One of my earliest memories is the next-door neighbors we had living in Connecticut. I was always at their house. They took care of me. Whatever things were happening at my house, I always knew I had a safe place to go. I knew I could just hang out and be safe.
I also had one incredible teacher who was the first person to make me feel seen and heard. That wasn’t something I’d really had before. She was my elementary school teacher in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. We still keep in touch to this day. She’s the only person in my life who has known me for that long. She’s just a really special person. She made me feel like I mattered, and I was worthwhile as a human being. She took the time to listen to me. She showed up for me and was a consistent source of kindness and support. In the fifth grade, I asked her to adopt me. I was like, “Please, I just wish you were my mom”. I would fantasize about that all the time.
Teachers have been a defining factor throughout my life. I went to a small, private school from 7th to 12th grade. I got a quality education and also stability and community at a time when I didn’t have that at home. Teachers stepped up as parental figures and would come to my concerts and soccer games. The way they cared and supported me made all the difference. It was a very tumultuous time prior to and upon entering foster care. Upon entering care, I lived in various different places in a short amount of time. I didn’t want to be in some of those homes, so I did a lot of couch surfing, living with friends. But you know, you do whatever you need to do to survive.
This is part III in a VII part series. In Part IV, Mackenzie Faces New Challenges.