Man tossing daughter playfully at beach

“You Live With Dad Now”

A winning essay from our Brighter Future Scholarship contest

A bright light shines through the window of my new room. Unfamiliar sounds of my father preparing for work echoed throughout my new home. “You live with dad now!” I tell myself. The nourishment and emotional safety I once lacked was now provided by my dad. His constant questioning and attention to my needs was something new to me. Stability, connection, security, comfort, and nurturing. It was a new beginning.

The bond and relationship children have with their mothers is very crucial to children’s development and well-being. Growing up, while she was very loving, my mother’s ongoing alcohol addiction hindered our relationship. My sister and I used to say we had two mothers, one who suffocated us with love, and the other who made us feel small. Alcohol finds ways to transform people into their worst selves, oftentimes leading to regrettable actions. As a kid, I lacked the understanding of how alcohol could possess my mother in such a way that she was no longer herself. My mother turned to alcohol for several reasons, primarily her ongoing depression following her failed marriage with my father, as well as isolation due to a lack of friends.

It was during my freshman year that the effects of my mother’s alcohol addiction drastically deteriorated my emotional stability when she kicked me out of the house in an alcohol-induced rage. My father, who was living alone at the time, rose to the occasion and offered to have me move in with him. During this process, my father also enrolled me in therapy to provide me with the opportunity to work through my trauma and get my life back on track. Therapy was crucial in my self-betterment. It taught me to not blame myself but to accept my life’s struggles. The focus on bettering yourself is truly what makes the real impact and change in your life. My mother’s process to her sobriety was something that she needed to do on her own for me to be able to have a stable environment. Today, my mother is over a year sober and has transformed back into the woman I look up to and the woman I aspire to be. Her journey and its effect on me not only taught me how hard it is to escape negative mental states but taught me the severity of our global and national mental health crisis, a silent pandemic that is far too overlooked.

At one point or another, we have all experienced periods of emotional distress. While being a universal experience, the taboo nature of mental illness and discussions of mental health can make a very common situation seem abnormal. Throughout my life, I’ve always had an interest in the workings of the human mind and how our experiences shape who we are. My childhood was marked by amazing memories of traveling around the world with my family, while simultaneously, stained by images of the effects of alcohol addiction and depression experienced by my mother, while my aunt suffered from bipolar disorder. As a child, I lacked an understanding of this dichotomy. However, as I learned more about mental illness and psychology, I began to comprehend the fragile nature of the mind and how without help, it can break. This affected me personally when these infrequent strange feelings over time developed into severe depression. My path out of this cloud of darkness was education and the determination to improve. Learning more about my brain, and consequently myself, through psychology, helped me to feel less alone because I better understood the generic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors that bring meaning to my feelings and my family’s behaviors. By furthering my education in psychology and taking advantage of professional development experiences in the field, I will be well equipped to turn a dark past into a brighter future for myself and others. Not only would this scholarship allow me to be able to have the college experience I’ve always fantasized about, yet would relieve the stress of finance for me and my family. Helping others is my dream and I crave to learn more, yet money is the only thing holding me back from my ambitions.

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