How safety, family, and blood intersect– Minnie Bliesner reflects on our notions of home life and the challenges the foster system brings, and concludes that resilience is a matter of personal perspective and success is unconstrained by one's origins. "Home isn't always where your family eats every night or has holiday dinners... home was not the place or the environment-- it was the feeling."
By Minnie Bliesner
We can all agree that there are three main objects that we like to travel with: our keys, our wallet, and our mobile phone. Sometimes you find yourself walking out of the house when you notice one of these items has gone missing. You hurry back inside to retrace your steps, maybe tear some cupboards open, or you may even ask a family member or roommate, "have you seen my phone?!" Or, "where's my keys?!" Suddenly you realize that it was in your back pocket the whole time, or sometimes even in your hand. You see, our experience with happiness is often similar to this. We go searching for it in absolutely every corner and every crease, but in all actuality, when we come back home, when we come back within, it's been there all along.
Our definition of home has sometimes been misconstrued. What is home? Where is home? Home isn't always where your family eats every night or has holiday dinners. Home isn't always just where you pay rent or where you have your mail sent. I once asked a youth, "what is home?" and he responded with, "video games". Although this answer may be mistaken for naive, it must be understood that whenever this young person played video games, he felt a sense of comfort. So for him, home was not the place or the environment - it was the feeling. The feeling of belonging and feeling safe.
As an alumni of the foster care system, I have a constant fear of becoming homeless or being without a home. I don't have parents to fall back on. There's not an adult here that I can go to and say, "hey, I'm struggling, can I stay with you a few nights?" One day I am going to get married and nobody is going to walk me down the aisle. Nobody is going to hold me after a bad break up. I'm not attending any family reunions or going to a Thanksgiving dinner. I'm not watching sports with my dad or shopping with my mom. I'm not receiving gifts or taking a lot of pictures on a graduation. It's difficult to live every day and never feel truly comfortable. It’s difficult to not have that feeling of safety. What's going to happen tomorrow? Where am I going next?
One day I came across the idea of "home" and what it meant to me. I made the mistake of thinking that "blood" meant family, and blood related family must mean home. After an awful turn of events and some drawn out self-reflection, it dawned on me: you make your own family. You make your own home and you make your own happiness. It’s not given to you nor can it be taken from you. It’s yours, and you own it because you created it. When you find yourself stuck in a dark place and you are not certain what the next day may bring, please remind yourself that you are resilient and that you will always find your way back to beautiful things. A poker player is dealt a bad hand of cards sometimes but something that we easily forget is that even with a crappy hand, you can still win.