A Laptop or A Journal?

 

#52essays2017  23/52

Trying to find writing inspiration this week.  Looking through all of my drafts, looking through pictures, looking at books, and trying to visualize life when I’m on a roll, when the words flow through my brain to my fingers flying to the keyboard or to my pen, when I cannot stop, even if I may want to take a bathroom break or take a nap, so not happening when I’m on a roll, as I want to get my ideas on paper before that coveted inspiration decides to move on, leaving me exhausted and breathless.  What works best?  A laptop or a journal?

What I have found, when I’m stuck, is that I need to 1) live life and not worry about writing,  and 2) find one of my current journals.  (I usually have 2 or 3 current journals going at once.)  Most times, I find a cool place (Starbucks, a park, somewhere near the water), I find a comfortable pen, and just start writing.  Once I start writing, I can go on and on for hours and. most times, I write 10 pages or more at a time, back and front.   This is truly when my hand can write out those thoughts that I have been afraid to even think about, much less verbalize them.  When I go back to read what I have written, I’m often surprised/shocked at what I see on the written page.  Some lines are in all caps, complete with cuss words in Spanish, English, or Spanglish when I’m trying to get my thoughts together on an emotional situation, some lines feel like I’m crying the words out and I see a lot of ‘whyyyyyyyy?‘, and the most unattractive sentences are those where I’m straight-up whining and complaining.  Ni modo, when I journal, everything comes out through that pen, all of my emotions fly out, in no particular order.   It’s supposed to be messy, fast, unhinged, chaotic, emotional, sad, slow, happy, proud…as fast as I think it, I write it down.    Writing in my journal reminds me of a therapy session:  where you never know what will happen but it’s usually something that has needed to come up to the surface for a long time.   I’m usually mentally exhausted after a journaling session.  I have tried to journal via laptop but it just isn’t the same.  I like how the pages feel once I’ve written on them, the crispy/crunchy sound of the paper as I turn the written pages, the smell of the freshly written ink, ink spots on my fingers, laughing at the comments I tend to put at the edges of the pages, mostly song titles that pop into my mind as I write, people’s’ names, especially if I need to call or see someone.  If I look at a past journal, it’s the same feeling and sometimes my mouth drops because of something I’ve written in a past entry that has come to pass , this type of journaling is almost like visualization – if you write it down, it does come to pass.  At times, I’m completely humbled when I read an entry in a past journal, if it’s about an issue that has brought me down and is STILL bringing me down now, it’s a huge wake up call for me, depending on how long ago I had written about the issue — that all I’ve done is cry about it and I need to get a handle on said situation and move the eff on LOL.

I call my laptop case my “office” as I work best on the laptop when it comes to work writing:  articles, social media, blog posts, proposals, etc.    I lose patience if I have to write any work things down in a pen LOL!  I need to get this stuff done now not later.  It’s almost the same pace as writing in a journal when I’m on a roll and it feels more organized.  I usually have a list near the laptop of what I need to write so that I can just work it and check it off once done.    When inspiration hits, it’s the same feeling I get as if I were writing on paper with pen.  I love when the words flow out of me and, especially when blogging or updating social media, having access to my thousands of pictures and graphics is great.

Now judging on the size of these blog paragraphs, it is obvious, most def, time for me to write in my journal until I get my writing groove back!

Man of My Nightmares, Mother of My Dreams

#52essays2017

I was sitting down to dinner with one of my roommates when the doorbell rings. My roommate gets up to answer and it is our landlord, a very nice East Indian gentleman. I had just put a spoonful of papas into my mouth and tried to chew it up really fast before going to the door. “How are you Carmen?” he says, “Fine, what’s up?”, “Would you mind coming with me to the office please”? He didn’t seem that worried and, as the offices were really close to the apartment, we didn’t have much time to talk.

As I walk into the office, he asks me to follow him into the back room. My heart fell to the floor and I was in disbelief with what I saw.  I couldn’t believe that he had done this again, always trying to find me, always showing up at random places.  There he was, tied up like an animal, wearing a red and black checked shirt, one of those flannel ones, as it was cold outside. His head was turned so all I saw, at first, was his black hair. Then he turns around, face full of anger and rage, and then I hear his voice, “get me the f#$% outta here! tell this motherf#$%^&* to let me go!” In desperation, I was screaming, “OMG whyyyyy do you keep doing this!”. My landlord asks me if I want to call the authorities and then tells me that he was going to give this guy enough money to get to Elk Grove (?) and for me not to worry. All the while it is scream and cuss-out city with this man.  All I kept thinking was ‘just get him out of here and out of my life!’

So like a sonsatontapendeja, I let my landlord handle the situation thinking “all is good, he’ll be out of here” and actually go back to my dinner. The doorbell then rings again, and there he is, freed from the ropes that held him a few minutes earlier, and he is not screaming this time.  He quietly informs me that, “This is it.  Either you come back to me or I take matters into my own hands”  I remember being stunned, stunned that he actually showed up at my house again, scared of what he was going to do,  angry that I didn’t just call the police,  wondering where my phone was, do I scream? or not?  In the next second, he puts the gun to his face, pulls the trigger, and blows his face off, blood everywhere.

I woke up crying and completely freakiada that night.  I had been having nightmares for well over a week, every night, every time I woke up and fell back asleep, there would be another graphic, violent way that this person would kill himself.  I was getting worried about these nightmares and afraid to go to sleep.   I called the Crisis Center and, luckily, was able to set up time to speak with someone about my troubled and disruptive nightmares.   Turns out they were flashbacks of very negative, drama-filled, bitter times of my life when I did not yet have a handle on my situation.  I felt lucky that these flashbacks didn’t really occur when I was driving or in an important meeting or anything and was able to get some valuable exercises for working through flashbacks/PTSD and to remind myself of how far I have come from those days of madness.

So, guess what I dreamt last night?

I was at the Ranch in our kitchen.  We were all home as I could hear people talking in the other room and the TV was on a low volume.  I was taking out my small red crock pot  so that I could make beans like usual, and she says to me, “I don’t know about the beans in that crock pot…”  Como si nada, I respond, “you’ve never even tasted anything made in this pot,  how would you know?” ” I just know so make the beans on the stove”  Muttering, I start to prepare beans as she tells me to do so.    On the counter, I see a bunch of vegetables thrown all about and I’m like, “what is all THAT for?”, “I thought that I would make some soup for your Dad too so help me cut the vegetables”.  At first, I almost rolled my eyes, and then, in the middle of the dream, I get the knife to cut up the vegetables and smile at her and my mouth drops open. “Mama!!!!!! I’m not having a nightmare! And you’re HERE!”   There she was, Margaret Torres, looking beautiful, w a l k i n g, no cane or wheelchair in sight, she had a dress on and I could hear the click of her heels.    Mama tells me, “I’m always here, you know that;  you should trust more and stop worrying, I’m always here” and then I woke up!

It was the first night that I slept well in days, and, as it turned out, Mama still WORKS it for us, of this I am 100% convinced.   I need no man in my dreams, I do, however, need to see my mother sometimes.  The dream was so real.  I haven’t felt this comforted since my mother passed away in 2014.   That I was able to have a conversation with her was so great.   Thanks Mama!  MargaretLivesInMe.

#52essays2017

Drive. Or Not. My Jeep Has It’s Own Inner Chingona


#52essays2017

Some days.

There are few things that rattle me these days. I have to say that the 40 days of Lent, for the most part, worked.

I have always been one to stress and worry, to doubt if things will go right…or wrong…or if they will go at all. I worried about my family, my projects, my job, my health, my car, you name it, I could easily throw myself into my self-inflicted agony instead of facing things head on.

I was ready to make change in my life and with the coming of Lent, it was time.  Amongst the four things that I gave up for Lent were doubt and worry. I tripped out on myself because I did pretty good:  I would actually stop myself and basically check myself. If you saw me doing the sign of the cross, this was the way that I would calm myself and my drama down LOL. I really tried not to go OFF on my familia just because I was nervous or worrying about this, that or the other.  By the time Easter hit, my little ritual was really starting to work and I felt more productive because, yes, I did recognize my worry/fear, and I was able to keep on keeping on with my day.

The one thing that can still send me to the wall, however, is when my Jeep is not running right. This Jeep has seen me thru E V E R Y T H I N G and I know that it is inevitable that it will, one day,  tell me that “ya estuvo“. This vehicle has over 320,000 miles on it and for 10 years, never left me on the side of the road, never overheated, never sputtered, nada. However, in the past year, my trusty road dog is starting to show signs of wear and tear.   Thankfully, I was always ‘left’ in a parking lot or a gasolinera when the Jeep would break down, the one time I was left at the side of the road was down the street from the house LOL.  If I do nothing else, I really keep the Jeep maintenance very regular.

But let that ‘Engine” light come on, let something not sound right, let something not feel right, and I lose my composure.  It’s my controlfreakiadaness working overtime:  The hardest thing is for me to not control things, can you tell?   I know nothing about car repair.  I actually have to trust someone (mechanic) to check out the situation, and I have to hope that I will not get burned — that the vehicle will run great and that my pocketbook doesn’t take a beating either.  I’ve also noticed that, when the car is not right, that I am unable to get stuff done, that my concentration is waaaaay off.   Today is a day that I will need to work through any type of crazyass worrying that I tend to do and get the doubt out of my face!

The real test of the 40 Days of Lent is happening today…aaaaaay!  The only way for me to get the pit out of my stomach is to go back to the small steps that I’ve created for myself:  doing the sign of the cross, telling JesusGodVirgenOfG what worries me and asking for peace for the minute, face my vehicle issue and stay productive.  It appears that I must, again, concentrate on driving the Jeep and not letting it drive me.

#52essays2017

Get Your Song On: Music Appreciation Torres-Style!

#52essays2017

As I was sitting in the front seat with my lil niece goddaughters in the back, they were singing kiddie songs for a while, the cutest sound ever is listening to my 2-year-old baby niece-goddaughters, both of whom are barely learning to talk, sing out the words!  Imagine “chee” for “tree” in their little high baby voices …. looove them.  I didn’t want them to know that I was recording them so you’ll see the road as you listen to the cuteness.

After they sang their songs, I turned on the radio, which I always do for my 8-year-old niece-goddaughter, this girl knows ALL of the top songs on the radio and, as I was listening to her sing all of the words to song after song, I love that she knew all of the words and I also know that there was no way that she could have really understood what she was singing – as many of us did when we were that age.  And she kept saying what we’ve all said, at one time or another, ‘ooooh, this is MY song, I love that song!’

There is so much music that I get into these days that I’ve loved for years, but only NOW do I get it.   I usually find myself saying, “yup”, “y si!”, “oh yeah” or “umm hmm!” and think to myself, “wow, what a great song, I love the way he or she sang/wrote this!” Songs may as well be musical blog entries:  they usually talk about one feeling or emotion or event or person because songs usually fit into 3 to 5 minutes.  The song hooks repeat over and over again and I see them as blog titles or clever hash tags, don’t you think?  It takes a little bit of living, loving, losing, or lamenting to really have a lyric hit you right in the face.  It takes a little bit of courage to admit, even if it’s just to yourself, that you ‘get it‘ and, in that way, music helps you recognize the good, bad, and ugly in yourself and can either help you heal, get you mad enough to change your situation, to realize that you were right (or wrong) about a certain person or situation, to, as my famfriend Jorge says, ‘get your drank on and cry like a lil bitch’– especially if you were telling yourself to be strong and not cry.  Music can be some of the best and cheapest therapy ever!

I grew up in a musical household so I’ve had music in my life since like forever.  Music in English and in Spanish.  My father, Mike Torres, is a musical legend in our community, he sang Spanish Mass for many, many years at our church, he was part of the local Mariachi Los Jilgueros as a guitar player and singer,  he founded the Trio Los Torres as well as The Mike Torres Band, a straight-up fun party band! The MTB is now managed by my brothers and sister and has included, from time to time, cousins, nephews, and nieces.  Dad now plays whenever he feels like it, he’s earned it.  To this day, my father practices his music e v e r y day.  My parents also communicated via music — what they could or would not say to each other, they would play or sing at each other:  Mama would play a song LOUD and/or Dad would sing a song. Depending on the song, we could surmise when it was ON  or when they were making up LOL!   My father has also said that music has ‘saved’ his kids’ sanity:  nearly all of my siblings and nieces/nephews have been part of school bands, rock bands, latin bands, sing, rap, in both languages.    Music in the house always, and we are surrounded by music:  my current next door neighbors are a small garage studio and a larger recording and rehearsal studio used daily by one family member or another and their fellow musicians.   The video above is our 4th generation of future musicians LOL;  below you will see the first, second, and third generations.  This won’t be the last time that I feature my fun and superblessedtalented musical familia and this is only some of them!

I am constantly being asked why I’m not in the band, or if I sing?   I have mad respect for musicians and lack the patience to sit and learn how to play instruments.  Does karaoke count?  Because I do have the nerve to do karaoke and without drinking shots LOL.  Mostly, I am a fan of all types of music and of my awesome fam:  please enjoy part of Music Appreciation Night Torres-style!     #52essays2017

 

My godson nephews having laff attack with their grandpa LOL

Here is part of the 3rd generation, STE2 and MT3, once they stopped laughing,  singing the classic “Nunca Jamas” with Grandpa Mike Torres.

Below are Mike Torres I, Mike Torres II, Mike Torres III singing the famed Mexican corrido “Siete Leguas” at what was a very happy day for our familia, at a 40th Anniversary celebration of The Mike Torres Band.

Here is the fun-loving, energetic, Mike Torres Band…Dad, front and center, Mike, Jr., on accordeon/vocals, sis Christina on keyboards, brother Martin on drums, nephew STE2 on sax … this vid is a few years old and the band lineup has changed slightly but I love it because this captures how much fun the family has onstage and how they can fill a dance floor faster than most bands, maybe it’s because, once they start the first musical note, they are onstage with no breaks for up to four hours!  I don’t think that Dad has to worry about his musical legacy with the 3rd and 4th generations of Torres musicians learning, playing and practicing and appreciating the gift of music.

Turning The Tables: The Waiting Game

#52essays2017

Waiting.  I am not a fan of waiting.  Especially when this person doesn’t respond to my many calls to see if all is ok.  Waiting and worrying, a sure-fire way to make myself go crazy, so I’ve decided that, today, I will not worry if this person is dead on the side of the road, worry that this person has indeed been picked up and is in jail, or in a hospital, or worse.

This person does not owe me any type of explanation whatsoever and is waaay over 21 to be asking permission to go anywhere.  And it does not matter how many times I sit here and wait for this person, it is still the same:  is this person dead?  alive?  sick?  well?  in jail?  hurt?  and is anything wrong with this person’s fingers that I get no phone call?  I have been known to make myself crazy with worry, calling and calling and calling.  Getting furious with this person and with myself for getting so alocada.

I guess that, no matter how old you get, that you will always find it difficult to discover that, yes, your father has a life out of this house.  It could be for a minute, or for hours, that he is late getting home, and the tables turn q u i c k. On the one hand, my father is not chained to the Ranch, he regularly is out and about.  I tend to forget that the man is 81 years old.  But like anything else, you know the signs, or should I say smell the signs:   The smells of soap and cologne envelop this house, his good hat is gone, and, while he usually lets me know when he’s leaving to go anywhere; when he’s in “going out” mode, I get no notice LOL.   I immediately revert back to when I was younger, when the house never felt right when the “adults” were away, when I’d watch out of the windows looking for the white light of their car headlights driving into the Ranch.

Thankfully, I did get a call letting me know where Dad was/is and that he is ok.  While we may have to go and pick him up later, that is better than not knowing where he is.   I now get it when my parents worried about me not calling, not picking up the phone, not answering.  Karma, que no?  I also get it that I gain nothing by worrying myself to crazy and getting all mad at my father for wanting a night out.   I suppose that I should learn to relax and be blessed that I have an 81-years-young father who is still in good health, strong and sharp as ever.

This healthy, strong, sharp man still needs to let a daughter know whassup though…that’s another battle for another day I guess!

 

WHATQueQUE? Did You Say You Want To Break Up? #52essays2017

#52essays2017

Lately, it feels as if I’ve been getting dumped lately.   Friends and somewhat friends have had it with me.  Have had it with me not reciprocating in the relationship, not returning calls, not setting up lunch or dinner, not doing my part I guess. I take full responsibility for my actions and while a couple of friends did not wait for me to give them any type of explanation, others did.

Isn’t it a trip how some folks cannot handle change, the “new” you, and, quite frankly, the fact that you have drifted apart?  I’ve always been the one to stay in contact, to initiate and plan get-togethers, to ‘work it’ with friendships.  Little by little, I started to notice that, if I did nothing, no one else did either.    That, and the fact that every friend and acquaintance was fair game to be harassed by this man, made me withdraw from everyone, little by little.

For many months, I was content to turn within myself as I healed.  I could not even THINK of giving time to anyone else for anything:  friendship, romance, business opportunities, nada.   I did my best to make the obligations that I had left, I did my best to try to be “on” and you better know I had the “fake it until you make it” attitude down pact.  It literally hurt me to spend time with others, I had lost all trust in myself.   I didn’t know how to act anymore around others. It was as if I knew that I would mess anything up that I touched.  I questioned everything about anything, my life was a desmadre.

About this time last year, I started trying to work it again.  Projects were a little bit easier to take on than people if that makes sense.  I know my way around events and projects, interpersonal communication, which had NEVER been a problem for me, was still a major roadblock for me.  When my faith in myself with people began to unravel, I knew that I still had a way to go before I would be completely back.

Fast forward to now:  I am much more confident, ready to work it, and, amazingly, still out of practice with people. To hear myself say this, to see myself write this, to actually think this about myself continues to blow my mind.   So to get the ‘break up’ call from a friend who was furious that I could not meet up with her hurt a little at first … and to know that any explanation would have seemed like an excuse or a justification…even if I was a mess, straight-up broke and had not one dollar to put gasoline in the Jeep to go anywhere that day, that I was not in any shape to be there for anyone.

It gets very easy for me to focus on what I have not done, why I have not done or said this or that, why someone wants to ‘break up’ with me.  But it really is all about that person, and me, setting a boundary, of making a decision of how one wants to be treated.  Just as some folks do not think that I am worth the effort anymore, believe it or not,  is OK,  I actually respect the huevos it takes for someone to tell you your verdades/truth.   I was not the greatest friend, or even a friend to others.  I had very compelling reasons at the time that not everyone will ever understand.  Some won’t wait around for any type of explanation and that is fine.  My challenge will be to learn from these “break-ups” and try to do better by others next time around and hope that they will do the same for me.

The biggest lesson learned here is that NOT EVERYONE IS MEANT TO GO ON YOUR JOURNEY WITH YOU so try to do the right thing, the best way you can.

#52essays2017

 

Open Letter to A Friend: It Doesn’t Have To Be A Death Sentence #52essays2017

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Today I received news that a family friend would soon be living with dialysis.  I was compelled to write a letter as it is a road that Mama and we, her family, know all too well.

When I got the news today about your diagnosis, I looked out of my window and the light of the sky looked exactly the same as when we got the news that Mama would need to go on dialysis.   I said a prayer for you that minute and my heart felt sad, just as it did a few years ago.  While we were all very concerned and sad to hear this news about our mother, we were uninformed and overwhelmed as we did not really know anything about dialysis:  would it be painful? how would this affect Mama? how did this happen?   All we knew is that it was major.  Add to this, Mama was adamant.  She would not go on dialysis and called us all together to tell us so.  We were almost desperate.  While we did not know much about dialysis, one thing was clear:  Margaret would die without this treatment as her kidneys were no longer functioning.

Eventually, thank God, Mama decided to undergo dialysis treatments under one condition.  That we know that she was doing this for US, and that we had to be with her, if she was going to dialysis, so were we.   Very shortly, our lives were completely changed.

Mama had to be at dialysis three days a week and we had to organize ourselves quick!  It took us a few weeks to adjust and eventually we had it down to someone getting Mama ready to go to dialysis in the mornings, someone to go with her, someone to pick her up if need be, someone to be home to be with her.  Was it easy?  No.  This entire family had to work together on our goal of keeping our mother alive and well.

The dialysis center will give you a bag and lots of information about what you will need to take with you on your treatments. We had to learn how to be organized and to have everything that Mama might need when she went to dialysis:  a bag with extra clothes, aspirin, medicine, snacks, gum, water, blankets, small pillows, headphones to watch the small TV in the chair.   My advice to you is to be like Margaret, take whatever you need to feel comfortable and secure NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS.  If you need four blankets, one rolled a certain way, another to cover you, and a couple for backup, than you do it and do not give in to anyone.  You are the one who will be undergoing the treatment for 3 hours or more, and you will get cold, anything that will make your time go by as peacefully as possible, do it.  God love us, we tried to tell Mama “why do you need that? are all of these blankets and pillows necessary? etc.   Your children will learn, as we had to, that, as long as you are able to make decisions about your care, then it is up to them to respect your decisions.

Please  pay attention to how you feel and what works for you, or not.  Some days Mama would come out of dialysis completely exhausted.  However, she did need to take her medicine and eat something.  Either we would have something hot and cooked ready or she would want to pick something up.   Once we would help Mama into her bed, the BEST sound ever was the sigh she would let out when her head hit the pillow.  I grew to love “Mama’s Time Of Day” — somewhere between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, where the house was quiet, she would either watch TV or look out of her window before drifting off to sleep.   Please do not be afraid to rest, please do not try to stay up or awake for anyone if you don’t feel like it, naps will save everyone’s sanity and give you the rest that your body needs.

Sometimes the treatments will make your body cramp up or your blood pressure will get low.   You’re lucky, you are able to walk and get up to walk off a cramp.  Our mother was partially paralyzed and cramps were sheer torture for her.  One thing that always helped Mama when her body would cramp was to eat something salty:  lemons with salt, pickles, olives, chips.  Sodium levels are low and it’s important that you tell the dialysis crew that you are cramping up so that they can help you out.  Also let them know if you are dizzy ASAP so that they can make adjustments to bring your blood pressure up.

I don’t tell this to you to scare you any more than you might be.  It will take time for you and the familia to figure out how things will go for you.  I can also say that I have friends who are on dialysis, who drive themselves to and from their treatments, who handle the treatments well, who LIVE for years and years.  I have one friend who has been on dialysis for over 10 years and is going strong.   There may also be the possibility of a kidney transplant as another family friend was able to do.  If you feel afraid, someone can always go with you to your treatments.  One of us was usually with Mama thru her entire treatment.

Dialysis is not a death sentence.   Right now, it is what will keep you alive and although I personally have not gone thru the treatments, I did learn how to make Mama more comfortable and, for a long time, Mama felt better (once she got used to the treatments) Although things were not easy, I would do it again in an instant if she could be here with us.  You knew Margaret, quiet but she spoke up when she had to do so and speak up she did when it came to her care and what worked for her — I know that you will do the same and pray for you and the family to muster the strength and committment to make dialysis work for you the best way possible.

Let your family and friends be there for you.  You are so blessed to have the prayers of an entire community, they would help you I know.  Our family has already walked the road that you are just starting on.  Any questions you have, any information you need, any fears you would like soothed, please call us.  We love you and are here for you.

Fighting Words #52essays2017

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A few years back, when I went to court to confront him for harassment/stalking, the DA had asked me to get statements from anyone who had been directly affected by his actions.  These statements would be presented to the judge to show the level this individual had gone to in order to get to me, get my attention, destroy me, destroy my reputation, to break me.

I had completely forgotten about all of this until I found a SIX page letter written by Mama.  To see her compelling words took me completely back to that time in my life, Mama was partially paralyzed and had to learn how to write all over again with her left hand.   She had always had beautiful handwriting and it was difficult for her to look at her handwriting ever again.  I, on the other hand, had so much admiration for Mama and the strength and committment it took for her to start over from zero.   Aside from learning to write again with her other hand, Mama also had to write much slower and would have to position the pages just so in order to be able to put the words onto the page — for her to be able to write one page could take hours.

Having a stroke might have slowed down Mama physically but not mentally, thank God.  Where Margaret may have been quiet, even shy, when in front of people, she was so eloquent and could WORK IT in writing.   I remember that, sometimes, we Torres5 would be hesitant, almost nervous, to tell Mama about anything we were going thru, at first, because we knew that it would be ON.   But then, we would watch in wonder after turning in one of Mama’s notes to a teacher or to an office.  In spectacular fashion, Margaret handled it for her Torres5 and it was thrilling to watch her, unafraid, fight racism and discrimination, apathy, and more in attempts to get justice for us.   It was very apparent to all of our teachers that NO one messed with Margaret’s children.

So once I saw this six-page letter, I was amazed because I know that this had to have taken her days to write it.  Then the tears came, tears of anger that my mother had to go thru this stress in her own home because of one stupidasspendejo.  Mama always respected my privacy, never got into my business, and deserved to live her life in privacy and peace.  That this tranquility was taken from her, albeit for a short time, saddens me to this day, she never asked to have her life disrupted, never asked to be involved in this mess.

Through my tears, I started smiling.  Because, in writing this letter to the judge, my mother was doing what she had always done for me, took care of me, stood up for me when I could barely lift my head, had my back, made me stronger, got me through many a day, and made sure that she would contribute to my receiving justice.  More important, seeing this letter made me happy:  it was like Mama was reminding me to get a hold of myself and know my worth.  It was also a confirmation that Mama a l w a y s  had my back and HOW blessed am I to have this in writing?

I’m always grateful for signs:  I needed to see/feel my mother today.   Mama’s words were always powerful and today she reminded me of how far that I have come…and so thankful that I do not live this drama 24/7 anymore.  Because on one fateful day in 2013, one Margaret Mary Torres decided to pick up a pen and put it to paper, to use her words instead of her fists to fight, once again, for justice for her child.

#52essays2017

One, Two, Three, JUMP! #52essays2017

 

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It all started with a jump rope.

I hadn’t jumped rope in many years.

As posted on my social media that day:  “I think I may have found the key to feeling younger and healthier…jump rope. I haven’t done this in many years and am having a blast. I wish I was not in work clothes. Just need to remember that I’m not 10 so I have to take it easy para no darme en la madre. Buying one today. #NoLonjaZone

 

It took me forever to get started, to anticipate the exact moment when I would need to jump over that piece of string. I noticed that when I would think too much about the jump that it became more difficult to do it, and do it on time.  I kept at it and finally I started to get a rhythm going.  But, again, once I thought too much about it, I would stumble and get all caught up in that rope.

Jumping rope taught me a couple of lessons:  one, I was out of shape;  two, I had been living my life so tentatively, hesitating on every detail, living in fear, that I was hopelessly in my own way thus could not move forward.    I decided that maybe jumping rope would move me out of my comfort zone a little. If I listen to the sound of the rope as it hits the ground and then jump, that I might be able to live life without so much hesitation.

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Hesitation is driven by fear:  fear of what is going to happen “if” I do this or that;  fear of what others may think, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of ____, fill in the blank.

I noticed that I was really tentative as I drove this past week, the first week without massive rain.   I had been driving for weeks with hands clenched to the wheel, trying to avoid getting into an accident, trying to avoid potholes that seemed to grow larger with every raindrop, trying to remain patient thru some of the worst traffic ever.   One would think that, once the sun came out, that I would be flying across the freeways, NOT.   Add to this, one of the headlights of the Jeep had gone out after I drove past a deep pothole in the rain…so it was harder to see the road on some of those stormy nights.

Once I noticed how tentative and hesitant I had become, I started trying to get the heck out of my way so that I could do simple things like pay bills, get the headlight fixed, get to where I needed to be on time.   Every time I completed one of these goals, I would feel this massive release of nervous energy from my body, sometimes it would be so intense that I had to take a minute to catch my breath.   it would feel as if chorros were coming on!  Your body really does sense things before you can get your hands around it, I didn’t even realize how much of my life I had started to suppress out of fear.

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It had also been difficult for me to reach out to others lately.  Fear of letting go, of having people see that my life is not perfect and “together”, of having to give before receiving.  Withdrawal had been my refuge for these past couple of years.  It was just easier to step back and not have to talk to anyone, not have to explain anything about this man or his most recent actions, and shield myself from the world.

But, like jumping rope, one has to learn to live life without hesitation.  Not everyone is out to destroy you or your reputation, every decision does not have to be a matter of life or death, and merely existing is not living.  I am open to anything that gets me back on my track in a positive way.  I would have never, ever thought that something so simple as a piece of rope would be part of my InnerChingonaSupportSystem yet here we are.  Can’t wait to buy a sturdy jump rope!   I made one key decision last night:  I told Dad that I wanted him to hit up Home Depot and find me some rope just like the one in the picture LOL and you better know that he’s on it, he even tells me, “mija, you’re gonna need handles too, I’ll find them!”  See?? I reached out to someone (Dad), I made a decision (to jump rope) and did not hesitate, now let’s hope that ‘no me doy en la madre’!    

DON’T HESITATE.  BECAUSE THERE CAN BE SOMEONE WHO WILL NOT HESITATE TO TAKE YOUR CHANCE.

#52essays2017

 

Collateral Damage No More #52essays2017

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#52essays2017

It’s late afternoon, and I am all into the project at hand, headphones on, music playing, I’m 100% focused.  I see my phone light up, and see a familiar phone number, “woooow, it’s Mr. C, and it has been a very long time since I’ve talked to him, should I answer or not?  I don’t know, especially after that last time…”  Pride be damned, the chismosa in me wants to know whassup, so I pick up the phone:  “Hello”, “Hey Carmen how are you doing? I feel really bad about what happened and wanted to apologize for going crazy with the texts and I want to apologize to your friends for getting all up in their faces but you have to understand that I was receiving so many weird texts and calls and I was really tripping and was scared.” 

Story of my life these past couple of years.

Let me explain the incident Mr. C is referring to:   I had sent out a group text and, sin querer, his number was included on the group text.  The message was a positive one, I was updating friends on my life.  I was getting positive responses from all except for Mr. C.  His responses were of the “eff-you” and “who the eff is this” nature.  A text war ensued when, PJ, another friend included on the text,  jumped to my defense and began to tell Mr. C off via text and then all hell broke loose.   I finally texted both PJ and Mr. C separately to ask them to stop with this back and forth texting madness and promptly received an “ok” from PJ and Mr. C replied “eff off“.  That was close to a year ago.

I didn’t even have to ask what types of calls or texts Mr. C had been receiving because I knew exactly whom he had been referring to.  Regular readers of my blog know that I have been completely cyber-abused/harassed by Joe.   You name it, I’ve seen it, you name it, it happened.  The majority of this mess has taken place publicly and online:  thousands of emails, text messages, social media postings.    I just put my head down and tried to weather the storm and get through my life.    It was painfully obvious that this man needed an outlet for his rage and I was the target.

It was one thing to come after me.  But he took it to the next level:  this person transferred his rage and major issues in his life to people totally unrelated to him.  These innocent bystanders became collateral damage in a fight with someone unknown to them, having to deal with receiving posts, emails, text messages that talked about me in the worst and most vile way, and he would tell these people things that I “said” or “thought” about them – friends, colleagues, bosses, family, even people whom he thought I knew, were not immune.

How was I supposed to deal with that?  I had people calling or emailing me, completely freaked out, offended, angry, afraid by these sick messages and calls.  Many people, for different reasons, turned their backs on me.  Some were afraid:  “I have kids, I can’t be worrying that this guy is following you or something”, some were angry:  “why the hell is he contacting my supervisor? Putting this kind of stuff on my work website?; others attributed it to him being straight-up crazy, ‘why is he putting your phone number out there? Why is he putting my phone number out there? Why is he asking me to fire you?

I couldn’t aplogize for something that I had not done and it got to a point where I could tell in a person’s face, voice, text, or email that they had received one of his disturbing messages.  I was forced to experience extreme vulnerability, I had nowhere to hide, everything was out there for the world to see.  It was almost too much to bear.

The things I did to try to prevent any more collateral damage astound me:

I remember that I screamed out this question to Joe, “WHAT. WILL. IT. TAKE. for you to stop calling my job and letting me work?” after being completely overwhelmed by one call after another after another after another to my OFFICE for at least an hour or more day after day.   My co-workers had nothing to do with this, nor did clients or listeners yet they were collateral damage, their day was disrupted by his pendejadas.   I was stunned when he said that he wanted money, and the amount was in the thousands of dollars.   It was not my proudest moment, but I did pay his price.  Did it work?  No.     I was trying so hard to keep it together and trying to show the world that I was fine and dealing with it.  But the thought of him going after others just to get his point across, was enough to keep me in line, to keep me afraid that he would go off on innocent bystanders in my life – my parents, my siblings, my boss, my friends, my colleagues.

I have since learned that there is no rhyme or reason to this type of person’s madness, that he would resort to anything in attempts to control me or my actions.  The twisted goal was to intentionally damage my reputation, my friendships, spread derogatory messages, false rumors, embarrassing me, humiliating me, damaging my self-image, stealing my privacy and my security.

Joe succeeded, for a short while.   I was worrying about others so much that I forgot to take care of myself, to rest, to destress, to relax.   When I was completely exhausted and broken down, I had nothing left.  You would think that I would have come to my senses.   But there I went again, de pendeja, trying to change things on my own:  I thought, “I’ll meet up with him and try to talk some sense into him, I’ll make him stop calling my parents’ house all night every night”, what did this accomplish?  An argument that escalated into a fight with him taking the keys out of the ignition of my Jeep and leaving me stranded.  Looking back, this was one of the turning points, I had to ask for help… OMG it was a mixture of feeling utterly mortified and relieved at the same time, there was no point in trying to act as if anymore.  My primo didn’t judge me, thank God, as he helped me call the police, get keys made, all the while talking to me so that I would know that I was not alone and advising me to bring God into the mix so that He could help me get myself together.

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Eventually, I LISTENED as my Inner Chingona stepped in to help lift me:   I finally recognized that, for all of my personal drama, that I was always able to get a job, my reputation might have been a little tarnished but I could still work it.   I saw, firsthand, that my family would never turn their back on me – they might be disappointed or angry with the situation, but always there for me.   Friends and colleagues are, slowly but surely, making their way back.  Many of the conversations are similar to the one I had with Mr. C – where they were afraid, angry, and concerned for their safety.  While some have come back, sadly, others continue to stay away.  I can’t blame them, especially as, to this day, they still receive random filth and sick messages.  All under aliases of course and, what can I do?  I cannot control him or his actions.

Aside from collateral damage suffered by friends, colleagues, and family,  I continue to work on my personal collateral damage.  It is extensive:  loss of confidence, loss of privacy, loss of security, the almost PTSD effects of having all of my business put out there in the most negative, destructive way – flashbacks and nightmares can come back when I least expect it.  It hurts to have to relive some of these things but the ONLY way change happens is if you are willing to peel OFF the layers of hurt, humiliation, anger, and embarrassment as you bring this darkness into the light.

E v e r y t h i n g  is now documented, there’s no other way around it.  Having these receipts helped me get justice when I needed it the first time around. The way I see it, things will catch up to Joe eventually.  I can only deal with my collateral damage and continue to keep moving forward.   Part of the healing is to show others that they are not alone, to tell my story, to help someone break the cycle, to not be afraid to reach out, to show others that, yes, I made some SonsaTontaPendeja choices, yet I have come out on the other side.   Peace and, peace of mind, especially, is the greatest feeling ever.

I’ve learned, the hard way, that I must take care of myself, especially as much of my life and work is handled online and via smartphone.   These tips work for me and will really help you be safe and secure.  Also, I might add, you need to start thinking as an abuser does – abusers go thru great lengths to cover their tracks which makes it difficult for you or the justice system to find them … you can learn how to do this in order to take care of yourself, to have your own back, to stay safe, to have peace of mind.

  1. Change your usernames and passwords frequently.
  2. Block your caller ID on your phone if someone is harassing you.
  3. Turn off GPS location facilities on your computer, camera, and phone.
  4. Use a safe email address. Don’t be afraid to create a new one if you have to.
  5. Do not hesitate to block anyone from your social media sites.
  6. Watch who you add as “friends”, red flags are: sites with no profile picture, no mutual friends, sites that were created the day you receive the friend request, weird names, or names that sound contrived, made up.
  7. Use a safe and public computer (i.e. public library) and do not use any computers that belong to people whom your abuser knows. Don’t lend your computer out to anyone.
  8. Delete your internet history (although digital footprints can never be entirely deleted)
  9. Document any and everything that doesn’t feel safe to you
  10. The most important tip:  If it feels unsafe, LISTEN to your Inner Chingona, do not discount that little voice inside of you, our bodies sense danger before our minds get their hands around it.

 

This was not an easy post to think about or write about mucho menos putting my business out there for the world to see.  I actually started this post a couple of years ago but I never seemed to be able to read what I had written so most of these words have lived in the “drafts” section of this blog.   As I read this completed post, I realized something very powerful:  that I am standing in my truth, stronger, and protected, putting my business out there myself – it no longer feels like someone ripped off all of my clothes, pulled out the rug from under me, and left me thrown to the side of the road to die.  My survival depended on me listening to my gut aka Inner Chingona –to learn how to channel my fear and start the long process of fixing the broken pieces of my life.

It didn’t happen overnight.  But it IS happening.

 

#52essays2017