This I Believe

Joanna - Pennsylvania
Entered on November 19, 2006


I believe in the constructive power of devastating mistakes.

Many people, on meeting me, would wonder what kind of transgression I could have committed that would inspire this revelation. I am 16 years old – still young and considered by many to be incapable of the kind of travesty that would shatter my life’s foundations – and intelligent. I have “potential”. What kind of devastation could I have caused?

I have come so close to the terrifyingly raw “destroyed life” that I could almost feel it’s acidic fingers on me.

It began with my relationship with my father: Something I do not blame myself for. In today’s desensitized world, it seems nothing too vulgar – but it was still abuse. Then, when I was 14, my father managed to hurt me, in one fell blow, more than he ever had before. He fell over dead, and I found his body. At the age of 14 I was faced with giving CPR to my father’s corpse. I was not even sure the man deserved to be saved.

The conflict of extreme emotions ate me apart in ways the English language cannot describe. All of my intelligence, all of my potential, all of the things that make me seem so untouchable, could do nothing to save me from myself. I was lost, but I was a hurricane, tearing myself to pieces. I fell in what I considered to be love with a man I romanticized to be a savior of sorts – who was, in reality, nothing but a manipulative, aloof drug addict. I adopted his poison and let it breathe a new, vacant, soulless life in me. I allowed drug abuse to consume my being. I wanted nothing else to do with my life; I was resigned. The boy in question was sent to boot camp after he was arrested in public, high on heroin. I tried to keep in touch, but he never responded. That was the final in what seemed like a series of nuclear explosions in my head. I turned to any and every chemical substance I could get my hands on to soften the blows, and let everything else slip away. I was nothing but a vacuum of apathy.

By the age of 15, I set my life on a crash course for destruction that few are ever capable of escaping.

I have never been to rehab. I have never been arrested or put on probation. But I escaped. I cannot pinpoint the moment when I claimed this passion for life. I only know that I did, and I developed the strength to overcome a drug addiction without anyone’s help. There were no 12 steps; I simply quit. I realized what I was going to become, and I refuse to become that statistic. I will not allow myself to fail.

I believe in the constructive power of devastating mistakes. They have taught me the importance of success.