I will tell you how much I’ve grown at Ironwood and how I wish to continue to challenge myself.
It all started somewhere in September of 2022. I was told I was coming here early in the week. I was very outraged, I was furious, angry at the world, my parents, but mostly myself. I thought to myself that I was a failure, that I couldn’t be helped and that I had to be sent away again. I cried. I cried so hard to the point where all I saw were little dots of blur.
Two weeks later I arrived at Ironwood. Scared, alone, and socially rejected, I felt that this would be the last straw. If I couldn’t get help here, I don’t know what I’d do. I was surrounded by love, even though I felt so alone for such a long time. I remember when I got out of the car, many with a bright smile walked up to me with three other people following. It was safe. That was the moment I realized, “I need to be here, and that’s okay.” A day later, I was introduced to my group. At first, I was terrified. But then, I was calm. They all introduced themselves with soft tones and wonderful smiles.
Fast forward a few weeks later. I wasn’t alone anymore. I was surrounded by people who I didn’t know felt the same way. They supported me when my parents couldn’t at the time. That’s okay. I remember I was feeling homesick and one of my peers told me, “If you want to go home, it’s okay, but I promise you it’s safer here.” That was the moment I noticed something. Everyone here has wanted not to be here. That’s okay. We had each other and that’s all we needed.
A month later, I was on my way back from whatever I was doing to the same familiar face. It was someone who I’d seen from another facility. In my head, I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Not here. Not now. Later that same night i began to verbally attacking this person. I lost it. I knew this was a bad idea, but my body wouldn’t stop. I said some nasty things that night. The next morning, I apologized. I took accountability even though I didn’t want to. I grew up. The next time something like this happened, I said, “It’s not worth it” to myself.
Fast forward again to last week. I’ve accepted what I cannot change and I know how to distract myself. Yes, I’ve had ups and downs, but I accepted myself and I forgive and forget. Something one of my peers told me was, “It’ll get worse before it gets better.” I truly believe in that. To this day, I’ve learned how to take accountability, how to use radical acceptance, and how to be myself. Some things I definitely struggled with were self-love, guilt, and moving forward. I’ve also learned that I am a leader. When I am assigned a lead role, I thrive.
Reflecting on it now, I know I’m ready. I’m ready to move forward in my program and in my life. I’m not going to dwell on the past; what good will that bring? I’m focusing on the present. The here and now. Some things I want to continue to work on are, again, taking accountability, being mindful, and self-love. I believe I can do it. I know I can with the support of my support team. I will not rely on them, but I know when to ask for help. Trust me, I do.
I’ve learned so much during my journey at Ironwood and I can’t wait for what’s next. The only way is through. Before, I had no intentions or hope. I thought I didn’t have what it takes. Now, I know I do. I’m ready for what’s to come and what I’ll face. I got this. I’m ready for my life back.