The following is a transcript of the student’s video testimony. Some filler words (such as like and ummm) have been removed, and punctuation added for readability. We have done our best to maintain the integrity of the student’s words.
So growing up I was raised in a Catholic home. Still am. I had a good childhood -parents, grandparents, siblings. I was younger than my other siblings.
I think the biggest thing for me growing up was my relationship with Christ, and that was always really strong and important to me. Then when I was eight years old my sister was sent to another place. She was sent to a school because she was having some issues, and for me that was difficult and confusing. I think those next few years really shaped me.
I just started finding my value somewhere along the way – of just my success and like everything I was doing. And how well I was doing at those [things], and putting all this pressure on myself. It just started going downhill from there.
I had good intentions when I first started, but then it just I just got too worldly. I just got too into it. What once was God’s, I started thinking was mine, and what I was accomplishing were my accomplishments. It’s kind of when I started going downhill with that, and just trying to be cool and make new friends and going to high school.
[It] started out okay, and then more like my freshman – towards the end of my freshman year – and I just realized that like I had just gotten away from my values and everything. I just started wanting more and going to do more and it was my sophomore year that really started to happen for me. I started just getting into like drinking and going to parties and just not telling my parents [what] was going on with me and not talking. Getting involved in a relationship that wasn’t helpful for me or the other person and just being super sneaky basically. Trying to live a double life between looking good to society.
I had it all on the outside. I had good grades. I was a good athlete. I was babysitting other people’s kids. People looked up to me in my community, parents and teachers. So I had a good reputation and then you know there was a side of me that they didn’t see that my parents saw. That was me sneaking out and not being as prayerful as I used to be. Lying, just wanting things that I used to not even be on my radar.
Before coming here I had been to another program. I was in a wilderness program. I was there for 43 days and it was like hardcore wilderness. We didn’t shower. We ate with sticks. We had to build our own fire. It was way different than here, and I think being there was good for me because it really broke the ice of the surface of at least just breaking me and knowing that I can’t do anything without God. And if the world blew up what would I have left, but it really didn’t shape me as much as I would say CMA has. I think coming from another program and then coming into this one, it helped me.
It was hard just accepting that I needed to be in another program after going through one. So it was more of a pride issue, but I think once I had a few counseling sessions and I really sat down with myself, I just realized and I just accepted where I really was at. That I did need more help and I couldn’t solve all my problems in 43 days. I still had way more that needed to be like dug out. So coming here, the transition was easier in the way of, you know, just living – having a bed. having more relationships, and a loving atmosphere than the wilderness had, but it definitely helped me coming here just knowing that I did have a lot of stuff that I needed to work on.
I just was verbally abusive I was throwing everything out to my parents. I forgot they were even people at that point.For a while, I had times of pride or be like “why did my parents do this to me? I don’t have drug problems. I’m not an alcoholic. Like you know I’m not this and that and that” like just trying to compare myself and justify it, but I’ve learned that everybody has a different low and everybody has a different place, and I guess for me, mine was definitely met and my parents didn’t have a choice other than to send me away. They couldn’t trust me and I was so lost – and lost my connection with God – and that was the ultimate thing I think that they decided it was when they saw that I didn’t have that conscience that I used to. It was time to to find me help.
It started out like I was here my parents were here and I was so far out I needed to kind of come my parents more, but then once I kind of came more close to my parents they did a really nice job which is like bringing us together. I wouldn’t say compromising, but we definitely had a lot of sessions where we just talked about okay like how do you feel about this and then I couldn’t say anything and then we would switch roles and I would talk about how I felt and then they couldn’t say anything. Then at the end we’d ask clarifying questions and it was just a lot of like communicating and it was nice to see my parents on Skype. [In] the wilderness I didn’t have that like I just had the letters and it was just really nice to have counseling every week. Counselors that cared about it and always made sure that it happened. I never had a week that I never had counseling.
Before I came here my decisions were based off how I felt. If I was mad at someone, mad at my mom or my dad, or just any way I could justify making a bad decision I would do it. Now it’s taken a lot of work and tears and some kind of mind games and war I guess, but I just really had to get over myself.
My issues are from me. My decisions I make are ultimately what I want out of life and what are for me and now I think through things more. My conscience is back. I’m able to navigate my thoughts and put my feelings here and my emotions here and [know] what really happened here and how I took it.
I like [it] here. It’s not just counseling and school work. We get to experience so much here. I’ve gotten to do so much stuff while being here and so many new opportunities. If I had been home like my life wouldn’t have been this far advanced. It’s like being away from home has gotten me farther in life. It’s just been amazing to see.
That’s one thing I really love about CMA. It’s what you make of it. If you want to sit around and just be here and not put in the work, then yeah that’s what you’re going to get out of it, but if you want to excel. If you want to have new experiences and you want to go home and have bigger opportunities – then you can do that here and [you can] accomplish that. I feel confident to say that I’ve been able to do that with my counselors and teachers and mentors and staff and my parents supporting me. It’s been really cool to see.