I was at Cookson Hills for just over a year, and every day I learned something new. I always grew up feeling like something was missing. Growing up in an adopted family was hard for me, personally, I always felt lost. I regularly wondered why my birth mom would just give me up as though I didn’t matter. The devil would constantly get into my head saying I wasn’t enough, and I believed those thoughts.
I tried everything to numb my feelings. Every day I turned to pills so I could sleep and feel nothing. I threw myself into unhealthy relationships thinking they could give me the love I needed. I was at my breaking point when I packed a bag and just left everything behind me, not caring for my parents’ feelings. I ended up going from shelter to shelter, then eventually ended up just on the streets altogether. My difficult experiences on the streets developed a toughness within me. After a few months, I was picked up by the police, returned to my parents, and a month later I was at Cookson Hills.
It was hard at first. I missed people I shouldn’t have; I was hurting so much I could feel all the pain. I worked hard every day to become a better person while I was there. I had struggles and I had times when I just wanted to give up, but my houseparents were so loving. I tried so many times to push them out, but they were always there with a box of tissues, comforting words, and some chocolate.
At Cookson Hills, I learned patience and respect. I was taught how to view relationships with men differently. I learned how to love myself. Most importantly, I learned of the love God has for me. Living at Cookson Hills changed me, and I am so thankful. If I didn’t have Cookson Hills, I honestly don’t know where I would be in life.
They build you up. When you first step onto the campus, you may not think that. You may not even think after six months of being there. But, when it’s time for you to leave, you will bring something with you that is applicable to the next chapter of your life.