Poetry: Caught Between

I wrote this 2001 when I took a break from writing angry breakup poetry-lol. As an immigrant that grew up here, I’ve struggled with my identity for most of my life. Issues with identity are also another trait of BPD. I think this was a time in my life when I was especially reflecting on this part of my identity because I was become aware that men were fetishizing me.

me in 2001 around the time I wrote this poem

Caught between two worlds
what am I made up of more
hopefully I won’t ever have to choose
sometimes I wish to just cut loose

Too Latina for the American side
Too Americanizada for the Latino side
So what is the politically correct term for someone like me?
Not American, not born here
Not fully Latina either
for I lack that latin allure

So I’ll call myself one of a kind
a girl with much Latin beauty and an American mind
like a delicious half and half cream
whose taste is an amazing mixed dream

My Almost Love Affair with Death **trigger for SI**

I don’t remember the first time I had suicidal ideation but I remember the first and only time I made an attempt to end my life. It was the morning of December 5th of 2016. It’s hard to remember the exact events of that day but I do remember the triggers before that day which led me down that dark path. Some people might think that by writing about this I’m sharing too much of my personal life but I stopped caring about other people’s opinions this year. While it is hard for me to revisit that day and tell my story; it is important for me to share my story in hopes that someone somewhere struggling doesn’t feel so alone or that loved ones look for signs if someone near them is in trouble. Talking about suicide and its possible causes is an important conversation to have that should be normalize. 

To friends, family, and coworkers, I’ve always tried to maintain this image of having an almost perfect life of suburban bliss. Relatives from Peru, the country I immigrated from have told me that I’m the American Dream. Looking at my social media, this image is perfectly crafted with pictures of me with my family and friends.I specialize in posting those candid family shots at some event in town #momlife, me  with friends downtown #girlsnightout,  and me at work #bestjobever. You get the point. I’ve crafted this image of being this perfectly put together woman who has it all and does great at balancing all of the expectations and responsibilities thrusted upon her by society. People close to me call me strong, amazing, and awesome. They see this confident woman that manages to handle life and almost every obstacle thrown at her with grace. I remember being 17 after announcing my unplanned pregnancy to friends and one of them telling me, “ I can’t believe how calm you are and how well you’re handling it, I would be freaking out”.I smiled at her and told her, “Well, it’s done now. I just have to deal with it the best way I can”. Even at the tender age of 17, it was ingrained in me to suppress my emotions and show others this facade of being a strong woman. Needless to say, there’s always been a lot of pressure on me to maintain this image. This pressure almost killed me. 

#girlsnight
#family time
#momlife
#worklife

In the winter of 2016, my life looked perfect from the outside. I worked from home as a Bilingual Child Support Agent making more money than ever, I’m married to a doting husband, I have 3 wonderful and amazing sons. I even lived in a quaint but nice 3 bedroom house on a street named Candy Ct in a relatively quiet neighborhood. And don’t forget, I still had time to have the occasional girls night. So hashtag perfect life right? What people didn’t know at the time was the following:

My oldest son, who was a senior in high school at the time and an excellent student, was struggling with one of his classes and I was starting to get calls and emails from the school about it.#failingasmom

I realized my marriage was unsalvageable and there was nothing either of us could do to save it. #mymarriageisafailure

-I was gaining weight because I was stress eating. #lowselfesteem

I hated my job as a Child Support Agent and it was taking a major toll on my mental health. I did not handle being yelled at all day with clients well.#Ifuckinghatemyjob

Also, the political climate was changing for the worst for immigrants and people of color after Trump was elected. #fuckAmerica

And, I was binge drinking at night with my prescribed xanax to deal with all of it. I was also taking Lexapro in the mornings. #selfmedicatingtocope

In November of that year, I was starting to fall into the pit of despair that is depression and while I knew it was happening; I was in denial. I had been here before having PPD with all four of my pregnancies. I kept telling myself that I could keep a handle on it, I didn’t have the time or the luxury of having a mental breakdown. Even though I was making more at my new job, we were still a low income family since I was the only main provider. I had no family to call on or fall back at all if I was to go to a psychiatric institution. Plus, my children needed their mother to be there for them. So I tried to bury any feelings of despair deep within me with the help of alcohol and Xanax.

After weeks of feeling this way, on Sunday, December 4th, I felt a new low that night. I don’t know why  I  didn’t reach out to friends. I had isolated myself from everyone in a lot of ways. I kept in contact with people close to me but it’s easy to keep a facade of being “okay” when I’m not. I’ve been doing it since I can remember. Gotta love that Quiet BPD. I remember feeling like a complete failure because I was raised by my mother to always be strong or at least keep that façade of strength on the surface to show everyone that you’re not weak or crazy. There had been a couple of “weak women” with mental illness in my mother’s family who were looked down upon because of this. I grew up with this stigma that those with mental illness were “weak” or “not right in the head”. Also, I felt very privileged compared to my mother and aunts who came to this country and had way more hardships than I ever did. I remember thinking that night how nice it would be nice to fall asleep and never wake up. Waking up meant facing my reality that I was a failure at everything in my life that defined me: a mother, a wife, and a worker. The next morning, I woke up around 6:30 am and I felt numb and dead inside. I didn’t want to face my depressing and horrible reality and I made a decision. There was no point in living if I was a failure at everything. Feeling like a failure is worse than death to me.  I texted my supervisor and told her I was sick and couldn’t sign in to work, I wrote love letters to my sons, my husband, my parents, and my closest friends trying to explain what I was doing, and I got the coffee from the kitchen counter that my husband had prepared for me and took the xanax bottle that was on the kitchen table to my son’s bedroom where I had been working at. I sat down on the recliner in that room and swallowed each of the 15 pills one at a time. I remember that right after, I got a call from my oldest son’s counselor concerned about him. I vaguely remember the conversation. Right after, something in me made me send a text to my friend Janet from college that lived 10 minutes from me. I honestly don’t remember what I texted her, all I know is that I finally fell asleep. I was woken up from my sleep as my husband shook my shoulders, he  was telling me something and I vaguely remember that it had to do with my friend calling him. He wanted me to go to the living room but my legs felt like lead. So he half carried me to the couch in the living room and forced me to drink coffee. I fell asleep shortly after. I remember waking up and talking to my husband but I can’t remember what I said, all I know is that we both made a decision that I needed to quit my job and that afternoon, I emailed my two weeks notice letter to my supervisor. And my friend Janet came in the afternoon and took me to a Mexican restaurant to eat tacos, my favorite comfort food and we talked for a long time about what had happened. I also remember my friend Janet talking to my husband about me. Since I was a legal resident permanent alien at the time, going to a psychiatric hospital was not an option for me. The application for citizenship specifically asks about whether you have been in a psychiatric hospital. Me, my friend, and husband knew that I couldn’t take a chance on my future petition of naturalization being denied. You see, that famous poem on the Statue of Liberty by  Emma Lazarus “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore” is really a lie in this case. What America really wants are these almost perfect and model immigrants but that’s another blog post

 After this happened, I fell into a deep depression. It didn’t help that I had also withdrawn from my mental health meds without the advice of my doctor. If it wasn’t for the fact that I kept a journal after this event, I wouldn’t know half of what happened during  what happened during that time. I call this time period of my life, “The Great Depression” of 2016 and 2017 that lasted until November of 2017. During “the Great Depression”, I kept my journal religiously, and I gave myself a month before looking for another job, and reached out to a former coworker and friend who referred me to her ex husband for marriage counseling. I also completed and filed my paperwork for naturalization. I also eventually found a job with the school district as a parapro. I even got a tattoo of semi-colon in February to remind myself that my story isn’t over.  Even during the great depression, I still tried to be as productive as possible. I also kept this list with me-It was a list of important events (birthday, anniversaries, graduation) that I needed to be alive for. I also kept a list of reasons why I needed to be alive (my kids, parents, husband, friends).  I kept these lists with me at all times because that’s how bad my depression was at the time. It was a really dark period of my life.

I reflect on this 5 years later and I feel like this was a lifetime ago. Since that time, I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and Borderline Personality Disorder.  I’m also on three different kinds of mental health meds and am going to therapy. Depression still visits me from time to time, especially when life gets overwhelming or something drastic happens in my life but I have way better skills to cope with it now and not let it get to an extremely bad place again. I would never tell anyone that I’m cured of depression because that would be a lie but I will say I’m much, much better at not letting it take over my life like it has in the past. Writing my story and sharing it with world may seem excessive to some but I’m sharing my story in the hopes that someone reading this comes to an understanding that people that die by suicide or attempt it are not selfish or cowards; we are people that feel this immense and excruciating pain and we want to escape from it by any means necessary. I also write my story in hopes that if there is someone out there struggling with suicidal ideation and depression; I want them to know that they are not alone and it is possible to get to a better place  #youareworthit. 

me in November of 2021 with another fighter, Frida Kahlo

Here are a few helpful links related to this story:

Suicide Prevention:

Therapist locator: 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists

Depression and Suicidal Ideation:

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-recognizing-signs-of-suicide

Bipolar 2: 

https://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/bipolar-2-disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237

Quiet BPD: 

https://www.healthline.com/health/quiet-bpd

A Decade of Blogging

sums up my decade

So today marks my 10 anniversary since starting this blog. I’ll admit that until the summer of this year I didn’t take this blog as seriously as maybe I should have. I started this blog in December of 2011 after my house was broken into and we were robbed. It was traumatizing to me and my family and I needed a way to process it so I started blogging. Here is that blogpost:

Hola/Hello

Since starting this blog, there have been a lot of life changes. I’ve blog about those life changes few times when just writing it down doesn’t do the trick. The way that I have explained it to friends and family is that the blog is like screaming into the void of cyberspace. In October of 2019, I started posting my poetry and this was another level of intimacy for me because I don’t share my poetry with just anyone. I will share my poetry or writing with one of my close friends or sometimes at open mic at my local pub .Then I started a second job and I didn’t have the time needed to dedicate to this blog but I always kept writing. Then I got into a relationship that lasted until July of this year. While I’m not getting into how that relationship ended or why (that’s blog content for late next year-lol) it was one of the reasons I started blogging again. The demise of that relationship was unexpected and devastating for me so I turned to my first coping mechanism-writing. Shortly before my breakup in July, I started therapy and was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and that was a lot to process in itself. Being broken up while dealing with a new diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder felt like I had experienced 2 really horrible car wrecks within a week. I compare it to a car accident because that’s probably one of the most traumatizing experiences of my life. Except this time, it wasn’t my car that was totaled and unrepairable, it was me. I felt like I had lost part of my identity since I was no longer someone’s partner and I gained a new part of my identity in being diagnosed with BPD. I felt completely overwhelmed with no sense of direction; I honestly didn’t know what to do next. All I wanted to do was lie in bed and cry while Alexa played my sad girl playlist from Spotify. Here is that playlist:

Playlist: For the Brokenhearted: Sad Edition (the one where you cry)

And while I did do that some of the time; I understood I still needed to get up every day and show up for myself somehow. And showing up for myself meant writing. And so I wrote every day in my journal and in my numerous notebooks. I wrote letters at 3 AM that I would never send, journal entries full of immense sadness and rage, and tons and tons of poetry.

these are just a few of my journals and well Sylvia Plath is of course one of my favorite poets

A few days after my breakup, I decided to blog about my diagnosis to start to make sense of it and here’s that post:

A New Diagnosis: BPD

After writing that post and it got more than a few views and a couple of likes, it made me realize that there are other people like me. I also got the idea at that time that healing for me would look like me revisiting past traumatic situations through my poetry and reflections or writing a blog post. And this was chaotic in itself because I started posting poetry from all stages in my life. So around late October and early November, I started posting poetry for the most part chronologically from the early stages of my writing with the very first poem I wrote when I was 15 and here’s that poem:

Poetry: Another Mate

My writings and poetry are confessional, sometimes childish, and at times super emotional. It’s meant for people who have felt misunderstood in their anger and grief, it’s meant for people who feel everything at once and feel overwhelmed by it, it’s meant for people who have traumas they’re still not over, and it’s meant for people who have given their trust and vulnerability to the wrong people only to be broken over and over again by doing this.

so I kept writing

My future plan for this blog is to continue to post poetry, essays, playlists, and other writings. Without intending to, this blog has become a storytelling blog. And it’s a story about a woman who is far from perfect. It’s a story of woman who lies, who loves hard, who hates even harder, who loves sex, who has been abandoned by lovers and who has abandoned lovers, who’s crazy, and who feels immense sadness and rage when trauma hits. It’s a story of a woman who fucks up continuously but still manages to get up and try to become a better version of herself than she was yesterday. It’s also a story of a woman who has continued to triumph after trauma. Most importantly it’s a story of a woman who is done accommodating to people’s and society’s expectations of who she should be and at 40 has realized that being authentic and true to herself is the only and right way for her to be. I may have changed a lot within a decade but what will never change is my love for writing and my purpose to continue to share my story.

Here’s to 10 more years of writing about my vida loca

Poem: My Sleeping Poem **trigger warning**

I wrote this poem in December of 2016 after my almost love affair with death on December 5th. It’s strange how aside from my journal entries from that month, I hardly remember that month. I just remember feeling so broken inside and like a failure after that happened that it was so hard to get up every morning. I do know that writing saved me during that time because I started journaling way more consistently. I would learn years later after being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder that up to 10 percent of people with BPD die by suicide. Five years later, I’m glad that I had people by my side that prevented me from becoming one in ten. I’m glad that afterwards, I was able to slowly come back from this even if I was mostly depressed the year after and it was a fight to get up every single day.

For more information about the high risk of BPD and Suicide, here is a link from Psychology Today with info about it:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201512/the-destructive-power-borderline-personality-disorder

me and one of my best friends in December 2016

I wanted to sleep

Sleep beckoned me

Like a magical place

Where I could forget

Forget-

The burdens and responsibilities

Forget-

The performance reviews, the report cards, the bills

Forget- 

The husband, the kids, the friends

I wanted to sleep

So I planned my journey there

Call in sick, act natural,

Take the bottle of xanax

I wrote love letters 

To my children, my husband, and friends

Just in case I fell in a forever dream

I wanted to sleep

Selfishly, without interruptions 

I wanted to sleep

So I didn’t have to think 

About my mediocre and suburban reality

My lost dreams of greatness

My wastefulness on this earth

I wanted to sleep

But I was interrupted

By my husband shaking me

Halfway carrying me 

To the couch, forcing coffee

Down my throat

I wanted to sleep 

But I had to wake up

And endure the reality of life

Reflection: I Am America

It’s been 4 years since I took an oath to become an American citizen. I took an oath specifically to Trump which makes me nauseous typing BUT I also took an oath because of Trump. Before making the decision to become an American citizen, I had never really cared about politics but that was until Trump got elected. If you were a POC or immigrant or both, you felt the shift in the racial tension in the U.S right before the election but especially after the election. Racists overtly made their ignorant beliefs known that immigrants were not welcomed in this country. DACA was in the process of being repealed. DACAmented kids who should have been protected were being deported and there was a rise in deportation for undocumented immigrants as well or well the media made it seem like that. I felt that as an immigrant with LPR (legal permanent resident) status, I could possibly be next. In February of 2016, I sent my paperwork to USCIS to solidify my relationship with America. One could say that for better or worse, I finally decided to make a commitment to this country. Here is my blog post about the process:

What has changed in the past 4 years since becoming an American and what does being American mean to me now?

Well, I’ve voted in 2 elections since I’ve become an American including the national election in 2020 (yay, no more Trump). In October of this year, I applied for my passport and have received it. Now, I can take a trip out of the country without any worries or concerns. While it is an immense privilege to be an American citizen since I  now have a whole new world of opportunities opened up and I can travel anywhere; I feel that I haven’t really changed on the inside. I still see myself and identify as an immigrant  but now I also call myself an American. But to be honest, my idea of being an American has changed. I used to think I needed a piece of paper to say “Oh, I’m American” but  for better or worse, America is and has been ingrained in me since that hot September day in 1986 when I set my foot on American soil at the age of 5.

I was an American when every morning at school I would say the Pledge of Allegiance in my broken and terrible English at the age of 6 and 7.

me in 1987

I was an American when I went back to Peru at age 9 to get my resident alien status solidified with my family.

me at age 9 in Peru during my trip with my family to get our LPR status

I was an American when I met my childhood best friends in Hawaii at age 11.

me with one of my childhood best friends from Hawaii

I was an American when I had my babies at ages 17, 24, and 30.

me with my three kids right after their births

I was American when I started working for the government at the age of 18.

me at the age of 18 in 1999 working for the government

I was an American when I got my college degree in 2009 from the University of Georgia .

me in 2009 with my parents at my graduation from college

I was an American in 2016 and early 2017 when I attended protests and marches for immigrant and women’s rights.

me in January of 2017 at the Women’s March in Washington D.C

And I was an American when people told me, “my english is good for being a Mexican” or I’ve been discriminated against or oppressed in this country by the people that don’t want “my kind” here.

I used to believe that I didn’t belong here because of the racism, prejudice, and ignorance I’ve encountered but that’s no longer the case. This year, I finally let go of those beliefs because I’ve embraced that I am America and America is me. My life may have been harder in many aspects because I wasn’t the average “American born” citizen but I will tell you that I wouldn’t trade my experience as an American to be average. I I feel that working harder than the “average American” for my success has made me appreciate my success so much more and for that I am thankful. My parents had no idea of the many hardships they would endure making the decision to immigrate to this country but I am glad they made that journey. It’s taken me 35 years to get here but today I can honestly say that I’m proud to be an American. 

me in November of 2021 telling my crazy story about being an essential worker

 

What Does Thanksgiving Mean to an Immigrant

When me and my family first immigrated to the U.S in September of 1986; Thanksgiving was a foreign concept to us. We were introduced to Thanksgiving by our extended family members who were seasoned veterans in celebrating this American Holiday. I was 5 when I immigrated to this country so my memories of our first or second Thanksgiving are pretty blurry. 

What I do remember is going to my uncle’s house where my aunts, uncles and numerous cousins would gather. My mother sat with my aunts and grandmother while they shared the latest chisme (aka-gossip) while they cooked and later on served dinner to the kids and the men. Yay for machismo culture <insert sarcasm>. My father and my uncles drank together while they joked around. I remember playing with my cousins or following my sister upstairs with our teenage cousins to the bedroom with the TV to watch music videos with George Michael ,Rick Astley blasting on MTV. Maybe that’s how I acquired my sometimes basic taste in music.

I also remember that since we were away from adults, our cousins took the opportunity to teach me and my sister all of the bad words in English. Haha. Another fond memory that comes to mind is the newest babies being passed around the aunts or the older female cousins. There wasn’t such a thing as asking permission from the parents for their baby unless of course the child is being nursed. I also remember hating the taste of turkey. It tasted like rubber to me.

me and almost all of my cousins circa 1987, I’m in front in the frilly blue dress

There was warmth and laughter in this idyllic setting of Thanksgiving but that’s not the whole picture. There was also unpleasantness. My mom is one of nine children and with that many personalities; there was no way to avoid drama when all of them gathered in one space. There were more than a few petty conflicts between family members on Thanksgiving and other holidays gatherings.

My mother decided after a couple of Thanksgivings it would be better to celebrate Thanksgiving at home by ourselves. So my mother learned how to season and make a turkey and stuffing. Instead of the traditional green bean casserole or sweet potato pie; our sides were Peruvian Potato Salad and Macaroni Salad accompanied by Peruvian Hot Chocolate and Dad’s famous alcoholic Peruvian eggnog. We would watch movies rented from the local video store while we waited for the turkey to be ready. When my dad started getting tipsy, he would start playing Spanish Christmas Carols, Huaynos, and Musica Criolla. It was music that my teenage sister would cringe at and me and my brother would tolerate. I didn’t realize then but I do realize now that my father was in his own way trying to make sure that we wouldn’t forget our roots as we were living this new life in America. My parents tried their best to make sure that our strong Peruvian culture and traditions were not forgotten as we acclimated to the the new Americanized way of living. When dinner was ready, we would sit down at the table. I ,being the youngest and most impressionable by my then Catholic School upbringing, would ask the family to say a prayer and ask them to say something they were thankful for. I think I was seven or eight at the time but I guess my parents thought it was a good tradition to start. And of course, my siblings would get annoyed but they did it.

Despite those first few Thanksgivings when we lived very much under the poverty line; it was still a happy time for us as a family. My parents made sure that Thanksgiving was almost always filled with  warmth, love, and laughter. One could say that  what Thanksgiving meant to my newly arrived immigrant family then  was learning how to incorporate our culture into a new American holiday like Thanksgiving. While my parents understood the importance of assimilation; they still made sure me and my siblings didn’t forget our culture.  Today, I’m filled with gratitude that my parents brought the best of both cultures to Thanksgiving and most holidays in their own unique way. I’ve been able to bring these bicultural traditions to my own family while also making new traditions.

me and my family circa 1986, I’m the one sitting on my mom’s lap

Poetry: Miserable Memories

I wrote this in 2002 after a trip to California. That trip was strange for me. I was filled with nostalgia but also felt triggered by revisiting traumatic parts of my childhood during that trip. I did make peace with my past during that trip. I don’t talk much about my childhood because of the trauma attached to it but I think I need to. We should talk about the things that are hard to talk about. I believe that my childhood trauma played a big part in me having BPD.

The 2 bedroom apt I grew up in from ages 5 to 11
My aunt, me and my grandmother during that trip. My aunt was not a nice lady BUT thats another blog post .

Gone back to my old miserable childhood world
Everything has changed and yet remains the same
Old memories I had buried in the back of my mind
Come crawling back to the surface
Of the pain, poverty, and misery
That scared little girl emerges once again
But this time as a brave woman
To proclaim that she is no longer
Frightened by the people who caused her so much hurt

Poem: Racist Jerk

So I wrote this poem in 2000 when ex my boyfriend Mike said something super racist about immigrants knowing I was an immigrant myself. Talk about cognitive dissonance. Lol. He also had a super nice red sports car….and yes he was making up for something. Haha. Looking back, the dating pool in the hick town I was living in was super limited. I honestly can’t say that this had to anything to do with me over reacting because of BPD…this dude was just an ignorant asshole.

My new boyfriend
What you said really hurt
I never thought you were a racist jerk
I don’t know if I can get past your words
Staying with you would only make it worst
With time I could become like you
And to tell you the truth
That scares me to death
So now I wish we never met
And that I didn’t have to tell you this
I hope I won’t be missed
I wish you a good life
I hope one day you become wise

Poesia: Frases

Escribi este poema en el 2008 cuando estaba enfadada con mi esposo por que el no me daba mi lugar en frente de su familia. Su familia de el eran racistas conmigo.

Yo en el 2008 con mi segundo hijo

Frases incompletas

Salen de tu boca 

Por que tus palabras 

Son huecos sin hechos 

Miradas insolitas

Recibo de tu gentuza

Porque mi apariencia

No les agrada a ellos

Vidas deshechas

Por no querer contemplar

Que nuestro falso amar

Arruina todo por el miedo

A la soledad