Two years ago, trouble began at home. My younger sister began drinking, smoking, doing drugs, having sex and sneaking strangers into the house. She made our lives a living hell. Not only did she put herself on self-destruct mode, she decided she would try to do the same for us. Everything exploded during my senior year. My sister was always swearing, yelling, throwing things and beating on my door. I lived a life of fear, seriously believing that she might kill my mom or me. My mom tried her best to fix the problem but nothing seemed to work. Finally, my mom said she couldn’t let my sister ruin my chances of going to college, so she worked on getting my father to take custody of her.
With all the problems at home it was hard to act happy. I felt like I was living a secret life. Sometimes I wonder how I got through my senior year, but I refused to let my home life become an excuse for not doing well in school. As my senior year ended, my father took custody of my sister. I had hoped everything would finally get better but the custody battle turned into a drama about child support and college expenses. The court dates continued on into my first few weeks of college.
I remember writing a literacy profile on myself during one of the first days of class. While writing about an event from my childhood, memories of my father and the pending court date filled my mind. I felt my face get hot and then I began to cry. I excused myself from the classroom, hoping my peers hadn’t seen me. I felt like a pitiful failure.
As the next few weeks passed, I began crying even more. I felt alone and depressed. One night, I began crying hysterically in the bathroom. I didn’t want anyone to see me, but then again, I wanted someone to comfort me. I thought about leaving Millikin, but believed it best to wait until the end of the semester.
Eventually I decided to talk to a counselor. The first day I went felt shameful, as if admitting to myself that I couldn’t handle my own life. However, over the next three months, I began seeing myself as a strong, intelligent person. Eventually I made friends and became more confident in my school work. I also realized that seeing a counselor wasn’t a sign of weakness, but of strength. I had gotten enough courage to ask for help and to tell my story. Though I went through such an ordeal, I now feel as though I am the happiest I have ever been. I still struggle at times, but now I know how to deal with my problems instead of letting them eat away at me. I believe in never giving up on yourself and knowing, as long as you keep on trying, you will always find the light, even in the darkest of situations.
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