I find my self continuously analyzing myself because I am currently enrolled in three psychology courses. During lectures I diagnose my moods and my family members “disorders” … its kind of silly. In my developmental psych class i have been reading and reflecting on attachment. In the context of newborns and parents, attachment is important for the child’s positive development. A new born begins to feel a sense of safety and assurance if the parents are consistently and continuously attentive to the baby’s wants and needs. Such attentiveness does not spoil the child, rather it helps them trust the world they are growing up in. This positive reassurance transforms to a sense of security, self worth, and self esteem for the child.
In my case, it was kinda the opposite. In my very early years, i was growing up with violence in the home. There was verbal and emotional abuse and probably some depression thrown in there. We moved homes a lot when i was a kid, and my fathers aggression and abuse was internalized. I feared him and had nightmares of him. I have learned that indeed my parents tried their best, they have their own traumas and they acted the only way they knew how.
I was confronted with isolation when I went to pre-school. I was deeply saddened and afraid when i was left alone at school. I was the kid that cried endlessly when getting dropped off. According to my mother and older sister… it went on for weeks. I also have memory of this. There was a huge window that faced the street and i would run to it after i was forced to stay. I would watch my mother get into her green car and drive away to work. My mom has told me how much it would break her heart to see me go through this pain.
Eventually i adapted to this thing called school. I learned to swing, tie my shoes, count apples, identify shapes and my pinkie… Children can surpass baby traumas, there is still an opportunity for resilience to develop. I spent most of my childhood alone when I was at school. I was a pretty independent child. I entertained myself and still played handball or foursquare. I just wasnt part of a group of friends. I didnt bother to make any friends. Maybe it was too much effort, maybe i was afraid of rejection. Maybe i accepted my isolation, but i didnt feel alone. I felt like a normal child… except I told other children to leave me alone. True story, i had a friend in high school tell me of her first impression of me. She came up to me while i was in line for foursquare. She mentioned she was in my class and told me her name. Apparently i didn’t care, and i told her to leave me alone. That was in the 4th grade.
I did eventually make friends of course. Sometime around 6th grade i began to make friends. Today I have many beautiful friends in my life. In my journey called life, I have found different ways to heal from my past. Some of those ways have been through conversations with friends. Traditional ceremonies that have survived such as Temezcali/sweat lodge and Teepee ceremonies have been incredibly healing and powerful to my spirit and my heart. My ancestors and my willingness to be a better person have been my guide. I am so grateful for the communities that invite me to heal through meditation, counsel, art making, dancing…
A few months ago I was in my room cleaning and i heard a couple fighting outside my window. The guy was calling his gf a “hoe”. He was shaming her and making her feel worthless. He called her a bitch and a hoe and told her he was not ashamed to call her that. When i heard the verbal abuse i looked out the window. The couple was a high school boy and girl. She still had her backpack on and she was crying. He was pulling her hair and calling her names. I walked outside and tried to intervene. I was filled with anger, and i tried asking the girl if she needed any help. He didnt let me talk to her and told me to leave them alone, he didnt get into my business, so i had no right getting in their business. Apparently he was “old enough” to know what he was doing… Yes, he was old enough to be an abuser. It was that week that I began to train at Peace over Violence. An organization that provides services to victims of violence. I am now a volunteer as a Violent Prevention Specialist (still in practice) and had my first presentation at a middle school last week. I wrote down the address and took off to find the middle school.
In my presentation we were going to talk about teen dating violence and learn to identify the cycle of abuse. It was also important for me to talk about what healthy relationships look like, so I had an activity in mind for them. , and have activities that engaged a group of twenty 8th grade girls to have a conversation about what healthy relationships look like and how to identify teen dating violence.
The school was in Gardena, the town i went to school in when i wasnt moving around. When i arrived at the address, I couldnt believe my eyes and my gut. I parked in front of what use to be my old preschool. I starred at the building and the huge window was no longer there. The swings were taken out. And a bunch of middle school kids were hanging out behind the school gate talking and playing around. My preschool was remodeled and turned into a charter middle school. It had only opened a few weeks prior to my arrival.
I accepted the moment and went inside. I met about 20 girls who seemed shy at first. I asked them to write down words on a piece of paper identifying what they would want a healthy relationship to look like and they scribbled words like trust, open mindedness, and kindness. We had positives to work with, and then we identified power and control. We finished by writing down “the relationship bill of rights”. One of my favorite rights someone shared was, “I have the right to make mistakes and its ok”.
I finished the presentation, walked out, got in my car, and drove away. I cried. I gave thanks. I felt blessed. It was magical to have the universe tell me i was exactly where i was suppose to be. A journey almost 3 decades long that took me in so many different directions and brought me to a place i had begun. A place where I replaced my trauma with a new memory for hope. I am thankful. And i pray. I pray for the power of young men and womyn to practive healthy, mature, beautiful ways of loving and living.