What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Elizabeth. When I was little, I longed for a ʺnormalʺ childhood. You know the kind = with 2 parents who sometimes fought, but you knew that they loved each other. The kind of life with siblings and grandparents and safety. The whole shebang. After a while I learned that normal is relative. My mother started experimenting with drugs at a young age. Fast forward 10+ years and a whole bunch of drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity, I was born. I am the youngest of 5 children. Only 2 of my siblings share a father, so that means that for the 5 of us, there are 4 different fathers. I don’t even know who my father is. I’m not even sure my mom does either. She tells me it is one man, but according to the time line, he just doesn’t make sense. We moved around a lot when I was little. I didn’t find out until later that the only reason we did that was because my mom was running and hiding from different people. Just like my mother didn’t stay in one place for very long, she didn’t stay with the same man for too long. She always seemed to pick the bad ones. The kind that drank and abused her and my siblings. Luckily my grandma and aunt lived in the same city we did, so often times my mom would take us over to their house. It was the only place I felt safe. I’m sure it was just because I was the youngest, but I spent more time at their house than I did with my mom. By kindergarten I had moved in permanently with my aunt and grandma. I remember after I moved in with them, my mom would call to say that she was coming to see me, but she wouldn’t show up. She would promise me all sorts of things, but she would never follow through. I was experiencing a new level of hurt. I still loved her though, and I would make excuses for her. I wouldn’t blame her for not coming to see me, but I would blame my aunt or my grandma. (Isn’t it crazy how that works?) When I was 10 we hadn’t heard from my mom in a while so we decided to go to her house to see if everything was ok. When we got there it was evident that they had moved. She just forgotten to tell us she was moving. A couple of weeks later she came back and told us that she was moving 3 states away and that my siblings were leaving too. She asked me if I wanted to move with her or if I wanted to stay with my aunt. I told her I wanted to stay with my aunt. I didn’t find this out until just last year, but the decision of where I was going to live had already been made up. I’m not sure why she still asked me. After she moved she would call every couple of months. She still never stayed in the same place long though, so when they moved, we had no way of getting a hold of them. I had to once again rely on her to get into contact with me. This all was really hard for me. I’ve been angry, frustrated, hurt, bitter and unforgiving. It was hard to love someone who had hurt you in such a horrible way. Even though my mom had left me in good hands, she still abandoned me. She was my mother. She was suppose to want to be with me. She was suppose to love me! Now that I’m a little bit older (I’m 23) I have learned that this all happened for a reason. My mother did in fact love me. She loved me enough to give me away. She knew she wasn’t good for me and she gave me to someone who could love me like I needed it. I learned that I needed to forgive her. I learned that bitterness and anger isn’t healthy. When I was finally able to forgive, I found joy in my life. I am forever grateful to my Aunt who took me in. It wasn’t always easy for the two of us but we have both grown from this. We have worked towards love and forgiveness. I don’t know where I would be or who I would be now if it weren’t for her. I met and married a wonderful Christian man. He’s loving, strong, and supportive. He’s there on the days that are harder for me. He listens to my ongoing struggles with all this. Especially my growing frustrations from not knowing my father. I said earlier that I know that this all happened for a reason. God took me out of that situation so I could help end an ongoing cycle. My husband and I feel like we need to give other kids a chance to get out of situations like that. We are planning on doing foster care in the near future. I want people to know that it’s ok to ask questions about my past. If I don’t want to talk about it, then I will just tell you that. I want people to treat me like they would treat other people. If you meet someone with a past, don’t act awkward around them. They just want to be accepted. Don’t pity them, don’t feel sorry for them. Embrace both of your differences. Let differences transform your lives!