25 Years After Being Abandoned as a Child, PFS CSR Enjoys Volunteering as a Counsellor
I have come to learn that positive first memories in life are crucial. It can be a difficult burden for any child when their earliest memory is of something they would rather forget. This can lead to a great deal of embarrassment and shame. At just 3 years old, our Customer Service Representative's earliest memory is of his father beating his mother. His father was arrested and jailed for the violent outburst. This was the first time he was sheltered by a foster family and his father had disappeared from his life, for good.
The middle child of 7 children always has a philosophical outlook on a challenging upbringing. "My childhood seemed perfectly normal to me because this was my life and it was all I knew. I really believed that everyone's home was like ours. As I grew older, I slowly started to realise that all was not as it could be or should have been back then. From age 3 to 10, I witnessed an awful lot of dysfunction but I tried very hard to never let it defeat me. Today, it has made me a man who can cope with anything and I love solving problems for other people. I suppose, I had to become a problem solver as a young boy to get through it all."
"Every one of us 7 children were affected by what happened. I was very lucky that I have had people that I could talk to about anything. This was especially important as a lad growing up trying to find people you can trust. It took me until my 20's to really open up about what occurred. I bottled it all up for so long, it was difficult to open up, but I did."
A noticeable problem solver as a young child, our CSR is now happy to resolve issues for other people as part of his work. He is a clean-living and career-focused young man who has worked hard to create a stable life for himself. Soon, he hopes to buy his own home to have a place he can always call his permanent home. Like many people in Ireland his age, he has worked out that he has spent over €70,000 in "dead money" on rent.
It is funny the simple things we can all take for granted. Yet, here amongst us is a colleague who has endured unimaginable circumstances who has managed to put a section of his life in a compartment so that he can focus on what is really important to him, his wellbeing and his home and work environments. He effortlessly leaves a lasting impression and always has a smile on his face. Long may this continue.
It is amazing how significant days in our lives stick so vividly in our minds. Instantaneously, you can recall an exact moment and every sensory surrounding from the weather to the precise time of day. I am not at all surprised that he can precisely recall every minute detail of what happened next and relay the story with a cool, calm, and collected consistency. It is a state that I can relate to as aspects of our true-life stories begin to intertwine and the level of trust between us grows.
4.20 pm on Wednesday, September 8th, 1993 was the worst moment of our CSR's life. It was the day child services sat the 7 children down on their couch after they had come home from school to tell them that their mother was not coming back this time. Previously, she would have skipped town and disappeared for a few days or weeks at a time. This time, everything was different and much more serious. Who was going to take in 7 children, he thought? Unfortunately, and inevitably, this was the day that the 7 siblings were separated. September is supposed to be a time for new beginnings for schoolchildren. There was nothing happy about this situation in the Ireland of the 90's. That very night, he was the first of the 7 children to be removed from his family home and placed with a family nearby for 4 years. Now, you can cut the atmosphere in our meeting room with a knife. You see, nothing was ever the same again after that night. The other 6 children were placed in homes far and wide. To him, it felt as if they had all been scattered in the wind.
Then the penny dropped. That morning, his mother gave him a letter and instructed him to hand it to a Teacher at school. He did as she asked and for the next 10 years, until he was 20, he blamed himself that his mother was gone because he handed in a letter that led to the displacement of 7 children. He later discovered that family members had been harbouring his mother for several months when the authorities and child services were desperately attempting to locate her.
It took several weeks for the reality to hit home for the rest of the children as their mother had skipped town half a dozen times before for lengths ranging from a few days to a couple of weeks. He is honest enough to admit that all 7 children have dealt with abandonment issues at some stage in their lives. Fast forward 6 years and their father had arranged a meeting with the 7 kids. Given his track record and true to form, he stood them up. No one was surprised and that was it. There was no going back from that. No second chance.
Several foster homes later, he never felt like a kid in the system. He just got on with his life but very much felt he was on his own when he turned 18. He witnessed how his upbringing had affected some of his other siblings. It led him to becoming a Counsellor for a suicide organisation and helping other people to focus on the positive aspects of life to create a picture of their future in it. He likes to concentrate on a healthy body and a healthy mind and loves to get involved in team sports. Right now, he is enjoying the World Cup tournament.
He recalls that just before he hit his teenage years, another spanner was thrown in the works. His foster parents were by that time too old to look after him. The huge difficulty was that child services were unable to find another foster home for him. He was presented with two choices - live with his father or go to boarding school. He opted for boarding school and ended up as a pupil in Ireland's most elite private school at the time. It was not long before word spread that his board and tuition were paid for by the state and the bullying and torment became so bad that he was not able to return for his second year. It was a great pity as he showed a real talent for Mathematics and languages. He pleaded with the foster parents of one of his siblings to take him in and they did. He lived with them until he was 20.
As a teenager, he first entered the workplace as a Welder for a few years before working his way up the ladder over the course of a decade in a traditional media organisation until the Great Recession struck and the company was badly hit by the downturn. He turned his attention to two large retail groups until he wanted to focus on Financial Services and moved to PFS. His ambition is to work in AML and his entire energy and physicality shift when he speaks about how much he loves the area.
There is one great advantage to the ardent resilience and perseverance he has displayed throughout his life with a never-give-up attitude - he never worries about the future. He knows that he will always find a way to be in the world. After all, he has been doing that ever since he was a toddler. To do this without anger or resentment is admirable, especially when his grandparents were high net worth individuals who were not in the children's lives and did not support them financially. His attitude is that it would have been virtually impossible for any couple to take in 7 children at the same time.
It was uplifting to hear that in recent weeks he experienced the best day of his life and felt proud of himself. It is wonderful to know that he is excited about what the future holds.
It is always a privilege to listen to the stories of colleagues within the close-knit PFS family. Continuing a spirit of trust, respect, compassion, and understanding, the CSR's name remains with the Author.