience and in a strange way prepared me for many problems I would begin to face later in life. Although I did not see my dad for a few years, I knew deep down he loved me. We now have an unbreakable bond; I honestly believe it was his love that kept me alive for the first few years of my life.
After reading about statistics and seeking advice, it was made very clear to me that I would have difficulties in life (as we all do). I would have attachment issues, struggle academically and likely fail. I am happy to say I have great relationships with my friends and family, professional relationships work well too. I passed all my GCSEs, passed college and went on to university passing with a higher upper class BA honours while securing and focusing on my career throughout!
What have I taken from this when raising kids of my own? Love them unconditionally! It will help them grow, it will nurture their brain development and resilience building is good (to some extent).
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