My dream

I have a dream Martin Luther King once said. Well, I suppose I have a dream too. I’m not completely sure what the dream is but I think I actually just deep down might know. Let’s start. What I am very sure of is that there is a kid in my life. Preferably a biological child. This could be a daughter or a son. What would their name be? Does that matter the most? Maybe not. I just want a kid in my life. Why? Because I will finally have the family I never had or maybe used to have but lost. And hopefully it will be better. The kid will have a well educated mom who has a job, security and money to take care of the kid. I want to put some money aside just in case the kid decides to go to college one day. The kid has to become her/his own person just like me one day. I want to encourage it in his/her dreams. But for now: my dream. I want to become an English teacher and I actually have a place in mind that could be perfect for me. It’s in my own city and a very creative school. Who knows, maybe one day they will have a spot for me. For the rest I hope to be able to do a sport/hobby at least one day a week and be able to be out of the house. This could be kickboxing, dancing, swimming, yoga. Something like this. I’ll have a wonderful nanny – just like I used to be – who will take care of the kid and hopefully have loads of fun with the kiddo. I might just want to become a mom by myself. I have always wanted to become a mom on my own and have one kid. It’s the way I grew up I suppose. The only thing that might change it is a partner who comes into my life that I love and will take care of and he of me and that he’ll love me of course but I am not sure if he will be the farther of my kid. It could also be a human being I meet later along the way. I know very clearly what I am doing. I have been studying for quite a while now and I know that I am nearly ready to buy that house with a garden and a bathtub that I have been longing for my whole life. Just a bathtub would be so amazing. I would spend loads of time in it and read books or just hang out. A house with a cat flap that will enable my cat Mause to go in and out of the house as he pleases. Let’s hope he won’t scratch my child. I’ll have to keep an eye on them. Oh, oh, oh. That cat. Silly cat. I love him though. I am glad he is here. Mausie. And I don’t think I need much more. The only very important thing is that I’ll still be able to see my friends and family and that with the help of a nanny or a friend who would like to look after my kid. Friends are everything to me. In a way they are family. I’ve lost a lot of family but I suppose I also gained family in a way. I’ll still see other family too from time to time. Maybe a birthday or another reason or just because I want to see them. Maybe the birthday of the kid. That could be a reason. Omg, this life just sounds so wonderful to me. Maybe I it won’t all be a bed of roses but somehow I believe in this dream. I might miss a partner from time to time but I think I’ll be able to connect with others in a loving and meaningful way and who knows who I’ll meet along the way. You never know. Yes, this is my dream. It is a very clear dream.

What will I be giving up for this dream? I won’t live with two of my wonderful friends any longer. I won’t be able to go on a holiday with them that easily any more. I won’t eat with them every week. I won’t listen to hear how their day was and be able to encourage them as easily as I do know in their dreams. I’ll be their friend though and I hope forever. They made such an impression on my life. They know me through and through and I know them through and through. They are like a brother and sister to me. It will be hard to say goodbye. But it’s not goodbye forever. One day we’ll just go our own way. That’s what life is I suppose. I won’t be able to do as many hobbies as I do now. Maybe I won’t be able to try something that easily. Something new. But I suppose somehow I always will. The kid will grow older too and have it’s own sport/hobby and I’ll have time to explore again too. I don’t know what my life will look like once the kids decides to live on it’s own but you never know. I might be happy being able to see my friends a little more and doing sports and hobbies. I might have met that wonderful partner. Somehow it sounds pretty nice to me. Maybe it’s because it’s my dream.

A breakthrough

I have screamed, I have cried, I have felt mad and there it was: my scream for help and recognition was finally heard. You could say it came knocking at my door. It quite literally rang me. Hello said the voice. It was a woman of the age of 53 and she rang me. She was brave enough to call up a complete stranger and tell her story to me. I e-mailed around looking for other foster kids or orphans and there she was. She rang me. She lives close by. I might get the chance to meet her one day but for now I am already so happy with one phone call. I might call her again one day. There was so much recognition. This time it wasn’t Harry Potter or Batman or the hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared. No it was an actual human being on this planet who wasn’t a fantasy. She wasn’t a hero. She was real. Just like me. It immediately made me feel less weird. She said she always had known she was a little different. That you notice early on, little by little. Just someone else who was different made me feel less different. Finally, I am not the only one. Not the only one who went through trauma after trauma. Had a manic-depressive mom, had lived in an orphanage. We even recognised behaviour in each other. She was so nice to me. She even sent an e-mail afterwards saying I shouldn’t doubt myself. That was so touching.

Life is full of pearls of wisdom and laughter as I said in my previous blog. How amazing is this. Another person who just poured her heart out for me and I could too. We were safe together. Maybe there just is hope after all and I just get to be who I am with all my traumas and all my sadness and anger. I just get to be me. I can just be here. I wanted to say that I was allowed to be here. But I don’t have a boss that will or won’t allow me to live somewhere. I guess in a way I still have to get used to the fact that I make the rules. I am sitting behind the steering wheel. She recognised that you always take other people’s opinion very seriously. Luckily, we are also both very good at reflection and think to ourselves is that true what that other person said? And lately I am just thinking about what is good for me. Do I agree? Or do I want, need or think something else on the matter? I am really accepting that I am here. Here on earth. That I have my role, my space, my place. I can be here and I can be heard and my boundaries matter. I matter, I suppose. Even though we are all ants and dust in the wind, ha? Hahaha. But as long as I am here I might as well make something of it. Something beautiful. Just like she is doing. She is a teacher and a mother, has a husband and has this support group for foster children until the age of 18. She told me I might become an English teacher and next to it start a support group for adult foster children. I thought to myself I just might and that’s what I told her.

Wow. Just wow. I just never saw it coming. I just thought I would never ever meet another foster child who I would find some recognition in. She was there. And I know I am not the only one who lost her parents young. But those two people who told me they lost their parents didn’t have such a long conversation with me about it. Who knows, I just might still get a chance to speak to them. Maybe I am just on the right track. That’s how I experience it. Apparently when you look hard enough for something, you find it. Maybe that isn’t always true. But yesterday my wishes came true. It’s just so nice to not feel weird for once. To be understood. Through an experience and not just empathy or a sort of ‘I am so sorry for you but I don’t know what to do about it’ expression. I mean it’s not like I sometimes don’t know what to say to another person about their loss, but this was just like coming home in a way I guess. Recognition. Also, just the rattling on. Just like I do. You’re getting it out of the way. In a way it is a bit too much but at the same time we didn’t go on for too long and apparently, we both appreciated the conversation.

Life can be full of laughter. Love. Appreciation. Recognition. Help. Hope.

Yesterday I danced in the rain. It was great.

Feel the rain on your skin!

How to deal with trauma

If you lose both your grandparents, your parents and maybe even a possibility to a child all by the age of 25 how do you go on? How do you still feel hope? How do you not feel lonely? Honestly, sometimes I just lose it. I am stuck in the tornado and it feels like there is no way out. No light at the end of the tunnel. As if no one will ever love me just for who I am. A partner I mean. Who will take me at my best and worst. Because man, the lows are low. They have been low since I was twelve and lost my mom. I found her lying on the floor. I gave her mouth to mouth. I put water in her mouth. She was dead. Gone. By that time I had already lived in a orphanage and had to learn a whole new language by myself. I was rejected by a foster family, my grandparents apparently couldn’t take care of me either. I had it. I just had it by the age of 12. I became suicidal. And honestly the thoughts have never stopped. What do you do when you are twelve, have no parents, no brothers or sisters and no idea where you are going to sleep that night? You are stuck at a police station and you have no idea where you’ll sleep. Yes, and every time you move once again, family, friends and finally a foster home you just feel like you don’t belong. You don’t look like them and you don’t get the mannerisms. You adjust. You put a part of yourself away. You think you have to smile the whole time or otherwise there will be no roof above you head. It’s just one trauma after another. How do you cope? I am studying at the age of 28. People don’t understand. Well, I do. I am a late bloomer. Why you say? Because of all of the shit. The trauma. Because lack of love, lack of care, lack of base. Loneliness, depression. Not even understanding your emotions. Now, I finally do. I look back at my past and think: oh that is what happened. I just wasn’t taken care of. My mom just put me into this world with no indication if she actually had it in her to take care of me. I had to take care of her. She had a manic depression and psychotic episodes. She would see things that weren’t there. I would have to show her the way home. I would have to tell her to take her medicine when I had the lovely age of 9 and she just didn’t want to become fat of the medicine. I gave this advice while I was living in an orphanage. When was there ever time for me? To become my own person? To even know what that is? Who I am supposed to look up to? Where do I belong? Who is my family? My family is dead. Dead. Gone. I am left. Here. All by myself. I have no partner and no hope of really finding one and having my own family one day. Who knows, you never know. I might find a wonderful partner who loves me for who I am and I still have my foster parents who just love me for who I am. I have lovely friends who love me for who I am. I just never ever want to be mistreated the way I have been. I don’t want the door to be shut in my face because I show my vulnerability and I don’t want anyone to take advantage of the vulnerability either. You can’t just touch women because you want to. There is a thing called consent. There are just so many traumas floating around that I just am left with feeling overwhelmed. And on top of all of it I feel lonely in the experience. Where is that other person who knows how to be mistreated, unloved, alone, used, hopeless? People would have loved to give me love and they really gave me all they had. I really do know this and I do feel empathy but if I look at that little kid I do feel for her too. When is it time for the fairy tale for this girl? When can she finally feel safe? Welcome? Loved? Where is her happy ever ending?

I suppose I have to write the ending. It’s my life and I have influence on my life. I love my study. I love my work. I love helping others with their struggle in learning a new language. Something I barely had. Guidance in learning a new language. We aren’t alone. We are beings that are interconnected. We need each other. We may be as individualistic as we like but I really think we need each other to survive. For love, for safety, help. I am not alone and at the same time I guess I am becoming an adult. An adult who has boundaries. My own life, my wishes who are to be heard. You may say: I did it my way. Let’s hope that will be true. That I will take the steering wheel and try to influence my life in the right direction. There was so much sorrow I had to go through and I am still grieving. But there is hope. Come on kiddo, give yourself a cuddle. You have to go on and stay strong. Don’t give up because life is filled with beautiful pearls. Pearls of wisdom and laughter. You never know when luck will strike. I am going to become 80 and life will throw shit at you and lovely things along the way. That is what life is. I know it. I have been through it. Let’s hope I’ll grow old and become a mentor and a teacher for others and influence their lives in a positive way. That is exactly what I am doing right now. I am stimulating housemates to travel, to sport, to date and to get out of their comfort zone. What kind of stimulation would I like to have? Chill out Fran, it’s going to be okay. I suppose that’s the way it is with orphans. They lose hope. They are always looking around the corner. What shit is next? I am next. My life is next. I am strong and I will deal with the shit. I’ll face it. And I want to treat myself with kindness and others. Be that mentor you missed, the brother, the sister, the mother, the father, the teacher you missed in your life, show others that you are there. I am very loyal. I would never want someone else to feel lonely. I suppose sometimes people do choose themselves and maybe I should too but I am not sure about this just yet. Maybe I will always show up but not if it crosses a line for me. This is boundaries. A topic for everyone until we die I think. Plenty of time to practise.

I hope you are having a good time wherever you are and until next time! X

Treat yourself like a friend

Sometimes I lose myself in all of my thoughts and emotions and sometimes even behaviour. I wish it was different and honestly, I think I have already made progress. I am capable of saying no to others and myself and I just need to keep practising it. If you imagine a pond and the ripples in it, one after another, you can also visualize the pond with a smooth surface. Sometimes it feels like the pond is overflowing. I guess everyone feels overwhelmed from time to time. Mindfulness teaches me to take a step back and just watch the show basically. As if you aren’t standing on stage but just next to it. As if there are a lot of cars passing by and you are not trying to chase them or trying to stop them but watching them go by. Sometimes I just get caught up by the storm. I am in the middle of the tornado and it feels like I have to go through it, but I am going to practise not going to the middle of the tornado and saying no. No thank you brain, another day. Not today brain. Thank you brain for this insight, but you have a lot of thoughts. Thank you for this thought and I would just like to say no. You have to treat yourself like you would treat a friend. With kindness.

Talking about friends, they are here for me. I went through a break up and it leaves you feeling a bit meh. Sad, confused, insecure, angry and maybe also a bit good. As if you finally find the time for yourself and also see that maybe it just didn’t work. That there are people who love me just the way I am. With all of my good sides and all of my ugly sides. That sometimes two people meet and really like each other but it’s okay and just doesn’t work. It is what it is.

Friends, family, plants and the cat are bringing me joy at the moment. I’ve lost myself in taking care of the plants. I suppose it is therapeutic. I just really like the sight of happy plants that are growing and thriving. I like the responsibility of giving them shade, water and enough room to grow, earth that is fertile and taking away burnt or dead leaves and giving the plant all the energy that it needs to grow new healthy leaves.

Canoeing with family
Going out for dinner
Putting on glitter. Do you like my moustache?

I hope you are having a good time wherever you are and until next time! X

A glimmer of hope: support group for foster kids / orphans

Everything screams inside of me. One thought after another. I am listening to reggae music now. That is kind of soothing. It’s happy and relaxed at the same time. The way I wish I felt I suppose. Everything in me screams for recognition. I read about this other foster kid. She is also searching for contact with other foster kids. Who knows, I might be able to speak to her. Maybe other foster kids would like to chat with me. Maybe one day I could start a support group. I can’t help but feel different and I think there are others out there that feel the same, but I just don’t seem to find them. Yet. There is hope. I think it is really courageous of this woman to write a biography and that she started with another book where she is bundling stories of other foster children. Being a foster kid isn’t easy. I mean it is lovely and I am grateful for my foster family and at the same time it is a real struggle and on top of that there is no one going through the same thing or something similar. Losing your parents makes you feel really lonely and being a foster kid and all the experiences with being an orphan and foster kid and no one to share it with who gets it makes it even more lonely. But today I felt there is a glimmer of hope. Who knows, one day I might actually find that recognition. Maybe I should never give up hope. Just try to find other foster kids, hope, empathy and each other. The connection. The connection I am craving. There must be others out there that feel the same way. I have been feeling this for a long time, but there isn’t a support group out there. So here it is: I live in Zwolle. And if you are a foster kid who wants contact please e-mail me. I speak fluently Dutch by the way. My e-mail address is: francesbensink@live.nl

Plant and cat time

I am not in the best mood unfortunately. I got stung by a wasp again. This time my foot looks like big foot. Well, it always looked like big foot, but now it’s also swollen. Maybe a foot out Lord of the Rings. Less hair and more redness. Oh oh oh.

I am trying to find a specific table for in my bedroom. I’ll have to try another thrift shop. Unfortunately, I don’t think my foot likes all the walking. But I just might go to another thrift shop and to a flower shop. I don’t give up that easily.

I’ve got a beautiful plant in my bedroom since a few days. It is hanging from a hook in a macrame holder. I love it. I hope the plant is happier at this spot. At the other spot the leaves got burnt by the sun. It looks better.

My cat is visiting me quite often, which I enjoy. He likes to hang around. Next to me on the sofa or he likes to play with a piece of string. He also likes the new plant which is catnip. Hooray for Mause!

I hope you are having a good time wherever you are! Take care and until next time! X

Happy plant

The weekend has started

There is a new day awaiting me. As so many others. We shall see what this day brings. I might go swimming. I think it needs to be a little warmer for that. But just chilling by the water could be relaxing too. I could bring badminton and beach ball. A football could be fun. Hmm, I might actually go. Hmm. There is also a market on Saturday’s in the city centre. Ooh! I’d love some cheese. Yep. I know what I am doing today. I am getting cheese. I might also find a place to turn a DVD into something that can be put on a USB. Technology keeps on changing. VCR to DVD to USB and if you just look at those words, they actually seem kind of strange.

Tomorrow I’ll go bowling probably. A friend was as enthusiastic about the plan as I am. I hope my back can handle it. But yeah, we’ll be bowling for an hour and I won’t be throwing all the time. I am actually looking forward to it. Fun!

I might see a friend this weekend that I haven’t seen in a long time. Otherwise we’ll see each other
another time. I do miss hanging out with him though. He is a lot of fun. I hope he’ll come and live closer by soon.

It’s a pity that when I have so many aches and pains that you don’t really feel like doing anything. Luckily, I’ll see my G.P. next week again. A wasp decided to sting me and the place of the bite is starting to look better. Apparently, I am allergic. Sometimes not talking to others and just going out and being in nature by myself is all I need. I went to ‘Het Engelse Werk’ yesterday. Literally translated: ‘The English Work’. Oh, how I love language. During the summer season we get a lot of tourists. Drei farben I heard a woman say about a cat. Drie kleuren is what I said back. Even calling it a lapjeskat was similar. Dutch has influences originating from German, French and English. A lovely mishmash. I am training my English during the summer. I have this app called Elevate and I occasionally use my Cambridge book.

 

Taking care of the plants 🙂

Always look on the bright side of life

I am feeling very tired and my stomach hurts. It has been hurting for three months now. Let’s hope it will get better. The other pains will hopefully soon be dealt with too. I am going to a pediatrician.

For the rest I had a really bad moment yesterday evening. I came across a man who hasn’t been kind to me. He started to touch me and I totally panicked. This resulted in me fleeing away into a bar that was already closed. The bouncer had to grab my arm and keep tucking at it because I was so scared I kept pulling away. He proceeded to angrily walk towards me and tell me I could never enter this bar again. Then he tried to take a picture of me. I’d say I found the whole experience quite traumatic.

For the rest this week has been quite nice. It has been really hot weather and I got the chance to go swimming with friends and my date. I really enjoyed that. I might go swimming this weekend. That’s something to look forward too.

I might just feel better now if a grab a little something to eat and watch one of my favourite shows: ‘Taskmaster’! I love that show. I am so lucky to have seen one live. That was with Theo. He was so much fun. It makes me sad to think of him and know that he is so far away. Who knows, I might visit him some day in Wisconsin. I have never been to the United States.

I am lying in bed while I am typing and there is a cat lying on the bed too. He is the cutest. His name is Floris. One of the most kind cats I have met. I am at my date’s house at the moment. He is also one of the most kind persons I have met. I am happy to be here.

This weekend we’re off. I hope we will have a good time. I hope you are okay wherever you are. Until next time! X

Floris!!

Two months of Zwollywood

I think I have been in the Netherlands for two months now. Sometimes I still think in English and use English words. Do I miss England? I guess I miss having an adventure. Me just going to Hastings for no reason at all. Just wanted to be out. By myself. I mean I could do that now too obviously. But let’s say the fatigue is still kicking in. Luckily, I finally know what is physically wrong with me and now I’ll take a few pills and hopefully it will all be over by Monday.

Hopefully, I’ll start feeling better rested and more joyful. I might actually have a different job this summer. We’ll see. I am looking forward to next weekend. I’ll be a weekend away with my date. That’s nice. This weekend I am seeing a childhood friend. He moved from Watford to Amsterdam. He’ll be living in the Netherlands for two years. I am curious to hear what he thinks of my city Zwollywoooood.

It’s nice weather. Next week it will be nearly 40 degrees Celsius. I’ll be hiding away somewhere in the shade. Possibly swimming. For now, the temperature is nice. My cat is hanging around. Trying to catch the sparrows. I bought food for the sparrows. Now I have several visiting my balcony. I enjoy taking care of plants, birds and my cat. My cat can be really cute. A neighbour is sending me pictures of him laying on her sofa.

I am starting to get used to my new situation. I am living with a new housemate. She brings her date around a lot. It’s like living with two new people. It’s starting to feel a little crowded. But so far she has been quite pleasant. And we’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other.

Dear Jos, if you are reading this. We miss you. Neighbour Yoeri misses you too. That’s to our previous neighbour Jos who is in Switzerland. I spend a lot of time on our huge roof terrace with Yoeri and he misses his old housemate Jos. Yoeri and I are taking care of the plants. We love it.

I am wondering if people actually still read this since I have been back for two months now. I can imagine people have lost interest. Being abroad sounds so exciting. I guess it was in a way. I experienced a lot of new things. Saw new places. I really liked going to a hostel by myself. I might do that again in the future. It was a lot of fun. I do miss the people I met there. I do stay in touch.

Wherever you are, I hope you are having a good time. Say hi to the butterflies and the bees and enjoy your day! Until next time! x

Zwollywood, you are pretty

Celebrating being home

I am two months in the Netherlands! Time flies. Yes, when you are having fun. Luckily, I am also having fun. That’s what I want to celebrate in this blog. Being home and having fun with lovely people. Yesterday I went on a lovely boot trip. We made jokes and we relaxed. I was with three really close friends of mine. They also like each other and therefore the atmosphere is very  easy going. The four of us went on this boat. A big boat and we even sailed quite a bit. Not having to listen to the motor is so relaxing. You can hear the waves and the birds. Sun on your cheeks and good company. I am glad we went. I’ve also visited our previous housemate. She has a little place of her own now. She is meeting the neighbours and her studies is going really well. She made a nice dinner for us and huge mugs of tea. Oh, her tea is just the best. img_8412 I’ve also seen two good friends who I hadn’t seen in seven weeks, who I usually see every week. It was nice to see them. They are friendly, supportive and fun. Lastly, I am enjoying dating with this lovely guy. He is just so nice and funny. He is easy going and my friends like him too, which is very important to me. We are giving each other flowers. Cute, ha? I have a surprise for him in store. I hope it’ll be a nice weekend together. Now really last but not least I have enjoyed spending some time with family. I went to a birthday of my nephew. He is growing up! 21 already. He is so tall. I hope he leaves the village one day and has a beautiful life of his own. He is doing quite well right now, which makes me happy. And I have seen two very important family members. My fostermoms. They are special to me. One of them gave me her favourite flowers from the garden. Lathyrus. I have already put some of the seeds in a pot. We’ll see what happens. It was nice to spend time with them and enjoy a meal together. I also cuddled the dog. Cutie. I hope you are doing well, wherever you are and until next time! X