Danielle in Long Beach, CA

Danielle in Long Beach, CA

The first thought that forms into my mind is my family. My biological family which will always be mine and the foster families with whom I struggled with. I am the second oldest child out of 8 half siblings. My mother is the bloodline which binds most of us together. As of late, I have not been as active in their lives as I once was due to the transition into new relationships and the investment in my future.

I learned at a young age that life isn’t fair and you just have to accept it. If there was anything I could take from all I experienced, it would be refusing to be what others expect from my given circumstances. Refusing to be bitter from how others have treated me, refusing to fall into the footsteps of my parents and refusing to not accept any opportunities which will benefit me or become an individual I am comfortable with.

Once my mother gave birth to her fifth child, my life became increasingly strained. Our family moved out and away from an abusive boyfriend, my favorite brother was taken away and eventually my family and I moved into a housing project. After watching my sister’s integration into the gang and drug life of the projects, and after my short journey on that same path, the trait which is described as resilience began to kick in. ¬†Although I was abused by friends and those who should have looked after me, and my mother continued her habits of hoarding and abusing prescription drugs, I continued investing in my individual path.

Then, along came my youngest sister in the middle of facing eviction. My school attendance began to fail and I had to take on the responsibility of my mother. I cared for three young children while my mother was absent due to heavy medication, and the mess, our circumstances became worse. Finally, the housing project just evicted us.

An elderly couple from my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, took me in. My life had seemed to change in a complete instant. However, the ugly truth was once again before me. I have absolutely no security, I am completely on my own. My current position, current situation, everything can be changed in an instant.

Once I decided to expand my horizons and discover the world for myself, the fact that is my life presented itself. My path and the direction of where it could go was in the hands of the couple and I had no say or control of it myself. If I wanted to lead where it would go, I needed to take control and make an uncomfortable decision- to leave although the future was uncertain.

All on my own. Feeling completely isolated and alone, I eventually became in contact with a school friend. She proved her friendship to me by stepping up and offering to let me live (for however long) with her. Although, once again, my life was changed in an instant. For about a year I was living with my friend. There were struggles; but as of October I was removed from the home. I was taken by social services and put into the system for a 24 hour period. I talked with girls who had stories similar to my own while I heard uncertainties of where I was going to be placed. Eventually, I was sent back to my mother. Regardless of the social worker’s obliviousness of the hell that awaited. Although I have new struggles that I currently face I am continuing to invest in my individual path.

I am attending my final year of high school, applying to college and I have a job. Throughout all that has been my life and though the past catches up to me every once in a blue moon, it does not define who I am as an individual or the path I will lead. Through all the circumstances I have had to face, I stand above them, triumphant in not giving up.