Olivia had the support of her family yet she was isolating herself. She revealed “My relationships prior to Project Patch were very destructive. I didn’t let anyone get very close to me, in fear of potentially losing them.”, “I didn’t know how to deal with my abuse as a child and losing my parents and little sister” and “I really lacked caring about anything. I tried to forget my problems.”
Olivia pointed out that “Many unhealthy behaviors stemmed from my trauma.” She was struggling with trust issues, lying, partying, low self-worth, depression, disconnecting from life, as well as resentments towards and detaching from those who cared for her. Olivia said “My worst relationship was with my aunt. We fought constantly. I hated her because she reminded me of my past. I was so angry and bitter towards her because she was in the authority position, yet was nothing like my parents. I constantly disregarded her rules.”
Olivia admits she was angry when she was placed at the Youth Ranch she also had the wisdom to hold this belief “Well, I was not happy to be here, but since the beginning I knew I needed to use my time wisely here and do well in the program.” With this attitude and hard work Olivia has grown. She spoke of her two big shifts in perspective “The first was during Wilderness*. I had a change of heart. I felt convicted. I wanted to have integrity. I didn’t want to be a dishonest person. Another change took place when my aunt came for a visit in February. We got along. We had really positive interactions. I learned how grateful I was for Patch, how much I’ve grown and changed.”
Olivia’s bravery of facing her past and taking ownership of her future has been rewarded in many ways. She says “I have a lot more positive emotions. I’m happier with life and myself.” Olivia also reflected on the lessons she is taking with her: “A few of the biggest are learning to communicate, working through my loss and trauma and finding God.” She says that these lessons will help her now and in the future with any relationship that she has. Olivia says she has found the freedom to “appreciate the good times instead of feeling the hurt from those times that caused me pain.”
As she looks forward to her future she knows she has the support of her family and that she can turn to God for help. Olivia plans on attending college to pursue a career as a social worker.
We have lots of great stories to tell. It’s time we told them.
NATSAP has begun highlighting the stories that we have received from parents and former students. Please send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and as always feel free to peruse the Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs for the hard data that we love so much.