My name is Lindsey. I grew up in an excellent Christian home. My childhood was fun and I wouldn't change it for anything. Our family would go boating, ride dirt bikes and take family vacations. They were also very supportive and would take me to my volleyball games and drive me anywhere I needed to go.
When I was growing up, everything was picked for me, so I didn't really know who I was. Lindsey, your hair's gonna be blonde, you're gonna wear turquoise, you're gonna have this and you're gonna have that. This made it hard for me to know who I was. All I knew was what my family wanted for my life.
In my freshman year, around 20 girls jumped me when I was getting off the bus. I thought these girls were my friends. They also beat up a guy friend pretty bad.
When I got home my little sister was there. She started crying because I was covered in blood. My mom has pictures and you couldn't even see my nose. My ribs were broken and I was in the hospital.
In my junior year of high school, my dad passed away. I didn't know where I fit in. My cousin introduced me to pot the day my dad died. When I smoked, I felt like I was on top of the world. I started smoking pot with my friends to numb the pain. I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up to the bad dream that I was living in.
Smoking pot led to drinking. At 15, I would go to the bars downtown. I was partying and getting tattoos. When I was 18 years old I started using cocaine. I also used Oxycontin, Zanax, Vicadin; anything I could get my hands on to numb the pain and anger that I felt inside.
After my dad died, our family went their separate ways. I felt like nobody loved me. My mom was like, "I have kids who are old enough to take care of themselves. I need to take care of myself now." One of my brothers was in Teen Challenge and my younger brother was angry and wouldn't talk to me. I felt very alone. I would sleep with one guy after another looking for someone to love me, but they were only using me.
I know my mom tried to do her best, but after my dad died, she was concerned about herself. She couldn't put away her pride and say, "You know what, my family needs me right now." I was angry and I kind of pushed my mom away, but I needed her at the same time. I needed my mom to press in and say, "You're gonna come home and we're gonna sit down and talk about what's going on in your life." She never did that.
We need parents in our lives. We need them to say, "You may be going through a stage right now, but I'm gonna stick with you no matter what. I don't care what you're doing, you're gonna come home at night, do your homework, make good grades and succeed in life. You're not gonna rebel." What we really long for is somebody to take control.
The summer before my freshman year, I was raped. I snuck out of the house and went to these older guys' house because I liked one of them. There was drinking and I ended up getting raped. I was very angry and I went off the deep end for a while. I got depressed and felt that I was not worth respect.
This slowly led to drugs and alcohol. I didn't drink for a while because I had a brother who was an alcoholic and a drug addict. I was really hurt because he was my hero and I looked up to him. He kept lying to me and I hated it.
When you're on drugs, you don't know half the time what you're doing. You're in "la la land" and that makes you vulnerable. You're not in your right mind. I look back now on some of the things I did and I'm like, "Wow." If I were in some of those situations sober like I am today, I would have never done most of those things. Drugs impact your life so much and you can't begin to realize it until you're sober.
Kids really need to know who they are. They need to ask themselves what their values are and where they are gonna be when they are 25. They shouldn't look at the here and now, but look ahead 5 or 10 years and ask themselves, "Where do I want to be 5 years from now?"
One of the worst days of my life was July 5th. I had just driven back from the beach and I was high on Oxycontin. I went to a bar and got drunk. I had recently got kicked out of my grandma's house and nobody gets kicked out of their grandma's house. Afterwards, I wanted to end my life and I went to this place called the Bluffs and tried to kill myself. That's when I knew I needed help.
I hit rock bottom about two weeks after that when I lived in my car for a day. That's when I said I'd had enough. I wasn't gonna live like that and I was scared. I was 20 years old and didn't even have a home to live in. That's when I really said, "I need help. I'll do whatever it takes."
My turning point was going into Teen Challenge. I entered the doors on July 18th. It was a struggle for me the first five months. Before, I had no clarity. I didn't know who I was, I didn't have a future, I didn't have hope and now I do.
I have high self-esteem now. Teen Challenge has taught me to love myself because I'm a beautiful person and have a great personality. It has taught me to have confidence in myself and to have clarity in my life. It's taught me to be who I am. Teen Challenge is my lifesaver.
I have a great relationship with my family now. I want to get back into school and become a probation officer. I want to be there for people who are going through the same circumstances that I've been through. I can go out to the streets and say, "I've been there, I've ran these streets, I've done the drugs that you've done." I want to reach out to this generation and change it around for the good.