written: June of 2015 (updated a few times)
Choice-less… The irony is i chose to view myself as that way for a majority of my life, I had considered myself to be a victim of my own life, a passenger of my own body, riding along and allowing the catastrophes to happen. We always have a choice, even if that choice is just to breathe and reflect; and the manner in which we see ourselves can be our biggest aly or enemy in life.
They say PTSD as a child or any sort of traumatic event can cause a multitude of problems later on in life… what categorizes as a traumatic event for one person might be just another day for another…
moving from Brazil to the United States at the age of nine
was still one of the worst days of my life
And though to my sisters
this was just another sad day that they possibly barely remember at this point in their lives, my personality did not allow for that. Pisces; The twin fish; Mutable, interchangeable, emotional, empathic. This day stayed engraved into my memory, clear as day, from waking up early and getting our hair done at the salon for the long travels (later forgetting to put it up in the shower and being yelled at by my many aunts for wasting the blow-out) to the many sad goodbyes. I cried the entire way; All. fourteen. hours. Every plane change until we made our way to the small town in Ohio.
The following years
were a combination of happiness and sadness,
every happy moment followed
by the overwhelming sadness that I was no longer home,
no longer surrounded by the entirety of our family.
learning a new language, adapting, it all happened so fast to me, but i was still not plugged in, i was a little slow, I left Brazil halfway through my second grade year and entered America in the third grade, I was put into special-Ed classes for the first year and a half until i spoke fluently enough to do homework and participate in classes, but my learning was interrupted for adaptation, most of the time I didn’t quite register what was going on, always just a little behind.
Not knowing how to interact with the others my age, not quite grasping what they were saying, slang terms, dirty words, dirty sayings, normal things kids know that to me just left me looking at a corner with a fake smile. I remember there was a Brazilian boy in my class my first year, who spoke portuguese as well, and everyone was so excited, I was even excited, that I could have this person who could connect me to the rest of them all, so that they could stop pointing to the globe and asking me to say “Say america” so I could stop copying homework and actually understand it.
And then in the playground in front of everyone, he look at the other kids and he told them that I was a lesbian.
They all pointed and laughed,
but I didn't speak that language and
I didn’t even know what that word meant at the time, at all.
I couldn't attach any meaning to it,
I just knew that they were all laughing at me.
I didn’t know at the time I was being bullied I just felt absolutely scared, for months, I hid every time I passed him in the halls, in the cafeteria, I didn’t want to go to school. I didn't understand what anyone was saying 98% of the time, but I knew they thought something of me that made me feel uncomfortable.
A couple years or so pass and my aunt dies of breast cancer,
she leaves behind two daughters; 12 and four years old.
I'm not sure if it was the difficulty of losing someone who was so far away, that I didn’t get to say goodbye, or that I had lost someone who was a mother figure to me, I had once told my mother when I was very little that I wished she had been my mother instead; children can be so hurtful.
This death affected me for years
completely throwing my life into a spiral
unable to move on
or let go
years pass and my grades are average, sometimes bellow average and teachers complain that i draw all over my work, i don’t pay attention. I started gymnastics, I quit gymnastics, I started cheerleading, I quit cheerleading. any after school activities only kept me captivated for a few weeks before stopping.
And then my great grandmother dies.
She had lived with us in brazil, from the moment I was born, I couldn't remember Brazil without her, she raised me, watched me, clothed me, fed me, listened to all the stupid songs and stories I had to tell when I came home from school.
The one person I can without a doubt say;
I was her favorite.
I’d been mentally preparing myself for this moment for a long time. I knew. I knew I didn't have long, and realistically I wouldn’t get to say goodbye.
Dealing with death was never my superpower.
If the death of my aunt was a powerful force in my life, the loss of my grandmother was an earthquake inside of a Typhoon.
Resentment begins to form in my heart,
for my family, for my friends,
for this country that I had never asked to be brought to,
that I hadn't asked to lose my culture, my language, my self- identity, my family back there, and everything that I had once known. I never asked for any of it, and now I was forced to live with the consequences of somebody else's decision.
Highschool is hell
between my lack of attention span
and self-respect, manic-depressive episodes,
dangerous drug abuse, Starving myself,
ruining relationships with anyone who tried to get close, failing grades, truancy courts, burning and cutting at my own body just to escape the moment.
I couldn’t do anything right, but I couldn't stop.
It took my parents a long time to accept and recognize my mental illness, this sort of thing isn’t easily accepted in our culture, they say depression is just laziness,
or lack of something better to do in Brazilian culture.
But I acknowledge now how I was a terrible daughter to my parents, and I can’t imagine how confused, frightened and upset they were throughout my adolescence, regardless of the beliefs they grew up with, they didn't deserve that fear,
& I thank the universe every day my mother fought for my sanity even harder than I did,
it is JUST as difficult being the support to someone with mental illnesses.
After barely completing high school I went to brazil and spent a majority of the year reconnecting with my roots, relearning the language and getting close to my long lost family members, seeing that my parents did bring me to the united states to give me a better chance, gave me a different outlook, I was able to let go of a lot of the hatred through years of therapy and I began to see myself more clearly, began to try to love myself; But it was still difficult, when you don’t love yourself you become codependant of those around you, you love them, through them, and detaching becomes painful.
I had been living in Arkansas since 2010 and in 2012 after a death of a close friend who lived in Ohio I sunk into a deep depression, following shortly my best friend since the age of 13 who had been living with me for the last year, moved back to Ohio and this affected me worse than any other loss in my life, it shook my entire foundation that I had began to build for myself. I didn’t understand how to be alone, how to be okay with myself, and because of that I became the worst version of me i had ever been,
always sad, negative, gloomy,
in a room full of people I would talk about having no one,
my attitude manifested into my reality and I eventually did find myself completely alone.
I had been working with my father at our local pizza store in Arkansas, when we were the only two left in the store at night, and a man walked in and pointed a gun to my head ordering me to open the safe. when someone threatens your life, and you don’t want to live anymore, there is no fear in death for yourself. Then he moved the gun from my head to my fathers head, as he said “open the goddamn safe” I hurried to open the safe and hand him all 300$.
The following week I submitted myself into a psychiatric hospital, and stayed 8 days in-patient receiving 6 rounds of Electroconvulsive therapy (shock therapy) this is effective for removing unwanted traumatic memories, and though I am glad I don't constantly re-live every part of that moment in my life, the panic is still there, and unfortunately so is the permanent short-memory loss that comes from ECT.
The rest of the year was a turbulent force, more drug abuse, more mistakes, getting arrested for the first time in my life, (a frightening experience to be treated like a criminal) then the panic of realizing I was not American, I couldn't just get in trouble like the rest of the people around me. I could get deported, I could get sent back…. to what? to a place I don’t associate myself with, a place I could never survive in if necessary..
During my stay at the Psychiatric Hospital I had been diagnosed as having “Depression” “Anxiety” "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" and “Borderline Personality Disorder”
I am not my diagnosis.
none of them.
They helped me see that.
once you are diagnosed with something other people start to only see those negative qualities in you, anytime I would make a decision, or react about something, my mother would point out to me that my “borderline” was coming out, I began to resent my diagnosis, I decided I was not "borderline", I was not this manipulative, psychotic, awful person they claim me to be.
After finding a combination of the right therapists and psychiatrist my psychiatrist had been sure those three diagnosis were the product of my disrupted learning and having ADD that had been left untreated for so long. She prescribed me the medication accordingly, and along with weekly sessions with the therapist, my outlook on my life changed drastically; those who didn’t love me, thats not my fault. those who don’t like me, thats not my fault. the things I can’t do…. thats not my fault, As long As I'm trying my best!
My favorite therapist once told me;
"I can't pull you out of the hole,
I can only give you a hand and help you see how far you've dug it"
Self Loathing & Depression are a drug
And once you've tasted it you become addicted
There's a seduction in depression and you fall in love with your own suffering, you stay there so long you can't imagine life where you are happy anymore,
you don't even understand the concept of success
self sabotage is all you know.
As I weaned myself from therapy, and Felt my mental health getting stronger I fell in love with the man who's changed my entire existence.
He didn't save me, like She said
No one will pull you out of the whole you have dug for yourself.
But they can give you a ride home
& carry the shovel to the car for you.
Through Yoga, I have become better, loving myself has become easier(though still challenging at times), and depression is no longer something I battle with everyday (though I do still battle with it). Self awareness, Destructive negative thoughts, impulsive behaviors that sabotage my life, are the things I battle with now, I am borderline, and thats okay, I work on being better everyday.
I’m still making many mistakes.
And I still struggle as a foreigner,in many ways-
My education and upbringing clearly show someone who's learning was disrupted in order to adapt to her surroundings, I can't pronounce silly words like "sword" and "guardian" correctly, and these thick Brasileira thighs make most yoga leggings the bane of my existance. In November of 2016 I was sworn in as an American Citizen and I am proud of the choice i have made, I am proud to not only belong to a country, but to have gotten a CHOICE to belong.
In June of 2015 i removed a golfball size mass from my right ovary, and began treatment to a ten year long journey that was awaiting a diagnosis. "Stage three endometriosis" & "Fibromyalgia" are also something I deal with every day now as a chronic illness patient, my normal has changed but I'm not bitter, or angry (At least not always) and life has handed me so many cards that they have only made me more compassionate and understanding towards others (I hope).
I don’t see myself as a victim of what happened to me anymore. I could dwell on what could have been, or the mistakes that have been made, or how I could have been better.
I will be much better Today,
For myself, for the rest of my life.
I am not what happened to me,
I am what I chose to become.