Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Broken Child: You Mean I Really Am Different - Enlighten Me Series

Part five of six here. We have one left to go. These excerpts point to the beginnings of my depression. From what I have gathered, my situation was the perfect storm for a little girl to lose her way. I was in great need of enlightenment and guidance.


Part Five: You Mean I Really am Different?

I felt isolated and alone. When I tried to make friends, they kept looking at me funny or laughed at me. What was going on? I don’t get it, why doesn’t anyone want to be near me? Probably because I was what… ugly, weird, or just confused? Would someone care to enlighten me? What was so weird about me?

To confirm that I was different, I was sent to special ed class. When I looked around me, I was confused. I didn’t resemble anyone in the classroom. I didn’t have the same disabilities or learning problems. My new teacher looked at me and said a little too sternly, “You shouldn’t be here. I don’t understand why they sent you to me. You don’t belong in this classroom.” I whole-heartedly agreed with her indignation, because I was feeling the same way about the situation. All I understood was that she seriously didn’t want me either. That I didn’t belong anywhere. I cried.

I was intelligent, but not articulate. I stuttered slightly when I got nervous. And I was anxiety filled for most of my school life. Once I remember my kindergarten teacher telling me to speak in English. I kept insisting I was. “But I am speaking English!” I cried. The principal came to our home and told my parents to only speak English at home, because I was getting confused. I remember thinking, “What is he talking about? What is wrong with these people, don’t they know English when they hear it? I hear English, I can read English, and I can speak in English.” I just didn’t get it.

Apparently when I first started school, I spoke nothing but Spanish. Years later, I realized that I must have mixed the two languages together, that it sometimes came out as a stutter searching for the right word. My mind was translating quickly but my mouth wasn’t fast enough.

Why didn’t anyone enlighten me? No one told me I was speaking Spanish! I didn’t know I was speaking another language. It would have helped me understand why no one understood me or wanted to play with me. It would have explained why every time I opened my mouth, the other kids would laugh or tease me. It would have also explained why teachers wouldn’t respond to me at times and instead gave me a lot of blank stares as though I wasn’t there at all.

How can I have not known that I was a different culture? It goes to show you that when a child, me, goes out into the world, too naive, too young to understand, with no real guidance, and adults too busy to realize my dilemma that I became a lost girl. I was a smart child, but not smart enough to figure it out.

I was a broken child and no one knew that I needed to be fixed.

The last one coming up. Part Six - No Way! You Mean I'm a Different Race? Confusion arises when you're as lily white as your neighbor, but then again, you aren't. WTF?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Broken Child: You Can't Be Happy When You Can't See

Coming near the end of my six part story. These excerpts point to the beginnings of my depression. From what I have gathered, my situation was the perfect storm for a little girl to lose her way. I was in great need of enlightenment and guidance. My confusion was so complete when I was a child wondering around my elementary school. What have we learned so far:
Crying was the only thing I heard the first year of my life.
I was too young to go to school.
I didn't know I was a poor little girl.
And now: Add seeing on the list of things I do poorly.


Part Four: Seeing Could Have Helped

One day our second grade teacher announced that we were taking a new test. It was called an eye test. Why didn’t I know about this test? Why would she spring a test on us like this? I wasn’t prepared. If I went up there I knew I would cry and everyone would make fun of me. As the teacher administered the test to the other children I watched intently. There was no way I was going to fail this test if I could help it. I noticed that she pointed to every letter in the same pattern. By the time it was my turn, I looked at the board she was holding up and didn’t understand one letter on it, except for the big E. Why was it so difficult to make the letters out? Good thing I had memorized the pattern and passed the test with flying colors or so I thought. When I got my new glasses, by golly, I could see!

I realized that the confusion and haze I felt when I was a child was due in part to poor eyesight. Everything was blurry. I couldn’t see the black board. I couldn’t see people lips move. I couldn’t see the expressions on people's faces because my eyesight was that bad, almost clinically blind. But even after I started wearing glasses, my confusion about the world around me still didn’t get any clearer.

I wish now that someone had taken the time to enlighten me, to tell me that the reason I didn’t understand was because I was so nearsighted and had needed glasses for a very long time. Glasses just appeared on my face and Bam! Clarity. And Bam! Instant Dorkdom.

Glasses apparently were not cool.

Yeah. Something else to be made fun of. From now on whenever I was paired up with someone, they paired me with the other geek in the classroom. At least my glasses offered a new way to hide. I could hide behind them. They were like a miniature fence on my face that kept people out. It actually helped to repel them. I was considered a good looking girl until those glasses landed on my face. Boys never looked at me again.

Part Five: You Mean I am Different? Who knew? There was actually something different about me after all and I didn't even know it. And it wasn't good.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Broken Child: You Mean We're Poor? - Enlighten Me Series

I've broken down my story into six parts. These excerpts point to the beginnings of my depression. From what I have gathered, my situation was the perfect storm for a little girl to lose her way. I was in great need of enlightenment and guidance.


Part Three: You Mean We're Poor?

Who knew? I was clueless. Poor children don’t know they are poor. Not until others point it out. Some of the laughter or jokes came because of the clothes I was wearing. I didn’t know that they were laughing at me because I was too poor to afford nice clothes that fit well, or looked worn out, faded, or most likely, mismatched clothes. I knew that I was being laughed at but couldn’t understand why. My parents have five children all a year apart. So our clothes were shared among us, as were the shoes and coats. Every once in a while my brother even wore a girl’s coat. On rainy days we didn’t wear boots. Sometimes there were no socks to be found. I realize now that the clothes probably weren’t as clean as they could have been either. When my glasses broke, they were taped up bringing more jeers and jokes. I became the geek, the unwanted, and the unwashed. I was confused. I cried.

I wished someone had enlightened me that being poor put you below others on the social scale. I didn't realize that the poverty moniker was showing all over me. It could have explained the behavior of the other kids. I didn’t care or even think about clothes or how someone else dressed or looked, but it meant so much to so many other people. I was confused.

I didn’t realize we were poor until my mother and I went shopping for my communion dress. These were the most beautiful dresses I had ever seen. Every time I picked one off the rack that I liked, my mother would say, “Sorry honey, that one costs too much.” She said that after the next six dresses I picked up. That’s when a paradigm shift happened and I asked, “Mami, are we poor? Are we a poor family?” She thought for a minute and then admitted that yes indeed we were what people would call poor. But as long as we were together and loved each other that we were rich in love and family. To this day, she regrets telling me yes, because I would never let her buy me anything ever again after that. I always told her I didn’t need it and to spend the money on my brother or sisters instead.

I became embarrassed, self-conscious, and tried my best to be invisible after that. But it was becoming easy. No one pays attention to you when you look so pitiful, unless of course, its to make fun of you. Other than that, you become a nobody. That was fine with me.

Part Four coming up: Seeing Could Have Helped - when you're blind as a bat, no wonder everything seems hazy. Geez.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Broken Child: Haze of Confusion - Enlighten Me Series

I've broken down my story into six parts. These excerpts point to the beginnings of my depression. From what I have gathered, my situation was the perfect storm for a little girl to lose her way. I was in great need of enlightenment and guidance.



I entered kindergarten when I was four years old, turning five three months later. In those days, four year olds were allowed to start school early. I can only tell you that my memories of this age substantiate that I was wholly unprepared for school. I could write my name in cursive, understood two languages, and was very good at math. I had book smarts but no street smarts. I never ever understood socially what was happening around me. I was too young and couldn't relate to other children on their level. Everyone looked at me as though they were seeing an alien and didn't understand me either. I didn't get it. I walked around in a haze of confusion for the longest time. That's the word. CONFUSION.

The only thing I could focus on or make sense of was the teacher. I needed praise, affirmation, acceptance and I got that from teacher. I excelled in her presence and I was appreciated. So I did everything in my power to please her. But even then she kept giving me blank stares and no sense of understanding. WTF was going on around here!

It took a long time for the haze to lift. People would laugh and I never knew why. Jokes zoomed over my head like a roaring jet. If I looked around and the laughter was directed at me, I cried. I could have been the one that made the joke, unwittingly of course. I never knew why they laughed. I cried even more. I excelled at the schoolwork, so they placed me into an advance split level class for math, which meant I was with even older children. I never understood what was happening around me. Socially I didn't have a clue. After a while I just stopped talking altogether. It was better to be silent, to be invisible.

Why could I understand the work so thoroughly but not understand the people around me or why they acted the way they did? My confusion was so complete that I would fill in the blanks with what I thought was happening and about myself. What was it about me that made people act so? I cried a lot.

I wished someone would have enlightened me to help me understand that the reason folks reacted to me the way they did had more to do with the fact that I was too young, and wait for it...
I was speaking another language. Now that was news to me. More on that in Part 5.

Next is Part 3 - You Mean We're Poor!?!