I was so young. Naive and oblivious to this whole other world. My comprehension of foster care was bunk beds lined up across a room and "Annie." So my understanding of me going into the system was based on ignorance and the belief that I "didn't belong."

I was 12 turning 13, and my mother had told the judge she didn't want me to come home because of my toxic behavior. I was defiant, disrespectful, and had anger towards her specifically, inexplicably. I spent my first year away from home. Crying every single day, my thin pillow saturated with tears left from kids from years past, but once again I felt I was "different," so I knew I'd be going home.

Waiting for phone calls that never came, letters never opened and visitation board that never had my name on it.

The confusion turned into sadness, sadness into anger, anger into pain and finally pain to understanding. Realizing that there was no savior to this story. That I was looking for a way out, instead of a way through. Uprooting me from my home school, friends, isolating me from my family, I felt true abandonment. Accustomed to being left, I didn't grow attachments. Separated myself from feeling because I knew I could never survive that type of heartbreak again.

My first heartbreak on this earth, my mother.

Birthdays never celebrated, existence never validated. I was left to be a ward of the state. How did I get here? To this point. I had a choice to make. I leave the shattered glass on the floor, my life fragmented by my own hands from displaced anger. The cross I was bearing, I built. No one's fault or no concise place to put the blame. So here I am devastated and broken. Shattered heart and a hardened soul.

Forced to make grown-up decisions but being told to stay in a child's place. Having others make choices about my life while sitting there bound by silence. No one caring to hear my side or understand my pain. I was a dollar sign. Another by-product of a broken system. Falling through the cracks, people missing the obvious signs. I spent two more years being taken care of by people who work shifts. Inside of houses that were not homes, surrounded by faces that were not family. Crowded but isolated.

Then one day in late August, I got a call from the social worker, that she wanted me back.

Confusion coupled with resentment. I had spent years cultivating my peace but not ever confronting my chaos. She was my storm, my 9/11, my tornado. When I saw her, I saw red. Like a bull in a ring, ready to fight without direction. Because just talking feels like a battlefield when you're used to surviving instead of living. I, always ready for a fight. She, always ready to defend. Both leaving with our guns smoking, not remembering who fired the first shot but bleeding from the bullet of the words.