I am a CASA, a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children. I work with children who have been removed from their home and their parents by the Department of Child Services as their living environment is considered unsafe. I represent them in court. This is a volunteer job.
As a nurse, I work at a residential treatment center for minor children who have also been abused and neglected most of their lives. Their histories are horrible, many were being raised by drug addicted parents, some of the children have gone to dumpsters to find food for themselves and their siblings, some have been sold into sex trafficking or to their parents drug dealers for sex. Some have spent their lives in multiple foster homes, some were abused in foreign orphanages before being adopted. Some were born addicted to cocaine.
I just returned from a national CASA Convention in Atlanta Georgia. They had three plenary sessions each day, which is unusual. Most conferences have one at the opening of the conference or maybe once daily. These sessions are attended by sometimes a thousand persons at a conference. Usually these sessions have important or famous guest speakers. I listened to more than 6 of these speakers. Many had been on Opra or CNN, most had written best selling books, all were famous in their own right. All were very successful adults.
All but one of the speakers had also been an abused and neglected child. Most had been in foster care.
It is said many of these abused and neglected children grown up to be unemployed, living in homeless shelters, in jail or in mental health institutions.
What was different about these individuals? They had all had all had difficult childhoods but had grown to become overwhelmingly successful adults.
All of them had had one person in their lives who had treated them well, who believed in them, who supported them, who told them they could one day succeed. Most who had made a difference to these speakers had just said something to them, sometimes just a few sentences.
I left the conference feeling how important maybe everything we say to another person is. We might be the one person who says just a few words that changes someone’s life.
I also have a friend who recently lost her daughter. She has been affected by just short statements people have made. Many statements have caused her pain, though some have helped.
It made me think of us as cancer patients. I know I was negatively affected sometimes by things people said…”I know you will survive this if you just think positive”, or “You are so lucky, you probably enjoy every day because you can live it like it’s your last”. Then there were the people who were silent but just stayed with me and let me cry…they helped me.
I’m sure all of you have been affected either positively or negatively by things people have said to you or done for you or to you. What has been helpful, and what has been hurtful in your dealings with people, even family, since you have been diagnosed? Who has made a difference in your dealings with this disease?
I would love it if you could share that in comments here. What have people done that has helped you in your struggle against this disease? What have people said or done that’s had a negative impact on you?