|© Copyright 2020-2025 theselfesteemexpert.com All Rights Reserved.
|Specializing in Women's Issues
Counselor/Coach, Author, Lecturer
Empty Nest Syndrome
Family of Origin Issues
Rape, Sexual Abuse
Sexual Identity Issues
I have had a lot of loss in my life. My brother,
sister and I were taken from my Mother and
placed in foster care when I was four years old.
My father had already been out of the picture for
quite some time. My brother was angry and my
sister cried all the time. I pushed it all down.
In the foster care system, birth parents can visit
there children. We had been placed in a home
with a man, woman, and their little girl of nine
years old. Our new parents and sister.
My Mother and Grandmother visited. Not often,
but when they did there were always fireworks
between the adults. When they left, I was left
with loss all over again. I never knew when, or if, I
would see my Mother again, especially with all the
arguing between them.
The last time I saw her I was ten years old. It was
Mother's Day. My Mother always looked so
beautiful with her shoulder-length auburn hair,
earrings, make-up, always red lipstick, and always a pretty dress and high-heel
shoes. Not this day. My Mother looked terrible! Her hair was a mess. It
needed colored, two inches of growth showing. She wore no jewelry or
make-up, her clothes were wrinkled and looked like they had not been
ironed, and she was wearing flat, slip-on shoes. She had two black eyes,
But that was not even the worst of it. She was pregnant! She looked like
she was going to have a baby any day. The reason that was the worst
thing of all, is that every time she visited I begged her to take us with her.
Her response was always, "One day you'll come home with me".
I hadn't quite understood that when we went to the courtroom at the
juvenile court with my new foster parents, a place where we had to stay
when the police found us living on the streets where we often slept and
begged for food, that my Mother's parental rights had been taken away.
That meant we were never going to live with her. All I knew at the time,
though, was that I was losing my Mother to some baby that I hated the
moment I saw her pregnant. And that was exactly what had happened. I
never saw her again. She had a total of five other children.
My Father visited the foster home when I was five years old. I begged him
to take us with him. He explained that he couldn't because he had a new
wife who had kids of her own so there wasn't any room for us. That was
the last time I saw my Father.
My brother, sister, and I were pretty much integrated into the extended
families of my foster parents. I became attached to some of the
grandmothers and grandfathers and faced the loss of each of them over
the year. But it was quite a few years before I faced significant loss again.
My foster brother, a baby boy of two who was abused and neglected when
my foster parents adopted him, liked playing house and dress-up with the
neighborhood girls verses being part of neighborhood sports with the
boys. He exhibited feminine manners and behaviors. For that, he was
always called a sissy. For this reason, I believe, his adopted father, my
foster father, played no part in his life. He was a very emotionally fragile
boy and depended on me for emotional support while we were growing up.
I loved him no less than if he had been born as my brother. I was not
surprised when he admitted what I always suspected, that he was gay. In
the late 70's, early 80's, this lifestyle was not yet accepted, making his live
hell. He buried his pain in alcohol. Eventually, he contacted AIDS.
The next year my foster father died. I had a lot of emotional conflict with
that death that took me for a ride on an emotional roller coaster. If you
read About Lee you'll understand why.
But worst of all was my Sister. My dear, sweet, tormented Sister. She
could never get over the fact that our Mother gave us up in the first place.
At age 35, she committed suicide.
Individuals act or react to natural death and suicide in many different
ways. For me, what happened is this:
I got a phone call from my foster mother who told me that my
Sister was dead, she had committed suicide. Instantly, I felt a
scream in the very dept of my soul rising up into my chest and
almost to my lips. But before that scream could get out of my
mouth, I shut down. Completely.
I had always been the type of person who, when there was a
major occurrence, or a crisis, I would go into my "take charge"
mode. Get the feelings out of the way and take care of the
situation at hand. That was my motto in life.
The tears that were beginning to well up disappeared
immediately. I hung up the phone, stood up, and began to
prepare for a trip for my son and I that would take us from
Houston to Pittsburgh. I didn't feel anything.
At the funeral, I could hear people talking about being me, my
Sister's only "real" sister and I had not shed a tear. But the
truth of the matter was I couldn't.
My Sister and I were like twins. Except for the color of our hair
we looked alike. In fact, one time when my Sister visited me in
Houston, a friend of mine stopped by my house. My Sister
answered the door. My friend was startled to see me with
auburn hair and said as much. She was even more startled
when I came down the stairs with my own blonde hair.
I was the oldest of the two of us and the one who took care of
her when we spent nights on the street, when we lived for a
time in the juvenile court, and when we lived in the foster
home. Like with my foster brother, I was the one she came to
when trouble struck. And for my Sister, trouble struck often,
trouble she usually generated.
Now she was dead and I couldn't feel anything. I was angry
because I couldn't feel, but I was in a state of shock. I didn't
want to believe my Sister was dead. At a head level I knew all
to well that she had murdered herself. But at a feeling or
emotional level it wasn't happening. I wasn't feeling.
Also, I Knew this is how my subconscious was protected me as
shock is a protective mechanism for those who are not ready
to deal with reality.
I was in shock for five years.
Then one day I was sitting at my desk working on my
computer on something totally unrelated to anything personal.
And here came the tears, and did they ever flow. I experienced
a sadness over my Sister's death I had never know before. I
grieved for weeks.
Some individuals grieve immediately after the death of their loved one.
For others, like myself, it happens later. Still, others shove it down and
never experience the loss of their loved one. Instead, they usually
become an addict of some sort. Food or alcohol or drugs or work or
whatever. These addictions are used to keep those unwanted, painful
feelings down. To not feel at all for some is better then feeling pain.
It is true, grief is painful. No one really wants to go through all that pain.
Grief has seven stages of suffering. Let's take a look at those stages.