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Photo ofAreli Montoya

All I see is fire and ashes; the smell of burning gas is overwhelming when the person I most dread emerges from the flames. I told everyone in my family about my father's secret new life. He got furious at me and started calling me a liar and a disgrace to the family. I remember how angry he was and how his eyes expressed hatred towards me. His eyes soon haunted my dreams.

My parent's divorce wasn't the typical yelling and fighting over child custody. My father gave up on my three siblings and me and granted full custody to my mom. All the hurt, betrayal, and sadness swirled inside of me, making a concoction that would make me hate my father for life. I kept it hidden, yet I was drowning. I kept everything so hidden behind a wall that was built with no end in sight. I started becoming numb to any emotions, and I forgot what true happiness had been. I started cutting so I could feel something in my life. I thought that it was my fault my family broke up; it was my fault that my siblings didn't grow up with a father figure. The self-doubt made me think that I was the problem and that I was the one who destroyed my family. 

The pain and sorrow became too much to bear. I started contemplating whether I should give up and die or keep on living my miserable life. I gave up on living and decided the pain was too much to bear. I was so shaken up that night due to my father coming unannounced to my 13th birthday party. When I saw him at the party, all of my fear came out. It made me shake uncontrollably. I remembered how his eyes glowed red and how much hate his eyes held when he called me a liar. That memory tracked me the whole night of the party ready to pounce on me when I was feeling vulnerable. I couldn't sleep that night; the memory of him yelling at me seared in my memory. 

I decided to take my life that night. As I was in the dark, I stopped to wonder if I should die. I thought about the impact it would have on my siblings and mother. Then I thought, "If I die, I let my enemy win, but I want to win this battle." Whenever I wanted to give up, I reminded myself that I wanted to win this battle.

I stopped cutting in November 2019, and I have been clean ever since. The pink scars on my arms remind me that I can get out of any trouble I am in, that I can overcome any obstacle and escape any demon. At times, I get the urge to start cutting again, but I remember that I can't let my mental demons win and I don’t. I didn't rely on anyone because I didn't want to trouble anyone with the fire I carry inside. However, I now recognize that talking to someone could have helped me heal from the pain I carried. The mistake I made was bottling everything inside and not talking to someone. I kept it in and let it build, almost destroying me. Fire and ashes.

© Areli Montoya. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.