A Foster Care Alumna’s Thoughts on Self-Care

by Shanita Didly-Goings

Relief coursed through me when, at age 12, my siblings and I were taken from our uncle. But relief quickly turned to weariness as 11 years of abuse started to catch up to me. Then we had five years of trauma due to our separation in the system.

I ended up developing some pretty bad self-care habits. Way into my young adult years I was hurting myself just to cope with my anger and day-to-day issues. Fortunately, I was able to surround myself with the right role models and slowly overcame those bad habits. I learned that when I am angry I should use words to convey that, not violence. I realized when I am sad, writing, drawing and reading are great outlets for my negative energy—far better than moping around and closing myself off from people. Some other methods that work for me include exercising, going out with friends or family, eating right, listening to music, and going to my favorite place and just chilling. There are many ways to take care of yourself. The only question is what fits best for the individual.

Sadly, children in my predicament have not been properly taken care of by anyone. This leads to our overall ignorance about taking care of ourselves. Self-care to me is about maintaining a healthy balance between one’s body, mind, soul, emotions, and our relationships with others.

We are not perfect, of course. Sometimes even when I use all my self-care methods I’ll still be upset, or sad, or restless. This is a part of life. There is no foolproof plan to a better life. These are just tactics to make the journey a little less dramatic and tiring.

We should be getting our youth involved in their self-care early on in life. In my opinion this would help stop the abuse cycle and years of stereotypical statistics, particularly in African American youth. We should teach and raise stable, sound children so they grow up to be strong and supportive resources to draw from as alumni.