Saturday, December 1, 2018

Nunca Fui Fea


  No es fácil enfrentarse a la vida cuando ante los ojos de la sociedad no eres considerada linda; vivimos en una sociedad donde la apariencia física es cada vez más importante. Nos hemos dejado llevar por las redes sociales y por los famosos que controlan los estándares de la belleza. Es muy difícil y hasta imposible cumplir con todas las demandas que nos hemos dejado imponer por los ricos y famosos sin someternos a cirugías innecesarias solo para  poder cumplir y ser considerados hermosos.
Fue por esto mismo que yo nunca me considere bella cuando era adolecente. Adicionalmente  la burla y acoso que me hacían en el colegio  solo sirvió para confirmarme que yo era fea. Mis compañeros se burlaban de mí por algo que estaba fuera de mi control, por tener una apariencia física distinta a la de ellos. Nací con Neurofibromatosis tipo 1 (NF), una condición genética que herede de mi madre.  NF afecta a todos muy distinto, en mi caso, afecto el lado derecho de mi cara y cráneo. Hasta la fecha he tenido un total de 22 cirugías, dos de las cuales fueron para remover fibromas que me molestaban por el tamaño o el sitio donde estaban.  
La burla más  traumática fue cuando un grupo de compañeros me entregaron una nota estando en clase. Ellos estaban sentados diagonal a mi uno de ellos me entrego un papel doblado en cuatro. Al abrirlo vi  el  dibujo de un monstro con una nota que decía “una mirada cercana a Angela” cuando mire hacia ellos, todos cuatro se estaban riendo. Recuerdo que me levante de mi pupitre sin decir nada y bote el papel en la basura. No llore, no le  dije nada al profesor ni me defendí, lo único que hice fue terminar mi trabajo. Cuando mi mamá me recogió después de clases  llore, llore tanto que mi mamá parqueo el carro y me consoló, le conté lo que había pasado y que había botado la nota. Ella insistió en hablar no solo con el profesor pero también con la principal, pero yo no la deje porque sabía que si ella hablaba la burla iba ser peor  no solo se iban a burlar de mí por ser fea pero también por ser sapa.
Antes de mis 25 años yo me consideraba fea, veía mi reflejo en el espejo y no me gustaba lo que veía, criticaba mi cara y cuerpo constante mente como hacían los que se burlaban de mi cuando estaba en el colegio. Escuchaba sus voces  llamándome, fea, monstro, y hasta anoréxica. Y aunque para mis 25 años yo ya había comprobada que aunque yo creía que era fea si fue posible tener un novio, no basto para destruir completamente las palabras toxicas que no salían de mi cabeza. Mi primer novio fue el primer paso para sanar y para darme cuenta que yo no era fea, ni un monstro y mucho menos anoréxica.
Es bien triste que  demore 25 años para darme cuenta que soy hermosa y sobretodo amarme completamente. Ahora, cuando veo mi reflejo en el espejo, veo a una mujer luchadora, fuerte, y con una cara espectacularmente hermosa aun con cicatrices.  Yo he contado con el apoyo de una familia increíble, amigos  incondicionales y dos novios que aunque ya no están conmigo, callaron las voces negativas por siempre.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fosforito

Fosforito, el apodo que mi hermano Andrés me puso cuando me vio llegar al apartamento de mis abuelos con la cabeza afeitada. Recuerdo que tenía unos cuatro años la primera vez que los cirujanos intentaron corregir los huesos del lado derecho de mi cráneo que estaban deformes. Me acuerdo vivamente estando en el salón de belleza con mi mamá y abuela, ellas hablando y explicándole a la estilista, la razón por la cual me tenían que afeitar, mientras ella pasaba una cuchilla por mi cabeza. Aun me puedo ver sentada en la silla, quieta, enfocada en mi reflejo y en el cabello color miel que me rodeaba.  También puedo recordar la caminada al apartamento de mis abuelos, de la mano de mi mamá y abuela. Aunque  ya no tenía mi cabello largo, recuerdo que no estaba triste. Es más, no recuerdo haber llorado mientras me afeitaban.

Sin embargo, todo cambio el momento que mi hermano me vio y exclamo “¡Cabeza de fosforito!” ahí  si llore. Llore ese día y muchos más.  Recuerdo una vez, una de mis varias pataletas le decía a mi abuela que mi cabello nunca jamás mi iba a volver a crecer y que mi iba a quedar calva por el resto de mi vida. Mi abuela, con su dulzura me abrazo y me dijo que mi pelo mi iba a crecer más lindo que antes y que solo tenía que ser paciente.

Mi abuela, como siempre, tuvo razón. No me quede calva. Esa fue la última vez que me afeitaron la  cabeza, hasta el 17 de enero del 2018 cuando tuve  mi cirugía número 20.  Esta vez, fue una enfermera que me afeito en el quirófano, pero solo afeitaron media cabeza. Cuando  me dieron de alta del hospital mi mamá me corto el resto de cabello, un mes después mi prima que es estilista me arreglo el corte.
3 meses despues del regreso de Fosforito
Esta cirugía, como la primera a los cuatro años fue por causa de mi Neurofibromatosis. Esta vez, el cirujano removió la placa de plástico que otro cirujano me coloco cuando tenía 17 años para proteger la malla de titanio que  protegía mi cerebro.  Aunque tengo el pelo corto aun y una cicatriz en todo el medio de mi frente, mi siento completamente cómoda y hermosa con mi nuevo look.

Después de   la cirugía en enero del 2018, tuve dos más una en marzo para corregir un imprevisto de la cirugía de enero y una última en octubre para remover cuatro fibromas que me molestaban. Hasta el momento no tengo más cirugías programadas pero todo puede cambiar, así como ocurrió en marzo de este año.
En esta ocasión que también tuve la cabeza afeitada, fui yo, la que bromee con el regreso de, ¡Fosforito!



              

Gracias RP, esta va pa' ti 🙂



Monday, October 8, 2018

Self Sabotage

After four years of working in a stable job, I find myself without work; I woke up the day after my last day of work and laid in bed processing everything that transpired that led to my resignation. I am now, fully aware that due to my lack of self-confidence I was unable to do my job well.
Now, I know many of my friends, which are also my colleagues, will disagree with me because they have seen me grow from a Specialist to a Supervisor in the four years I worked at the agency. Unfortunately, I do not agree with them entirely.  I do not agree, because I have incredibly high standards for myself.

My therapist once told me that I was a perfectionist and hypercritical of myself. My supervisor once said to me that I do not let go of my mistakes, I cannot dispute either because they are both correct.
I have not been bullied since I was a teenager, but somehow I do it to myself. Doing this causes the same effect as when I was being ridiculed for something I  have no control over.  I continue to put myself down and doubt myself at every corner. I second guess myself and hesitate on just about everything I do. I am unable of letting go of mistakes; instead, I grip onto them which hinders my personal and professional growth.

When I was younger, I did everything in my power to remain in the shadows. I did this to protect myself because I thought that if I stayed unseen and unheard, I would not be made fun of for having a disfigured face. I reasoned that if I remained invisible and silent than they would not be able to say that my mistakes or inability of doing x,y, or z was directly linked to NF. It didn't work because no matter what kids still found a way to bully me.

Ironically I have hurt myself a lot more by living in the shadows than by being in the spotlight. I was forced to leave the comforts of being invisible the day I became supervisor of Gateway Services.  I honestly thought that I could do my job well while remaining unseen and unheard, however, after a year and a half as a supervisor, I stand corrected, and without a job.

In May of this year, I started having panic attacks before going into work something that I never before experienced. Sometimes, I would have them while sitting at my desk, I would stare at the report I was working on and could not process the information I was reading. My supervisor did her best to help me process and to create various coping techniques, but at the end of the day, it is my responsibility, and that is why I have left a job that I love.
I need to be comfortable with being in the spotlight because if I want to continue having a successful career, I will need to be seen and heard.



Monday, September 10, 2018

What's Up with the Hair?

 I miss my long brown hair. I can't wait to have it down to my waist again. The concept of short hair is foreign to me, and the only reason I have short hair right now is purely medical. I would never in a million years have a pixie cut by choice. But my body decided that it was going to misbehave and thus resulted not one but two unplanned surgeries.

I like my long hair not only because I have gorgeous hair, yes that is a conceited statement, but more importantly, because it has been my security blanket for 31 years. And now I am completely exposed to the world, and I do not like it. I used to be able to cover the right side of my face and not be seen, and now, I have nothing! I am forced to go out into the world without my protective shield.
Ironically, everyone and I mean everyone loves my short hair! This I do not understand! Nor do I want to because the pixie is not staying.
Yes, I feel more comfortable and confident than ever before, but that does not change that fact that I feel the most secure when I have long hair. That will never change.
So thank you all for the compliments. I  appreciate it and trust me, your kind words do help, but you will not change my mind.






Saturday, September 8, 2018

Face

Not too long ago I told someone that I was still getting used to my new face, he looked at me and said,” your face looks the same.” I looked back at him and just stared. I didn’t understand how he did not see that I had a new face, I  got irritated at him because he was unable to see how different I looked. I was annoyed that he failed to see how my surgeries had improved my face. How is he unable to see the same reflect that I see each time I look in the mirror? A more symmetrical and beautiful face. A face that I like a lot more.

I then heard that tiny voice in my head say, “ To him, your face has always been beautiful.”
He shared that he really wished I was able to see just how remarkable I am. He held my hands looked into my eyes and  said," You are beautiful, intelligent and the strongest person I know."  I looked away into the distance, he pulled my face towards his and repeated it. 

In the eyes of many, my face has not changed, or if it has, it is minor. However, for me, it is day and night.  I no longer have the large fibroma on my right temple, nor do I have the protruding plate on the side of my head. My eyes also appear to be more leveled than before.  I now find myself enjoying makeup a lot more because I do not have to hide scars or a fibroma.

I know that to many of my friends and family the changes in my face are minimal, but to me they are significant. Between August of 2017 and March of 2018, I had four surgeries that in my opinion vastly improved the appearance of my face. I feel like my disfigurement has been reduced; to me, I have a new face. And like my friend Izzy said to me not long ago, I live with this face so I will notice the changes more than anyone else.

Even though I have a scar running down my forehead, like Harry Potter as an acquaintance has described it; I have never felt more confident with my face than I do now.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Motherhood Part 2

 As  I was recovering from major surgery in January, I received the most fantastic news ever, not once, but twice was I told that I would become an aunt! Both my sister-in-law and friend gave me that happy news that they were pregnant. I cannot begin to express the excitement I feel towards this new title I am earning! I have sheer joy and cannot wait to hold my niece and nephew (of course not at the same time). I am going to enjoy every second of being an aunt because I know I am going to rock it!
After I digested the fact that I would become an aunt to two babies this year, I asked myself, if becoming an aunt would or could replace my yearning for motherhood. I have yet to find the answer, and I do not know if I ever will.

In Motherhood Part 1, I shared an experience I had in a previous relationship where the possibility of becoming a mother was very likely. How different would my life be right now if that pregnancy test would have been positive?  Would I still be in the same relationship? Would I have been promoted to supervisor of Gateway Services? Most importantly, would I have had four surgeries in seven months?   I really do not want to consider having an alternative life to the one I am currently living. I still believe that it was a real blessing that it was only a scare because I was not prepared for motherhood at that time and honestly, I am not ready now either.

I do not know how different things would have been, so all I can imagine is living this same life, having had the same experiences but only with a toddler. If that were the case, then, I would be a single mother with an incredible support system because I would not have been able to go through surgery alone while raising a child. But all this is just hypothetical of course.
Motherhood is in my future, but for now, I am going to enjoy aunthood to the fullest!!



" Do you even belong?"


I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, a city on the northern coast of the country; the same city that Shakira and Sofia Vergara call home. My family and I immigrated to this county when I was six years old, I became a citizen at the age of sixteen; but to some, that does not matter because to them I will always be an immigrant and they will always question my legal status. 

Imagine being a kid and having a classmate say to you, " How did you get here? did you swim over?"  Or, how about being told to go back where you came from because you do not belong, this had happened to me and not just once or as a kid. As an adult, it has happened.

I am one of the blessed immigrants in this country that has had it "easy" because my parents were able to do things "right."  I have never lived with the fear of being deported for not having a piece of paper that gives me the false protection of being here. I never had to question myself after graduating high school about life, because I knew I could go to college if I wanted to. However, I knew many classmates in high school that lived with that fear. I had a handful of friends that questioned themselves because they did not know what they would do after graduating. 

Being an immigrant in this country is not easy, it will never be easy. But currently, it is not just not easy but also dangerous. I turn on the news, and all I hear is the continuous hate speech and not only towards immigrants but all minority groups. It has to stop. No one person is better than the next. No human has more rights than another.