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The girl with the question mark on her wrist

A journey uncovering trauma

By Natasha CollazoPublished 2 years ago Updated 6 months ago 8 min read
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The girl with the question mark on her wrist
Photo by Ana Martin on Unsplash

2008-2009

The divorce was final. Not sure if the paperwork had gone through yet but my dad was definitely remarried and I’m now living with him, his wife and her two kids all under one roof. My baby sister was born and now I had this new family. As a 19 year old teenager I didn’t really grasp it all. This is sort of a trend with me that I’m noticing. I don’t feel things.

I see it, I accept it, but I don’t feel it.

The only thing I felt, is what was important to me. Boys. I’m now in a very serious relationship with my highschool sweetheart and I’m working full time managing a hair salon.

Very shortly after my dad remarried, his wife left him. For very rational reasoning. But my dad began to loose himself. She took the kids and left. My dad was no longer safe to be around. I had never seen my dad pick up the bottle in my entire 19 years of living and even so much as a cigarette and here we are. My dad is smoking, drinking and now using cocaine.

What the hell?

There’s something about not seeing your dad drink in his entire life to tweaking his mind out. It’s weird. But nope, didn’t feel it.

As a woman now, if I had seen this vile change, I would had confronted it, or felt sad for him. But as a teen you kind of just, watch, and keep your distance.

I just wanted Edward. Edward is an undercover name I’m giving my boyfriend at the time. I chose Edward because he was my ‘Edward Cullen’ at the time. Now I’m giving him more credit than he actually deserves but he was indeed my kryptonite. My poison, and as a young inexperienced kid, I would definitely call it an addiction.

He was my first.

Oh screw it, his name was Edin. Yes, I just name dropped. But it’s my story, so I can do what I want. I’m sure he’ll be proud to be the famous Edward Cullen of the story.

Anywho, to wrap up a long story, weird things were happening in my family and I wanted to get the heck out of dodge. So what did I do? I packed my bags, quit my job, and bought a one way greyhound ticket to Tyler, Minnesota to be with Edin. Our relationship was long distance at this time and I could no longer stand it. Young, dumb and in-love, I left it all behind.

I left on December 29th and arrived on New Year’s Eve just in time for the first ball drop since there were two New Years Eve’s coming from Florida. My mother called me to wish me a happy new year Florida time, but I was already wasted drunk and impaired. I remember I could barely talk to her. I passed out immediately after that phone call.

I wish I could remember which year it was but of course this was before Facebook was a big thing and MySpace was what I used to communicate with the outside world. I had a Motorola flip phone and life was, simple.

But was it? I got a job at the turkey plant Edin’s dad ran, slaughtering turkeys. Well, the room I worked in they came through on a conveyor belt and were already dead. It was like working in a refrigerator. It was cold and wet. I had rain boots up to my knees because of the water we’d stand in, a very long white lab coat, a hair net, a hat, and big heavy cutting-knife gloves. I looked …. like, not me. But I understood why they did it. I think I stayed long enough to experience one paycheck which would be around eight hundred a week. Back then, that was bank! You were considered very well off with that kind of income. You’re considered well off with eight hundred a week even now. So, the money was there, in Minnesota. But that didn’t matter.

At this point I realized and questioned, what am I doing? Who am I? I don’t like gutting turkeys. The screams of their slaughter in the room next to me will forever haunt my dreams.

I was living in a blizzard town in the middle of January where the population was of only a thousand people and that consisted of one African American. So you can only imagine the zero percent diversity. The weather was a vicious -22 degrees.

It was so cold they don’t make clothing warm enough for this kind of weather. That was when I was starting to have panic attacks. My first one ever! A real one. I had to call my mom every time I had one, to coach me out of them. My hands would lock up and I would feel like I was passing out.

This was the moment I realized I can’t do this.

And long story short, things didn’t work out between Edin and I and with that a very ugly break up on Valentine’s day had me packing my bags and yet again back on the bus in complete shambles headed back to Florida. Traveling on holidays seemed to be a destined thing for me, I guess.

I was crying so loud on the bus I remember a lady asked if I was going to be okay and all I could say was my boyfriend and I broke up and I’m heading to Florida on Valentine’s day, and all she got out of that was, you’re heading to Florida from here??! “You won’t be there for three days by a greyhound bus” she blurred out, as if I hadn’t already done this trip, and I looked at her, and continued to cry my entire insides out that entire day.

The crying ceased. I could no longer cry anymore. I was just, numb. We had a long lay over in Chicago due to a blizzard. I bought my mom a mug, and we preceded the next day extending my trip even longer. We ate White Castle in Indiana, and switched buses in Atlanta.

When I got home I immediately met up with my best friend Danielle and we walked in my house that I was living in prior with my dad and it was now an empty abandoned trap house with paperwork from his bankrupt business everywhere. I found needle paraphernalia in my bedroom.

To put it in words, the house looked like a homeless shelter slash meth lab.

Her and I walked through the house in complete and utter shock.

My dad had no longer lived there. No one did. It was empty.

From that moment on, I was a complete and different, dark person. Previously, I was a cutter at this time in my life and I had been cutting for months.

I’ve never said this out loud.

That same day I went out and got a tattoo of a question mark on my wrist that mimicked the branding of what you’d use on an animal. I was never the same.

I never saw Edin again.

The tattoo wasn’t a fashionable or fun thing for me at this time, it was almost as an emergency escape for physical pain overshadowing emotional pain because in those days cutting was something that I would run to from time to time and so the tattoo was a legal way of cutting my wrist. I was in survival mode when I got this tattoo, and I remember not even talking to the tattoo artist he just asked me what I wanted and I said I don’t know just “carve my wrist- with a question mark”.

Now that I have never told anybody this before, whoever knows me and reads this, gets the directors cut, unedited version of my story and will hear all the graphic details uncovering all of the why’s to the what’s about me.

That made better sense in my head.

2021-2022

I’m 34 years old now and did not realize how much help I probably needed as a kid. When I look down at the tattoo, all I see is time travel.

Which feels literally decades ago.

Usually, when people ask why I got the tattoo it depends on how I’m feeling if I even want to answer it truthfully, sometimes I’ll say, Batman, other times I’ll say lyrics to a song which really did interpret a lyric to a song by Motion City Soundtrack which sang “ Betty can’t quit carving question marks in my wrist, how come we’re so alone?”

And so the tattoo held to it’s meaning and song purpose, so what I would just tell people today is this was a grieving time in my life, and I would leave hints of truth without going down the rabbit hole.

What’s the point in telling you all of this?

Sometimes our plans and what our heart tell us is a complete and horrific disaster. Let me rephrase that, not sometimes, ALL times. I would also tell you that trauma isn’t your fault. We’re so scared to get help because we think ‘we’ are so stinking messed up. I will still hear the enemy calling me a misfit if I allow. But trauma is something out of our reach and out of control. When it happens, you literally can’t stop it. Therefore, why hold yourself accountable for the residual effects of the human body?

I’m learning all this now at 34, so I know it’s hard to say these things out loud because even now as a fully matured woman with grey in my hair, I still feel that same little girl suppressing it.

Because it didn’t stop there. I didn’t get help, and I didn’t learn. I continued to carry my own chains into what I then entered a very, long and dark, emo six years.

Gracefully, my story doesn’t end there, it begins. Many chapters after this were simply me running through the blank pages but I finally found the light.

At 34, which I consider almost half way done with life for some people, I look back to where the mess began. Sometimes we don’t even know it until we’re matured and of age when we pull out the shovel to our trauma.

Now when I look at the tattoo, I don’t feel regret but triumph, because I have found restoration because of pain.

Even though, I continue to dig up the rest of my path daily with that same rusty ole shovel, I truly believe it all lead me to finding my purpose and my identity in my lonesome relationship with people which only lead me clinging to my very fluid relationship with the Creator.

I was 33 when I started writing this little snippet of my life and really ‘ remembering’ this beginning chapter to my life, and here I am only finishing it at 34 because it seems the things we learn are continual but not scary, or anything to be ashamed of. I’m still learning things at 34 about that 19 year old girl.

If only I knew that then.

Bad habitsChildhoodFamilyHumanitySecretsTeenage years
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About the Creator

Natasha Collazo

**Studying Modern Journalism @ NYU **

Project: The diary of an emo Latina

I get inspired at the mid of night

Stock market by day, howler by night

✍🏽

Inquiries: [email protected]

Instagram: @sunnycollazo

Do all things in love

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  • Antoinette L Brey6 months ago

    Thinking back on my 19 year old self I question my self but I think I would,enjoy hanging out with the 19 yearold me

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