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Opinion & Essays - Apr, 2001 Issue #80 

And the Journey Continues
By Kristie Vollar
(208) 267-5550

As I sat down to write this article, I realized that this one would be harder than any other article I have written. I knew that writing this article would bring up many feelings and memories that were painful yet at the same time filled me with an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. I dedicate this article to both of my parents who stuck by me, gave me plenty of love and support and helped me continue to grow. 

When I left Mission Mountain School, I had only graduated High School. I hadn’t graduated the program, but I had the tools I needed to continue the “process.” I knew how to address issues when they came up, I knew how to share my feelings with those who supported me, I knew how to confront someone in a way that wasn’t insulting or cruel when I had a problem with them. I even had a strong self-concept was excited that I would be going on to college in the fall. 

Unfortunately, I never made it to college. I had had a scholarship to Savannah College of Art and Architecture in Georgia, but after returning home, I met Rick and we became more than friends. We moved in together. 

I was working part time at Ascent in North Idaho, and attending classes at the “local” college three days a week. Driving 160 miles round trip (or more when I would visit my grandma in the nursing home in Washington) to get to the college soon got old. Just after the first quarter, my grandma died, and I quit working for Ascent. I started doubting myself, and driving the drive wasn’t worth it anymore, so I dropped the classes, too. 

In January 1995, Rick and I just up and left, and moved to Tennessee. We didn’t tell anyone where we were going, nor did we call home when we got there. I broke my mom’s heart. She was so worried and sad, and very angry that we could just up and disappear like that and not let anyone know if I was safe or even ok. After all the time and effort and the progress we had made and the money she had put into my success, I just took off without a trace. Finally I called, on her birthday. She had not heard from me for three months and she had been hospitalized. I hadn’t known that she was near death in the hospital and when I found out, I could have kicked myself in the butt for what I had done. It was a slap in the face and I vowed never to leave her in the dark like that again. Every other week I would call her and give her an update. She was glad I called so often, but I had destroyed her trust (again) and it took a long time to regain the progress we had made. 

In July 1995, Rick and I got married. After we had lived in Tennessee for almost another year, we decided it was time to move back home. I stayed with my parents for a while and he stayed with his until we could find a house and work in Spokane. We found a house and one year later (three years after leaving MMS) we were beginning to have positive success in our lives. 

June 1997, Rick died of a sudden heart attack. Suddenly, after all the progress we had made to get where we were, my world began once again to crumble. How does one deal with such a sudden unexpected loss? My mom came to Spokane to stay with me for a while, continuing to show her love and support, even after what I had previously done to her for all those years. She was there for me. I was very strong though and was able to admit that I would need counseling to help me with the grieving process. At age 21, I had to deal with funeral arrangements and everything that goes along with being a widow. My issues with loneliness surfaced again and I began seeking attention from anywhere. 

Once again I moved to Tennessee, only this time, I had my mom’s support. I promised that I would keep in close contact with my family. It took about a year after Rick died; I had walked myself through my loneliness issues and was ok living alone. I actually enjoyed living alone and not having to worry about anyone else. 

Then, I met Phillip. He moved in and about six months later, we moved home. It felt so good to be home. I was tired of struggling and tired of going nowhere with my life. I decided it was time to settle down and start focusing on my carreer and myself. I decided it was time to set some goals and once again start getting on with my life, continuing the successful progress I had started to make before Rick died. 

In November 1999, I started working for my dad, and a few months later I started a distance education college course over the Internet. I decided that working to help the kids is what I wanted to do with my life and that if I could help just one adolescent with my insight and experience, it would all be worth it. I learned many tools at Mission Mountain School that have helped me over the years and am eternally grateful. I can’t say how my life would have turned out without those tools, but I know that as hard as I struggled through “life after MMS” even having those tools, I would have struggled a lot more without them, had I survived at all. Once again, I have goals and once again I feel I am at a strong place in my life because of the tools I learned and the continuing love and support I get from my parents. And so the Journey continues.... 

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