Embracing Eli

Lately I’ve been experiencing a weird feeling inside myself. I watch a youtuber that identifies as nonbinary, and I am fascinated by them. I like the idea of not using gender specific pronouns, yet I also feel like I cling to my she/her pronouns for dear life.
When I was nine years old, I had to cut all my lovely curly long hair off due to head lice, and because of that I was referred to as a boy. It didn’t help that I was wearing my brothers hand-me-downs. I was so offended, and despised that substitute teacher for the rest of my elementary and middle school existence. In grade twelve I had beautiful long, and coloured hair. I destroyed it by bleaching it to much, and had to chop it all off going into year thirteen of high school. (I went back by choice.) Again I was offended when someone called me a boy, because it was so deeply ingrained in me that I was supposed to be a female, who liked males.
I came out as Bisexual in grade eleven to my friends and a few of my family members, but I didn’t openly discuss it with my foster parents because I figured that they would accept it. So being misgendered felt awful, and made me feel so self conscious about myself. I started to go into even more of a self hatred. By the time I was in my  first year of hair school, I felt more confident in my short hair. My boyfriend loved me with long hair, and still loved me with short hair. My friends didn’t care what the length of my hair was, and neither did I.
Now fast forward two years, and I’m trying to grow my hair out. Not because I don’t love it short, but because I haven’t seen myself with long hair in forever. In the last year I have been diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress disorder, General Anxiety disorder, Social Anxiety disorder, and Panic disorder. Because of the mixture of all these, I have many panic attacks, some of them so bad that I almost pass out. My clothing will be too tight, and I will fall apart, because in my head I am this fat disgusting monster, when in reality I am an averagely sized person. So lately I’ve started to wear my boyfriends clothing, and I feel so much more confident and comfortable.
Watching this nonbinary youtuber had gotten me to question whether or not I like the use of female pronouns for myself, and in all honesty, I could care less if someone used He/Him or She/Her pronouns to describe me. I’m me, and I don’t depend on these pronouns to be me. I have been doing a lot of thinking about it lately, and I have decided that I like dressing more Androgynous. I’ve also decided to go by a more masculine name, but that won’t be changed on any social media until I move from where I am living now, because the roommates I currently have are great, but I feel like they wouldn’t understand, because they don’t understand why I like to wear my boyfriends clothing.
The name I have chosen to go by once I move is Eli. My boyfriend says he will love me regardless of my name, and I’ve told him he can use any pronouns he would like, as long as he can try to call me Eli. When we move, we will be living with my best friend. He is gay, and is somewhat in the same mindset as me, where he wants to appear more gender neutral. I look forward to the journey I will be embarking on, and I am so grateful that I have my boyfriend to support me through it, and a best friend to take the journey with.
Sincerely,
Eli.

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Dear Children’s Aid Society

Dear CAS

I have a little story I’d like to share with you, though I doubt you’d truly care. This is a story of a girl in your protection, that you failed. I was ten years old when I met her. Let’s call her Jillian. She’d already been dealt a crappy hand at life, and you didn’t make it any easier. Jillian lived in a home that felt more like a prison to her. You placed her somewhere you thought was safe, and then forgot about her. You sent people to “check in” but no one listened. So I hope that you will listen now.

We were only ten years old when we met. She had to explain to children our age that no, her parents didn’t give her up, and that no, she wasn’t unlovable, or thrown away. Do you know how hard that can be for someone, let alone a child? The worst part is that, that wasn’t the worst she had to put up with.

She had to have approval of how she wore her hair, what clothing she wore, what size of clothing she wore. Jillian wasn’t even in high school yet, but she was already so unsure of who she was, she was already following the demands of her society. She was afraid to make friends because she felt as though she’d be taken away all over again. How is that fair to do to a child who is still developing and growing? How can you tell them to get comfortable, and then rip the rug out from under them?

Fast forward to middle school. She starts having issues with her foster parents, and no one does anything about it. I am more than certain she expressed her issues, but they were pushed aside as she was nothing more than a preteen. As if she was any less of a person based on her age. She lived with her two brothers, and that made her life more bearable. Until one day, her life got flipped upside down.

She was being bullied, and her foster parents did nothing about it. She spent two years dealing with the same girl at school, and no one noticed she was hurting. That, or no one cared. Then her older brother is moved out of the foster home, and she breaks. That was the last straw. She began to self harm, because she had such a strong hatred for herself that she didn’t care what happened to her at this point.

Fast forward, and you guys gave her a few therapy sessions, but not enough to effectively do anything. Her self harm follows her into high school, and so do all of her insecurities. Would it be a surprise if I informed you that she was struggling with her foster mother at this point? Her foster mother didn’t approve of her style choice, and was rudely vocal about it. I believe that can fall under the category of verbal abuse. There were also cases of emotional abuse and mental abuse. Her foster parents used her younger brother to get her to behave the way they deemed she should.

In the winter of her sixteenth year, Jillian had made a few new friends. They just happened to be boys. Her foster mother had told her that if she kept hanging around them, people would get the wrong idea, and pretty much told her that if something happened, it would be her fault. Not to long after that, she was raped, and told no one because of how her foster mother made her feel as though she was a second class whore of a human being. Again, no one noticed, or cared enough to notice.

At sixteen years old, Jillian has made her mind up. She hated herself to the point that she didn’t want to be alive anymore. In her eyes, there was nothing that could be done. She tried to kill herself twice, and upon the second attempt her foster mother discovered her. Not only did she force her to go to the hospital when the woman didn’t think it was anything serious, she forced Jillian to walk in front of her younger brother in shorts, revealing all of the fresh self harm marks covering her body, which up until that point Jillian had done her very best to keep from him.

Once at the hospital, they questioned her about whether she had the intent to die, and she said yes, that she wanted to die, that she wasn’t happy with her life in anyway. The foster mother said otherwise, and claimed that it was all for attention, which in my opinion is a cry for help in and of itself, would you not agree? You choose to send her to therapy again, I’m guessing to cover yourself. Her foster mother deemed that it wasn’t working because she was still self harming, and decided not to send her anymore. She deprived Jillian of something that was actually doing good for her.

Later that same year, her and her foster mother got into a heated argument, and her foster mother punched her. There was a bruise for about a week, but again she kept it to herself, because 1) she knew no one would listen to her, and 2) if she left, they could take it out on her little brother, and she would never let that happen. When she had finally had enough and came clean about it all, you still barely listened. You made her feel like her confession wasn’t valid, like her experience wasn’t real. You moved her, and that was it. She faced years of abuse, was so depressed she was suicidal, and no one cared.

She finally came out and told her older brother about the rape incident. Her worker looked through her messages, and confronted her, finally someone acted as though they actually cared. They tried to convince her to go to the police, and all she did was laugh, because if you wouldn’t believe her about her being abused, then why should the police believe that she was raped? It is always her word against the word of the person she is accusing, and let’s be frank, they normally don’t listen to her. There was no evidence, thus no crime committed, right?

You placed her in another home, where the family seemed nice at first, but then they made it clear that she couldn’t be herself there either. She was a sin, an abomination. Your track record with choosing a home for her is laughable. Place a bisexual with a family who shoves their religion on other people. Great job.

It’s funny to me. She lived so much of her childhood hiding who she was, what she was feeling, she was pushed to the edge so many times, and the only reason she stayed around was because her little brother brought light into her world, and you wanna know the punch line? You kept him with the one family that abused her, and so they continued to torment her, even after she was gone.

They managed to fill her brother with lies, let him believe that she had betrayed him, that she broke her promise and ran away. He wouldn’t speak to her unless forced, he wanted nothing to do with her for almost a year, until he was finally adopted. You not only allowed this family to abuse her for years without listening, you allowed them to pit her own blood against her. You allowed them to use the only reason she held on for so long to be used to hurt her to the point of breaking.

You failed her over and over again. You sat idly by while she was broken repeatedly. You didn’t listen to her cries. You claim that they have a voice, but they don’t. They never have a voice. And that isn’t fair. They are put into your protection, and you fail them repeatedly.

Jillian was silenced, her light was almost snuffed out because you couldn’t take the time to listen to her side of the story. You labelled her trouble, and sat by while she was pushed to the point of wanting to die. She now suffers from diagnosed DEPRESSION, COMPLEX POST TRAUMATIC STRESS, and ANXIETY.

The best part of the story is that Jillian is still strong, she still has a heart that wants to truly help. She wants to be the voice you cant ignore.

Jillian, is me. You cant continue to ignore the children placed in your care. You cant just sit by while we are mistreated. I will be the voice the continues to scream in your ear until justice is served, until you hear me loud and clear. Until you hear the cry of every child you’ve ignored, every child you have FAILED, because I know I am not the only one.

Sincerely.

The Girl with Many Emotions

Stigmas and The Lives We Live

There’s a thousand different things that can happen in a day. We can create a reason for a stranger to smile, we can find money on the ground, we can find love or heartbreak, and something that happens on a daily is, we are judged. There are so many different stereotypes and taboo things in this world. Some of them I get, but some of them I can’t wrap my head around. We were never created to be these perfect beings. We all have flaws, and none of that should fully overshadow how people see us. I get it, I am a far cry from perfect. I haven’t had the best time growing up, and that has affected me in many different ways. I’ve been abused in many different ways, I’ve felt like crap about myself, I’ve had good self-esteem and terrible self-esteem. I’ve made my rounds, and that’s okay. I’m human. I eat, I sleep, I breathe, and I mess up. Sometimes it can be larger than other times. Why should that define me as a person? Aren’t we taught to not look back? So why do we allow our pasts to mark our futures with a label?

A little back story about me. I grew up in foster care. Not because my parents didn’t love me, but because they likely weren’t ready to be full time parents, and that’s okay. They didn’t love each other, but they did love us. I was sexually assaulted at the age of three. No I do not remember it, but I do have the paperwork to prove it. I moved into one foster home when I was nine years old. Everything seemed okay. I got to talk to my mom and dad every now and then. Two years after moving in, I found out that my nana passed away. That was probably around the last time I spoke to my mom, until I was a legal adult. Not because I didn’t want to talk to her, but because CAS (children’s aid society) decided that we would be better off without her in our lives. They were wrong.

The only mother figure I grew up with was my foster mother. She was a terrible woman. Because of her I have a hard time dealing with women trying to “mother” me. Remember how I was nine years old when I moved in with them? Well by the time I last saw my mother I was eleven. I was a tomboy, and I had some behavior issues. That’s pretty normal for a kid my age. When middle school started, things went slightly down hill. By the age of thirteen I had begun to self harm. Why, you may ask. Well my foster mother and I didn’t get along very well. We had very different opinions on things, I was bullied in school, and my brother disappeared, moving to a different home all together. My world flipped upside down that summer before I started high school. Now my social worker at the time wasn’t the best either. My foster mother was abusive to me. Not in a physical way, so I guess to some people it didn’t count. But because of her my self esteem was lower than it ever had been. She’d make me feel fat and ugly. I would wear a little bit of make up on my eyes (emo phase), a lot of dark colours, and skinny jeans, and I looked like trash. I wasn’t allowed pants smaller than a size 7 (26/27) or else they weren’t flattering. But if I dressed like a girl, I looked like a slut. The shirts she’d pick out, or that she’d get me as a present, were skimpy or inappropriate. There was no surviving her onslaught of mental, emotional, and verbal abuse. But again, that’s not physical, so I was actually okay. (please note the sarcasm)

The self harm continued deep into my high school years. All the way through to grade 12 to be exact. So did her abusive ways. I had a therapist, but at one point, my foster mother decided that it wasn’t working, so I stopped going. I found out my boyfriend of a year had cheated on me with my anorexic friend, which happened at a time that I felt the most ashamed of my body weight, which wasn’t that much. I’ve been 130-135 pounds since I was about fifteen. I found out after I had tried to kill myself. My foster mother forced me to go to the hospital, only to tell them that it was nothing more than for attention. I had over 200 cuts all over my body, including places like my inner thighs, wrists, and my throat. But obviously I just wanted to be forced to walk in front of my younger brother, (who up until that point, I had hid all the self harm from,) forced to get into an ambulance, and go spend an entire Saturday in the hospital.

I had a small video chat conversation with a “psychiatrist” who decided that there was nothing wrong with me. At this point I had been self harming for two straight years, trying my best to hide the scars and the fresh marks. I didn’t walk around in tee shirts, or shorts when there was marks to be seen. I learned how to hide it, learned how to lie. It became so easy to not make eye contact, to just smile and say “Oh, my boyfriend’s cat needs her nails cut” or stupid shit like that. No one really cared enough to try and see through the lies.

When I was sixteen, I had forgiven the guy who cheated. Well forgiven isn’t the right word. I tried to forget what had happened but it didn’t work. In the end I ended up cheating on him in spite, and that action has haunted me to this day. I hate myself for what I did, but I hate my foster mother more for what happened after the event. The guy I had cheated with lived with this guy who’s two years older than me. He went to high school with my brother. Well I was spending a lot of my time hanging out with these two guys, so my foster mother pretty much told me that I shouldn’t spend so much time with guys that I wasn’t dating, because “it looks a little whorish. I mean, what will people think?” this made me feel like I couldn’t tell her about anything. The guy who went to school with my brother took advantage of my naivety, and he raped me. He won’t ever think that he did anything wrong. To him he was just hooking up with a pretty girl. A girl who’s tears couldn’t stop his action. A girl with a foster mother who would never believe that she didn’t want it.

The self harm got worse after that. I never told my foster parents, because I knew that they wouldn’t have protected me. I was probably just asking for it, or I had changed my mind last minute. I mean, it’s what girls do all the time. We can never make up our minds. When we say stop, we really mean keep going. Don’t and no must sound like do and yes. Girls just never know what they want, so it’s a boys job to make the decision for them, right? (again, note the sarcasm.)

The same year, near the end of grade 11, shit hit the fan at my foster home. My foster mother and I got into a heated argument. Hurtful things were said, tears were shed. I slunk down to my basement bedroom, shut the door a little too hard, My foster mother came down, threw my door open, yelled how much she fucking hated me, and punched me in the arm. Oh look, now it’s abuse because she actually physically hit me. But wait, I didn’t tell anyone for a few months, so it must not have happened. I mean no evidence means no crime right? Well that’s how it ended up being. My word against hers, and mine wasn’t valid because I was a messed up child who just didn’t like the woman.

Why I didn’t tell anyone about it for a few months was because I couldn’t bare to leave my little brother there alone. He was my saving grace and I love him more than anything. If guardian angels are real, he’s mine sent to earth in the form of a beautiful boy four years younger than me. Eventually I snapped and couldn’t take the abuse anymore. I made a decision for myself for once, one that didn’t involve hurting myself physically, but it did leave its emotional toll. It caused a rift between me and my angel. I’m sure he resented me for leaving him, after I had done my best to always be there for him. Even though I wasn’t there with him, I was always his biggest fan. I moved to a different foster home, and things still weren’t great.

They were lovely people at first. But then the division came when I refused to follow their beliefs. As a foster kid who is seventeen, I am allowed to be what I want to be. And unluckily for them, that was a non religious, homosexual. I still loved black clothing, I liked harder music, and I was very much my own person. I started colouring my hair, and got my first two piercings (besides the basic ear lobe). I started to feel more like my own person, more like me. But they started saying shit to my social worker, and it got to the point with her that she told me I was extremely judgmental and that I don’t have friends because of the way I was dressing. So once again I was brought down, my little bit of self esteem earned burned in the fire created by more people who were supposed to protect me and build me up. Everyone in this world likes to pretend that they are on your side, until you don’t benefit them anymore. Oh, I also dated my foster brothers’ best friend. Well, it wasn’t really dating. I was his little dirty summer fling when he didn’t want to be with his baby mama. They are married with two kids now, and she’s my age. At least good things can happen for some people. Just not ones who have already been dealt a shitty hand at the start of life.

Now at the age of twenty, I’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship (which I kind of regret leaving) I moved to the city, where I had a chance to be with someone I’m pretty sure I’m in love with, but that didn’t work out…again. He says that we can’t be anything more than friends even though he likes me more than that. Apparently there’s two ways a hard childhood can lead you. A path where you still want to embrace love and relationships, and a path like the one he is clearly on. Pushing people away when they get too close. I’ve been the third party of a relationship (both other parties knew, but that didn’t last long) I’ve had one night stands, and I’ve been assessed for mental illness.

Many things in my life are taboo, or have a bad stigma around them. Mental illness? “there’s meds for that.” “just get over it” “look at the positive things in life. that’ll make it better.” So many stupid statements from people who don’t understand that depression is hard to work with, it’s hard to live with. I also suffer from CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) and general anxiety disorder. As well as a few things I haven’t had confirmed. I don’t do well with groups with more men than women, I have panic attacks for no reason, my emotions are uncontrollable, and I am a complete pain in the ass too deal with. I feel like I’ll never find love, my self esteem is still low, but want to know something?

My life is one huge stigma, but I’m still trying. I look in the mirror every morning and try to give myself a smile. I put my shoes on and walk to the bus. I get on, even when there are large amounts of men and head to work, where I deal with many different people, both in person and on the phone. I face my fears of living every day, and I fight my struggle my own way. I’m doing okay, I’m slowly making it. I’m only 20 years old, and still I’ve carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’m rebuilding my relationship with my baby brother, I have a great relationship with my mom and step dad, I have a 3 year old step sister who looks up to me, and who I adore.

Life can be a bitch sometimes, but we just have to put up the middle finger and say Fuck You to the negativity. I know it’s hard, but it can be done.

Back to Where I started

I find it really hard when we can’t choose who we love and when. In life our hearts just decide on a person and you are left to deal with whatever situations arise from those feelings. I deal with the constant struggle of feeling guilty because I love who I am with, but I’ve also realized that my feelings for another has grown past the stage of liking. I’ve known this one individual for three years now, and I have liked him from the very first moment I laid eyes upon him, but I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years now.

I had been able to resist these feelings up until this past summer, because he had never had the same feelings. This summer he admitted to liking me too. We tried to be together and it didn’t work out. I was devastated and didn’t know what to do with myself. People started to worry that I was becoming an alcoholic due to how often I got drunk in a single week. Him and I hadn’t talked for just over six months, until recently. We got back in touch, and I was instantly reminded of how I felt about him.

He asked if I still liked him, and I told him my honest answer. When I asked when he stopped liking me, he took a long time to give me a straight answer. Eventually he told me that I was basically pretty but not datable, “if that makes sense”. I know it’s because we didn’t work out before, but that doesn’t change how much I wish we could try again. I know it’s not fair to who I’m with now, but I can’t keep denying it. It causes me a lot of pain to keep it hidden, or to try and convince myself that I don’t feel this way anymore.

I know that we’ll never be together, and I’ve come to terms with that as long as I can still have him as my friend. I write letters to him sometimes, but I never send them, nor will he ever see them. It’s for my own benefit, and I don’t think he would take the words written in it that well. I just wish that we could discuss the events that took place this summer, but he doesn’t want to bring it up and reopen the wounds that have slowly been healing for me.  It’s funny because I’ve been waiting for him to tell me he still had feelings for me for the last six months, and when he finally does, I don’t know how to respond. I want to tell him 100% how I feel about him, but I rather not scare him away again.

Which Direction to Take

When I think of my future, I know what I want. I want a family and a career, I want a home not just a house. I want love and respect. I want to help children grow up to become better. I want to create a better tomorrow. 

I have this idea printed firmly in my head, and I can see the pathway so clearly, until I’m ready to start making my way toward those dreams. I keep getting mixed up and lost along the way. My plans seem to be changing day by day, while I stay completely the same. 

I take a step toward a happily ever after, but someone else is always on my mind. I feel as though I’ll never be able to forget him, or love anyone more than him, and it’s not fair to the one I’m with, but I can’t convince my heart otherwise. I want to keep taking steps forward, I really do, but I can’t as long as I’m in love with this man. 

I know he doesn’t return the feelings, not in the slightest, and I can’t tell him about them or I’ll never hear from him again. It would probably benefit me if we never spoke again, but he’s one of my best friends and I miss him. I could tell him anything that was on my mind. Somethings I can’t even tell my significant other. 

I feel as though I am hiding from him, and that I am doing something wrong, but the only thing I am keeping from him is the pain and agony within my heart. It seems my world is getting darker and darker, and I feel as though I am beginning to suffocate underneath the weight of everything I deal with. I’m starting to lose motivation and trust in myself. I’m starting to forget why I stopped doing certain things, and I’m starting to remember why I did others in the first place.