I remember the first foster home I was taken to. The family was nice enough, but they had three sons of their own, and I really struggled to find out where I fit in. I often felt like I was watching from the sidelines. It was so uncomfortable. It was a strange family dynamic.
Though, I think they meant well when they decided to foster a child. They had lots of money, and probably thought they were going to give a good home to a child in need...and that child would be me.
My stay in that first home was short lived. I do remember not being allowed to talk to my mum for a month at a time. I was also only allowed to wear grey clothing, socks, skirt, shirt, it was awful, and to this day I have no idea why. I wonder if that is the reason I am a bit eclectic today. Or would I be my funky self today even if I had not been dressed in horribly plain clothes.
It was the end of a quiet weekend that I was sat down and told the family did not want me anymore. They were honest, and I often wondered as I got older, why it was necessary to be that honest. What purpose did that serve telling a child who's own family did not want them, that their foster family also did not want them.
I think I would have preferred them to lie to me, yes to lie. I hate lies, and as an adult that has been a huge deal breaker for me in many relationships. As a child , maybe hearing the family wanted a foster son, or that they wanted a baby, maybe that would have been easer to hear than "we do not want you anymore".
I was then taken to my next home. I was 8 years old, soon turning 9 . The next home I was placed in had no children of their own at home anymore. Their children were older and attending University at the time. They also lived a Vegetarian lifestyle, which I had never encountered before. It was so strange to be in a home with no meat.
This family had another foster child in their home, a teenager, her name was Susie. I thought she was wonderful. She was so loving with me, and maybe that was because she had been through what I was going through. I looked up to her ,and quickly felt a strong bond with her.
My foster mum was a bit of a bossy older gal, her husband more meek and mild. I went through the motions of trying to be the ideal child for them. I learned that their daughter, who was then in her 20's, looked like me, or I guess I looked like her. I saw photos of her as a child and sure enough we looked like twins. My foster mum soon had a difficult time differentiating between her own daughter and myself. I would often feel uncomfortable as she stared at me for lengths of time. She would often call me by her daughters name.
I felt so uncomfortable around her, and the food she fed me was awful. I dreaded it. I remember her giving me cod liver oil on bread, and telling me I had to eat it. She would not let me leave the kitchen table without finishing it. I gagging on ever bite. I had tears going down my face and it did not faze her. She told me it was good for me, and I needed to eat all of it.
On my 9th Birthday she made me a lasagna with tuna in it. I think that was meant as a treat for me, a non vegetarian treat. It was so not good, and though I appreciate her trying to make me something special, it tasted and smelled horrible.
Her husband owned a textile company and that was the best part of living with these people. There was a drawer filled to capacity of several different fabrics. I was allowed to take whatever material I wanted from it, and make anything I wanted out of it.
It was not uncommon for them to leave me alone. Day or night, I was often by myself and I would take a needle and thread, paper and pencil...draw out a pattern and sew myself an outfit. I made a rag doll one day, and I loved that doll. I was very creative back then, still am.
Susie only lived with us a short time. I am not sure, but I believe she went back to her own family. When she left I missed her so bad. It was not the same, not having her there to talk to.
My foster parents would go out a lot, and be gone till midnight, or later. I hated that. I was always scared once they left. I would hear things, see things...I would wish for them to hurry up and come home.
The neighbourhood we lived in was a fancy one, just outside the Toronto area. Large estate homes lined the streets. Many houses were broken into during the time I lived there. A neighbour who had an indoor pool, came home to find windows smashed, and their whole home was turned upside down. We were all aware of the several break ins, and it was scary. I never understood why they left me alone during that time.
My foster parents house had an apartment in the basement. They eventually rented it to a lady in her 30's. She had the cutest cat, a black and white one.
One day, I was introduced to her and she told me if I ever needed anything, she would be there for me. She went away at one point and asked me to check in on her cat and feed it. Her cat ate smelts, I think that is what they were called. These little tiny, stinky fish, that the cat loved, and I dreaded serving.
Her apartment was very small, a bachelor apt, where everything was in one room. I would go down to feed the cat and I would wish I could stay down there. Instead of upstairs, feeling uncomfortable with my foster parents.
One night my foster parents were heading out to a party. They told me if I needed anything I could knock on the tenant's door, but not to bother her unless I really needed to. I was told they would return around 1am. I was 9 and a half years old and though I was mature for my age, I was not old enough to be alone till the wee hours of the night/morning.
We said our goodbyes, and they told me to go to bed around 9:30pm. They left about 7 pm. There was never any snacks in this house, it was no wonder at the time I was so thin, and I looked ill. The food we ate was salad and sandwiches, that was it. I never had a full stomach. I quickly became used to this way of eating. Once a month we had a vegetarian pizza. It was pretty good, and I would welcome the smell of it in our home. I was only allowed one small piece though. I always went to bed hungry.
That night I sat in an armchair in their family room, very close to a large window. It looked out into the back yard. Their yard was so dark at night. I was watching TV, and sitting listening to the house settle. The house noises sounded so loud. Floors creaked, doors sounded like they were moving, opening and closing...
I thought I heard someone talking, and I turned down the TV. I listened, but it had stopped. I walked around the kitchen, looking around, very paranoid in the moment. I went and sat back down in the chair I had been watching TV in and I heard a noise again. I opened the curtain beside me and saw a face looking back at me. I let go of the curtain and ran to the door to the basement apartment. I banged on the door. The tenant opened the door and said hi. I had to catch my breath, and I told her I had heard something and it had frightened me. She came upstairs and walked around .
She looked in the bedrooms and she looked out the windows. She said she did not see anything. I was so thankful for that, and I thanked her for coming upstairs. She asked if I wanted to come downstairs for a little bit. she told me she would welcome the company. I was so thankful for that invitation, as I had been quite lonely since Susie had moved out.
I went down the stairs and was greeted with loud meows by her cat. She told me I could sit on her bed and we would chat. I did as I was told. I always did as I was told.
She asked if I was okay, and told me that she understood I had been afraid. She was a tall African American gal, very elegant and seemed very confident in herself. I was a quiet , timid, easily intimidated child that did more listening than talking. That might explain why I am so chatty today.
I remember her asking me about things that made me very uncomfortable. She asked me if I knew anything about sex ,and if I liked boys. Keeping in mind here I was not even 10 years old...I was very uncomfortable and I told her I had no questions and I tried to get the cat to come sit with me as a diversion. I was torn, I wanted the conversation with her to stop, but I was afraid to go upstairs and be alone. I hated the home I was in, and in that moment I wished myself to be home with my mum, far from the nightmare I was living.
Time must have gotten away from us, as she had been talking non stop. About intimacy, and photos she had of herself, about her dating, and so many things that were inappropriate for a child.
Suddenly, we heard a loud bang upstairs, and we both looked up towards the apartment entrance. I asked her what time it was, she told me it was12:30am. I panicked as I was supposed to go to bed hours before. Not only that, I was in the tenant apartment.
She told me not to worry, it would be okay, and that she would make it all right. She told me to stay where I was, and she would go talk to my foster parents. I never ever questioned anything with anyone back then. I was in unknown territory and always afraid. I did what she told me. I heard her get to the top of the stairs and open the door. I could barely get a deep breath in. The cat was now on my lap, and it's loud purr was a distraction I did not want. I wanted to hear the conversation upstairs. I heard the tenant tell my foster mum that she had heard yelling and banging and she had ran upstairs concerned for my safety.
She said that she had to calm me down, and that I was out of control, and she brought me downstairs to take care of me. I listened in shock. That was not how it all went. I did not yell or bang anything, I was quiet and I was scared. She made it sound like I was crazy and throwing myself around.
I heard my foster mum's voice yelling for me to get up the stairs now! When I got to the top of the stairs my heart was beating so hard in my chest , up into my face. I fought back the tears. Her yelling triggered my anxiety and that all so familiar feeling I got when my step father would yell at me. She ordered me to go to my room now! Telling me how disappointed they were in me, that I should know better than to behave like I did. I was balling at this point.
I went into my bedroom and laid down on my bed. My tears ended up soaking my pillow. I thought to myself I did not do what she was saying, I did not do this. My foster dad came into my room and said they would deal with me in the morning. He closed my bedroom door. That too was a trigger of fear for me.
I hated my life back then, I hated the people, and I prayed so hard that I would one day see my mum again.