When I think about where I came from, I half-heartedly joke that I had all the ingredients to end up in a trailer park with 6 kids on my hip, a floral mildewed cigarette burned couch on my porch, and a year-round Charlie Brown Christmas tree decorated with beer cans in my living room. There were no fantasies of white picket fences, Ken doll husbands, or pies cooling in the windows. Beneath my attempt to make light of this matter, there is a combination of pain and shame, feelings that I store in a tightly sealed old shoe box with duct tape and tuck away on the top shelf of my closet. In my teenage years, instability of home life and hormones created the perfect storm of bad relationships, I accepted love in the form of abuse and thought nothing of it. I was starved for love, acceptance, and home and sought it everywhere I went. Fortunately, I went to college. This broke the cycle and changed everything. It took awhile, but I stopped seeking love from others, and poured it into myself. I stopped accepting bad behavior and built a wall of good friends around me. With time, my expectations for myself and my future changed drastically. I changed. I reemerged stronger, free-er, and happier. While I still don't dream of white picket fences, I traded in my old mildewed couch on the porch for a hammock where I lay and dream of love, beauty, and happiness.