Even in a dysfunctional family, sometimes, children are exposed to people who impact them in a positive way. The influence of this person grows with the child the same as the memories of neglect and abuse. A sign of affection or a word of encouragement can be the only positive reinforcement they receive.
My childhood was dark and dismal, but I had that positive reinforcement from several people; none greater than my Aunt Susie. She was my bright shining Star! When I was little she made sure I knew how special I was to her. She would come by my grandmother’s house often just to check on me. She stayed on me about having manners and respect for others. Aunt Susie often reminded me that manners will take you where money won’t.
Aunt Susie saw potential in me long before I saw a future for myself. She would say, “You only went to the seventh grade, but you could have been a lawyer”. At that young age, I didn’t know what she meant, but I understood that she thought I was special.
I spent every summer at Aunt Susie’s. She would cook before going to work and remind her children to take good care of me as she went out the door. I always smile when I remember those days.
Like most children, every now and then, I would tell Aunt Susie a little white lie. She never got mad or fussed when I did. She would look me in the eye and say, “There’s something wrong with what you just said”. Then I would start the story over again – with the truth. She would nod, smile and keep moving.
Although Aunt Susie is gone, I cherish those memories and the contribution she made to my life. Abandoned at an early age, it seemed my life would always be dark and dismal, but she encouraged me and spoke a successful future into my life. Today, I share these stories with her daughters.
It is so important that we remember the influence we have over young people. We should never miss an opportunity to encourage and support them, regardless of their family or environment. Yours may be the only encouragement they receive.
I am eagerly writing my second book every day. It is a true story about the circumstances that led up to my abusive relationship. My childhood was crazy. I experienced things as a child that you would not believe. Not the “normal” wrong doing like sexual abuse, but much worse.
My mother was never there for me. My teeth were rotten and my hair was thick and bonded. She never did anything to take care of me. When my step-mother came along she combed my hair and put ear rings in my ears. She taught me all the things a little girl should know.
Although my dad stayed on me and my grandmother went out of her way to make me happy, something was still missing. I realized it was my mother. If she had been dead, it would have been different. But she didn’t die, she just walked away and it created a void in my life. It took years for me to come to grips with it. I go into much deeper details in my book because it is more than this blog can hold.
Sometimes things happen and you never understand why. I have learned to pray and search for understanding. Today I am a mother and a grandmother. I love being a mother and I never want my kids to feel the pain I felt. I want my children to know that they are loved.
Imagine a mother leaving her two year old daughter in the front yard frightened and lone, only to return years later. In the interim, the child’s Dad, notorious in his own right, becomes the responsible parent. This was the beginning of life for me, Sharon D. Johnson. Needless to say, I grew up fast. I dropped out of school and became a mother at age thirteen.
Fast forward ten years and I was a single mother with three beautiful little girls. But with limited resources and no place to live, I ended up at the home of mother that abandoned me. I was young, homeless with nowhere else to go. One day I went to work and left my girls with my mother, only to return home and find them sitting on the front porch in the cold because she had locked them out of the house. From there I found my way to the local Family Shelter.
Time spent at the shelter had a profound impact on my life. I learned how to survive on my own. I appreciated the safe haven the shelter provided women with children like me.
Fast forward again twenty years to the new mature, successful Sharon D. Johnson; published author, business owner and friend to women in transition. I am founder of YOU TOO, a support group for abused women living in shelters. We meet weekly and discuss topics such ending domestic abuse; moving forward after the breakup and living an independent life.
It wasn’t easy, but I moved on with my life but not without many mistakes and regrets. I know that I am not alone. Many women have outgrown partners or simply refused to take abuse anymore. We have proven that it can be done and we can live to tell the story. We can inspire others to do the same. That’s my story – I would love to hear yours.