My Story Part I: Understanding My Story

Unfathomable Voyage by Debra Hille

When we look at someone, we will size him or her up…it is just human nature…but we are just scanning the surface. We know nothing about their day, about their journey and certainly nothing about what lies within their heart.

We all have unique circumstances to overcome but every one of us has opportunities to achieve a better life. By the choices we make, the thoughts we choose to believe and the stories we tell others and ourselves. We all have inherent worth and dignity.

Here is my story…

I was born to a poor, single, teenage mother in one of the poorest counties in Kentucky. At age four, social services had removed me and placed me for adoption.

I was adopted by age five into a middle class family in a prosperous community. I lived in a nice house with a dad, mom and grandmother, and even a dog. My daddy taught me to dance the twist on Saturday mornings watching American Band Stand. He was a lot of fun.

I received my first art supplies and was amazed at all the toys of my first Christmas with my new family. At seven years old, two years after my adoption, he died from a heart attack. He was only 37.

My mother was left with their business to run, her mother and a child to support, not to mention her own shock and grief. There was little energy left for the emotional needs of a little girl, a little girl who already lost so much, a little girl who would become the target of a sexual predator. I will spare you the details.

By high school, the two women I knew as my family were crippled, my mother by a mental illness and my grandmother with elder dementia. It was a hard time. By age 16…I understood there was no one able to look after me. It was clear that I must look after myself.

I found comfort in drawing. I found comfort with my bottom on the ground and my back to a tree, my eyes to the sky. I would feel grounded and knew I was part of something bigger, something better.

During these years my artwork grounded me. I won my first blue ribbons at the senior art show. As soon as I graduated I fled.

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