Coming out of eighth grade I was ready for high school. Sure, I wasn’t going to the school I wanted and my friend situation was a little shaky, but I somehow found hope for high school. Even though I saw my dad 4 days a month, I still had hope. Even though he had to miss all my games and graduations and dates and teacher conferences for work, I still had hope. Even though I had two brothers with Autism, I still had hope that it would be better. Even though, my brother would constantly attack me and I didn’t feel safe in my home, I still had hope. Even though my twin sister died when I was a baby and my mom is trying to hide the messy divorce, I still had hope. Even though the world around me didn’t seem like it was worth living, I still had hope. I still had hope because I believed it would get better. I believed that my dad would get transferred and be able to support our family and work in Denver. I believed that my brothers would stop being violent. I believed that everything happened for a reason. I believed everything would be okay. I needed it. Without the belief, I don’t know where I would be right now. I believed I was happy.

Everything was manageable until that day. The day my brother decided to attack me while my mom was gone. The day no one heard me scream. The day I had to hold my brother by the throat until they heard me. The day I watched him run away and the anger filled inside of me. The day I locked myself in my bathroom and shakily called my mom. The day my identity was stripped. I became scared, hesitant, and untrusting. After many years of him attacking me, hitting me, scaring me, and making me a prisoner in my own home, this day was the breaking point. After that day, I lost myself.

I went into freshman year insecure, vulnerable, and lost. I still believed it would get better. I still believed everything happened for a reason. But what was the reason for this? Why did he do this? I know he couldn’t control it. I convinced myself it was okay because he has Autism. I spent everyday just trying to get to the point where it was acceptable to go to bed. I told myself “stay under the radar’ and “don’t get noticed.” And I did that. I had a good group of friends and my brother was sent away to a special needs program in Pueblo. I was doing okay in school.

I wasn’t noticed until basketball season started in November. I was noticed for being good. I started to feel a little confidence. Everyone told me to try out for varsity and I did. I prepared myself for failing and for disappointment. The coach called the old varsity team out and when they came back in I saw the faces of two of them. I knew someone didn’t make it. One of my close friends went in before me. She made it. And there was that hope. My downfall and my savior. I ran into the room and sat down. My back pressed against the cold metal and my foot shaking against the floor. The coach goes, “I know trying out for varsity wasn’t an easy decision and I’m glad you did.” The hope grew. “….but I decided to put you on our JV team.” My heart broke. My leg stopped shaking. I tuned out his voice until he told me who to send in next. Then I went home. I saw the disappointed faces of my family, but worst of all I saw my face in the mirror. I saw a disgrace. I saw a disappointment. I saw someone who was ashamed of who they were. I didn’t know who I was anymore. The small part of my identity was gone. The one part of my life where I actually felt valued and important was smashed into pieces. My small ounce of confidence was gone, but I managed to still have hope. I had hope through the hardest time in my freshman year.

I would wake up and cry, go to school, go to practice, and then come home and cry. I felt defeated. I felt small and not important. I tried my best to improve. I would participate in any activity I could to get better. I was putting all my emotion into basketball. Then it was winter break and I went to Mexico. I felt free. I was away from everything. Away from my life. And then it was time to go back. I told myself everything would be okay. Just act like you are okay and happy and you will be fine, but on the inside I was falling apart. I was slowly breaking every day and soon I would crack. I tried to get through the year. I played mediocre basketball, I was a mediocre friend, I did mediocre in school, and I felt mediocre. I didn’t feel better than average. I didn’t deserve to feel better. I was disappointed. My hope started to slowly fade. I didn’t think I was smart or pretty or a good basketball player. I didn’t feel good enough.

Towards the end of the year, I just wanted to quit. I wanted to run away and start a new life. I wanted to be someone else. I didn’t deserve this good life. I didn’t appreciate it so I didn’t deserve it. I was now in therapy. They were trying to get me to not be affected by what happened with my brother.

It was time for finals and aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years earlier was struggling. It was time for her to go. My mom was a mess and I didn’t support her because I was too focused on myself. I was too focused on the disappointment that I was to help my mom through the death of her sister.

That was when the last part of my hope faded. If everything happened for a reason, why did this happen? Why did a good person die? I didn’t believe everything would be okay. I completely lost myself. I spent the summer working, playing basketball, and going to therapy. I still didn’t feel good enough. I didn’t feel wanted or loved. I hated being told to “smile more” or “stop acting like this.” I was suffering from anxiety and working through multiple traumas from my childhood. I put all my energy into basketball. I was getting better, but I didn’t feel like it. I still didn’t feel good enough. I needed to make varsity next year to prove everyone wrong. I needed to prove I was good enough. I needed good attention. And then it clicked. Why do I care so much? I don’t want to play basketball for the rest of my life. Why is this so important to me? Why am I letting it consume my life? So I stopped caring and it gave me a sense of confidence. It gave me a sense of hope. It gave me a feeling that everything will be okay. I just need to take it day by day. Sure, I still have meltdowns. I still have trouble with confidence and anxiety. Sure, I still have mood swings, but now I know that I am good enough. Now, I know I am loved and wanted. Now, I know a little more of who I am. Sure, I still have to figure my identity, but now it is not as complex of a puzzle. Now I have all the pieces to complete myself. Now, I know I strong and smart and kind and athletic. Now, I know I am safe and genuinely happy. Now, I am a varsity basketball player and have “graduated” from EMDR therapy. I survived through anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I am happier than I have ever been, but this isnt just my past. It is my present and my future. THis is a apart of me now and I am working on how it defines me. I am 16 years old and have all ready been through so much. I have hope that things can only get better. Hope saved me, then destroyed me, then saved me again.

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