By Shelli Decker:

After being told something long enough, you start to believe it, and then you start to become it. Whether we attach ourselves to lies or truth depends on what we hear.

For me?

Fat, ugly, worthless, stupid.

I believed it.

You'll never amount to anything.

I became it.

Even things I didn't hear, my mind started to say. Depression clouded over me like a familiar friend, and since I didn’t have many actual friends, I kept it close. Family, acquaintances, and even strangers all spoke words that added up. Every lie, every piece of abuse, became a reason for me to seclude myself.

I kept my secrets because I didn’t believe I deserved to be heard. I wrapped my soul in chains, and covered the pain with my suppressors: alcohol, cigarettes, pills and even porn. I was an addict, and I was a prisoner.

And as the years went on, I kept my life hidden because that was all I knew to do. But you can't live like that forever, if you're going to go on living. Eventually, I came to accept that I do matter, and knew I had to change the conversation. I became a writer, and replaced the words spoken to me with my own words.

I've had to relearn who I really am, and sift the truth out from the lies. I've had to let go of the chains, and choose to stop being a prisoner.

I am now sober and clean, and I hold the real me close. I keep my past where it belongs. I am no longer defined by the lies of who I was, but rather, who I am.

I am smart, talented, beautiful. I exist for a greater cause.

I am People of the Second Chance.

And so are you.