I Believe The Strength is Within

Mary - Henning, Tennessee
Entered on July 30, 2008

As a child, I often wondered why my life couldn’t be like my friend’s or my neighbor’s. Things in my life seemed very different. I grew up in an environment of abuse and neglect and from a child’s perspective I couldn’t understand why.

My father was verbally and physically abusive to us and my mother. I could not understand why he was so mean. After my mother finally developed enough courage to leave him, I was relieved. I just knew things would get better and we could be happy. Things were okay for a little while, but then it became very difficult for my mother to raise four children with no child support or anything from my father. She did the best she could by working multiple jobs. She eventually became depressed and tired and she began drinking and partying with her friends.

This is where the neglect comes in. After several years of the drinking and partying, it got to the point where the rent wouldn’t be paid, the lights would get turned off and we would have to move. In eight years of school. In that short time, I went to 16 different schools. I loved going to school more than anything else. So many days, this is where the majority of my nourishment came from. I am so very thankful for the free breakfast and lunch program. There were so many times other children would laugh and make fun of us because we weren’t wearing the “right” clothes or they would laugh at our haircut our mother gave us because she couldn’t afford to take us to a shop to get one. That was a very difficult time in my life and I know by no means am I the only person who has experienced this type of childhood.

I said all of that to say this, “The Strength is Within”. I struggled with relationships and depression. I believe the strength that allowed me to overcome all of this was within me. Some people get strength from friends, family and even religion. I believe I am the one who made a difference in my life.

After having my first child at the age of 15, I was determined to make a different life for me and my child. I received my GED and went to college. I received my bachelor’s degree in social work and my master’s degree in 2008. I work for a children’s service agency, trying to prevent child abuse and neglect or if it has already happened, educating the family on how not to abuse.

Many times I see parents who experienced a childhood just like mine or even worse and they continue the cycle of abuse. I truly believe that each person has the strength within themselves to change for the better. I believe we have to start by loving and valuing ourselves. Each person is important and valuable. If I can do it, This I believe so can others.