maarmie's musings

Friday, September 09, 2005

My Application Essay for the Guardian Ad Litem Program

While my parents never failed to provide my brother and I with the basic necessities of life - food, shelter and clothing - they consistently failed to provide psychological and emotional support. Cold, demeaning and emotionally neglectful, my parents were neither mentally nor emotionally equipped to handle the immense task of the raising of children in a positive way.

By the time I was six months old and my brother, Brian, was age four, our biological mother had left. By the time I was seven years old, our father had settled in Florida and remarried three times, the last time to a woman who didn't have children of her own and seemed to think of my brother and I as mere accessories to the life for which she had signed up.

While my parents were fastidiously occupied with their marriage and demanding career climbs, my brother and I were busy raising ourselves. He left home at age 18 to get married and join the military. I finished high school with a string of honors and advanced placement classes behind me. However, having felt like an unwanted guest in my own house for many years, I forewent college after graduation, and, at age 18 and saddled with incredibly low self esteem and the tendency to involve myself in romantic relationships that would batter my body and bruise my esteem all the more, left home to be homeless.

Three years later, I wrenched myself from a physically and emotionally abusive boyfriend and, not long afterward, started community college without the support of my parents. Five years later, I graduated from college with a degree in communications and have lived all over the country since then working mostly at various newspapers writing about crime, politics, education, art, the environment and people who are both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. Most proudly, though, I have written about the debilitating personal and social effects of domestic violence and childhood abuse and the experience of it as seen through the eyes of the overwhelmingly strong and courageous women and children who have lived and survived it. I also have written about domestic violence and childhood neglect as seen through the lens of my own experience.

Throughout these moves and endeavors, I have learned more about myself, others and society and have come to have a better understanding of the inner and outer forces that make me - and others like me - who we are and of the inner and outer forces that compel others to hurt and neglect those they profess to love.

The six things I love in this world, besides my brother and my good friends, are truth, justice, equality, wisdom, humor and beauty. In my life, I have encountered each of these things - things that make life worth living - many times in the most unexpected of places. However, I, too, have encountered the flip side of these concepts and ideals: lies, ignorance, abuses of power and blind indifference to atrocity. I'm not entirely sure where my professional life is headed, and I could say that, in my volunteer life, what I want most is to help vulnerable people who don't have the power to help themselves in an effort to wipe out abuse and injustice. Abuse and injustice will never be wiped out in my opinion, however, so my goal here is to be a voice for those who are voiceless and to help America's most vulnerable population find its way through situations it didn't choose to safer, more nurturing places.

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