Courtney, 2014 Graduate

As a young woman, I was struggling with my identity, self-worth, and insecurity. In my family, I was both loved and provided for, but my relationship with my parents was pretty much non-existent, although we all secretly wanted one but didn’t know how. My parents were dealing with their own personal issues and wrestling out their own faith. My dad was either working or drinking, I was afraid of him and I felt controlled by my mother.

In high school, I did not know how to handle life and I became confused, so I started hanging out with the wrong crowd. I was first introduced to alcohol at a youth retreat when I was 13. My insecurity, fear, and struggles would vanish in a moment and I became quickly attached to the feeling. From then on I started smoking cigarettes, experimenting with drugs, and drinking more frequently. I was excited about these new discoveries and I had a lot of fun escaping in the party scene.

Soon, my innocence, hunger for love, and lack of knowledge landed me in an emotionally, verbally, and sexually abusive relationship. I would feel lots of shame, and I tried leaving but he wouldn’t accept, telling me that if I didn’t stay with him he would kill himself. After about 2 years I stopped listening to anything he said and ran to the next relationship. I resorted to anger and would drink on a daily basis to numb myself. By the time I was 16, I couldn’t control it.

My behaviour was getting me in trouble at home and I moved out of my parent’s house. I became very loose, unfaithful, and unstable. Eventually, I only hung out with people who would get drunk and high with me. I couldn’t take care of myself so I moved back home and tried to hide the fact that I was now doing cocaine.

At this point my parents intervened and asked me to go to a program, which I did. I stopped the drugs but I continued my drinking behaviour. Somewhere around this time, my dad rededicated his life to Christ, both he and my mom quit drinking and they were both trying to help me now. I tried other addiction programs and went to a variety of counsellors but nothing was working.

At 18, I was getting sick of my lifestyle and I wanted out, so I stepped out of the party scene into an active life at the church I was attending. I was excited about this new life I was experiencing, but over time I began to isolate myself from people at church as I was having trouble keeping up to the standard I thought I had to live by as a Christian. I grew in frustration and eventually chose to run in the other direction.

For the next couple years, I was living in a repetitive cycle, going back and forth between sobriety to binge drinking and cocaine use. I changed jobs, relationships, and where I was living many times. I was caught in the middle of two worlds and became suicidal and depressed.

A friend told me I should go to Mercy Canada. At first I was ashamed to apply anywhere, but God softened my heart and I began the application. God provided everything that I needed to come to Mercy so I knew this was a part of God’s plan for my life. I had complete peace the moment I entered the house.

The most important thing I learned at Mercy was the need for community. I realized that God designed me to go through life with people and I know that I need relationships. It’s OK to disagree and still be in relationship. As I went through the program, I learned to ask for prayer and simply just ask someone to talk. Before I did it on my own and now I know there is nothing wrong with going up to someone and saying “I need to talk” or “Can you pray for me.” Isolation has been broken for me.

At Mercy, I chose to work through my past and let go of it. I had major regret for choices I made and I chose to forgive myself for the things I did, and I chose to forgive other people for the things done to me. I now have freedom from anger, alcohol, drugs, and wrong relationships. Now I know that none of these things will ever heal me or get rid of my pain. It will only increase it. I find long lasting relief, crying and praying to God. He is the answer to my life struggles and He is my comfort. I am in love with God and I will go to him for the rest of my life.

Before Mercy, I thought my life had to be perfect to be a Christian so I believed I was a failure, when I couldn’t feel him I believed He had left me. I know now that whether I feel him or not doesn’t determine his existence in my life. He is always with me. And when I fail I can run back to my heavenly Father and receive forgiveness. I am not perfect and God loves me anyway.