One Teen’s Learning Curve: Finding the Silver Lining
Renae is a 16-year-old from Lowell, MI. She is a creative individual who spends a lot of her time reading and learning Japanese because she would like to become a Journalist in Japan.
As a kid, I had the world in my hands. I had loving parents and two older sisters who I was very close with. Every night as a little girl my mother would come into my room and sing to me until I fell asleep. One night I stayed awake waiting for her. Waiting and waiting…and waiting. My mom never came home that night. My mom never came home that week.
I am a 16 year old teenager who loves life and everything it brings. If you had a conversation with me now, you’d never know that I was raised by parents who were claimed by drug addictions and a motorcycle club. By the smile I’m constantly wearing, you could never tell that I had been through abuse and neglect. By the way I talk about how much I love living, you’d never know that my mother never came home that night because getting her fix was more important than taking care of her kids.
I realized I was in a rut when I failed the 9th grade. Nobody in the the house could get along and it really affected my grades. I wasn’t motivated because I felt like I had nothing to look forward to and there wasn’t a lot I could do about it. Living in the house with my parents felt like being in a war.
My parents kept fighting and fighting until the house I lived in for almost 15 years was abandoned and the whole family separated. Nothing could get done without constant fighting and the consistent stream of threats and words to hurt each other. I was being pulled back and forth from parent to parent, wishing they wouldn’t try to make me choose between them anymore. The only person who could save me from this broken family did.
Soon after my parents split up my oldest sister, Rachel, asked me to live with her. Away from my mom and dad, away from my other sister, and away from the town I grew up in. I had no car and my only means of communication were the internet and my cell phone, but the time I had spent there really began to change me. I wasn’t at the bloodthirsty threshold of Armageddon any longer and I could be neutral when it came to my parents. Living with my sister gave me a new best friend, a new father, and a new life.
Rachel had just started a new job when I first moved into her house and was working 70 hours a week which gave me and her husband, Mike, a lot of bonding time. He became the older brother I had always wanted and the best friend I needed to help me adapt to my new school. Mike was always there for me and soon became not just a best friend but also my breathing diary.
Getting out of the house and away from my dad gave me a different perspective of him. After his family separated he realized that if he didn’t patch up our relationship, it’d be gone forever. My father started putting me ahead of everything else in his life and really stepped up to the plate. He went from being addicted to drugs and neglecting his family to being super dad. I was amazed by the change that brought my father and I close together after being so far apart. I wished every time I saw him, that things would remain that way.
The second biggest change in my life occurred while I was attending Unity Alternative High School. My grades immediately improved, I felt happier, and I loved all the people who I went to school with. My attitude on life and school made a complete 180 degree turn. I started seeing past all of the stress I had felt before and was finally able to relax and enjoy life. School became tolerable and I became someone who liked going to school and liked being around people. I began getting A’s and B’s instead of D’s. My attendance tremendously improved and I evolved into a bubbly girl who was constantly happy and constantly smiling.
The people I met at Unity have left foot prints on my heart that will never fade away. The students, as well as the teachers, really touched me. My school was more like a family. We all worked together like one single unit and we all helped to motivate one another. The people at Unity became some of the most important people in my life.
The teachers really helped me get on track. I felt like I could do all the things I had wanted to do before but had always been told no. I thought I wasn’t going to graduate at first, but at Unity they really helped me and I felt like I wanted to work hard to impress the teachers who meant so much to me. Being in the learning environment that Unity provided, I could get caught up in time for graduation. That seemed to make life more bearable.
After my first year at Unity ended, I moved in with my grandmother and my mom. Three generations in one house caused a bit of a problem at first, but we’ve learned a lot from each other and we’ve all become more open minded and accepting.
While living with my grandmother, my mom and I had a chance to become more acquainted. At first, we just stayed away from each other because we would always fight and then we couldn’t avoid each other, living in the same house, so were forced to talk. We talked everything out and forgave each other. Sometimes, something as simple as time can patch up a broken relationship. My mom and I started spending more time together and things seemed to get even better when my second year at Unity came around.
Everything just fell into place. My outlook on life and school was still amazingly positive and my negative outlook hasn’t been seen for miles. My grades were sky high and my optimistic energy spread to everyone in school. I was spending most of my time during the day with the people I loved and school work was really easy with the carefree attitude I developed. I started seeing life in a different way.
Without the rough times that came with the divorce I would have never gotten closer to my mom and dad. I wouldn’t have a brother for a new best friend. I wouldn’t be where I am now. I would most likely still be failing school and I wouldn’t have earned as many friends without my newfound uplifting, friendly personality.
I view life like everything happens for a reason, but a lot of people just say I have the mind of an optimist. I believe in both. Once I had a positive outlook on life, things just went better for me. I could accomplish more when my head wasn’t clouded with the stress and I wasn’t worrying so much. Divorce, the thing that gave me such a hard time and made my life crazy and uncertain, gave me a brand new outlook. Divorce ended up being the best thing for my family. There’s a silver lining in every sky, you just have to be able to spot it and point it out.