I was a brave child with big dreams and opportunities, but reality showed me what was truly valuable. Trials made me who I am today; God has a plan. I grew up in a small town, same house, same friends all my life. I was happy, until I got older. Who wants to admit the child with big dreams slipped away? Inside, I knew it. I hid my emotions and went unnoticed until the inside cracked the outside, and the spiral began. My parents knew I needed help; secretly, so did I.
I thought God wasn't on my side, and that I could do it on my own, but the choices I made were not healthy. Unhappy at home, at school; I wasn’t happy with myself. I was young and sure it was caused by others. What could I possibly need to change? I was wrong, and I was rebellious. Purposely doing wrong gave me a sense of independence. Experimenting with alcohol, sex, and self harm made me feel in control and alive. Cutting reminded me that I still existed, filling a void where love and attention lacked. I drifted from my family and fell deep into a dangerous relationship. It ate away at my personality, freedom, and sense of self, destroying me, blinding me with sugar-coated words and a distorted view of “love.”
I lost the little girl with big dreams. I started cutting at 13. It never fixed anything; it was so temporary. I lost my virginity at 14; I didn't even care anymore. Satisfaction came in all the wrong places. Thoughts of suicide replaced dreams, and no one knew how low I was. I was sure they wouldn't listen or didn't care enough to understand.
After I ran away, I needed to get real help. No more textbook counselors. My family reached out to Hope Harbor (House of Hope MN at that time) for outpatient family counseling. After one meeting, we knew the residential program was exactly what we needed. I moved in November 30th. I knew it was where I needed to be. Eight months there let me develop a true, authentic relationship with God. I overcame troubles and hardships in counseling, and finally had peace. I learned to deal with life in a healthy way and to be strong in my faith.
It wasn’t easy, but I pulled through and came out a new creation. I reestablished relationships with family and really got to know my parents. My mom is really funny, and we love to spend time together now. My dad and I put aside our stubbornness and cherish our similarities now. I’ll always be his girl. I never would have said this before, but I have pretty cool parents, and I got through it all knowing they were work-ing just as hard as me.
Hope Harbor changed my life in ways words can’t describe. I wouldn’t change my past, because it led to Hope Harbor, a major part of my life. I am content with my past, present, and future. Confidently, I can say I am strong, special, beautiful, and intelligent: all things Hope Harbor taught me to believe. Not a day goes by that I don’t smile, laugh, or shed tears of joy from memories of my journey. I still make mistakes, but am constantly reminded: I am not a mistake.
I graduated from Hope Harbor on September 25, 2011. I made some very special friends and was fully equipped for the real world. I can’t say everything is always smooth sailing. The real world is still the real world, temptation is still temptation. But the tools my family and I received at House of Hope let us handle struggles the right way. I’ve gone from a lost, hurt, struggling teen to a happy, strong, focused young woman.
I am in my second year at the University of South Dakota; this year is a big one, awaiting acceptance to the Nursing Program. The little girl with big dreams is back, with the love and support of my parents, HH, and God. I have the best support system. My family is always there, and my second family at HH will always step in with open arms, prayers, and encouragement. I am proud of who I am, and my parents are proud of me, a fearfully and wonderfully made child of God.