Don’t misunderstand me; I love tuna fish. I was looking forward to having tuna fish. It was my junior year of college, and everyone had somewhere to go for Thanksgiving. I was invited by my roommate to join her family for Thanksgiving. Part of me wanted to go, and part of me wanted to use my work as an excuse. It was true; I did need to work at the restaurant which was open for Thanksgiving. Another part of me knew that I wanted to have a normal day that didn’t make me realize I was not part of a family. The fact was that I paid my way through college working in the restaurant business, and during the holidays, almost everyone went home. Those of us who stayed and worked made really good tips. It was sometimes easier to not be part of celebrations and gatherings than to admit that I didn’t have a family to share the holidays with and to witness all the love that was shared in a real family. Every Thanksgiving I still think of the year I stayed and ate tuna fish, and every year I am thankful that God has been taking care of me all these years and continues to bless me with my own family and good people in my life.
It’s a weird thing to try to share or explain what it is like when you have no parents, or siblings, or relatives to share your life with. It is still hard to explain. When you are truly alone, when you are dependent only on yourself, when you know that you have no safety net, no one to pick you up when you fall, no one to save you if you fail, and only yourself to depend on, it is an extremely lonely life. Yet it is also a life driven by a powerful motivation from within that keeps you on a path to success. Because I witnessed good role models in the foster parents I had, because I felt and heard the encouragement of those that I knew wanted me to succeed, because those mentors and foster parents believed in me and my abilities, I developed a strong self-esteem. This carried me through a lifetime of disappointments and kept me strong and confident so that I was able to have a normal, successful life.
I am a very mature adult of 65 years now, but I am only recently able to admit that I doubted myself, that I was fearful, that I perfected a façade of happiness in this overall appearance of success. Inside, I was screaming, “What are you doing? How are you going to do this?” I still struggle with my success verses the sad lives of a couple of my siblings who also came out of the system from the same environment with additional trauma and circumstances that derailed their paths to having a happy life.
I am now tackling another challenge in my life that makes me ask myself those same questions. But God is telling me, “Susie, even if you eat tuna fish on Thanksgiving, you are not alone. I am with you, and when you have doubts and fears, I continue to give you confidence and put good people in your life to help you succeed. Your siblings, who thought they failed in life, succeeded in having a purpose. It is through you and what you are doing. It will make a difference in many young lives.” So, I know that I am never alone, no matter what. God is good.
Many blessings to all this holiday season,
Susie Black Holamon