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Stories from the Strong

We hope that the stories, experiences, advice, lessons learned,

or messages of solidarity and hope shared below, from our community,

will help raise awareness and show everyone that they are not alone.

Every story is worth sharing when it comes to ending the stigma. #EndtheStigma

Being a six year old adult is hard

My parents were both mentally slow. My father had seizures from Rubella as a child. My mother was a home birth, born with her umbilical cord around her neck, a "blue baby". Her IQ at age 15 was 52. I never thought my parents were different until I started school. I quickly learned from the other students that my family was not quite normal. I went through the name calling and being "picked" on. Yup, I've been there and done that! I watched my mother struggle to be a parent and go through the loss of many babies over a 10 year period between me and my brother. Her life was very lonely and sad, especially as I got older. As a small child, she would fix my hair and dress me in cute outfits. We would play games and I would help with the chores, ironing and later caring for my little brother. As I grew, it became more like a rivalry, a competition.

I found myself being the reason for every argument and then being the referee, trying to make peace so the yelling would stop. If I got something, she needed to have something also. My "friends" were the pets I was allowed to have. They were and still are the little spirits that listen when no one else will. Some of my deepest losses came in the form of my pets being taken from me, but those stories are for another day.

My father was one of the most hard working, patriotic people I have ever known. He managed to hold a good job for 37 years. When he wasn't working extra shifts, he was helping out our neighborhood elderly widows. He would mow lawns or paint or fix things. I think it was his way to get out of the house and away from mom. He enlisted in the service but couldn't make it through basic training. This didn't stop him from doing his part. He was a lifetime member of the VFW. He assisted at funeral services and marched in the parades. I could see the pride he felt just doing his part to support our military.

Over the years, my parents always told me that someday I would get to stay home permanently and take care of mom. In my world, the ONLY escape I had was school. That was where my friends were. Because of this, I made the decision to leave my parents and my five year old brother at the age of 15. I went to the police station, explained the situation and was placed in a foster home the next day.

Of all of this that I have told you, here is what I need you to understand. I do not blame my parents for what my life was like. They were doing their best with what they had. You are responsible for how your life turns out. Do not despair, now is just a small window of what the rest of your life will be. You have it in you to make your life great, you just have to make good choices and watch for the opportunities that will present themselves to you. If I can make if through my childhood and come out okay, you can too. You can do it.


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