On October 7th, 2013, a girl was sent to her first Residential Treatment Center in Utah. She didn’t know who she was, what she believed in, or what a healthy relationship looked like, and didn’t want to know. She was lost, depressed, numb, anxious, and felt completely and utterly alone in the world around her. She resorted to meeting up with random guys, mostly with status, who she knew didn’t care an ounce about her– which ended up with her feeling more alone and undeserving of love. She wanted to forget about every and any painful thing that had happened to her– the abuse she endured, the cancer she saw that was burning holes within her family members, friends, and within herself. She ran from it all. She believed she wasn’t good enough and hated who she was. She hated being Jane Smith*.
I grew up with an alcoholic father, who was later diagnosed with head and neck cancer, which drastically changed my family dynamic. And while being in treatment, I lost him and more of myself. I didn’t want to change my behaviors, do the work, or challenge myself because I thought it was easier to avoid and find loopholes. But my resistance ended up hurting me more. Looking back, I honestly never thought I could do it. I never thought I would get to where I am today. I’m immensely proud of who I am… who I’ve become. Vulnerability, something I didn’t believe I could ever do, is hard and painful, but it’s helped me develop healthier relationships with those around me and in myself. My emotions no longer feel bigger than me, not as intimidating or harmful, but manageable and I wouldn’t have got to this point without asking for help and getting in touch with myself. I strongly believe in trusting and listening to my body — trusting me.
Throughout my life, I’m going to continue to learn how to take care of myself and allow myself to be thought of first in appropriate situations. I don’t deserve to be forgotten or pushed aside because I’m valuable – I am just as important as I always believed everyone else is. I now believe in “leisure time” — not always having to be occupied with tasks and responsibilities. And what I’ve come to realize is I actually like not being busy all the time. Which I didn’t think I’d ever say.
I’m incredibly proud of myself and the long, strenuous work I’ve done in the past 2 ½ years — trauma work, rebuilding relationships, learning life skills, family conflicts, and finding myself again. Through this work, I have discovered that I’ve been through things that no one my age should have to endure, and the fact that I’ve survived these, proves I’m worthy and have a purpose on this Earth. Whereas previously, I said “screw this” when things got hard — feeling incapable of making any progress. I didn’t think I was strong enough, but I pushed through and that is the greatest decision of my life. I’ve become my own friend these past couple of years. In the next chapters of my life, I will take this with me and encourage others to be themselves. I know things will get hard and I’ll want to give up, but I believe that I’ve developed the skills and strengths to overcome them. I am enough and I am a strong and powerful young woman who has the strength to overcome anything I put my heart and mind to. I am excited for my future and I cannot express how grateful I am that I no longer want to be walking the streets, sleeping around with random guys for the rest of my life. It scares me that I used to want this for myself, but without going through what I have, I would not have made the successes over these past two years.
I have strengthened the relationships with my family members, allowed myself to be vulnerable, and I have found Jane again. And that is the greatest gift I have ever given myself.
* Name changed for confidentiality.
Jane is now in a transitional program and turns 18 in August. She attended a wilderness therapy program after her first treatment program & then enrolled in a second residential treatment program, where she graduated in June from high school. Jane was accepted to a university, and chose to have an intentional transition out of treatment and year off to work & grow. Jane is without the structure of residential treatment, and has a job, a cell phone, a social media presence, and continues to develop authentic relationships with her family.