Here is an account of ‘What is Family?’ By Holly, a young person we support.
Holly’s essay was submitted as a video entry to represent the Foster Care Fortnight campaign, ‘Fostering Transforms Lives’. Capstone staff voted Holly’s story as their favourite in a poll.
Thank you Holly, for sharing your story which inspired us all.
You can listen to Holly’s essay, or read it below.
“More importantly what is family to you? If I asked you this question now and you had to say the first few things that came to mind, what would they be and who would your thoughts be of? Many people would say, if they were asked this question, the people who you are related to biologically. However, I know from personal experience that family can be whoever and whatever you want it to be.
Family isn’t about who was the cause of your existence or those you’ve known and lived with your whole life, family is the people you feel most comfortable around and the people who have been there for you when you’ve had your lowest moments. Typically, family is portrayed to be special and important and it’s supposed to be the people you can always rely on and be happy with.
Take mine for example, I have a biological father I’ve never met and a mother who seemed to believe alcohol was more important than her two daughters. Then there was an adoptive family which was bearable for 6 years. My dad was great though he managed to find ways to make me happy and calm me down when I just felt like leaving. He always treated me so well and would always find ways to make me feel happy about myself and special whenever I saw him. Unfortunately, it seems my life has a big issue with me being happy for too long and it always finds things to turn it sour, so sadly late last year he lost his third battle with cancer. This now means that when my mum and I aren’t able to see eye to eye and I’m feeling angry with her, there isn’t anyone who can calm the situation down.
A short, 1 year stay with my aunty leads us to the place where I’ve been for the past 5 years – foster care. I guess you could say 5th time lucky, or that people were just tired of moving me around, either way it was a good result. The families of my past are what people deem to be “forever families”, meaning the people who you should be able to live with forever, which obviously didn’t work out to for me.
I remember the first time I was told about being put into care and maybe it was the amount of Tracy Beaker I had read and watched but I instantly became filled with dread and the only thing I could imagine was a group of kids picking on me.
Thankfully the past 5 years have been nothing like that and have actually been the best few years of my life where I have been able to: meet new people, gain new skills and experiences, watch myself change into someone who I no longer hate and gain an incredible new family who I couldn’t imagine life without.
The word family creates a variety of different thoughts for different people. It will also make people think of different people and situations. Originally, family used to be a very straightforward thing and everyone had the same type, However, as times have advanced the varieties of families has also advanced and now we’re faced with different kinds.
In reality, family can often be people that you struggle to be around and people you don’t always want to be around or see. The truth is that none are perfect, everyone can easily agree with that. Everyone wants people to think that their life is great and there aren’t problems within it. People feed each other lies with the fake stories about how great and perfect things are for them. I have learnt that most times people do this not because they want to show off and tell everyone about themselves, but often because admitting to yourselves and others that things aren’t perfect can be too much. Sometimes it is easier to pretend.
Letting all these issues and problems affect your life for too long can often lead to more problems which can just lead into a down-wards spiral. If you don’t find ways to be able to deal with it, I’ve found that it can often lead to more things being affected like; school, friendships and your self-image. This situation is one where if it is serious it can often feel like you’re being suffocated by your problems.
Most of the time I don’t allow my problems to affect me but sometimes when I think too much a fresh realisation can hit me and can lead to me over think things which can affect me for; seconds, minutes, hours or even days. On the other hand, although having a tough home life has many negative aspects if you look hard enough you’ll find some good in the situation. I’ve found that over the past 5 years I’ve been able to find ways to sort my problems, I’ve learnt how to manage numerous problems whilst having to deal with school and exams stress. From a young age, I realised how unfair life can be and learnt to not let it get on top of me otherwise I wouldn’t have managed to reach this far in my life, I have taught myself to always find the good in a situation no matter how hard or small. My life with all the problems has shaped who I am and I’m able to recognise the positive change. Don’t get me wrong it’s not something I exactly love about myself but I am incredibly proud and I will always make the best out of it.
Christmas and birthdays are always interesting as my family only really know how to express how much they feel sorry for me by buying me masses of presents, which is something I don’t complain about, however, my mum has an influence on some of them and they still believe me to be and treat me like a 10 year old so the multipack of pencils and the build your own birdcage isn’t something I get excited about.
There are times when I look back on my life and can often feel weighed down by it all and it can make me wish for a normal and easy life, but I realise that my life would be totally different and I wouldn’t have had the same experiences and memories that I now have. The people that I now live with may not be my biological family and may have been 11 years late but I know that they are better than any other family I have had and mean a lot more to me.
In the end when you think about it you realise that family is whatever you want it to be no matter what. After all family is just a word and nobody should be letting one word ruin, affect or control their whole life.”