Vol. 15, No. 2 • May 2011

Learning to Trust as told to Janeen Mullins

When I got out of care, romance and all kinds of relationships seemed so scary! In care, I never stayed in one place long enough to trust anybody, so when I went out into the world I gave the people who were trying to get to know me a hard time. I was scared of having relationships with people who would be gone the next day.

I put people through little tests to see if they could be trusted. I wouldn’t call them back to see if they would call me. Or I would tell them a little about my foster care and group home background to see if they saw me as an individual. A few people were fixated on my past, but most accepted me for me.

I wouldn’t share my emotions with my boyfriend and wouldn’t tell him I loved him. He’d just say, “You’ll love me one day!”

He had a lot of walls to break down. For one date, I stood him up on purpose just to see if he would call me the next day… and he did! We just made plans to go out again.

When I realized that most people accepted me, I opened up. I have a really good support system of friends, and my relationships with my siblings are very strong. I’ve been with my boyfriend 12 years now. He wants to get married. I’m working on getting comfortable with that.

The other issue I had was working too much. My whole life was work because I didn’t know how to relax. All I heard in care was, “Did you save your money?” and “Being on your own is expensive.” No one ever told me how to balance my life, and it took me awhile to learn that working wasn’t more important than love and connection.

I took my first vacation at the age of 25. I went with one of my sisters to Jamaica and it was beautiful and relaxing. Since then, I’ve been to the Bahamas, Mexico, Hawaii and Canada. I’m making up for lost time!

—Tiffany Johnson, age 29, Vallejo, CA

Reprinted with permission from Represent, Copyright 2007 by Youth Communication/New York Center, Inc. (www.youthcomm.org)