Gina Larrisey at her book launch
I went to hear Gina Larrisey give her testimony at St Andrews Church in Bebington on 20th February 2011 where she was interviewed by Roger Carswell who was the visiting speaker that weekend. Gina has an outstanding testimony and has recently published a book on her life story entitled "From Care to Somewhere."* At the end of the meeting after purchasing her book I asked her if she would be prepared to give me a condensed version of her testimony for my booklet, which she kindly agreed to and is given as follows:
"I became a Christian when I was eleven at my local church as I had wanted forgiveness and for my life to get better back then. I wanted to be a good girl but I felt like I was bad. There are people in far worse situations than I ever was. I wasnít beaten or raped or anything like that. I didnít have the worst childhood either, although it was bad enough to have an effect on me. It was more the mental and emotional rather than physical that screwed my head up. I had been continually blamed for everything whilst growing up and so I was full of anger and frustration. Being a Christian did not immediately make my life a bed of roses but it has definitely brought me through every situation I have been in and has eventually led me to where I am today, with a lovely husband, a nice home, four beautiful children and a gorgeous granddaughter.
I first went into foster care at four months old and I was in and out of the care system including assessment centres and hostels up until I was eighteen. For many years I was affected by my childhood and my Motherís overt rejection of me. Her illness, bi polar disorder meant that she was unable to cope with normal everyday situations and as a result I was made a scapegoat and unfortunately I felt constant pressure to behave perfectly. I believed it was all my fault that my Mum took overdoses and I was often told I had made her ill or was making her ill. I grew up thinking the world hated me so I hated everybody back.
The earliest I remember going in to care was at four years old when Mum and Dad divorced. This was a traumatic time for Mum and so my sister and I were placed in care for our own safety and parental rights were resumed. I didnít see my Dad again until I was fourteen and that was only a handful of times before he moved from where he was living. At the time I didnít know it but I wouldnít see him again for another twenty-two years. I was angry and frustrated and thought everything was my fault. Mum and my relationship remained strained. She even took my sister on holiday at one point and left me with my foster parents.
I fell pregnant at fifteen after jumping into a relationship with the first boy that showed me any affection. I was desperate to be loved. I was pressured in to not keeping the child and was deeply affected by the decision I made.
Everyone in care was affected somehow and we all did what we had to do to survive. We never really spoke to each other about why we were in care. We all had different circumstances and different reasons for being in there. Some children were in short term care, some long term care. We just got on with it. I was lucky enough to be allocated a key worker in one of the homes, Margie Brannigan. Still my lovely friend today. She was at least someone who made a difference to me when I felt I had no one. She was like a Mum to me. Many of us have left the care system and tried to make decent lives for ourselves. Some of us didnít make it and I do know of people that have taken their own lives as they have found their past to unbearable to cope with.
I left care at eighteen and Iíve made many more wrong choices and a lot of mistakes on my journey to find the love I felt I had missed out on. I ended up married at nineteen years of age and having three children one after the other and pursuing divorce at twenty-two. Something I didnít believe in and didnít really want to do.
I have also been through some devastating circumstances including, my second child having a serious injury, two marriage break ups and I have lived with anti social behaviour, which had a serious affect on my life at the time and eventually came to a dramatic conclusion. We suffered at the hands of an unruly family who made our life hell. They smashed our windows, threw bricks at our car and property. Threats were made and we lived in fear for our safety. Eventually the anti social behaviour team were called in and cameras were set up to record events. After eighteen months the family were evicted but I was scarred emotionally once again. This triggered off a thyroid condition that I now have for life. This was covered by the local newspaper.
We can choose to let our past beat us and blame it for everything that goes wrong in our lives. That would be easy. At the end of the day we make our own decisions and choose the path we walk in life. It is up to us to make the right decisions and not to let our past destroy our future. It is up to us to break the chain and not let our past repeat itself. I know that despite all the wrong choices and messes I did make, that God has forgiven me. My slate has been washed clean. There is no doubt in my mind that God has been with me in every trial and situation. There is no other way I could have got through what I have been through. He has been my strength. I have struggled for years and fought against my Christian beliefs but eventually God has won out. In June last year I had a light bulb moment and decided I was going back to Life Church in Bebington. From that moment on I have continued to grow with God and was baptised last November.
Itís been a long process from writing to publishing my story. Itís been a kind of therapy. I really hope that writing about my experiences will help someone else and then everything I have gone through will be worth while. I believe in turning your negatives into a positive and doing something good with your past."
* "From Care to Somewhere" is available for purchase at Authorhouse's website i.e. < www.authorhouse.co.uk.