Friday, October 11, 2013

Progress.....

In May of 2014, I will be graduating with two majors!! Ha!!! Take that stinky kindergarten teacher that told my mother that I was unable to be in a normative classroom!! Take that school psychologist in Colombia that told my parents that I was not going to be successful in school! And finally, take that to every single person that belittled me just because I have monocular vision and just because I have NF!!!! Boy, that felt AWESOME!!!
Yes, I am very proud of myself, and yes there are still many more years of schooling for me (bah). 
I am near the finish line, and I have just started picking up speed. 
So, my original plans of being 26 and in a master's program got tossed out the window,. A while back, as it turns out I'm just now graduating with a BA in psychology and sociology ( and by the way, majoring in sociology was not in my original plans, it kind of just happened). After I had graduated high school, I saw myself having a successful career and having my own family by age 30,. I have four years to pull that one off! But within that, I thought that I would be in a master's program by my mid-20s... and well I am no t. Lots of things have happened from the moment I graduated high school to now, the present. And I will admit that I was upset at myself for not staying on schedule, but now I am able to see that I had to go through some bumps before being on the road I am currently in.
The thing is that all my life I have always felt that I am in a constant need to prove someone wrong. To prove a teacher, a school peer, a so called 'friend,' a co-worker or even a stranger that just because I may look different does not mean that I am cognitively delayed. For the most part, I would automatically assume that there was always that one person who thought that having my right eye deformed some how meant that I was mentally delayed, so I would always be in fight mode to prove that I was just as capable as everyone else. That was my attitude for the most part when I was in middle and high school, when I graduated and entered college my attitude continued.... and in part that's where I ran into trouble because honestly in college none of that matters!! I had to reevaluate the situation and acknowledge for myself that the only person I was proven wrong was myself; that even though there were individuals who thought very little of me, there was no reason why I should devote my energy to proving them wrong because their opinion on me will never change. Being in college has given me the opportunity to meet some incredible human beings, that build me up each and every day ( why did I not respond to these people K-12?).

For example, just today I was sitting outside of class with a couple classmates, and I decided to share with them my blog, this is what one of my classmates had to say " You are normal, we love you just the way you are." :)  She made me smile and once again forced me realize that the assumptions that others have of me are just that theirs and I have no business getting all worked up over it.
So.... I am 26 and graduating in May with my BA..... and I am perfectly fine with that.



Friday, September 27, 2013

Poems....

Just a small sample of my poems =) Hope you guys enjoy them!! I had more, but since my last computer decided to never work again, I lost ALL my poems!! :'( So I found these poems, and decided to publish them on here) 

Yeah,I write poetry too... and what!
LOST 

Unknowingly
Betrayed by her emotions
Driven by passion
 She found herself lost
Unable to breath
Her lungs collapsing
Her heart losing strength
She curled up
Closed her eyes- and
Said good-bye
 Dead 
Smiles replaced by a somber presence
Her laughter was silenced by her tears
 Now, Weaken and lifeless
She had unknowingly forgotten who she was
And was now lost, unable to find herself again
Betrayed by emotions
Driven by passion
And now dead
10-12-10

Poem 
It’s a new day
A fresh new start
Today, I feel liberated
I am finally free
Today is the first day-
My rebirth-after your departure
                ~
Flying high
In search of a new landing
A new home for my soul
A new chapter has begun
                ~
I have let you go
Leaving you in the past
Wrapping our story up with a final note
                ~
“I thank you for being you;
The one that discovered, the beauty
Hidden within me and for letting it out.
I thank you for being you ; for being my first love.”

04-02-11

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sticks and Stones....

...will break my bones, but words will ALWAYS hurt me...
I recently watched "Bully" a heart gripping documentary that tells the stories of varies teens that have been bullied, shunned, and in some cases have taken their own lives at a very young age. I highly recommend this film to everyone because something has to be done about it. It is cruel and wrong; no child should be bullied to the point of taking their own life.
I was bullied. I was made fun of and ridiculed growing up by my classmates. I felt like I was the problem, and on some occasions thought that it would be better if I were dead. My bullies never laid a finger on me... but their words and laughter were powerful enough that even today at times it affects me.
I was made fun of for something that was absolutely and entirely out of my control; I was born with NF, and there is nothing I can do to change that. The only thing I can do is live my life to the fullest and enjoy every second of it. 
I very rarely go to that dark and depressing place in my memory that brings tears and anger.I do not like driving past my middle school because the seventh and eighth grade was the absolute worse for me, I was taunted every single day by the same group of peers. I remember two girls. Specifically, that would be friendly towards me some days and then other days would be the cruelest and would lead the class in taunting me. I despised weekdays with a passion that I can not explain. When I walked home, I ran, when my mom picked me up, I jumped in her car. My parents were aware of what I was going through, but I did not let them do anything about it because I knew if they did it would only get worse. 
Despite all the ugly and cruel things that I have gone through I have been able to let it all go because I have always had the best of friends that encourage and push me to be the best Angela possible. I have brothers that always have and will always do anything in their power to see me laugh and smile. They over protect me, and I do not mind! I have two loving parents that did a great job in raising a daughter that does not let her physical appearance stop her from achieving her goals and dreams. 
Yes, I was bullied. Yes, I survived.  But I still have flashbacks, and it still hurts, because unlike a bruised rib or a black eye that eventually heal... being called "big eye" "ugly" " monster" "anorexic" and  "You will never find a boyfriend because you are too ugly".... those wounds never heal.
 

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Patch.....

So I did it, I wore an eye patch for the day!!  I bought it almost a year ago but never actually wore it until this weekend. Now, I know for a fact that not everyone is on the same page when it comes to me wearing an eye patch and I completely understand.I actually understand now more than ever due to the simple fact that I wore it out and about. I know some think that it is a good idea and that I should have started wearing them years ago. By wearing it, my facial disfigurement is not as visible because the patch covers my eye and my long hair hides my scars.
 I also know that some may think that I look perfectly fine without it and that regardless of the patch or not people will still gawk and ask questions. I can handle questions,  it is the gawking that hurts because it makes me feel like an alien at times.
Every time a member of my family brings up the subject I become very defensive because I am against the idea. After years of arguments, wearing and had a heart-to-heart with my ever so honest and loving godmother; she made me realize that by wearing an eye patch does not change who I am. And that what I am doing by wearing an eye patch is giving people the opportunity to get to know Angela as a whole and focus on me as a person. Not Angela the girl that has something wrong with her face. Because if I am honest, people do notice; they see my face, my eye, and my scars before they notice me as a whole.
The way she put it made it click. I now realize that she and many others said what they said so many times before because they had first had experience how rude and ignorant people could be. And if they felt uncomfortable and upset than I must feel ten times more hurt and upset.
So, I called my mom up in Florida and asked her to send me my never worn eye patch to DC because I wanted to actually wear it. I wanted to experience people's reaction to me wearing an eye patch versus me not wearing one.
I decided to test out my eye patch at a party filled with people that I did not know. I decided to do this because no one knew me or had ever even seen a picture of me; I thought their reaction towards me would be genuine enough that I would be able to compare similar circumstance with wearing and not wearing an eye patch. The results were that people actually looked at me with a natural smile and were completely comfortable around me. Unlike other times that people really didn't know how to approach me or how to look at me when talking to me directly. It was a very positive experience. Although I have only worn it once, I do plan on wearing it again, it's just a matter of me feeling comfortable with it and having fun with this whole new concept.

With or with out the eye patch I am the same girl.....and like my godmother said "You are a beautiful, smart, and loving girl. Wearing it is like you are putting on makeup, it's part of your  routine, part of your wardrobe."





 

Friday, April 26, 2013

True Story....Seriously

Not too long ago I was grocery shopping when a lovely and elderly lady asked me a question that honestly startled me. She asked,"Are you that young lady that was on the news, the one her husband threw acid on her face?"  I giggled and told her that no, I was not. I told her that I was born with a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis and that I was born with this appearance. The lady turned pink and   said, "Oh, well, you are still beautiful, and we still love you." I once again giggled and told said thank you.
Here's the thing, I find situations like the one with the elderly lady funny, I mean, what else can I do but laugh? I've had people ask me all sorts of questions, seriously! Here's a sample of the ones I remember:
Were you attacked by a dog?
Were you involved in a terrible car accident?
Were you born in a third world country, where there is a lack of medical care?
Was your mom on drugs when she was pregnant with you?
Did your husband throw acid at you?
What virus do you have?
Is it contagious?
Most of the time people ask what happened, not what were you born with. I find it somewhat bothersome when people just assume that I was attacked by a dog or that my place of birth had something to do with my genetic disorder. I think that for some people it's difficult to wrap their mind around the fact that I was born with a genetic disorder that caused bone abnormalities among other things. I think that it's easier to believe I was in an accident because if they thought that it was a birth defect, then it means that ... well that, they could have children that have it or that anyone could have it. 
Like I have said before, I don't mind answering questions; I don't mind explaining what having NF is, how it affects me or anything in between. What I do mind is the ignorance of people, I care when people come up with stories and assumptions that are just not true. After 25 years, I have learned how to deal with inappropriate questions and to ignore the looks people give me, but you know, sometimes I can't resist myself, and I just have to say or do something that will just make the person feel extremely uncomfortable. 
I tend to be a lot more forgiving when it comes to kids and therefore when little kids stare I usually stare back and smile. We have a staring contest, and by the end, they are smiling and waving at me. I have learned to distinguish the kids that are just curious and look at me with this innocent face of wonder to those that are rude and just gawking. For instance, this morning as I was getting inside my car, two little girls (between 5 and 8) were gaping at me ( fixated glance, mouths wide opened), so I smiled and touched my prosthetic eye. They kept looking, but at least I gave them an actual reason to glare at me. 
On another occasion, my mom and I were having lunch at a Colombian restaurant that had just opened, the restaurant was relatively full, and it appeared that there was a party going on in the terrace of the restaurant. As my mom and I ate our lunch, a group of girls between the ages of 9 and 12 kept running passed our table, each time they did it more girls would run passed our table, looking and giggle as they passed our table. They walked passed our table maybe five times, by the sixth time one of the older girls decided to stop and just glare at me, she then preceded to ask me a question, “What happened to your eye?" I looked at her and her friends with a  serious face and in a stern voice said "Oh, now you want to know after you all have been rude and laughed. Well, I am not telling you, so go tell the rest of your friends that." Needless to say, I was very irritated and upset.
Now, when it comes to adults, I am not as forgiving because adults should know better, but unfortunately, many adults have no idea how to behave!! Sometimes adults are a lot more apparent when they are deliberately staring at me to the point that they just have this blank and awkward look on their faces. Unlike kids that whisper to one another or their parents. Adults tend to speak out loud to other adults, or in this circumstance in Spanish.  I was working and attending other customers when 4 very boisterous  Hispanic ladies came into my store. I acknowledged them and kept working when I over heard them saying in Spanish to one another "Oh, look at that girl, poor thing she a  has a big eye," so I walked right up to them and in Spanish said, " Are you finding everything okay?" The four of them looked at each other and just had blank looks on their face, they turned around and walked right out the door.
We are all human and by default will always look at someone that does not fit into the "average mold" but just because I look different does not give you the right to look at me as if I was not human. I notice when people are gawking, and trust me I will not stay quiet and let you get away with it.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Then and Now

   It has been roughly ten years since I had my last surgery and in my mind it was yesterday. I guess it's one of those things that stay forever fresh in your mind. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I have had over a dozen surgeries. I still see myself laying on the operating table while nurses hook me up to the machines. I close my eyes, and I can still smell the sterilized room, I see half a dozen people in aqua-green scrubs and masks walking around me, I hear my very cute anesthesiologist telling me to count down from 100 to 1 ( FYI I got to 98). Then I remember waking up in recovery and asking for my mom (she is always the first person I ask for after all my surgeries). 
As a child, I thought it was 'normal' for kids to spend so much time at doctors’ offices and having all sorts of tests done. In my mind, my five-year-old mind, all that I thought was normal, I never questioned it because I believed that every other kid had the same experiences that I did. But as I got older, I realized the reality of things; I realized my 'normal' was just that, mine and mine alone. It was with that realization that I went through a denial of sorts, I didn't want my normal because I didn't want kids to make fun of me, I didn't want to be an easy target. I wanted to be like all the other children...I wanted to have friends. Many times I would close my bedroom door and fall asleep crying because I had a bad day at school, or I would pray to God to make me beautiful because I didn't think I was pretty. At one point, I even thought that one day I would wake up and my face would magically be symmetrical, and I would not have NF; I figured it was all a nightmare, but then I would wake-up, and my nightmare would be my reality.
 I was not very nice to myself when I was a little, I constantly put myself down because I believed what my peers in school said, I unknowingly ostracized myself from everyone and everything.
-But then, something in me changed, and I stopped putting myself down, I didn't let the words of others affect me; and if the name calling and the bullying did affect me, I didn't give my tormentors that satisfaction of seeing me shed a single tear. Slowly I blossomed into the person I am today, I learned to let go and not to care of the ignorance of others. I learned to enjoy and welcome the angels that enter my life, and trust me, the friends I do have are the best friends any girl could ask for. They were worth the wait!!!! It took me a few years, but I have finally accepted who I am. I learned to love myself, and unlike seven-year-old Angela, 25-year-old Angela sure thinks she is not just pretty, but BEAUTIFUL!!! 

Life for me has not always been easy, I've had a few stumbles, but I have learned to dust myself off, stand right back up again and walk with my head held high. 

Words do hurt, I am not going to lie, but I choose how those words affect me and decide to let them bounce right off. I decide to live my life for ME, and no one is going to push me down because I am stronger I  am in control, It's my life !!  




Friday, February 1, 2013

It's Not an NF Thing... It's a Life Thing

Life is what you make of it.....
It's not always easy to be optimistic and see the bright side of things, but if I were to turn the other cheek and become this negative, resentful person than I will never be able to enjoy all the beauty around me. I am not saying that I do not have bad days because I do and just like anybody else I force myself to get out of bed and smell the roses! If you were to ask my family and friends, they would be most likely to tell you that I am outgoing and adventures, that I like to try new and exciting things, and that overall I do not let the ignorance of others bother me. 
The description my family and friends would provide of me is in actuality very correct. I am all that, and I wish I could always demonstrate those traits all the time, but I can not because the truth is, there are certain moments in my life that I have shriveled up into a tiny ball wishing to disappear into space.  Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed, and my lungs contract and I can not breathe. My face tightens up, and I just give off this vibe of "bitchiness" ( which by the way, that is far from who I am). 
When my friends notice that I am feeling uncomfortable, they always snap me out of it and make me laugh. They know exactly what to do or say. My friend Caro, for instance, gives me a hug and in her very own unique way insults whoever is making me feel uncomfortable at that moment. For example, during a Halloween party that we attended a few years ago, she said " Omg! Don't you pay any attention to any of those effin imbeciles, they just wish they had your awesome legs and amazing smile."  When I went to visit my cousin in Paris, and people would be rude and gawk at me she would give them the evil eye, we would laugh it off and just keep walking. My family and friends may not realize this, but they are the ones that give me all the strength in the world to be the girl that I am. If it were not for them, I do not think I would be the person I am today.
For many years growing up I used to think that I was at a disadvantage in all aspects in my life because I was born with Neurofibromatosis, a disorder that made me ugly and unattractive. I did not like who I was for a very long time. I disliked myself and constantly put myself down and blamed my NF for not having x,y, or z. I was, in essence, my biggest bully. 
Then, ( thank God) I grew up!!! I realized that I was not doing myself any good by putting myself down, that there was more to me than my NF. That's when I realized that having NF did not make me feel insecure or unattractive, I was causing those feeling myself by putting myself down. Unfortunately putting myself down had nothing to do with NF. Instead, it had everything to do with life. Women are always comparing themselves to other women and not only putting themselves down but others too. We are our own worst enemy, and that has to stop because if we don't, I don't want to imagine what will become of us.