My father drank away the first 16 years of my life. I grew up seeing my parents fighting all night long, and having to leave the house to stay safe.

When I was little, I used to let things get under my skin really easily. Anything and everything bothered me. I was shy, introverted, and very self-conscious. I thought that everyone was whispering about me.

In high school, I got involved with Alateen. It was a big step in my life. I came to understand what my father was really doing to himself, to my family, and to me. I understood that he could do what he wanted with his life, but I didn’t have to let it influence my thoughts and actions. Knowing that helped me come out of my shell. I broke free and started to become the person I really wanted to be.

In Alateen, I learned that no matter how much I love other people and want the best for them, my personal health has to come first. I need to take charge of my life—nobody else’s.

Every day I am developing my character. I am becoming more outgoing. I’m at the point where whatever people say to me or about me doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t have to let what they say affect me. I have learned to “Let Go and Let God.”

Because of what I have been through, I have a greater appreciation for life. Every day is a new page, a new chapter. I live my life “One Day at a Time.”

By Stephanie