Last year I went on a retreat that changed my whole life. The retreat changed who I was in three days. Before going to that retreat, I was frustrated and thought it was a waste of time. I argued with my mom; I did not want to go because I thought it was simply a waste of time. She wanted me to go because she saw that I had so much hatred inside me, and she wanted me to “clean my heart out” and to start a new beginning. I refused to go. I had better things to do that weekend. I acted as if my life was over when my mom forced me to go. I didn’t speak to her the night before the retreat because I was mad that she was making me do something that I didn’t want to do. It was going to be a long three days.
I woke up early on day of the retreat and got ready to go. When I got there, I saw that I wasn’t the only teenager there. There were around twenty of us, and most of the group was girls. I started to ease up and began to give it a chance. We started introducing ourselves, and we were asked questions; for example, where we were from and why we were led to come to this retreat. These were simple questions to help us open up and get to know each other. Most of the teenagers said that they were at the retreat because they wanted to change who they were; they wanted to be someone new, someone better. When I heard that answer repeatedly, I was confused. I didn’t know whether they were lying or being serious. I questioned why a teenager would waste a summer weekend at a retreat when they could be doing something so much better. I didn’t really open up at first because I was still upset with my mom for making me come to the retreat. I felt like I didn’t need it, so I didn’t want to talk to anyone. However, I started to think about it, and I thought to myself that if I actually cooperate and try to make friends, then the time will go by faster. Therefore, I cooperated and did all the exercises they told us to do, and I started to notice that I was opening up to people and making new friends; little by little, this retreat was starting to get better. The first day of the retreat was basically getting to know each other, and I wanted to see where it would go from there.
The second day we started to get deeper with our thoughts. The teens started to tell their stories: about what they’ve been through while they were growing up, with their families, friends, everything. They began to help me open up and realize that I wasn’t alone in this. Some of the stories I heard made me cry and started being thankful for the life that I had because I thought my life was going to be hard to explain and that no one would understand what I was going through. Some of the participants went through so much that I was speechless. I thought to myself, wow, they seem so happy on the outside, but on the inside, they’re suffering and just want to get through the barriers that were put in their lives. After they opened up, it was my turn. I was going to open up, and I was going to be brave.
I started to talk about the divorce that