Mona Lisa: A Long Journey

A woman shares her story of recovery and learning to love herself.

Hello, I’m Mona Lisa, and I would like to share part of my life story. My childhood was a little good and a little bad, like most of us. I am the youngest of three children, and was raised in a small town in Illinois. My parents were considered middle class, and I did not want for much and became quite spoiled. One of my fondest childhood memories was being in 4-H Club for five years. I took classes in cooking, crocheting, public speaking, candle making, as well as being president at one time. I did well on my projects at the county fair so was able to go to the state fair in Springfield, IL several times, where I won 1st Place many times.

At the same time, I was abused sexually by a family member, and it made a huge impact on the rest of my life. This caused dysfunction in my relationships with men over many years, including bad habits, a lot of pain, and the physical abuse of being overweight since high school until the present day.

I moved to Colorado in 1987 and was connected with Aurora Mental Health Center (AuMHC). I have lived with my sister several times, as well as in mental health housing, and various other apartments. I’ve also experienced homelessness and needing friends to take me in. I have always been a people person and have tried to help and take care of others, resulting in many hard and good times, and various degrees of mental and physical pain. The recovery process is why I’m writing my story, and I would like to share that part of my story now.

Caring for others has become a way of caring for myself. To this very day, others are why I keep on living and also why I keep trying to love myself, because if you don’t care and love yourself properly you are no good to anyone. I have made many lasting relationships with the staff at AuMHC and various churches, but the best part has been all the friends I’ve made at AuMHC and Community Connections, which I established 20 years ago with my good friends Bob Hiltner and Rick McKinney. My wellness values are: taking my medications faithfully, seeing my therapist and doctors regularly, sleeping well and eating healthy to the best of my ability, and staying connected to others.

I would like to dedicate this story to two of my long-time supporters. First, my sister Marge, who is always there to do what she can to help. Second, my friend Molly Markert, who with her busy schedule is still there when I need support, to lend a hand and an ear, and who has one of the most beautiful smiles. There are many people I would like to name and thank, but my time is running out and I have much more to accomplish. Be blessed, remember to live in the moment, and keep your faith in your higher power. 

Last Updated: 04/25/2017