FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

My Perspective Aprille Smith

to take a hold of my life. I started sleeping late, skipping class, withdrawing from my friends, and ended up on academic probation. So, I decided not to return to school and got a job at a local housing authority. At 20 years old, I became involved with a young man and eventually became pregnant with my oldest daughter. Unfortunately, he abandoned me during my pregnancy and that is how I became a single mother. I was upset, but I had a lot of family support, which allowed me to continue to pursue my dreams in music. My mother would not let me give up on my dreams. While I was working on my music career, my friend introduced me to a producer she was working with. The young producer graciously allowed me to bring my infant daughter with me to the studio to work on a music demo. He would play with her and let her play with the equipment. We eventually started dating and he became a fixture in my daughter’s life. They loved each other and she even referred to him as “daddy.” I later married the young producer and he embraced both my daughter and me into his life. We moved into his father's house in an upper middle-class neighborhood. I became pregnant with our second child. I thought we were the perfect family and that all our dreams would come true. Domestic Violence in Our Home Our fairytale didn’t last forever. A few years later, after our fourth child was born, my husband became emotionally distant. My husband often became extremely preoccupied with his career. I was left trying to raise our children with little support and unstable income. We couldn’t afford our home and pay our bills solely on his income. We often had to rely on family members for financial

In 2012, the unimaginable happened: The Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS now known as DCPP) removed my children from my care because I was a victim of domestic violence and was also severely depressed and suicidal. After their removal, I lost everything: my family, my sanity, my integrity, and my home. How did this happen? How could this happen to our family? This Wasn’t Supposed to Be My Life My ex-husband and I married at a very young age. Our parents were supportive and fully provided for us both emotionally and financially. They tried to give us everything we needed and did what they could to nurture our dreams. My mother was a highly educated, strong Black American woman, who had me later in life as a single parent. I was also raised with the help of my grandmother and my mother’s very best friends, who were effectively an extended family. We were not rich, and we lived in government housing. My mother saved and tried to offer me every opportunity to succeed in life, such as sending me to private schools. Through her, I thought I could be and do anything. After high school, I enrolled at Morgan State University, a historically black college or university (HBCU), where I majored in telecommunications and minored in music (I had high aspirations of working in the entertainment business). I always wanted to be an entertainer even when I was young girl. At first, school felt right. I had an amazing group of friends. I was on the Dean’s list throughout my first year. Even with everything going well, I started to suffer from serious depression and anxiety, though I was not diagnosed until later. By the end of my sophomore year, the depression and anxiety intensified and started

18 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022

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