I am a strong, proud, confident girl. I am also a survivor. This is my story and how I became the person I am today. It all started when my parents divorced. I went from living with my biological parents to living with my aunt (Tia) and uncle (Tio). At age three, I had no idea what was going on. I went from seeing my parents everyday to seeing them every so often. Their lives were consumed with other things that did not include me or my siblings.
As a child, I was confused about my life. I wasn’t living with my parents, and I knew that wasn’t normal. I wanted to feel wanted and liked, but instead of trying to make friends, I lashed out and trashed classrooms whenever the anger became too much for me to handle. After talking with a counselor, I acknowledged this wasn’t the person I wanted to be. As painful as my situation was, it did not give me the right to take my anger out on others. But as I grew older and understood my situation better, I began to turn that anger inward on myself. In middle school, I felt overweight and ugly. It didn’t help that the times when I did see my parents, as rare as they were, they called me “gorda” (fat) and “fea” (ugly). And although “gorda” is a term of endearment in many Latino cultures, back then all I heard was “fat” and “ugly.” In turn, I starved myself and became bulimic. I thought if I was skinnier, I’d be prettier, making me worthy of being wanted and liked. It wasn’t until high school I made changes upon myself that would affect the way I saw the world drastically.
Entering high school, I still had body issues and a low self-esteem. But, instead of wallowing in my own self-pity, I improved myself. I didn’t want to continue this pattern of destruction. I was torturing myself, my body and others, because of decisions my parents made. It may be that I didn’t have the love and attention one would expect from their biological parents, but I had a family, my Tia and Tio. Through the love and compassion my Tia bestowed upon me, I learned to love. She has been a role model, and more importantly the motherly figure in my life. She also gave me a sense of a stable family at a time when I doubted I would ever have one. Even though at the age of sixty-five her body cannot handle as much as it used to, she is the strongest person I know. She inspires me strive to be honest, hard-working, humble, loving, caring, and giving like her.
It took a while for me to realize what I had before me. When I did, it was sophomore year and it came like an epiphany. I realized I’ve had the support I needed to become the person I wanted to be. I started working out, eating healthy, and became more outgoing. I joined the tennis team, became a vegetarian, felt more comfortable in my own body, and was elected as Senator for the Associate Student Body (ASB). I finally felt free. I no longer craved my parent’s approval. I am proud of where I came from and am confident that I’m loved and worthy of great things. And although I rarely see my biological parents, I am proud of the people I can say have been “mom” and “dad.” They have helped me to become this person that I am today. I am a survivor because my journey has made me one. I know my journey isn’t complete. What I do know is that no matter what life throws at me, I’ll be able to handle it.
No matter what, I will survive.