By TRISTYN HOLCOMB
Defying the odds after abuse
My name is Tristyn. I am 21 years old and a sophomore at Jones College, studying to achieve my associate’s degree in Animal Sciences and Breeding Livestock. I work part-time at a gas station and have my own vehicle. I’m not supposed to be going to college or being successful in my life … but I am defying the odds!
I spent almost seven years of my life in foster care. When I was 14, DHS paid me a visit at school one day to find out if I was being emotionally and physically abused. My parents didn’t really fight to keep me. They were okay with the fact I wouldn’t be living with them anymore.
My relationship with my parents is very awkward, especially then, and I was dealing with several serious medical issues. Even though they were abusing me, and I knew it, I still felt as if I needed them and had to protect them from getting in trouble for what they had done to me. I tried to excuse their behavior. I’ve definitely had it tough, so to say.
When I first got into custody, I had several mental evaluations to make sure my mental health was okay. I spent almost two weeks in a short-term facility. This was only the first of many times I would visit these places. I was a very trouble-minded teen due to all the trauma I had been through. I was in and out of mental health facilities and foster homes after I went into custody.
When I finally made it to Methodist Children’s Homes in 2016, things changed immediately. Yes, it was different and strange to be living in a home with nine other females, all with different personalities and stories — but I was able to feel safe and at home. MCH had activities and plans that would help us fit in and make us feel like we were normal. Being in custody, you always struggle and feel like you’re not like other teens.
When I made it to the group home, I instantly formed a connection with Devon Loggins, who is now the MCH CEO and president. He treated me like I was one of his own children. He talked to me and loved me and gave me advice. The longer I was there, the more connections and relationships I built.
I had people who taught me and made me feel important and like I mattered and was wanted. I never felt that until I made it to MCH. I ended up living at the group home for almost four years. I graduated high school and started college living there, and without their support I couldn’t have accomplished any of it. I learned how to handle my depression and my thoughts and feelings.
Now I am a successful young adult in my community, and I still have a relationship with those who helped me at MCH. I’m about to graduate college and get my own apartment. I have a boyfriend, and we are happy. I am not another statistic!
I find it easier to deal with my past the more I share my story. I want kids and teens in bad situations or in foster care to know that you are important. Don’t let what happened to you in your past mess up what’s coming to you. Yes, I know it’s tough now … Believe me, I’ve been there and got the T-shirt. I promise it will get better. You will have a normal life. You will succeed as long as you don’t allow your past to keep you from doing so. You are strong and have your own story to tell.
Be thankful and grateful for the opportunity to have people who will care and love you. You deserve it. Let them love you and care for you. I know I’d give anything sometimes to go back and have them take care of me. Let them help you prepare for the world that is to come.
Being an adult is hard. Responsibilities hit you hard and fast — they don’t wait for you to be ready. I pray for each and every one of you to have a successful life, and I want you to know you are stronger than you think. The Lord loves you more than you will ever know. Keep your head up!
Tristyn Holcomb is 21 years old. She spent six years in the foster care system. She is now a student at Jones College and living her life to the fullest.