Copyright 2004 by Angela Webb Torre
I want to express where I am today and in order to do this I have to express where I was about 20 months ago. My life at home was about depression and needing to feel wanted. I was trapped within my depression. I would isolate from family and friends, use marijuana to cover up my emotions, disrespect my family, and covert with highly disruptive teens. I felt abandonment by my father and in turn I grew co-dependant on him. I felt alone so I turned to an abusive boyfriend for comfort/safety. This led to sex, drugs and sneaking out.
Who would have ever thought a family trip to Mexico could turn into a dramatic new beginning for a self-destructive teen? My path was spinning south and I was moving into a “nowhere zone” real fast! Instead of a vacation I was sent to a boarding school for at-risk teens and left there by my mother and my stepfather.
My life at Casa By The Sea in the beginning was filled with feelings of loneliness, being trapped with nowhere to run, and an overwhelming sense of abandonment. I wanted to bolt and run right back to my choices of sex and marijuana. I began working hard at following the rules in order to get out. I thought that my parents would pick me up sooner or later so if I just complied with what was expected of me they would come and get me. Manipulation was my key to getting out of there! The program or school I was in has levels. The lower levels (1-3) are about “compliance” and following rules. The upper levels (4-6) are about internalizing the self-discipline taught in the lower levels. The upper levels also are about learning to live within your choices and seeing your results as creations “YOU” produced.
When I entered CASA I was in the “Integrity” family for my lower levels. When I moved up to level 4 I was moved to “Essence” an upper level family. My case manager changed as well. She was tough and because there “are no accidents in life” I was exactly with the person I needed to be with. I was scared, uncomfortable, and once again feeling like I couldn’t finish this program. Graduation at CASA is not “time based” instead it is “results based. So in order to leave this school full of accomplishment, graduation was the only alternative. Instead of reveling in the idea that I accomplished moving up to upper levels, I had feelings of self-doubt and once again I felt alone. I reached a goal (upper levels) only to “suck” myself down again. Overwhelmed with feelings of “I am nothing – I don’t amount to nothing – I can’t do this anymore” I stumbled a bit. Before I was always a follower and found that I constantly compared myself to others. I judged my failures and any accomplishments by this “belief”. At this time I also found that I have a huge “perfection” trait that never really gets me anywhere. Instead of performing tasks or assignments to my utmost ability or in my “excellence” I ran on perfection. It never was good enough or acceptable for me. This was simply because I didn’t believe in myself or where I was going.
This is the time I began to think of thoughts about leaving. Not running away mind you but getting by until I turned 18 so I can legally walk out those doors of concrete covered in barbed wire on the top. I toyed with the idea that I could glorify life outside this school away from my family and still be okay. I didn’t realize that my parents were trying to “gift me” with this time to truly work on myself without any distractions of any sort. This is where I began to find “HOPE”. I realized GOD has a plan for me and opening my eyes wider to the Lord showed me hope! I began to study the bible and pray every night. I used to do this when I first arrived here and even at home before the program but it was different this time. Life is too short and if I want to follow my dreams it is up to me. This meant I began to value myself and I envisioned where I wanted to go in life. I found that “the greatest love of all” is ME! I used my huge support system at CASA differently. I encouraged what they saw in me as only information they perceived and shared with me. This “information” wasn’t judgment it was put out there for me to see my actions and myself clearly. If it didn’t apply to me then there was no great loss and if it did apply to me this produced a mirror for myself to see beyond what I thought. We only learn two things in life – what we know and then the exact opposite. There are so many possibilities to one incident or issue. To be allowed to see all the other possibilities is going beyond the feelings or reactions one might have to situations.
Sixteen months later on August 31, 2003, I graduated from CASA by The Sea. Now as I reflect on what a gift that program was to me internally I am grateful. I am working full-time at a Boys & Girls Club in the development department, registered for the spring semester at a local community college, and I recently chose to be baptized in our family Church. I have a good support system and my family and I are on the same page in our beliefs and our values. My goals are real and reachable and I value myself. I would like to attend a University to be a Vet or Veterinarian’s Assistant working with large animals. I am moving on with my independence. I am no longer feeling that other people make me who I am. I am no longer feeling inadequate or unworthy. I owe this accomplishment to the 16-months I was at a residential facility for at-risk teens!
The sun goes up in the morning, lives throughout the day at night, and goes down until the next day just to start all over again. No matter what happens it is never too late to start over. What is done is done and tomorrow is a brand new day!
Angela Webb Torre, 18
Casa By The Sea Graduate 8/31/2003
forwarded by The Preservation Foundation.
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