Before coming to Cookson Hills, I always felt like I was alone. I pushed everyone I loved away and hurt them with my actions and words. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was causing so much pain to my family. Eventually, I hurt them to the point where they don’t know how to help me or guide me anymore. My mom and grandma would cry daily because of my actions. I regularly deceived them both and didn’t care whatsoever. At school, I chose bad friends. I never had one good friend that I could rely on or vent to, with the trust a friendship should have. At home, I would act like an angel, but my mom and sister always knew that I wasn’t being real with them. During my sophomore year of high school, my mom grew tired of my actions and sent me to Cookson Hills.
Cookson Hills was the place where I could start fresh and learn how to be myself. A place where I could make mistakes and grow from it. When I arrived on January 15th, 2018 with my dad, I didn’t know what to expect. I was scared, nervous, and excited to have a fresh start. After meeting my houseparents, I instantly felt loved and wanted to be with them. My social worker was just as loving, and it helped me feel like I belonged here. The students, teachers, and other houseparents were really welcoming and that helped me adjust.
After three weeks of my new life, I received the news of my grandpa’s death and that was painful. I went home for his funeral and was happy to reunite with my family. When I came back to Cookson Hills, all I felt was hurt and pain in my heart. I chose to let that pain define me. I felt weak. My first few months at Cookson Hills were not the best. I was dramatic, failing in my classes, and it was a huge problem. My carelessness showed and a lot of people didn’t want to be around me.
After having a house change, I decided that I wanted to really change myself. So at the end of my sophomore year, I started working in an on-campus job and making some good money. This really motivated me to stay out of trouble. I wanted to earn trust, not only with my houseparents, but also with my boss. When the time came around for my junior year to start, I made the ultimate decision to work hard and make good grades. I changed my mindset and told myself to do my homework every night. The goal that I set for myself worked well. I still had my bad days, but I turned my work in on time.
Just a few short months later, my whole life went in a downward spiral. Everything that I had accomplished suddenly felt completely useless. I lost my closest friends, became depressed, and pushed away all the people who were trying to help me. I wanted to be left alone. There were many nights that I would cry because I knew how many people I hurt. Out of everyone, I knew I was hurting myself more than I hurt anyone else and that was the cause of my depression, anxiety, insecurities, etc.
For about four months, my life was miserable. But during those four months, I worked on trying to open my heart up to certain people again. It was a struggle, but it was worth it. And even through this time of my life, I still worked hard in school because I felt like it was the only thing that was going to keep me sane.
When 2019 came around, I made the choice to go to the people I had hurt and make amends. I knew how hard and scary it would be, but I was determined to fight for my life. I wanted people to trust me and like me, but I knew that it would take time. Since I talked to those people, I don’t feel like a horrible person anymore. I know that I made bad choices, but I chose to learn from them and now I continue to do better.
In June, I went to CIY [Christ in Youth summer camp] and it was fantastic! I learned a lot about my peers and I became close to them. God loves me for all my mistakes in the past, present, and the future. I know now that I don’t ever have to measure up to perfection because it is impossible for me to be perfect.
Being here at Cookson Hills has been a great experience. I have good friends that care about me and a healthy relationship with someone who loves me for who I am and all my flaws. I have teachers who teach me all I need to know to help me in the future, and I have houseparents that help me grow in my relationship with God, myself, and others. My amazing volleyball coaches have shown me how to be a leader, be coachable, and learn. I also have my counselor who has helped me tremendously. Without counseling, I wouldn’t have the tools and resources that have helped me be a better me.
I’m now a senior at Cookson Hills and I am thankful to everyone who has been in my life. I have learned so much, and I am continuing to learn more so I can be prepared for whatever life has to offer. If it wasn’t for Cookson Hills Christian School, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.