I Have Nothing, Yet I Have Everything

#52essays2017  26/52

When I arrived at the grocery cashier to pay for my items.  I had cash, but not enough to pay for the groceries.  I needed like $10 and change that would be charged to my ATM card.    And then, just like that, my ATM card was declined.

Luckily, I ended up having cash in my purse.  That was GodJesusVirgenOfG working it for me.  As I left the store with my groceries, I was calm on the outside.  On the inside, a war was raging.  I was near tears…of embarrassment, anger, frustration.  Oh and I did that feeling sorry for myself thing too.   Whyyyyyy?  Again?  You name it, I thought it.

However, by the time I arrived to the Jeep, my fit was over, I remember hitting the steering wheel a couple of times to get out the remaining rage and then I was done.  It was time to have my ‘Come to Jesus’ Moment.  I turned on my music and Sting’s song “Fragile” comes on, perfect song to get me thinking.  Granted, “Fragile” deals with the destruction of our planet, and my issues are but a speck on the face of the earth.  Somehow this realization makes my dilemma more manageable.  I have been thinking for the past couple of hours now, as I cooked dinner for Dad in this super-intense heat, kept repeating the song, I sweated out my rage, and willed myself not to take out my mess on my Dad.  You’ll be proud of me, I did not yell at him at all.   Now as I sit here writing, barely two hours later, ready to connect with JesusGodVirgenOfG to help me out of this desmadre, I’m proud of myself that I have taken more responsibility for my fit-throwing life and, at this moment, I know only one thing:  I have nothing, yet I have everything.

I don’t remember being this financially challenged EVER.  I also don’t remember being this CALM about it either.  When I decided to live my life “freelance” style,  I was nervous.  Gone was the security, gone was the majority of my disposable income, but, happily, gone was that gnawing feeling that something was either left undone or not done right at all after a weekend of events.  In my business, something seemingly innocent like finding pictures of a banner not hung just so was cause for straight-up alarm and could make my Mondays feel like I was being rolled over on coals of fire and could convert a perfect event into the latest nightmare.

Best decision I ever made?  As pobre as I am at this moment, I believe I made the right decision.   My personal drama made it necessary for me to step back from my industry, and, once I had a summer completely off, where I no longer had to work every single weekend, every holiday, and arrive late or miss events with my family, I knew that GodJesusVirgenOfG had put the more important things of life in front of my face:  familia, friends, writing, rest, and relaxation.

I tell my media and event colleagues that I am not the Carmen of back in the day:  the one who SLEPT at work, living and breathing events 24/7 to make events happen.  Don’t get me wrong, I can and do kick ass at the events that I choose to work on, I will never lose that competitive drive completely I guess.  However,  I also remember the Carmen who would work when she was beyond exhausted and almost drove off the Sunol Grade before she, thankfully,  woke up, I remember having to make the very painful decision to leave one job after another in search of my peace.    Little by little, I’ve reconnected with my familia/friends and now live a relatively peaceful life.

Now that my priorities have completely changed, I still need to be able to get over myself and re-do my financial life.  First,  I am done screaming ‘SonsaTontaPendeja‘ at myself – there is no way that I have been the first (or the last) person to have an ATM card declined.  Second, I gain nothing by blaming others for my lack of feria.  Third, it is essential that I get my sense of aventada-ness and hustle back front and center and do what I have always done:  worked it from the minute I put it in writing.   This is not the place for my InnerChillona…it is time to completely work it as my InnerChingona would do.  Find income. Invest in my future. Create more savings. Keep Working That Budget.

My business is seasonal.  As I have no millionario or sugar daddy waiting in the wings with a bolsa de dinero (cash), it is imperative that I get back on my own two feet in order to survive today as well as the slow period (November thru February).  I am intelligent, resourceful, with marketable skills that would be an asset to many.  Now I have to get my huevos together and these suggestions have helped me… maybe they’ll help you as well.

From Ginger Dean, Founder of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Funds’

How Do I Get Back And Stand On My Two Feet? 

Self-sufficiency is sexy.

Go back to school. Start there. Did you finish college or high school? Do you want to go back to graduate school? What are you passionate about that requires a degree or certificate? Do you need to go back to school? These are all questions that you have to ask yourself if your path to returning to the work force involves going back to school.  For me, it’s all about closing the circle:  Passing the State Interpreter Exam and I have already started researching getting a second BA Degree in Spanish from all of the units that I took at SFSU for Interpretation and Translation, I also want to take some basic design classes to keep up with the young uns in Marketing.  

Start a business. Along the same lines of going back to school, what are you passionate about? Do you see a need in the market that hasn’t been filled? How can you work to fill that need while creating income for yourself? This can include producing your own stuff to sell on Etsy or Ebay as well.  My ideas are good, my ideas fill a need, a lot of this is already in progress, now it’s get the hell out of my own way and really make this happen.   This is the scariest part of moving forward, because there’s nothing left to say, it’s time to work it.

Renew or update your skills. If you’re in a field like myself, then you’ll need to make sure that applicable licenses or certifications are always up to date as allowing them to lapse costs more time and money. Talk to the licensing or certification board within your field and find out what you need to do in order to maintain your skills in this area. If you plan on applying to jobs that require a license or certification then you’ll need to make sure this is up to date. Attend workshops and conferences in an effort to remain up to date with the current trends in your field as well. This also gives you the opportunity to network with others.  My goal of passing the State Interpreter Exam is still very much real and I’ve now added other skills and licenses/certifications that I will need in order to become competitive in my own business.  Pobre or not, I am willing to invest in my new future.

Find Your Sisterhood of Success AKA “Personal Board Of Advisors”

Who supports you professionally when it’s time to make hard professional decisions? Do you have a group of women or even one woman who you can turn to? I take that back, it doesn’t have to be a woman. Anyone who supports you and is able to provide professional guidance will do.  Women are more successful when they have mentors guiding them both personally and professionally. Especially when women mentor women. Great things happen!  This one I loooooove!  I’ve had what I call my Personal Focus Group for years… tons of friends/colegas who are experts in my industry, good friends, in business for themselves, and my badasses who work it Corporate America, Government, and the Latino community.  I’ve also started reaching out to those who can help me as I navigate my way to my new future.  

All of the above is true investment in my future which will require un chingo de hustle and all of the confidence that I can muster.   Can you believe that I actually had a conference call for another contract after my ATM declined, a sign for sure…it may be just what I need right now and the only way that I will know for sure is to put my butt right back out there and pray that JesusGodVirgenOfG see things my way.

Sometimes it take losing everything to realize that all is not lost, even though, at this moment, I have nothing (material), yet I have everything  – family, opportunities, creativity, and dare I say it, confidence.

It’s about time.

Confidently working toward that day when the ATM always goes through LOL.

 

 

Chasing the Blue Amongst The Clouds

 

#52essays2017  24/52

 

What a great feeling.  It’s like all of the stars line up, all of your ducks are in a row, all is as it should be. all is perfect, everything is crystal clear, there is a reason for this madness, you understand everything.  For a split-second.  And then it all comes crashing back to you, all of your fears, all of your mistakes, all of your regadas, all of your pendejadas, all up in your face.  You feel defeated, like you’ve taken 10 steps back, you’re angry, sad and mad all at once.

As I was driving home a couple of weeks ago, I experienced this exact same sensation.  I remember that it was a cloudy afternoon and my eye focused on the part of the sky that had broken free from the clouds, where you could see the blue of the sky piercing through the gray clouds.   When I looked into that blue spot, it was as if a part of my heart opened up, the purest part,  the part that was open to new experiences and the part that did not allow me to hold myself back, the part where I was unafraid.  It was as if I was thinking in overdrive:  I started thinking of and seeing Mama, happy and alive, seeing my family members and friends happy and productive, myself fearless and working toward my goals, I could even hear music in that blue sky, and it was like all of these happy feelings were swirling around in the sky, happily blending together.  I was even crying tears of happiness and all felt right in my world.

And then I stopped looking at the blue sky and it all faded away.  Try as I could, I was unable to get that feeling back again.  It was like I got afraid, afraid to see what life would be like in that swirl of happiness.  I totally got into my own way and messed things up big time.   Now I’m trying to figure out how to get back to that place.

As I don’t feel like super-analyzing this experience today…I’ll just let my InnerChingona give her two cents on this moment:   While I’m getting better, I’m not there yet, it’s very hard for me to trust anything new, no matter how positive it is and no matter how much good it will do for me.   I’ve got to keep working on staying the hell out of my own way and just let things be!  I need to handle this mess before moving on the next phase in my life.

That I was able to have a glimpse, albeit a small glimpse, into what my life can be motivates me to keep working at getting this heavy desmadre of baggage out of my way so that the blue sky does not fade away when the clouds of life appear, and you know that clouds will always come back.  I also like that I have finally been able to see the blue through the clouds, even for a few seconds.

It has been a long time.

Challenge Yourself Out Of The NoLonjaZone, Phase 1

#52essays2017  22/52

I am on Day 21 of a 30-Day Health Challenge.  The goal is to live healthier and  since May 15th thru June 15th, I am drinking no soda, 1 gallon of water per day, 20 minutes of exercise a day, no emotional eating, that is – eat only when hungry, and to try to do one plank for 30 seconds per day.

How has it gone?  It hasn’t been as bad as I thought.  I’ve been walking every single day, I’ve been able to cut down my emotional eating dramatically and actually started to wait for the hunger pangs in my stomach, I tried doing the plank thing for one day and never went back to it LOL.  What I have done instead is do the jump rope, squats and I’ve actually r u n.   The difficult days to work out have been the weekends – this family always seems to have something planned and I have not been that great at managing my time in that regard.   There have also been days when I would be waaaay pissed off because I did not want to work out … but once I would get done with it, I always felt better.

What have I learned so far?  I feel better.  I have been sleeping better.  I have discovered what my weak spots are food-wise, I find that by getting folks to do the challenge with me has kept me motivated and sharing my stories has actually kept me more accountable.   The water has me constantly in the bathroom LOL but I do feel much healthier.  One of my favorite drinks has always been ‘coca con hielo‘ aka a Coke with ice.  It was getting to the point that I had to have at least one with ice daily and I still miss this, especially about 3pm, hey, some people want cafe, I want ‘coca con hielo’.  The ONE weak spot that totally surprised me was that I crave chocolate ice cream like 24/7, maybe it’s a hot-weather thing  but that struggle is real LOL.

Love it that there is a team committed to doing this challenge, some on social media, and the ones who work it via text messages.  Either way, it’s very cool that I am not alone in this challenge.  Also, that I report on my progress daily, no matter how embarrassing, has really been the key to keeping it up.    It’s only a start and, if I make it through this challenge, I will get on another one, it’s time to stop giving power to my insecurity, to silence the voices of those who do not support me, and to embrace living a healthier life – which, by the way, came in handy yesterday when I took a bunch of my godchildren to the beach, including my 2-year old bebitas.  I had more energy and was able to go up a steep shortcut path made of sand without breaking my neck LOL.

At this point, the only thing I can suggest is that you do what you can, when you can and that this is only a start.

The journey continues to the No Lonja Zone. (Lonja = MuffinTop = Gordita-Ness).

The Comadre Chronicles: This Reina Has Her Own Back! #52essays2017

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I was hanging out with my BFF Comadre last night and, like many of us girls do, we were looking at how the other women in the place were dressed and doing that side-glance thing to each other and saying things like ‘mmm hmmm’ or ‘I don’t know about that dress’, and things like that.   Now my Comadre and I have not ever been been 100% slim in all of the years we’ve known each other so we didn’t really have room to be talking about folks LOL.

Let’s take the story back a few years.  Back in the day, I was in my first semester of college and I wanted to do what I always do:  get involved in clubs and campus events.  When I met MariaLuisa, it was obvious that she was one of the most popular people on campus, she knew e v e r y o n e.  I felt really intimidated by her because, by all accounts, I was very much a square.  Carmen wore socks with skirts, braids in my hair, no makeup, and I knew almost nothing about life and I did not feel very popular.   Fast forward a few years, we ended up roommates when we went on to the University.   I was so glad that I had someone to hang out with as I started a new phase in my life.  While it was always easy for me to make friends, I was beyond amazed at how my Comadre really worked it with people, by the end of the week, this girl knew half the school and had invites to all kinds of events and parties.

I had never lived anywhere but on the Ranch and, once I stopped being all homesick and miedosa, I started to have a lot of fun and was waaay into clubs and events.  My Comadre was great at encouraging me to live my life and to remind me that “this ain’t the Rancho, girl” LOL.    Every morning, my Comadre would make me LOL when she would look in the mirror and say, “chingao, que buenota eres!” as she blew a kiss into the mirror.  It didn’t matter to her that she was not flaquita, girl embraced her curves.  This was the greatest affirmation ever and I began to understand how she was always so popular, why guys were always after her, why she was so much fun.  She loved herself, and not in that conceited way, she knew how to be there for herself.

As roommates do, we held many long talks about life and when my Comadre told me this story, I admired her all the more.

When my Comadre was in high school in Coachella, she was all into school events (surprise, surprise) and Student Goverment.  As she tells it, she was very into school spirit and had a ton of friends.   Around Homecoming time, the students were nominating girls for Homecoming Queen and my Comadre, as a member of Student Government, was assigned to go around to classes to pick up the completed nomination forms.  “As I went from class to class, picking up the slips, I would look down and see my name and I thought “no, someone is playing a joke on me.” Mary says she finally stopped looking at the notes and, after collecting them all, turned the votes in to be counted.

The most vote-getters would be announced at a Pep Rally with the entire school present.  There would be five finalists announced.  Mary was her spirit-crazy self, having a good time with her schoolmates.  “And then they called the final name, and it was ME.  I could not believe it!”  My Comadre remembers that, when her name was called, that there was a huuuuuuge cheer from the students, but she decided that she wasn’t going to think twice about it.

“I remember that my Mama made me a really nice green velvet dress and, the night of Homecoming,  I remember getting into the convertibles to drive into the stadium thinking that this was fun and that things would be back to normal soon.”   The time had come to make the announcement for Homecoming Queen and Mary remembers, “I kept hearing the other girls’ names being announced as runner-ups and thinking ‘no way I’ll win’” Finally, it was time to announce the Homecoming Queen and HER NAME was called!

How exciting!  As she got up into the convertible again to be driven around the stadium, my Comadre remembers waving to all of the groups of friends including the cholas LOL  this girl, crown and all, starts doing chola poses in front of these girls to their great delight.   How cool was that?   When the time came for pictures, the four statuesque runner-ups towered over Queen Mary and then they did something unforgettable:  they walked away from this queen, choosing not to stand with her, stunned that this short gordita could actually WIN as Homecoming Queen,

My heart broke a little for my Comadre when she told me this.  But then I thought about how Mary has always been true to who she is:  she may have never been tall or thin but that never stopped her – ever.  My Comadre has always carried herself like a queen, a ‘reina‘, she has always been able to find that little piece of self-esteem when she’s needed it to keep moving forward, and girl talks to anyone, anywhere, anytime, she is the definite life of the party.  One of the things we both have fun with is when the beautiful model-type girls look at her, mouths open in wonder when the guys gravitate toward her- and this happens to this day.  While Mary was momentarily hurt that those Homecoming Court girls would not stand by her, she took what she learned from this experience and she always says that there’s room for women of any sizes a n y w h e r e, and that you should never let your size get in the way of anything you want to do in your life.   I’ve always loved being her friend and have always said that we all need a friend like my Comadre:  her sense of aventada-ness is second to none, her mevalemadre attitude is front and center, she is the most fun and authentic person I know who embraces her gordita-ness and doesn’t let the flaquitas get her down.  I still watch her and learn how to act from Queen MariaLuisaArceFelix!

At this writing, I’m still searching for a Homecoming Queen pic of MariaLuisa and will post as soon as I find one!

#52essays2017

 

 

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

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

 

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