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Blog 3 Survivors guilt: My Tragic Childhood

What is survivor’s guilt? To me, it means feeling guilty for surviving something tragic and constantly feeling triggered when confronted with people and/or situations that remind you of those times. Which makes you want to do something to help others knowing there’s not much you can do.
That’s what this blog is about. 

So what’s my tragic childhood story, let’s dive in.
I was born on the west side of Amsterdam in the mid 90’s. My parents were married and had me and my big brother. They divorced when I was still a toddler and they both remarried again.
I was raised Christian- Pentecostal.
Both my parents are very religious, although my dad’s ancestral lineage originally is mostly cultural, traditional, and spiritual. I don’t know much about my mom’s side of the family. 

After re-marrying my dad’s new family was mostly stable, but my mom wasn’t.
My mom got herself into a marriage that turned very abusive, which affected me and my siblings heavily. Eventually, my mom couldn’t take care of us anymore and had to give us up. That’s how me and my siblings ended up in the child protective system.

I hear y’all ask why don’t you stay with your dad. Because me and his new wife don’t get along. We tried that, but that always resulted in me running away from my dad’s home back to my mom and then from my mom back to my dad.
I wasn’t safe on one side and not welcome on the other.
I was like 13 years old at the height of these problems.

At that time I was in my first year in middle school, I was a very good student and had high grades. But that eventually went downhill because of everything else.
I had lots of friends and I was mostly close with 2 girls in high school.
I was joining all the activities, like dance and sports classes to escape home.
From the outside, you wouldn’t know that my situation was so bad. I always dressed up well and had my hair done. Besides that, from a cultural perspective, you’re not supposed to talk about what happens inside the house.
So besides our neighborhood seeing the police regularly, nobody knew. I think.

Eventually, I couldn’t keep running away from one parent to the other. And my friend’s parents wouldn’t allow me to spend the night anymore.
So one day I came home 2 minutes after my 5 p.m. curfew, and my mom locked me outside by barricading the front door with the dinner table.

At my dad’s, I had been given a similar treatment before and I spent all night on the cold staircase in front of the door while on my monthly cycle with no access to a toilet, till 7 a.m. during the holiday season. I could hear my little step-siblings run around and play, and the rest of the family hang out together in the living room.
The holiday season still triggers me to this day.

Anyway, that day when my mom decided to lock me out, I went to the police myself and said: “I don’t have a home to go to”.
They called my mom, who told them to just keep me.
Since our address history was already in their database they just called the child protective service and escorted me to an orphanage.
As all the orphanages were full, I couldn’t stay at one for more than a couple of days.
So I had to keep moving until they found something definitive for me. In the meantime, I would still go to school like nothing happened.

I had no contact with my parents. My dad never really denied me but I think he thought it was just too difficult because of his new wife. My mom already gave up and did not care. She always used to tell us, how we the children were sent by the devil to ruin her life and how she wished our dads had just taken us in.
I was in the middle of two parents who saw their child as a burden because of their failed marriage. And how I felt? I think little me was relieved.

So after going up and down from place to place, I finally found a family that I felt home in. It was an elderly Surinam foster mother that I first spent some days at because the original supposed foster family was still on vacation.

I requested to stay there and she accepted me. We lived in the Bijlmer, which is supposed to be “the ghetto” of Amsterdam. But to be honest I had the time of my life. Even though it was a dangerous neighborhood, there still was a sense of community and culture. Something I never experienced before. I also learned a lot from the difference in dynamics from “the suburbs” to “the ghetto”. It gave me a little edge.
And my foster mother did everything in her power to shield us from danger.
Besides that, she was a respected woman, so once people knew I was with her, they knew not to mess with me. I spent most of my teens there.

Now looking back, that part of my life brought me closer to God than any of my religious upbringing. Because so many bad things could have happened to me, but it never really did. No matter how bad things looked, I always ended up at the right place at the right time.

I was the only one out of my siblings from my mom’s side who was in a loving foster family. My other siblings weren’t that lucky. They spent most of their childhood in jail-like constructions with no family around. Safe to say that their stories are different than mine.
I was the only one they could count on, and I always had to be a mother figure to my siblings. Meaning that I had to grow up very early, and there was no way I could mess up. Because if I did, they would too.

To this day, all the above is the base of my character. I’m very empathetic, especially towards those who share similar stories as mine.
But over the years I had to learn that I’m nobody’s mother (yet), and I have to help myself first before I put my energy into helping others.
Because every time I put others before myself, their problems became mine.
And my problems stayed mine. 

To this day it’s very hard to tell if my ship is sinking, as I still keep peddling no matter what happens. I always try to make sure that I don’t look like what I’m going through, and I get my strength out of maintaining my beauty and health. Cause if you look good, you feel good.
That’s how modeling became my safe haven.

And till this day I feel like I am being punished and have to pay for surviving.
As I have always felt like I’m being held to higher standards and put in a role model position, that I never asked for, by people that look up to me or never believed in me in the first place. I can’t make a single mistake and any sign of giving up makes me look weak, after all I have already been through.

Sometimes I wish I just messed up and did not beat the odds. Then I wonder why God chose me to carry the burdens of others or at least why I feel the need to, and what life would be like if I didn’t make it out. Would I at least have more peace and feel no guilt?
But when I go through hardships in my modeling career and life in general, it makes all sense.
I wouldn’t stand a chance in the industry if I wouldn’t have experienced my tragic childhood.
So for that, I thank the wise and all-knowing God.

The cliché moral of this story is, to not judge a book by its cover. Happiness or hardship doesn’t have a look. I know better, you do now too.


Relevant links to watch:
C’estMabelleVictoire 12 year anniversary Fineart Nude mini documentary

C’estMabelleVictoire Consulting services

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