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Hi! My name is Manuela, and this is my world!

When I was about 3 years old, my dad left our home. I was very close to him, and I was so small, and the situation made no sense to me. I felt extremely abandoned. I grew up as an irritated, nervous, sad and insecure girl. When I was 14 years old, I started to go to friendís parties. Thatís when I started to drink. I drank to feel accepted. I drank to feel part of the group, loosen up and become more fun. From cigarettes, I went to marijuana, and in no time, I was taking stronger drugs like LSD and ecstasy. I started to lose weight; I changed the way I dressed. I started getting myself pierced, tattooed; I cut my hair. My look was extremely aggressive and shocking. This lifestyle got me into a social stratus that was extremely liberal, promiscuous and without boundaries or shame.

When I was 19, I began to date a DJ. In several aspects, my life calmed down. On the other hand, alcohol and drugs came much more easily. In 2004, I must have been dating for about 3 years, I got a job, and my relationship became more difficult. Five months later, I found out that my boyfriend had cheated on me with someone I knew. The day after I found about them, I lost my job. I had the feeling I had lost everything.

I went home determined to kill myself. I took a mixture of medication, and knocked myself out for 2 days. On the third day, my mom found me lying in a ball in my room, with cuts all over my body. I had no strength to deal with the situation. Thatís when I decided to go to a friend who lived in another city that I knew that I could trust. She took me to her church. I came to know Christ. I came to know Godís love.

Even with struggles, ups and downs, I can honestly say that I am a different person today. I am much happier, much more confident and truly grateful.

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