Over the last few months, I have visited two places that were a huge part of my past journey. A few years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine going back to them. The thought of going back to Seaford, a quaint small town on the Sussex coast known for its small pebble beach, had crossed my mind, yet it wasn’t enough to persuade me to travel the hour and a half to go there. That was until just before my 45th birthday. I decided to organise a day out of London with my family. It was the perfect time to visit Seaford.
Over the years, I shared very little with my family about my past life and me. I felt inadequate at times in not having any family connections to share, especially with my second child. So, it felt right to visit Seaford and show them where I spent some of my time in care. And of course, to enjoy the beach.
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. The sea looked serene and lovely from both the beach and the top of a giant cliff hillside that we climbed. We had a stone collecting competition, ate chips, walked, and had fun. It was a world away from phones, social media, and the busyness of life. In a place that was never about family connections, these moments felt like it was meant to be.
In between the moments of building new memories with my family whilst they played by the sea, I had a few moments to reminisce. I thought about the girl I was 30 years before when I was placed in Seaford Town; A heartbroken, lost black girl that was scared for my future, not sure of what tomorrow would bring. As I sat there, I shed a tear at what that girl had to go through. Alienation, rejection, and trauma. But I made it through, and that girl and what she experienced is just a memory now. I was glad that I went. I was able to show my family part of my journey whilst creating new memories on my journey with them.
In October, I received an email notifying me that Falcon Grove Assessment Centre (previously Falcon Grove Children’s home) was closing. The notification dropped in my inbox on a Tuesday. The centre was going to close on Thursday. So I decided to visit one last time.
It was the first kids home I was in. I was placed there after my foster placement broke down. I didn’t expect to be emotional when I went there. It dawned on me how far I had come when I stood in the bedroom I slept in thirty-one years earlier.
It was surreal and weird. Almost like the girl that was there was not me. At the time, I never believed I would amount to anything. I remember there were many days the staff would try and coax me out of bed to go to education. But I was too depressed or high to attend. My reality was painful then, but the future is promising now. If I had not pushed through with the strength of God, I would never have made it.
I was in the pit of my life. Everything looked gloomy, devoid of hope and chaotic. Had I continued to listen to the voices within me that said I would fail. Or trusted my ever-changing feelings or believed what my eyes could see, I would not be here. Yet I am. And I have achieved more than I could ever think or imagine. I have made it to the palace of life. I realised it is not how you start in life but how you finish.