In third & fourth grade, I returned to Agape. Life was good as far as friends. I hated the teachers. It was during these years that my inner artist began to grow. The teachers didn't understand. Every peice I created I did so with secrecy. If a teacher found a piece, they destroyed it. My few friends comforted me in times of collapse. I owe some of my sucess to them. Britney, Dustin, & Zane were all I had. Britney was my second love. I hardly told her, but she caught on through schoolyard gossip. Dustin & I would swing on the swings singing our favorite songs. Zane was one of the few willing to be punished trying to protect my work. These 2 years were some of my darkest times.
My memory is fuzzy here, but I believe in sixth & maybe seventh grade, I attended Terra Linda. I remember this school most because it's structure was indentical to Chehalem's, only reversed. The only person I remember is Nicky. She was my friend when no one else was. She understood my torment. She too had needs not yet met by the school. We would swing together. I taught her songs I learned from Dustin. She taught me songs from her previous school. In the hellish public school playground, we had only each other.
When it was found that Terra linda could not provide aid for my needs, I changed schools yet again. Each time this happened, I fell into deep depression. A scar on my right wrist is a reminder of the day I almost took my own life. I was transferred to a private school called Serendipity. Every need I had, every pain I felt, every hint of rage would be eventually calmed & nullified here. I spent 5 years working myself past the breaking point. The staff in charge of handling out of control students were called "interventionists". Many a time was I in a room called a "safe room". This room was built to hold a child until thay calmed down. When a student became too violent to restrain, they were placed here. Lost breaks, disciplinary infractions, & the thought of unbearable emotional pain haunted me for 3 long years.
Then something happened. A miracle if you believe in such. In year 4, I transformed. I no longer had pain. I no longer could bring myself to strike a staff. I could not allow myself to bring harm to anyone. This year is when my many years of darkness ended. I worked hard. I made friends with everyone, even staff. During this year, not a single DI or LB was on my pointsheet. I made gold level & kept it the entire year. I even became a member of student council. My counseler still cannot explain what changed me, but I know. It was the love of my family, staff, & my newest case manager that changed me. At the end of every year, awards are given to acheivements made during that year. I was awarded the Bob award. An award given only once a year to a student with tremendous personal growth.
As the end of my senior year at Serendipity is close at hand, I somply cannot thank any of them enough. Without Srendipity, All I would be is rage & depression. "I will return to next year's graduation ceremony hoping to encourage others that life is not about pain & loss, it is about your own choices. Each of you have the power within you to make a difference. Each of you can change yourselves. I am living proof that no matter how hard life is, there is always a solution. I have found mine, & I wish the same to all of you."
That is what I plan to say as my high school deploma is handed to me.
12 years of school is nothing compared to the rest of my life. At the graduation ceremony, I prepared a speech that I could not finish on account of my emotion. Bev completed it for me. If I may recite it now:
|12 years ago, I started grade school. All was dark. All was sadness. All I had was my family. At times, even they were the enemy. Nearly constant torment from my disability made life very hard. The schools I attended could not meet my needs.I was full of rage & depression for 10 long years. Few could help me. Few understood. Few cared.|
In 2004, I transformed. I suddenly could not bring myself to harm anyone. Something inside me vanished. Something from the beginning had suddenly disappeared from existance. I was a beacon of hope & happiness for all who met me. I was given a new case manager, one that would become a dear frined, not an enemy. I worked harder than ever before. I was given praise at every encounter. I became a member of student council. When I gave a speech at the Serendipity auction, I was given a standing ovation. Never before in my life had I felt such pride.
I will return to next year's graduation ceremony hoping to teach others that life is not about pain & loss. It is about your own choices. Everyone has the power within them to make a difference. Everyone has the ability to make their own future. I am living proof that no matter how hard life is, there is always a solution. I have found mine, & I wish the same to all of you.
When I left the room, everyone around me flipped their tassles. I did not. I said,"If I flip this ever, it is over. I never want to forget this. I will die with this day in my mind." My friends were stunned. I removed the tassle & placed it in a frame. There it will stay forever. Cassie, the girl in my history & science class, I became closer to after graduation. Her love will ensure I never have that darkness again.
Maybe, someday, I wil tell my grandchildren this story. I will teach them what this has taught me & change their lives just as mine was.
Again, I thank you for listening. Your attention is greatly appreciated.