Hi. If you are reading this, thank you for letting me share my stories with you.
Honesty is usually my policy but right here and now anomity seems to over rule it. So each person and place in my heart and in my life has their name changed (myself inclusive), while their stories, and mine, remain the same.
My name is Johanna (or Hannie). I am 17 years old. I like to think that I am a peaceful and cheery kind of girl. My favourite colour is green. My favourite food is a tie between my dad's Spaghetti Bolganese and BananaBerry milkshakes from the cafe.
To me, my story does not seem an inspirational one, but to those around me it seems it is. So for that reason, I will share it with you and hopefully lift your heart as well. People tell me I am strong. I tell them they mustn't have seen me try to open the Vegemite jar.
Growing up, I was never in a poor home. I had two parents who loved and cared for me. My two sisters and myself were always clothed, washed and fed. As a child I was always very cheerful, but ashamedly I, even as a child, judged others. If I had a classmate who lived with a single parent, between divorced parents or with step-parents, I secretly thought to myself that they were not as good as me, because I lived with both my mother and father. In all honesty, I have never shared that secret with another person before. Usually I try to hide it from even myself.
This secret never hurt anyone. I was always equally kind to all my classmates as a child. I only judged them in my head. However, when I was twelve years old, my world was turned on it's head. My mother used to deliver catalogues of local companies to houses in our neighbourhood, and I often walked about with her. One day, we had to deliver in a nearby neighbourhood, to help the lady who usually did this area. As we walked past a rather nice looking house, my mother commented that her boyfriend lived in that house when she was 18. Being particularly good at maths, I calculated in my head that my mother was 18 when she had given birth to me.
For a picosecond I brushed the idea away, but then reality flooded and drowned my mind. I was and am a bastard. At that point I stopped walking and refused to move. I stood, mouth hanging open, glaring at my mum. First she looked puzzled, but then as something clicked inside her brain she turned the palest white. She had never realised that I never knew.
That night and for weeks after that, I played a charade. I pretended to have forgotten. I also pretended to be eating. It was only for a month that I ate little, and thankfully it did not impact my health the way it might have if I continued. Regardless, I despised myself. I found myself battling between wanting to know whoever was my biological father and equally being repulsed by the idea. I still pretend that I have forgotten. The only time the matter was ever discussed was between my angry eyes and my mother's frightened pair.
Although this did turn my mind on itself, my 'daddy' never stopped being just that. 5 years later I still say 'Good night. I love you Daddy' and irritate him until he gives me a lift to where I need to go, the way most daughters treat their fathers. This is perhaps the reason why, although at the time I despised myself and was very upset, I pulled through in mere months.
As I was emotionally recovering, I had no idea that my dad's health was falling. He was diagnosed with Chrone's disease, which is an inflammation of the bowels. It is rarely terminal but does put the sufferer through agony. Although, at almost 13 I could understand that he wasn't going to die, it still crushed me; the idea that the dad who I loved and loved me in return, could be taken away. I fell again.
This was around the time I was starting high school. I became good friends with two boys and we would often wag school together. Always being a 'perfect' and well-behaved kid before, my parents were absolutely shocked when they found out that I had turned so rotten. I went through 'boyfriends' (nothing serious, nothing longer than a month) and fell into drugs a few times. 'Only' marijuana. Only is a stupid word. My parents still don't know anything about my drug use but they soon caught onto my new found interest in wearing so many bracelets that I couldn't lift my arms. I was self harming.
One of my closest friends, Cass (I've known her since we were kids and we did gymnastics together), would often tell me that I was being a complete idiot, and while I knew that she was right, I just didn't care.
A new chaplain moved to our school during my rebellion. I'm not sure why I did it. I suppose it might have been how much I enjoyed the 'Kid's Club' at my local church that I usually attended on a Thursday night. Whatever the reason, I joined the new 'Christian Group'. I wasn't really sure about it but my (now) best friend, Leah, kept me still going. After a few weeks of 'Christian Group' I fell out of drug use. My self harming became dramatically less often. The only drawback, was that Cass had an issue with Leah. Perhaps she was jealous that Leah was seeming to help me where she couldn't. Cass stopped talking to me for two months. After around two weeks of induring the cold shoulder, I decided to give prayer a go. I figured it was worth a shot.
Every night for over a month I would pray for Cass. I prayed she stop ignoring me, that she was going okay (because I couldn't tell how she was). One night I prayed for my sister, rather than praying for Cass. In my mind I could hear the words 'Don't worry about her.' I knew it was God and I knew it referred to Cass. The next day Cass said hello to me. The next day she asked me a question about an assignment. At this point I decided to become a Christian.