Utah seniors share their stories of resilience.
Laryssa Davies, Itineris E.C. H.S., 2018 Awardee
I was 8 years old the first time my father called me a bitch, but the name calling didn’t stop there. I was told frequently that I was hated for something as simple as not loading the dishwasher “right”. I was grounded often for things like not being able to hear my parents calling me because I was listening to music. My parents told everyone how proud they were of me, yet when we were alone, they would strangle me with words, and pretty soon, those words turned into hands.
I was spanked as a child, but the physical abuse worsened when I grew into adolescence. It became normal for me to experience being slapped in the face, choked, thrown into things, and being forced to sit and listen to my father scream in my face. My mother never did anything to stop the abuse. She even had the audacity to tell me that I deserved what he did to me. Another time, she got on top of me and beat me with her fists.
I never felt safe, happy, or loved. I always felt like a failure. Why else would my parents abuse me and make me feel worthless? It was because I wasn’t good enough, right? They didn’t care that I was suicidal, they cared about how much it cost them to get me the help I needed. Living became undesirable because I had no control over anything, even my own thoughts. I have tried countless times to believe that I am more than what I was taught, but if you grow up being told you are more worthless than priceless, you begin to believe it. I was powerless.
I had always thought the way I was treated by my parents was normal, until one day, a beautiful angel walked up to me and told me that no parent should treat their child the way I was treated. From that day forward, I began to feel that, for once in my life, I had actual help.
Although I no longer live with abuse, my story of resilience has not ended. To this day, I still struggle with accepting compliments and with self-esteem. I think people who experience trauma never really stop being resilient. They only get stronger and learn to live with obstacles. It is easy to think that anything bad happening now will soon pass in the future, and because I continuously told myself this, I am now living on my own and about to graduate with my high school diploma and, hopefully, an associates degree. This is important to me because I plan to pursue my aspirations of helping those in need whether it means I begin a career in psychiatry, veterinary work, or writing.
Yes, I still struggle with depression and anxiety, and I still resent the way I was raised and treated, but little by little, things get better and easier, and I know that it will always be that way with me and anyone else struggling with mental illness, abuse, or any other obstacle that has profoundly impacted his/her life. Everyone’s future holds promise, even when the present seems to be going nowhere.
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