A child’s dream

On Monday, I was woken up by a very ecstatic dream around 3am that I was still in class listening to people sharing stories, jokes and imparting words of wisdom. Everything was so colorful. I felt so alive, like an innocent child, enjoying every little things and laughing about anything I found to be funny.

After a split second, I felt a deep feeling of sadness after realizing that tomorrow will not be the same as the last 5 days. I realized I had to go back to my real life, resume my responsibilities, talk to the same people in my life who never understood. Yet I was happy again, ecstatic and so full of life.

Never had I imagined I will ever be this high on life. Never had I imagined I will trust people again. I gave up on humanity a long time ago. I gave up friendships a while ago, thinking everyone will be just as deceiving as before. I almost gave up on life. I told myself, “I’m ready to go anytime.” I was very unhappy, miserable and full of hate. I blamed those who ruined my childhood. I could have been a happy child. I could have had a great foundation like most kids. I could have been a better person today.

No one knows who I really am. No one knows my past. No one has seen, experienced nor felt what I have been through in life. No one ever guided me in the right path. No one honed me to be strong. I had to figure everything out on my own. I don’t share much with anyone. I thought no one had the capacity to understand because they have sheltered, linear lives. They may have read about it from books, heard about it from news but they will never understand. I was right in most cases. Today is different. I finally found some people who do.

For years, I portrayed to the rest of the world that I was perfect. I thought “no one would ever find out about my past.” I worked hard in life, went to school, got good grades, won scholarships and awards, learned 3 languages, got a university degree. I didn’t pursue these things out of competition but out of passion. Out of humility. Out of regrets. They were all different forms of apologies to those I’ve hurt. For a while, I thought I was on top of the world. I did well, I said. Some books predicted people like me would end up either as a drug addict, a local vendor, a prostitute or all of the above. I proved them wrong. I turned out fine.

Some stupid psychology books also predicted I will never have a successful relationship, that everything was bound to fail. On March 14th this year, it will be our 6th year anniversary. I proved them wrong again. Many probably expected that my partner would be a loser on some level. They were wrong again. I met a soon-to-be engineer. He tattooed my full name and his last name on his body. Many will never understand this kind of gesture. Many called us stupid. I am the only one who appreciate this gesture, of course. It meant I finally found someone who will stand by me through my ups and downs. I shared with him things I’ve seen and experienced in life. He didn’t believe me at first. No one would. I was a great actor. I mastered the art of disguise. When he appeared in my life, that was the chapter when I wore my best disguise. I practiced the art of dancing, singing. I excelled at drawing. No one would ever hate me now, I told myself. No one realized it was part of my plan: a cover up so people will only see the externalities. Everything I did in life was a performance of some kind. So it tore me apart when people still called me dumb and ugly. But not him. He patiently listened to my endless stories, without judging, laughing. He was my complete opposite. He trusted people, he lived the life I’ve always wanted as a child. I hated him sometimes for that. I told him “I don’t like spoiled brats.” The more I shared, the more worried I became that he would slowly go away. Out of misjudgment, I pushed him away many times. He kept coming back. And that he continues to do. And I am thankful.

I knew there was more to life than just what I was exposed to then. I often saw them on TV or in magazines but never in real life. I wanted to be white, blond with blue eyes. They seem to have everything figured out. I started drawing and whistling at 3, it became my escape from reality. It was the only place where my dreams materialized. No one ever took the time to read my art. They just called me an artsy but a useless child. There were many things I wanted to do, many places I wanted to visit – it all became true in my drawings. I had a dad, a mom, a sister, a little brother and a beautiful 2-story house. I was white! I attended a good school, wearing a cute school uniform that rich kids wear and I had a colorful lunch box that my mom prepared. I had all kinds of toys that I would only share with kids I like.

But the sounds coming from my stomach, the dirt from my nails and small wounds on my legs and arms constantly reminded me of what I didn’t have. These were signs of poverty…“galisin“ as they often say, I was the equivalent of an undesirable leper child. I always wanted my mom to be there, to feed me, to bathe me, to dress me in nice clothes, to brush and braid my hair so that other kids would envy my so-called beauty. All I wanted was to look like I was someone’s child! She was never there. She was too busy taking care of other kids for money. Sometimes I thought it wasn’t for money. I hated her and her stupid white kids for that. So then I would try to sleep and force myself to dream about the world I wish I had. Today, I still do the same. I fantasize about majestic things when people put me down. They will never succeed in bringing me down because I’ve created a safe haven inaccessible by anyone.

I was happy for some inconsistent moments in my life but this was later replaced with images of violence, which stayed with me until today. Sometimes I wish I was born with different parents. Parents who considered how their children would be affected with every decisions they made. But I am still glad to have at least one parent who cared enough to cry with me. She held me tight and said she’s sorry for all the things I endured as a child. It was not what she hoped to happen. I truly love my mom.

As I am writing this, I can’t help but remember everything I hate about my life, my past and myself. I took the risk of sharing what now seem just an elusive nightmare as this has finally been replaced by a pleasant dream. Those 5 days of happiness spent with the most genuine people compensated many years of sorrow. I thought everyone were angels in different forms. I learned so much about myself, about others and about humanity. Life is not random and pointless, after all. Every pieces of experience we gather as we get older eventually fall in the right places. Patience is virtue.

Because of my past, I have become the most genuine and passionate person I’ve always wanted to be. Even at the thought of leaving, I considered the responsibilities I would leave behind. So I forgot about it. It would be selfish and unkind. Because of my past, I have a deep desire to make a difference in the world, to contribute to my community and to find and reach out to those stranded in the dark.

Thank you so much for infecting me with happiness and hope. Thank you so much for showing me the light. Thank you for helping me find my inner potential. Jim is right, a person once enlightened will never go back to the way they were before. I often wished I lived in a different period. A meaningful period, where everyone wrote poems, composed beautiful music and spoke words of wisdom. But now I know this period is where I belong. I met angels I thought were extinct, which made me appreciate life in this period even more. The beauty of the universe has been revealed to all of us as Shanda put it. May we continue sharing with others we come across this exquisite beauty so that they too may learn to appreciate the beauty of life!

Justine Cabrera

Justine teaches children. She thrived from childhood trauma, studied Law & Society at York University, and is currently studying psychology. www.justinecabrera.com


sunniesmybunnies · March 5, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Beautifully written

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