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Appreciate the little things…

I got an email from a young girl a few weeks ago who is in the foster care system because of horrible physical and sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her parents.  My heart broke as I read what this innocent girl had been through and I wept when I read, “Ms. Burleton, I’m so alone and hurt.  No one cares about me and no one would care if I lived or died.”

I wept because I understood exactly where she was coming from; it was as if I was reading a letter I would have written as a young teenager.  She was abused by the very people who were supposed to protect her, isolated from her peers because her life was so very, very different than theirs, and left to deal with her wounds, physical and emotional, on her own.    She seemed to like her foster parents, but still felt as if no one understood her and how she was feeling on the inside.

I sat back and thought for a moment about what exactly to say to this girl; I knew she had strength, I knew she was stronger than she even realized, and I knew not to email back some canned response directing her to a counselor or an agency. Since she was already in the foster care system, I was sure that counseling was already involved.  This girl wasn’t looking for therapy; she was looking for that one person who truly understood her.  She needed to know where I got my strength from and how I survived.

I have an entire book dedicated to the people, animals, or things in my life that gave me strength and inspiration to get up and face the next day.  My elementary school teacher who left a daisy on my desk when she could sense I had a bad night because, in her words, daisies are beautiful and resilient and she wanted me to remember that.  My goat, my sweet goat I named Indy after my childhood love, Indiana Jones, that made me laugh during my darkest days on the farm.  A book that changed my life and made me realize that I wasn’t the only person in the world whose mother seemed to hate them, A Child Called It.  And watching Michael Jordan play basketball; he was one of my heroes and I never even met him.  But watching him defy all odds and hit the game winning shot with seconds to spare time after time made me realize how much a human could accomplish if they just worked hard enough.

Of course, the daisies died.  Mom killed my goat.  They made Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (sigh..I’m sorry, but that movie just ruined it for me) and Michael Jordan retired.  Nothing lasts forever, except memories and lessons learned.

My point is that I didn’t have people in my life helping me; I, like this girl, and so many others, felt alone and at times suicidal, thinking that no one would care if I lived or died.  I wanted to give up so many times because I just didn’t want to get up and face another day with Mom and the abuse.  But then, I would hear my Indy bleat in the morning as I headed down to do chores, see that book on my dresser, look up at the poster of Michael Jordan I had over my bed, or see the daisy lying on my pillow from the day before and remember that I really wasn’t alone.  I had things in my life to remind me to smile, succeed, and most importantly, survive.  My inner strength came from them because my own parents failed at teaching me those life lessons.

My message to her was to find those things in her life, and I assured her that she wouldn’t have to look hard.  She had already made it this far, something was pushing her to survive and face her demons every day.  And after permission from her foster parents; yesterday I sent her a bouquet of daisies and a signed copy of all of my books.  Maybe she will discover how beautiful and resilient she is too.

Appreciate the little things…

Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.

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APA Reference
, . (2015). Appreciate the little things…. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Jul 2015
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