When Courtney Lovgren and I began her interview, she started with saying, “I’m glad you are sitting down.”
I had already heard the shocking story about a incident that shook her family and nearly took the life of one of her siblings almost a year ago. So, I thought, no problem I can handle this.
Later that afternoon, when the interview was complete, Courtney and I both went to our homes and napped.
I hope you too are sitting down…
Courtney Lovgren was born in Digby, Nova Scotia to Susan and Randy Lovgren on Nov. 14, 1994. They moved to Alberta when Courtney was a toddler. She has two siblings from her birthparents, an older sister and a younger brother.
Her birthmother is still alive, although, Lovgren has not seen her in a couple of years – nor does she call her mother.
“Mom is an earned title, it is not just given,” states Lovgren.
Her birthfather committed suicide after the numerous charges laid against him were all stayed in the preliminary trials for sexual assault against his three children.
For Courtney Lovgren, the sexual assault went on for about eight years, until the truth finally came out. She remembers putting her hands on her head and saying, “my daddy.”
Although there were times she did tell others what was going on, when no one listens, and you are a child – or quite frankly an adult – and no one listens, you stop telling.
“As long as I can remember my father has always been a horrible person to me,” speaks Lovgren.
The depth of despair in Lovgren’s story grew even deeper when she revealed that even though she was abused by her birthfather for all those years, “he was still a better parent” than her mom.
She remembers she putting her hands on her head and saying, “my daddy.”
“I still love him,” reveals Lovgren.
Lovgren said that as children they were often dirty and lacked clean clothes. There were times she even stopped going to school. Her birthfather was the one who occasionally cooked for them and took them shopping for necessities.
Lovgren recalls one time when her birthmother went to the food-bank and came home with blueberries; before sharing them, she picked out the good ones and left the rotten ones for her children. To this day Courtney Lovgren cannot eat blueberries.
Lovgren also has a hard time believing that her birthmother did not know about the abuse and didn’t do something to stop it.
“How do you not know – see that – you hurt to sit down?” questions Lovgren.
The three letters left by her birthfather after he took his life were all burned by her father’s family before Lovgren could read them.
So who is Lovgren today and how did she get to be the amazing human-being she is?
This 22 year-old journalism student still smiles, lives, laughs, and loves. “Mom and Dad” are, in fact, titles she still uses, but instead of referring to Susan and Randy, they are the titles she has given to her mother’s sister and husband, the aunt and uncle who adopted Lovgren and her siblings and continued to raise them as their own – along with their own three children.
Lovgren is eternally grateful for the chance for a new life, and describes her new mom as “remarkable.” She and her siblings finally had someone to take them to appointments and stand by their sides even though she realizes blending families is not always an easy thing to do.
Lovgren received the Rotary Stay in School Scholarship after writing an essay on “what I want to do with my life.”
“I want to be a journalist because I wanted to listen to my ‘mom’ and because I loved writing.”
Lovgren’s bond with her “new mom” started at birth. Her aunt was the one who first held baby Courtney, which Lovgren says was the beginning of their bond.
Investigative Journalism is the area Lovgren is most interested in. She believes that her ability to empathize with so many by being able to “find common ground” sets the “right mood” and builds confidence from those she is interviewing.
“I can feel and relate to people, and there is a story in everyone, it takes the right person to find it.”
Lovgren currently photographs hip-hop twice a month and is working on a music video for the artists KG & Kemo.
She is inspired by everything, including her “new mom” and says she aspires to be like her.
“I don’t know how anyone can go through what she has and still have a warm heart.”
She admits she has an addiction to cats, and her family makes her smile.
“The world is a beautiful place, you just have to find the beauty.”
She is passionate about reading and writing, but she tries to remain “not too passionate” as she is adamant on remaining non-judgemental.
“People judge so easily without knowing the full story.”
If Lovgren could share with the world one thing she has learned is to look for the glimmer of hope. She believes many people give up too soon.
“Hang on longer – it does get better.”
Lovgren is learning to know what her “triggers” are that can make her stumble, like when she has a burst of un-named emotion and does not know why. She realizes the first step is to open up and become aware it is there. This, she says, will more than likely always be a focus for her.
Relearning the true definition of “love” is a journey Lovgren will continue to unravel.
Inspiration is the word Courtney Lovgren chose to sum up what she most desires to offer, to receive and to be in all aspects of her life. To her it is a word that can apply to so many things.
As Logren’s “new dad” has taught her, “Actions speak louder than words; learn from your past, don’t repeat it.”
Thank you Courtney Lovgren for allowing me into your world. Thank you for sharing your truth; it is a truth that so many can’t handle nor want to believe. Thank you for allowing me to come to your photo shoots and see you smile, for allowing me to listen to you, allowing me to learn, to believe, and be so very inspired. You are your word, because you are your actions.