ZES: My Nine Month and Four Year Program

Two months into Zion Educational Systems program, the one I’d been rudely awoken to be escorted to, I blew up over a dispute of cups and hot chocolate. It was such a pathetic issue for me to get angry over, but I sat in my fury convinced that I was in the right and I was being mistreated. It took a while before the feedback I received from the staff and students sunk in and I was able to see that I really did have a problem controlling my anger. Once it clicked, though it clicked I felt unstoppable. I thrived on maintaining my cool, and took to mirroring every laid back personality I came in contact with. I traded my anger addiction for a passion to be “chill”.As with every extreme, my laid back attitude had its downside. My complacency rendered me indifferent at times, and several relationships failed because I wasn’t able to bring myself to any sort of passion to hang onto anyone for very long. I’ll be clear, for four years after I graduated high school, I didn’t get angry. I felt lonely, I felt grief and sadness, and at times I even felt stupid for things I had done and said; never angry. I was hardwired against it, and even felt brainwashed at times; to never let bitterness get the better of me in any situation.Then came my 21st birthday. I drove home to my family because my mother wanted to have the family go out to dinner to celebrate. I never expected much, but she was the one who always made a big deal about birthdays; it was very important that we have a great time and feel as special as possible. I arrived looking forward to a great meal out at Red Lobster, ice cream, and whatever else my mom had in mind.I’m not sure what could have prepared for what my father pulled out of his hat. As we were getting ready to leave the house, he announced that he was, instead, going to a party at one of his friends’ house where they were going to watch boxing. I thought he was joking, he doesn’t watch fighting, or any sort of violence for that matter. He then went on to ask me where my brother was, and that I should ask him if he wanted to come along. As an afterthought, here, he then asked me if I wanted to come as well. I didn’t.So the next day as I’m eating breakfast before church, he sits down and offers to take us all out to brunch since he missed my dinner the night before. Let me reiterate: I was eating breakfast when he offered brunch—at his favorite restaurant, too. Still, though, I was composed. I said okay.When I came home from church, he began chiding me for coming home late the night before and being the reason he missed my dinner. My family was gathering near the door so I gave him a look and let it slide, but he didn’t stop. He poked and poked at how I don’t take care of my car, how I’m a slow driver, and that maybe if I had my priorities straight I would have been able to leave my apartment earlier. I felt like I could have strangled him, but I walked past him to the front door. As I opened it, I stopped, looked back at him and my family and I whispered, “I don’t think I want to do this.” I didn’t want to go to brunch with my blood boiling.“Fine,” my dad said. He took his jacket off immediately and walked back into the living room. I snapped, I let everything out, I tore my father limb from limb with my words, about how much I hated him for never getting to know me, how I was so hurt and furious at him for ditching out on his son’s birthday for a party thrown by some friend that makes fun of my mother, and how if I could choose, I’d never see or speak to him again.What followed felt like a seizure, with the tools I’d learned from the academy rushing to my aid and finding a once laid back vessel broken with rage. The tools told me not to yell, not to punch anything, and not to attack my dad; and it felt as if every muscle in my body seized up, throwing my body into a quivering crouching position. I could not believe how badly he had let me down. Even more, I couldn’t believe it was affecting me this way.A month of careful reflection and talking things over with a few good friends helped me realize what had happened. I had gone through the program, I had found the “error of my ways” and was a better, more mature person for it; but had chosen none of it. It was then that I made the call, asking Craig Rogers if I could return and work at the academy as Life Coach. I embarked from California to Utah two months after my birthday with a bold passion in my heart to choose my own path, forge my own future, and take my boarding school experience into my own hands.

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When adolescent boys and girls are at-risk with substance abuse, or behavioral issues, behavior modification programs, as well as cognitive therapy, can result in the positive changes he or she needs for a long lasting transformation.