21 marks a time when all young adults celebrate being Free..
I remember my 21st year on this planet and I was not happy..
So not happy that I believed I was ‘better off dead’..
so much for FREEDOM and being able to DRINK..
I was DONE
I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment on 189th street and Amsterdam
The apartment belonged to my great aunt, Theresa and was ‘handed down’ to her niece, my current Pain in the Arse, aunt Carmen…. the one featured in past posts.. you know, ‘Mother of the Year’ recipient.
The landlord wanted to make sure that the apartment was inhabited by family and I was the one in line
I was 21 and insecure and secure… and despite being around strong female role models, the insecurities won..
At the time, I befriended the sisters of this Black boy I was re-frequenting..
truth is, he was my first many years before and he was the only one that labeled me ‘acceptable’ to have sex with..
Do you know what that means? How that feels at 14? To be accepted; to be desired? To be thought of as ‘beautiful’?
Just to get this picture into perspective, I was over 250 lbs. Not many guys would be ok with a Fat girlfriend in their arms in the 90’s
And so we met again and I hung out with his little sisters.. I was 21 and they were in their teens… I trusted them.. so much I would give them my debit card AND my pin
They cleaned me out..
Latinos would call me ‘PENDEJA”
Some friends at the time, after I recounted the tale would say, ‘what do you expect from ghetto Black girls?’
Today I know that NO ONE is the ambassador to their race, despite the lessons of my grandmother.
Then there was work.. I was a student teacher and it was the ONE thing that held me together, the ‘glue’ to my sanity… I found what I would do for the REST OF MY LIFE..
I guess the feeling some would describe as ‘meeting my soulmate’… but it was my JOB.
And something happened that threatened my continuing to teach and I thought, ‘what’s the point?’
I felt like a failure with no redemption, no sense of belonging, no sense of a future, no self love..
if other’s would play me for a fool after I have been nothing but kind and generous to them… what’s the point?
I decided to end it all but didn’t succeed.
It turns out that my plan failed mostly because I was over 250 lbs.. funny huh!
The amount of pills a fat girl takes may prove to be deadly for a skinny girl but not me at the time, and that’s how I was saved that night.
All of this flooded through my thoughts as I listen to the Cranberries ’21’.
‘No need to Argue’ was on loop that year for me.
Today as I grade my students work and listen to Dolores angelic voice, I think about where I was 25 years ago, in an unhappy place, confined to an asylum after my attempt.
The NYC Hospital rule is when you attempt suicide, you are moved to the mental health facility of the hospital you were taken to. Every hospital has this ‘floor’, tucked away with a double locked door and strict restrictions as to who can enter and what you can bring in. Followed 24/7 by a nurse till they conclude you are no longer a danger to yourself and obligated to attend therapy whether alone or in a group. A less glamorous ‘Girl, Interrupted’ if you will.
One very vivid memory?
Being worried about missing days at work and worried about missing classes.
I was also attending classes at City College..
Let that sink in.
I just attempted to end my life but what was at the forefront of my concerns was my attendance at work and school.
I know it’s programming YET I believe that saved me as well. Having something outside of myself as my focus allowed me to put things into perspective… Having things to look forward to, having things to throw myself into ASIDE from healing helped me..
I believe today so many young people are so focused on self, their worries feed their insecurities that then feed their anxieties and prevent them from breathing and the thought that ‘everything will be ok’ is next to impossible.
It took another 15 years to figure that out.. It’s REALLY not that serious.
At 21 I was an insecure fat Dominican girl experiencing feelings of self-hate, trying my damnedest to keep it all together and failing and that girl back then couldn’t accept that.
My job and how others treated me were the most important things that defined me.
Those two things are still very important to me, my students, what I do, how I am regarded, the difference TODAY, although it may ADD to who I am, they don’t define who I am.
This is One lesson I believe important to put on loop for my students…
‘You’re figuring it out and where ever or whatever it is you believe you should be right now, it’s just a step in the road to where you are headed and who you will become. Relax, just breathe..’