Me on my 10th birthday ~ A very sad day
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
~ Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)
Knowing that I am about to take a journey of a thousand miles doesn’t make writing this any easier. I am about to share with you things I haven’t made public until now. I have only talked about these things with a few people I have allowed to get close enough to me over the years. I have a lot of friends but I didn’t make really good, true friends until I was much older. Growing up, life was very difficult for me. I was subjected to abuse, neglect, and things no child should have to suffer through.
I am number 7 of 8 children. Only 7 survived; 6 girls and 1 boy. They are all my half-siblings and I have another brother from a step-mother on my dad’s side. My real dad died in a car accident when I was 6 but my parents had divorced long before that. Practically from the moment I was born, my life has been a living miracle. I was raised by my grandmother, “Mrs. B” as everyone called her, for most of my life. It was the time spent with my mother that can fill the pages of a novel and which has brought me to this site, to share my life with all of you reading this.
I have often been told by those who know me and hear my story that I should write a book about my life. I have kept a journal for 31 years and consider it my therapy and believe it’s one of the reasons I have been able to deal with the demons in my past as well as I have. I guess, in a way, by writing about my experiences here, I am finally writing that book. And I am willing to share with you a lot of the things that happened but what I am not willing to share are the specific methods used to torture me as a child since I vowed to myself long ago that I would never disclose that information. I don’t want anyone reading my words to get any ideas on how to torture a child without leaving a mark.
It’s an epidemic in our society ~ One that I believe has gotten much worse since I endured it. Even though I managed to live through all of it, I have often wondered how I managed to turn out so different than my siblings ~ That one in eight ~ who went on to break the cycle of abuse, thrive, live a healthy life, and arrive at a place where I can talk about it with all of you. How is it possible that I didn’t turn out to be a criminal or an abuser? How is it possible that I have managed to be “normal” when my mother and siblings aren’t? How is it possible that I was able to move on and not dwell on what happened? How is it possible for me to talk about it now? And above all, why am I so happy?
I was told by my grandmother (my mother’s mother, Mrs. B.) that I was barely three months old when she and her husband, my grandpa Warren, drove from Idaho to an orphanage in California “to get me” and my siblings. She said they waited and waited for what seemed like hours “for the women to bring me out”. She said she didn’t think they were going to let her have me – that I had already been adopted out and they were too late – until finally one of the women brought me to my grandmother and explained that they couldn’t find any clothes for me to wear and that was the reason for the delay. To hear that I was laying in a crib naked, at three months old, somewhere in an orphanage in California, makes me shudder to this day. Of course, I was too young to remember that.
What I do remember is how happy I was while living with Mrs. B. ~ a “brown-purse-carrying-woman” who only “graduated” from the 8th grade (Girls weren’t encouraged to go beyond that grade in school during the time period she grew up in). Undeterred by this, she managed to own her own restaurant during one time in her life. She was an amazing woman who lived to be 88 years old and whose words still echo inside my head every now and then when I am searching for wisdom ~ some of the pearls I will be sharing with you.
I’ve always felt like I was lucky and blessed throughout my life. I just didn’t realize how lucky I was until I heard Country Music Singer, Jimmy Wayne, say that only three-percent of kids who are exposed to abuse and neglect grow up to “survive and thrive” (as I call it), becoming productive members of our society ~ I didn’t realize I was a “Three-Percent Girl” until February 5, 2010. I still cannot get the words out of my head. It has taken me a month to overcome the tears and sadness and overwhelming shock I felt when I realized I was only one of THREE-percent. Three lucky pennies who have managed to pay back to society what others have lost.
This site will go on to live long after Jimmy has finished his walk from Nashville, TN, to Phoenix, AZ. I am going to be sharing with you not just what happened to me as a child, but also talk about my mentor, Fred, who is a HUGE reason I believe I survived and became such a well-rounded individual and I will be giving him an opportunity to write, in his own words, what it was like to be a mentor to me and how that happened. I am going to share with you my thoughts as I look at the world through the eyes of a three-percent girl, including articles, statistics, resources, experiences I’ve had in the past, such as volunteer work I’ve done, as well as since Jimmy has begun his Project Meet Me Halfway campaign and the sister site, ProjectMMH.org began. I’ll be sharing some of the fun things I do every day, including some of my recipes, pictures, and ideas. And of course, some good laughs (because those of you who know me from Twitter, know I can hardly keep a straight virtual face!) and since I’m an environmental scientist, I will be talking about the environment ~ which, surprisingly, ties in very neatly with the problems we are having in our world today with teen homelessness and the mission that brought Jimmy and I together, on the same path, where our two worlds collided and helped you and I meet on Twitter (something I knew nothing about until 2 months ago!).
I am new to blogging as well, so forgive me if it takes a little while for me to figure it out – I’ve been on a crash course for a few days now. I also encourage you to post a comment – which, I believe, will be hidden until I can decide how to best manage them – if you have questions. I will be happy to answer them or find the answers for you and post them in upcoming blogs. I hope this will be a two-way channel of communication since I truly believe the only way we can change the epidemic is through education and communication.
This website is a view into my world as a 3-percent Girl ~ A way of sharing with others my past, my present, my thoughts, my questions, my answers, and my adventures. It’s my desire that in some small way it may save a life or inspire “hope”. Therefore, I hope you enjoy the walk with me… into my future
~ Leilani (who considers herself a VERY lucky girl!)
P.S. For those of you who have stumbled upon my page and want to learn more, click on the hyperlinks I’ve provided in my pages and they will guide you to more resources. Just click the back arrow on your web browser to return to my site. Don’t forget to bookmark my page too! Thanks for visiting and I hope we can one day share a cup of coffee, some good laughs, and a great conversation, face-to-face.
“Hope is a waking dream” ~ Aristotle
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