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

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 DACA was in the process of being repealed.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:

https://rejectingstagnationafter.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/becoming-a-citizen-in-the-age-of-trump/

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.

Little Immigrant Eliza
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.

I am America
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.

I am America
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.

I am America
me with my three kids right after their births

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

I am America
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 .

I am America
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.

I am America
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. 

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

 

Poetry: Resignation

From the ages of 18 to 23, I worked for a government agency as an interpreter. I was well-liked by many of my coworkers and my first supervisor was appreciative of me. I was very good at my job and even cross-trained in many other areas that didn’t “pertain to my job”. However, at that job, I was also bullied and discriminated against for being Latina. I was also slut-shamed by my second supervisor and coworkers the latter 2 years I was there. I don’t want to say I deserved being slut-shamed but I’ll just say that I trusted the wrong coworkers with my private life and they went on to gossip about me to everyone. It was also a very stressful environment because of the work I did and clients I had to interact with. My depression and anxiety went haywire. In 2003, I decided to enroll in my local community college and major in English. In 2004, I was trying to go to school full time, work full time, and deal with my child’s new autism diagnosis. I was breaking down mentally and something had to give so I quit this job. I was fucking done. And this poem was inspired by that moment. I thought I had processed this trauma until it came back up in therapy in the summer of 2021. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had suffered a deep racial trauma that impacted me and still triggered reactions in me. I was angry. There is actually way more to this story and one day I’ll share it when I’m ready.

So much anxiety and depression hidden behind that smile 😭

This was the hardest thing I did

but it had to be done

I couldn’t stand the gossip

or the two faces of everyone

the way they pretended to be my friend

but the minute I turned my back to them

they talked like I was the biggest wench

so much envy and hate

I HAVE TO ESCAPE 

FROM THIS MISERABLE FATE!

so today I resigned

I didn’t tell them why

all I know is that for the first time

in a really long time

I feel something like happy

so long to the only place I have known

for an almost five year term

for once I breathe a sigh of relief

I finally had the courage to leave

so long to the hypocrisy of this place

to let myself stay here for another day

would only be a fucking waste

Poetry:Childhood Lies

I wrote this in 2003 reflecting on the immigration of me and my family. The first six year we were in the United States was a nightmare. I’m not sure how much I will share of my immigration story because of all the trauma involved.

Cuzco, Peru -Christmas of “85, I’m the one in the pigtails

I was five at the time
when my parents lied
they said it was going to be great
our brand new fate
we were going away
so we could be safe
we weren’t exactly prepared for
the horrors we would endure
the hardships and struggles
the wonder of it all
why did they persuade us
in them we lost our trust
now we’ll never again believe
what they want us to see

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