Trois jeunes adolescents, de dos, font une marche en pleine nature.


“I’m taking the time I need.

It’s March 1, 2022 and I am worn out as I walk to the door and away from my home. Behind me is a family that has been torn apart. Empty cans are strewn everywhere. There are bottles of alcohol hidden in my wardrobe; I’d like to fling them into the sea. As I go, I leave in my wake the wreckage of a hurricane.

Weighed down by sadness, by pain in my liver and lungs, by my fragility, a certain pessimism, an intense thirst and excess baggage, I arrive at Portage Saint-Malachie like a pirate lost at sea.

I am projected into the unknown, surrounded by individuals I don’t identify with, who speak a therapeutic language I don’t understand. They talk about behaviour issues: ″I don’t have any! My only problem is alcohol! I’m not responsible for my unhappiness and my excesses, it’s life that’s cruel!″

They talk about unconditional love and forgiveness for oneself: ″They have to be kidding, life didn’t even put my soul in the right body. So don’t tell me I was created to love myself!  It’s all just too much, too intense. I feel so bad about myself.

They try to reassure me: ″You just got here Léo; give yourself some time to adapt.″ 

That last point resonates with me. I’ve always been extremely hard on myself, never taking the time to really get to know myself, with all the imperfections and contradictions that characterize me. Only then do I see their beauty.

I may be a bit young to use such a corny expression, but time really is the greatest gift of all. With time, I was able to discard all my masks as well as my fears. I learned to be myself, Léo, in all his splendor and eccentricity.

I used to feel alone and terrified. Now, I’ve rediscovered my inner light. I haven’t touched a single drop of alcohol since I began my journey, since I tasted happiness and peace of mind.

Now I’m ready to start out again, free from my dependency on alcohol, with lots of tools at my disposal and an infinite amount of love. Now I can say that I know myself and that I really love that guy!  Now I have projects and dreams aplenty and I at last have the strength, resilience, confidence and tenacity I need to achieve them.

I’ll be heading back to school soon, taking out my paintbrushes and painting myself a future worthy of the name.”


Léo, adolescent and young adult program, Saint-Malachie, 2022

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