How many of you grew up without someone who was supposed to be there for you? How many of you lost friends as you grew older, or people you just really cared about? How did it make you feel? Age 3. My earliest memory was waking up in a bed that seemed familiar, but I could not figure out where I was. I left the mattress and explored the apartment that I strangely knew like the back of my hand. I came face-to-face with an elderly couple. I had called the woman my mother, and the man my grandpa. I did not know why. I assumed they were my parents. It wasn't until later that I gained a memory I can still recall: meeting my biological mother and brothers. I know I must have met them before, but my mind at that time had deemed them as strangers claiming to be my family, and all I can think was "why wasn't I raised with you guys?" Age 5. My mother took me and my little brother to a strange place past a fire station (I now recognize it was a police station). We stood there for a whole boring hour until a strange man wearing a black baseball cap and dark sunglasses walked in. He spoke to my mother before coming over to us. He introduced himself as our biological father. I accepted it without question. I expected him to be in my life again like my mother. However, after a few months of constant visits, we stopped going to the station to meet him and I didn't see him for a long time afterwards. By age 6 I began to wonder why he wasn't with my mother anymore, and by age 9 I had almost forgotten he existed until he finally returned to us again. This cycle continues to this very day. Age 10. I now only have a selective group of friends. We were a group of four with a couple of extras we liked hanging out with individually. Then one of us left, never to come back. I can barely remember her face now. Age 12. I was in one of the best relationships of my life. Granted, I had wronged someone, and I regret it to this very day. But we were happy together. That was until someone took him away from me. He went on to a better life (I can only hope so at least), and the night I heard the news I had lost all faith in God and the angels above. I had run back to the man who I had wronged, and in turn he did twice what I had done to him. My love life afterwards had been rocky and unknown. To this day I still refuse to worship such a god, but that boy gives me a hope that perhaps there is an afterlife. He sure as hell deserves the best of them. Age 14. I had made the biggest mistake of my life, and everyone I had once thought cared about me left. Friends turned on friends, relationships broke and mended, and I was shown a pain unlike any other that still haunts me to this very day. In the end, some of them came back and we promised a new life for ourselves. However, the betrayal has me weary and I still cannot trust him with everything I know and love. Not with my whole heart anyway. Age 15. These experiences still mess with my head. As I lay in bed late at night, I am kept awake until the early hours of dawn with these memories playing in my head. The pain becomes hurt, which in turn becomes rage, and eventually settles to sorrow if not quenched with revenge, and it all returns to a stinging numbness that makes me feel both everything and nothing at the same time. I fear closeness to those I care for most in the case of them betraying and leaving me behind just like all the others. As my 16th birthday approaches, I cannot help but wonder how different my life may have been if the choices we all made weren't the ones we had chosen. Would it be better? Would it be worse? Would I still think of the "what ifs" in the end? What is it like? What am I like? Will I ever know, or be kept in this darkness until my dying days? Would I ever be the patient and trusting person I hope to be one day, the person I am working to become, that everyone loves? Would I continue to be a shame to my family and an embarrassment to them, or would I give them nothing but pride? So much could have been different, but would I want it that way?

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