Have you ever read one of those books where you get to choose how to continue on in the story? I remember when I was a kid, I used to LOVE those books. You read a few pages, and are then presented with a couple of options on how the story should continue. You turn to one page for one scenario and another page for a different scenario. There are several different ways for the story to play out, and you can end up with a happy ending or end up with an early demise.
When I think about life, I am reminded of those books. Every day is an option of choosing a page to decide how the story continues to play out. Not every choice ends up being the best option, but the story continues on until you are faced with another difficult choice to make.
I've been given many, many choices in my life. And I haven't always picked the best route to take. I've often taken a much more dangerous or troubled path, but the choices I make after the fact usually put me back on the straight and narrow and they end up leading to greater rewards.
How I decide to continue on my path is the ultimate test each time I am faced with a challenge.
I made a choice when I was seventeen that ended up with me getting pregnant. Now, I had many options presented to me, many pages to choose if you will. And, even though the choices I ended up making didn't make my life easier, they ended up making me a stronger person. One of those choices took me through a few years of being in a very volatile and abusive relationship. But, I then chose the page that got me the heck out of that. And even though that decision put me in a situation where I was temporarily homeless with, then, two small children, I chose the option that was the best for my kids and me.
Since that time, I've faced many challenges and made many tough decisions. Entering in to another relationship, going to college, having another baby while going to college, coping and taking care of a son that went through some mental health issues, trying to find a teaching job, buying a house, etc. etc.
Each option presented with various ways for the story to play out, but choosing the path I chose brought me to where I am today. Not all choices where the best. Not all scenarios played out the way I thought they would. And each obstacle thrown my way, gave me a reason to be stronger in order to overcome it.
Having gone through the challenges that life has presented is what fostered my No Excuses mentality. I refuse to live a life based on excuses. There have been so many opportunities where I could have just given up, thrown in the towel, and blamed every future failure on the bad situations I had been through before.
I could have relied on the welfare system to take care of me and my two children, because it was just too hard to take care of myself. I could have stayed in that abusive relationship, because it meant that I wouldn't have to feel alone. I could have just stayed single after finally getting out of that relationship. because I might end up hurt again. I could have given up on my dream of going to college because it was just too hard to live on one source of income. I could have given up on my son, because it was just too much pain to witness what he was going through and the damage he was ultimately doing to me. I could have given up continuing to look for a teaching job after the first few dozen rejections, because it appeared like I was never going to find a job and the rejection was just too hard to cope with.
I could have. But I didn't. And I truly believe that I am the strong and stable person I am today because of each decision I did make.
I have known so many people that have opted to blame all of their failures on bad situations. They make constant excuses for having the life they have, because they are never able to catch a break.
They have no money because nobody will give them a job. But, they spend maybe an hour or two a week looking for a job, and won't apply at certain places because they are too above flipping burgers or working on a factory line. They use drugs or alcohol because they had a terrible home life as a child, and choose to mask the pain with addiction rather than seek help. They beat or neglect their children because that's how they were raised and they don't know any better. They are in a relationship where they are beaten, because they don't want to be alone and feel like it's the best option for their kids. And they then, in turn, raise children to believe the same way...creating a vicious cycle that just can't seem to be broken.
But, all it takes, is for one of those children raised in that cycle to stand up, take accountability for the path they are choosing, make themselves responsible for making better choices and not blaming bad situations on their past and BOOM!!! Cycle broken. Life is better. The person involved is unbreakable.
Even though I am not one of the people from that scenario, I've had plenty of opportunity to just give up and blame all my hardships for not going forward. I could have chosen to go down a much easier path of blaming others that, in turn, would have prevented me from facing my problems head on. But, as I sit here, I am thankful for each and every problem and each and every way I chose to solve those problems.
Because, something I've realized about myself is the fact that I am one of the Unbreakables.
I am unbreakable.
I get thrown down. I get damaged. I get cracks that show wear and tear. But, every time I am thrown down, I get right back up. Every time I get damaged, I find a repair. Every time I receive a crack, I seal it back up. And each and every time I do those things, I come out the better for it, stronger, wiser, and even more harder to break.
Up until this past week, however, there has been one part of my life that I just didn't have the courage to stand up to. I didn't have it in me to chose a different path, and continued to take any form of damage or cracking that came my way. And that's anytime it came to my immediate family. Meaning my parents.
Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE my parents. With everything inside of me. While I haven't always agreed with decisions they make, or choices they chose, I have stood by and supported them. I have tried to be supportive. I have swallowed my own fears and worries in order to not upset them.
When they chose to become foster parents, I was unsure about the decision. I worried how their decision might impact my family, mostly my kids. And all the concerns I had have ended up playing out in some form or another, and yet I still continued to push on and let those problems go.
But, now I've realized that it's time to face the problems head on. No more choosing the path that ends up with me or my kids being hurt, and then staying on that path. It's time to choose a new path, and deal with whatever consequences come my way from that decision.
Since my parents became foster parents, I have only EVER heard about the problems and issues that arise from being foster parents. Any and every time I talk to my mom, that's all she talks about. No matter what the subject of conversation is that I try to steer her towards, it ALWAYS comes back to the foster kids.
And that ultimately led to my shying away from my parents for a while. I got tired of hearing about it. I got tired of watching the problems that were developing in their house because of it. And, it was just easier to avoid any and all situations.
Then, my mom got sick. Diagnosed with cancer. And it was then I realized that I just had to suck it up and go back to dealing with the non-stop chatter about the foster kids, and listening to the problems she was having, because it meant that I was at least talking to her or spending time with her.
Each time I listened, I felt the urge to scream WHY ARE YOU STILL DOING THIS?? Her health is first and foremost. It should be, anyway. For herself, her husband, and her kids. Her biological kids. And her grandchildren. But, I kept quiet. Didn't want to cause any more problems. Just be the good daughter and listen, without comments or opinions.
But, now it's the time where I once again have to put my family first and let go.
My parents made the choice to become foster parents. Not me. I don't or shouldn't have to carry the burdens related to it. I don't or shouldn't have to worry about it. And certain events that have played out this week have made me realize that.
And even though the troubles I've been dealing with this week weren't caused by them being foster parents or directly because of the foster kids, I absolutely, 100% believe that had they not been foster parents... the problems would never have happened. My kids wouldn't have been affected. My kids wouldn't have had to go through what they've gone through this week.
That's where I draw the line. For the sake of my children.
I will continue to love my parents. I will continue to have whatever relationship with them that I can have. But, I will no longer be involved in any way, shape, or form with them fostering children.
I just can't.
Call me selfish, if you will. But, it's a very tough decision that I had to make, and one that didn't come easy. The paths that I have chosen throughout my adult years have always put three people first and foremost: My children. Their safety, well being, and happiness are what drive me. And anything that may conflict with those things are something I just won't have in my life. I will do everything in my power to remove any danger, threat, or slightest chance of them getting hurt... either physically or mentally.
It is what it is. I am who I am.
I am unbreakable. I will not be broken. I will continue to rise above and be strong for myself, my children, and my family unit.
There's just no other option or choice to make.