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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




My Journey: A New Path

By Clover Burt
Apr. 27, 2014

As far back as I can remember I never saw myself achieving any lifelong goals or even having dreams. My trauma started at the age of 2, when I began to be abused by a male family friend.

That trauma created mental blocks, voids and feelings of anger I internalized as sadness. Today, I understand the sadness and anger came from being unable to forgive the people in my life who hurt me when I couldn’t stand up for myself. It turned out I could not forgive myself for ending up in many ways like them.

My teenage years had been one attempt after another of trying to figure out a way to escape my internal pain. For many years I used substances, men and anything else that fit into my plans of manipulation. This allowed me to temporarily escape the constant ache in my soul, although the masks I wore covered up my lies.

I was first convicted of theft at age 14. My record grew, and by the time I reached 35 I had been arrested around 50 times. I spent a cumulative 10 years behind bars.

I believe because of my absence in my daughter’s life she may have suffered far worse consequences than I ever care to admit. Thanks to an amazing mother who came into the life of my now 17-year-old daughter, she has a structured and balanced life.

Currently I am on parole until 2022 as a result of a felonious assault and robbery conviction. I was released from prison in 2012.

While incarcerated in Fayetteville, N.C., I met a chaplain who introduced me to Jesus. Chaplain Gail Pate would come to my jail cell every day. For nine months, Chaplain Pate taught me to believe in a God I didn’t care to understand, and then to believe in myself through His promises. I began to sense freedom through God’s love, even while locked up.

I saw how I had become destructive, insensitive and often numb, like so many people in my past who I hated and could not forgive. I realized I didn’t have to continue in the chaos and confusion that had consumed my entire life.

The chaplain explained when a person accepts Christ as Savior, the Lord makes a new creation. It became so clear that, in Christ, I could take control over how my story ended. No matter what I had been through or what I had done, I did not have to continue down the path I thought I was destined to travel.

In 2009 I vowed to God to try to make a difference by the way I lived, that I would live for Him. Although this often is challenging, I continue to strive toward that goal. I knew if the evil world was going to change, I had to start changing the incredibly dark thinking that occupied my past.

For most of my life I didn’t care if I lived or died. But God had another plan. After being released from prison, I went on to graduate from the Center for Technology, Essex, (Essex Junction, Vt.) with high honors in dental assisting. After graduation I won a gold medal at SkillsUSA in customer service.

Today I enjoy cooking meals and serving lunch at local homeless shelters, visiting nursing homes on Easter and Christmas, and being a guest speaker for several recovery organizations in the community. I find it to be incredibly humbling that God granted me the strength to turn adversity into something meaningful.

I am breaking the unhealthy addictions that have ruled over my family for generations. I currently have 4 1/2 years of sobriety.

I thank Jesus Christ for never giving up on me, even when I gave up on myself.


CLOVER BURT, 39, operates a cleaning business and is a dental assistant in Williston, Vt.

 

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