June 19, 2018 – Gregory Franklyn
I was born in Detroit Michigan in the spring of 1952. I was separated from everyone I knew as family no less than 4 times by the time I was 13, never to be reunited with any of the previous families I had known. While I have “Recovered” from the trauma to the degree that I have been able to function with enough normalcy to care for myself and have a pretty cool life most of the time, there is no question that I have been damaged by it. I’m better off than some and not as well as others.
As a result of my formative years being disrupted so dramatically, my view of what “Family” means, is different than most folks who have not suffered similar disruptions. Family is temporary and tenuous at its peak in my world, and love is conditional based on behavior. In my case it was being Gay and being a ward of the state of Michigan. Back then you were looked down upon generally because there was a prevalent view that orphans were lacking in some way that was deserving of pity. In the 50s and 60s being gay was considered a mental illness and was treated as such. As a result of the conventional wisdom of the time, I was put in psychological therapy a few times, until the State’s money ran out. There was no “Cure” for my condition. So, basically, at 66 years old, I still have it. (this is going to be important when I finally arrive at my point about all this)
Back when I was a ward of the court the Foster Care system in Michigan was generally a work program. Farm Families would get about $80 dollars a month for my care and would get free farm labor to boot. I resided for a few years in 3 such families; all three included various degrees abuse and exploitation. It was in these families that I suffered most of the physical, sexual and emotional abuse that formed my childhood. And I was powerless to stop it because I was a minor. My life was controlled by someone else. When not in Foster Care, I was housed in children’s homes and military academies in and around Detroit. There was abuse there too, but mostly from peers rather than adults.
I have often been accused of seeing the world through “Rose Colored Glasses” and being somewhat naive because I have a pretty deeply rooted positive outlook on life and even I don’t fully understand where it comes from. But I am grateful that it’s there because I got to be 66 because of it. I personally know a LOT of folks who didn’t make it this far. I’m lucky that way. But seeing the world through my Rose Colored Glasses doesn’t mean I don’t SEE the evil in the world, it’s rather because I have chosen not to spend much time there.
But, once I got control of my own life, things changed. I promised myself that I would not go back to incarceration situations like the children’s homes, Foster Homes and Military Academies of my youth. I made a promise to myself, that I have kept ever since, that I would not live with violence or abuse, period, full stop! I’ve had to make some accommodations and compromises along the way to keep that promise, for which I have no regrets. That, of course, isn’t much to set your life’s goal to. What could I have become had I not been separated from my families so early and so often. Had I not spent my formative years crying and trying to understand why I wasn’t “Enough”. It’s a pretty low bar to spend a lifetime struggling to achieve, which, finally, brings me to my point today.
What’s happening at the southern border of the US as I write today, is affecting me more deeply than any national issue this side of war and genocide. These children are ME, and all of this is causing me some PTSD that I’m having trouble cycling through. I am PHYSICALLY hurting along with the psychological disturbance we all must be feeling. I know exactly what these children are going through.
What is affecting me so much right now, is that I can’t seem to “Walk This Off” like I have been able to do with nearly every other tribulation I’ve ever faced. Over my lifetime I’ve developed a solid handful of coping and self care techniques, but they don’t seem to be doing much good at the moment. This is a BIG one, because it hits me right where I LIVE; This is ME! The tragic story you just read, MY story, is about to befall 2,000 innocent children. I feel powerless again, just like these kids do and just like I felt back when it was happening to me. These kids will never fully recover from this damage. I KNOW this personally. I’ve been through it 4 times. The laws of NATURE do not even seem to apply here! And, I cannot believe that the people who are in a position to make it stop, simply WON’T! My mind and my heart are simply NOT able to reconcile what is happening right now. It, quite Simply, does not compute!