Before I came to Shelterwood I had every intention of committing suicide and couldn’t care less about what I did, where I did it, or if it put my life in danger or not. I felt numb to emotions and wondered every day why I stuck around. After running away one night and ending up in a different town, sleeping in a house with people I had never met before, my mother decided that she was no longer capable of keeping me safe.
I came to Shelterwood expecting it to do nothing for me just like every other program or hospital I had been in. My plan was to blend in and keep to myself until they let me out. After a couple weeks had gone by, I realized there was something strange about Shelterwood; it seemed that I couldn’t lie about how I really felt and what was really going on. It seemed they knew what was truly going on with me, but how? I’d never met them before in my life, and yet they genuinely cared and wanted to help me. But why?
Before I knew it months had gone by and I began to think of everyone at Shelterwood as family. We talked about everything and anything together, Littles talking with Bigs, Bigs talking with the Littles, therapists talking with Littles and Bigs and so on. Everything was so connected and it was at Shelterwood that I learned all about the meaningful things in life such as communication, patience, grace, love, self-confidence, and how hard work really does pay off.
To this day I am so thankful that I received the help from Shelterwood. I can’t imagine where I would be today (or if I would be alive) without the life skills and many things they taught me. Now my parents and I communicate about everything, even the hard things, without big dramatic outbursts of hurtful words and emotions. We are much more understanding of each other and enjoy spending time with one another.
The main thing, however, that gave me the will and power to change was growing closer to Christ. Shelterwood has shown me remarkable things through the Bigs, therapists, guest speakers, Littles, and whoever else ended up at Shelterwood (because you know nobody ever comes to Shelterwood for no reason.) Just witnessing the way they lived and how they handled multiple situations with grace and compassion opened my eyes up to what the heart of Christ is really like.
I now have a tattoo inked over the criss-crossed scars on my forearms. I had this tattoo done towards the end of my stay at Shelterwood, and it represents my freedom from almost constant thoughts of self-harm and death by suicide.
I am also now a married woman with a wonderful husband and a full time job, enjoying life, conquering the struggles that come about and taking in all the good things life has to offer.
I never thought I would be where I am today, but thank God I was given a second chance at Shelterwood to better my life and find some meaning to it. I hope that someday I am able to do the same and can help others who are struggling to see that there is so much more to life, and that freedom from all the turmoil and pain of this world is possible.