children who struggle

WORDS TO SLAY BY

Procrastination: the action of avoiding, postponing or delaying tasks. 

This is one of my worst faults.  I have spent the days from my last post feeling paralyzed and guilty.  This just seemed too hard for me - putting our daughter’s graduation into words; the culmination of everything we had gone through?  Ugh.  I got a bunch of emails from supporters which blew my mind.  Then, one came from a woman named Lara that threw me over the top.

Thank goodness for my dad's cell phone, he saved me from forcing the experience into text.  (thank you friends for the editing and embedding)

This video is my speech to my Violet, on her graduation day.  She was 13.  She had gone to Wilderness Therapy for 84 days, therapeutic boarding school for 2 years.  Derry was her Wilderness therapist who came to support her, Miss Margaret the one who cemented all of it.

So here we go, a shot at it.  Graduation. 

5 girls.  A stage.  50 sets of eyeballs in the audience.   

My 2 paged speech crinkled as I walked into the banquet hall.  I looked at the print and the words were bleeding on the page from my sweaty palms.  Vaulted ceilings, dark wood, smells of tree sap and cut grass.  Violet and her friends stood away from the crowd, prepping to walk in.  Everything was in slo-mo. 

This was it.  We had been waiting for this.  Have you ever had that – I-could-cry-so-hard-at-any-minute-I-maybe-shouldn’t-breathe kinda feeling?  Like on the edge of a sob-release and trying so hard to hold it in?  If I started before the ceremony even began, then what?  A pool on the floor.

I sat.  Ax and Soleil sat next to me, then rearranged so my husband could be my rock.  Hand squeeze.  “You ok?” he asked.  Slow shake of the head, nope. 

The girls took the stage.  There was a podium.  Staff spoke first, introducing the graduates. 

The first girl was 15, the second 14.  To hear a child speak of their difficulties in life, and how they have been helped is inexplicably moving.  Violet sat and waited while the others went, their parents too.  Her favorite staff, Jay, stood and said, “Thanks everyone for coming, I think that’s about it!  No one else is graduating today!”  They waved goodbye.

2.5 years ago, Violet would have cried over this.  Nasty looks would have ensued, a complete refusal to get up and speak.  I sucked in my breath, unsure if she could handle this kind of joke.  She was giggling, and stood up to take over the mic.

This kid was 13.  Do you remember what you were willing to share at 13?  In front of 50 people?

Glossophobia: the fear of public speaking, still rated the number one fear in our society.  Over death, spiders, snakes.

She stood proud.  She spoke from her heart about feeling unhappy.  Unhappy with herself, her self worth, her self esteem.  She spoke of her disruptive behavior.  She spoke about how changed she felt and how we, and everyone there, had saved her.  It was just too much to take.  Slayed me.

I still feel compelled to protect Violet, so her video won’t be posted.  However, she let me publish her speech.  I still can’t believe a 13 year old wrote this, and spoke it in front of a crowd.  I know this is getting long!  Skim if you wanna.   

“My name is Violet, and I’ve been here for 700 days.  (laughs)  When it was time to write my graduation speech, I was dreading it so much.  I did not know how to put all my feelings and journey into words.  Then, someone said to me, it’s ok to be scared.  Just go up there and be vulnerable and honest.  So, I’ve decided to start from the beginning, when I really started to get help.

When I was at home, my family and I were struggling to have a healthy family relationship.  When I was upset and could not control my emotions, I would have outbursts.  It scared my siblings, Soleil and Axul, and it was hard for my family and the people around me.  It was getting so out of hand that my mom and dad started to look for a good program, where I could learn how to be happy and control my emotions.  When I found out I was going, the one emotion that never left my insides was that I was so scared to go someplace new.  I was so mad at my parents that I had no idea the only reason they were sending me away was because they cared about me and wanted me to be happy.

They found a Wilderness program.  I was there for 84 days, and I learned a lot of skills I could use with my family and peers, so I could be happy and healthy.  I learned things about myself that I never could have figured out if I was at home without the help of my therapist, Derry.  All the other girls in my wilderness group showed me that even if we weren’t all there for the same issues; we were all connected in some way.

When I got to LHA (therapeutic boarding school), I got an amazing therapist who I have learned so much from…she has been pivotal in helping me complete my journey.  I am now at the point in my program where I can leave and start my next journey at my new school.  There, I can make new friends, continue to keep the old ones, and have a fresh start with my parents and siblings.   

At first, I didn’t even want to leave.  When you first get here, you are really scared, and you think this place is going to be so hard to get through.  Trust me, I know it is hard, frustrating, confusing – but I am grateful for everything because it has all made me stronger and more resilient.  This has become my safe place, where I can be myself and know that if I fall, I have so many people to help me get back up.  I have now realized that Miss M, my family and friends will always be there to support and cheer me on no matter what happens.”

(she thanked all her friends and staff for specific things – amazing)

“I want to thank my grandparents because you took the time and tried to be a part of my LHA program, you guys have supported me so much.  Most of all I need to thank my parents.  I know I will never be able to say in words how amazing and what great parents you are.

Daddy, I love you so much and I know that we did not have a good relationship when I was at home.  We used to get annoyed with each other and argue, but now we have a healthy relationship.  We can go to each other and express our feelings without starting an argument and without other people getting involved.  Thank you for trying to spend one-on-one time with me, Sol, and Ax – so we all feel connected to you. 

Mommy, I can’t even imagine what I would do if you were not here to help me through my program.  Even in the darkest times, you never gave up and just kept pushing through.  For that, you are the brightest light, when all is dark.  You know how to help me when I am upset, but not to take on my anxiety or emotions and to use coping skills in hard situations.  Thank you for supporting me no matter what.

Sol and Ax, you guys are the most understanding, wonderful siblings I could ask for, thank you for giving me a second chance.  I love spending time with you guys and I am super excited that now I can have a bigger part in your crazy adventures. 

My journey here is sadly over and it’s time for me to start a new one.  I know there will be bumps in the road that I will have to face, but unlike the last time when I did not have any support or skills, I now have tools I can use.  I am 100% sure I can overcome anything thanks to LHA and my family. 

I will never forget you and all the special memories, you are my second family.  All of you girlies have a special place in my heart that can’t and won’t ever be replaced.”

Struggle.  Fear.  Anxiety.  Help.  Understanding.  Courage.  Second chances. 

If you could see where we were 2.5 years ago, you would understand the heaving flip of an enormous coin.  So much experience for so few years, so much growth.  Hope.  Sweet, sweet hope. 

I am now 40, and I know the massive eye roll that will accompany this, but I’ll risk it. 

You slay girl, you slay.