Growth Ceremony Speech

Before my journey at Ironwood began, I was a terrified, traumatized kid who would mask her sorrows with anger and hatred. I used to blame myself for everything: all of the people I’d seen struggle in front of me, every slap in the face I endured, and my parents’ separation. Drugs and alcohol were my go-to since I was too afraid to kill myself. I could never admit that inside me lived fear: fear that everything that happened to me was truly my fault. I lived in a constant state of agony, and I prayed to God to put me out of my misery, to have me struck by lightning, or hit by a car. It never happened.

A year went by, and I was in an even worse state of depression. It caused me to fail school and disappoint my father as I got sent to the hospital each time. Our relationship was strained extremely. I hated him for trying to keep me away from drugs. He took my money and my phone and put alarms and locks on all the doors and windows. At this point, I was two weeks away from going to Ironwood and terrified of being away from my friends, drugs and alcohol.

I arrived angry at my father, resenting him for sending me away and scared for how I would ever get through this program and make it back to my dad, even though I hated him. It took me weeks to accept that he wouldn’t pull me from the program and I was forced to move forward.  I had trouble with my language and with being respectful to staff and my peers. I didn’t believe this program would do anything for me at all. After about a month of being here, and after accepting the help and advice that was being given to me,  I was so happy that I was making progress in the program and actually learning from it. I began to understand that I cannot control other people, only myself and my actions, that change is inevitable and needs to be part of life, that an addiction does not define who I am, and that I can help myself with support around me.

Ironwood was also difficult for me because I still struggled with being away from home, and also because I had to step up into a leadership position to hold the group together when times got tough. Helping people with their folders and goals brought me joy. Seeing all of the new people in my group learn how to be happy here made my days. Every day, Ironwood got a little bit better for me. I met amazing staff who guided me and listened to me vent when I was upset. Certain staff helped me with my biggest problem: my addiction. They gave me books and motivation to stay sober and to continue with sobriety when I leave Ironwood.

I want to continue working on my relationship with my parents, which is better but there’s still room for a lot of improvement, which I’m excited for. Ironwood has given me skills to use in moments of distress such as taking deep breaths, stepping away for time and space, and using art as a way to calm down. These have proven to be incredibly useful here. Learning to accept that there’s always going to be somebody I don’t like in life was very difficult. I still tried to provide that mask of hate to myself to let people know to stay away from me. It took me a full month and a half for me to lower that mask and to learn how to be vulnerable, to let the fact out that I really struggle, to let the fear out that lived inside me for so long. To learn how to let my guard down and actually accept the help being given to me was the absolute hardest thing I ever had to do.

I hated how great it felt to be able to be myself. It was a completely foreign concept to show any emotion.  Learning how to healthy cry and let myself go was beautiful to experience, but hard to master. In conclusion, I have no doubt that the skills I learned at Ironwood will benefit me later in life, and I’m going to keep working on these skills. 

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