As the holidays draw closer, shopping malls world wide become increasingly packed with each passing day. Money is being spent left right and centre as people rush to withdraw their wallets, cheques, and credit cards. All is well. After all, Santa Clause will be coming down the chimney in a matter of days, will he not? The wrapped up boxes, the gift cards, and the dozens upon dozens of bows sitting perfectly around the Christmas tree. Oh, what a holy jolly Christmas. All is calm on this Christmas night.
So you're a millennial, and you're also the child of an immigrant in the USA. Welcome.
As a therapist I have known supported many people that over extend themselves in order to buy gifts for their family and find that the next Christmas they are still paying for the gifts from last Christmas. There is nothing like watching people stress out over this circular path from Christmas to Christmas to bring home the fact that there must be a better solution.
Everyone knows that the winter holidays are supposedly the happiest time of the year. Well, I say it is not for a lot of families around the world, even just in our hometowns. So let me explain this a bit as I am sure a lot of people would disagree with me.
When people around me think of Christmas, they often think of Christmas parties, presents and decorations and a Christmas tree. However in my house we put up a tree and just minimal decorations. We don't buy lots of Christmas presents, we buy small because to us the thought counts more than quantity or cost.
Nearly 19 years ago, I was born in Bell County, Texas. My parents, as well as both sides of my family, are of Puerto Rican descent. Living in a Hispanic household, or at least mine, held a stigma. A stigma where mental health is taboo, and booboo's can be healed by saying "Sana sana colita de rana" and everything can be fixed with Vicks Vapo Rub. However, I was never properly prepared for the biggest sin that can be committed in the Hispanic culture. Not speaking Spanish.
I was sitting in my car waiting on my youngest to get out of school when that new song came on. You know, the one about the singer wanting some nebulous person to be "happier". Well I hate to say that song majorly rubs me the wrong way for some reason. It has since I first heard it. I am not complaining about the artist or his composition, it is the phrasing and meaning behind the song that has always stung like salt. And I just figured out why.
It took me a long time to understand the feeling I’ve had since I was a child—that feeling of always having my nose pressed to the glass, of being an opposite current in the flow of life around me. This nagging sense constantly made me question my identity and self-worth as a Middle Eastern immersed in Western culture. Although I grew up in the Middle East, I attended American schools all my life, exposing me to the Western lifestyle. The two regions—having prolonged political disputes and deviating ideals—did not exactly help my case.
We all have that friend we adore. That friend who never returns your texts until 2 hours later, or just ignores the hell out of your calls, but calls later when something is wrong even though you said nothing of the relations.
Published 11 months ago
Heroin became my mother, brother, and sisters best friends. Living in a small, middle class, suburban town outside of one of the greatest cities in the world; You would think in such a decent neighborhood “no hardcore drugs would effect me!” But you’re wrong. Growing up with a severely mentally ill mother with manic depression was tough enough. My brother and sister were the popular kids when they were teens. I was a big nobody. They started smoking weed and partying every weekend. Which turned into everyday. Then my mother wanted to be a part of their fun endeavors. My mother introduced her prescription drugs to my siblings. My sister liked them but my brother didn’t. Soon after my brother got hooked on perc 30s (Percocets, 30 mg). Doing those drugs was fun and games and I just watched from the bleachers. They looked so cool and like they were living their best lives until one day heroin came into our lives. I’ve never done any of the drugs I was exposed to as a kid but boy they sure did leave an everlasting impact and continue to do so til this day. The first time my mother and siblings snorted the drug they became a slave to it. It’s cheaper for a bundle of heroin rather than any pills you can cop on the street. After awhile you get used to their violent fits, their nodding out, and acting like they’re having seizures. Then being a young kid picking up after them constantly. Making sure they make better choices no matter how small. Having to grow up fast and realize you don’t want this lifestyle. Yet, you’re stuck with no way out until you can finish school and make some real money. All you have is the clothes on your back so you can’t leave. You feel like you’re trapped in a cage doing the same routine day after day. They are too but they get to escape through chemical use. You have to sit in silence while no one cares about what happens to you. No one reaches out to help you but you don’t reach out to anyone in fear of rejection. “What might the community think of me? I don’t do the drugs but it has to make me look like a junky.” The truth is most people believe the first thing they hear about someone. I have been treated like I’m less than because of the choices my family has made. Oh but I do have a father and he enables the drug habits. He gives them money after they steal from him. Make them out to be the poster children of America. All while you try so hard to do good just for one person to notice. You’re stuck in the background just a sound of wind that’s overturned and ignored once again. One little bad grade on your test. One dish not cleaned and you are the criminal. There’s no room in this house unless you start to abuse the drug but you’re too afraid of going near that substance that has taken so many lives. You’re in a losing fight. Heroin is now all you know.
My childhood consisted of quite a few activities. Most of these were pretty typical, vacations, playing outside, enjoying family functions. This created a very happy childhood for me. There are some pretty vivid memories I remember much better than the others. Looking back on my childhood I now see where I got a lot of my influences from.