Before I came to Cookson Hills, I was very closed off. I was defiant and rebellious, and I had no respect for authority. I was confused and hurt; I didn’t know how my life had gone so wrong. When I first came here, things were worse for a while. I was a very angry person. I didn’t understand why I had to come to Cookson Hills and I felt cornered. I didn’t trust anyone, especially not the adults who were in my life. My heart was extremely hardened. I kept to myself at home and at school. I didn’t want to bother getting close to anyone because I figured I was just going to be disappointed. I refused to open myself up because I was scared of getting hurt.
As time went on, I slowly began to open up. The first person I actually got close to was my roommate. Then I had a few close friends after that, but overall I was still very reserved. In December, I started dating one of those friends, and my life began to revolve around him. We spent every second of our time together. We would even sit outside when there was snow on the ground just so we could spend extra time together. A few months later, he left Cookson Hills. I was very upset, but that was my turning point. When he left, I was immediately surrounded by people who cared about me. I had people checking on me and just making sure I was okay, and that’s when I realized I was in a really good place. My outlook changed and I stopped thinking so negatively about my life.
Coming to Cookson Hills hasn’t just changed my own outlook on life, it’s also affected my family relationships. When I first got here, my relationship with my parents was terrible. We hardly talked and when we did, we usually just argued. But in the past 2 years, our relationship has tremendously improved. We went from not being able to be in the same room to having a ton of healthy conversations. We don’t really fight anymore, and when we have disagreements we can talk through them in a civilized manner. I really credit this to the family training and counseling. Cookson Hills has taught us how to love each other again.
I’m thankful to be able to look back over the past two years and see all the changes. I’ve transformed from a defiant, lonely girl into a new person, confident in who I am. I’m actually happy and Cookson Hills has become my home.