Mid December 2010 was a difficult time.
On December 16, 2010 I ended the most difficult relationship of my life in a way that became the most tear-provoking memory of this past year. It was a relationship that had taken so much out of me, stripped me to soul-nothingness. Three days later, on December 19, four Democrats in the U.S. Senate said Nay to the piece of legislation that would have changed my life, the thread of hope I was holding onto — the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, which would have given undocumented youth in the U.S. a pathway to American citizenship in exchange of finishing a college career or joining the military. The DREAM Act needed 60 votes to pass, it got 56. I am a DREAM Act beneficiary, A.K.A. undocumented, A.K.A. a DREAMer. Politics used not be such an intruding part of my life, or so I thought.
It was about 6:00 am on the 19th, I was actually in a van with other people. We were trying to arrive on time to watch the votes’ results at CHIRLA, but when we got there it was too late, other fellow dreamers dressed in graduating gowns were sobbing. When I was standing there, in the midst of cries and defeat, I thought: it would have been nice to have the life that was meant for me. Now my boyfriend was gone, as if those 411 days hadn’t counted for anything. The talks of an engagement were off, Roca didn’t see him for Christmas. The fight for the DREAM Act 2010 was coming to a close. My next five-year plans were taken suddenly within a few days.
I was sad at the time.
I was hurting two-fold.
Since then, I’ve had experiences that have mostly been good. The anxiety has minimized, the pain of the heartbreak has alleviated. I’ve met so many people, I’ve gotten close to some of those people, some of those people have taught me valuable lessons, and those people have become my friends, friends that have a way of changing my life every time I see them. They don’t know this but, they have shaped the reconstruction of myself. I was broken inside, they put me back together.
Most of them are part of the same movement — the DREAMers movement. All of them drag a shadow around, a dark and unwanted part of themselves. There’s a fact that haunts us; none of us are able to live life like a normal American — because after living here for nearly half of my life, I consider myself part American, I just don’t have documented proof of it, but I feel that way. The experience of being undocumented tends to be humiliating at times, hence the humbleness in each one of their hearts. All of them have a glow within, some of them may not be aware, but it’s there. Some have witnessed cruel and unjust separations from their parents, or family members, some have gone through depression, some have gotten their bachelor’s degrees, and even made it through graduate school (which still doesn’t cease to amaze me). In many ways, we have made life more livable. In many ways, a common struggle unites us.
And so 2011 began and I said this was going to be my year, despite December’s failures. I was going to achieve, I was going to shine, and come alive. I was going to learn, and treasure moments. I was going to own those 12 months.
I lived indeed.
I cried, I felt, I evolved, I loved — in ways that I hadn’t tried loving before. I spoke up when I needed to. I shut my mouth when I had to. I felt the pain when it came. I smiled back, I gave, I received.
Some days I got under the covers and lay there for hours, crying, suffocating in my indulgent grief, questioning my choices, and my so-called free agency. At times, all the memories would come back to me. I’d feel so frustrated. On top of this heartbreak, I couldn’t do what I WANTED, and my life was upside down, I was far from the place I dreamed of being financially, and emotionally. My life was not what I wanted it to be, and I didn’t have a back up plan.
Despite it all, I tried doing some renewing things. I ran a lot of laps around the park. I took Roca to school for the first time (yey pre-K). I graduated from community college with an Associate of Arts degree in Spanish and Journalism. I lead groups of people, I organized parts of my community trying to disseminate information about how undocumented youth make it through [life, college, etc.] (giving hope, I hope), teaching about the federal and state DREAM Acts. I interned at SEIU and UFW. I gave some speeches. I met politicians. I tried Mexican food and I liked it. I meditated, I had healing circles, I had friends make me laugh, I heard a world-famous womyn’s rights leader speak and held her hand. I got to see other human struggles. I felt small.
I also ran into my ex twice with his pregnant girlfriend. I felt disappointed. I felt hopeless, I wanted to leave, run away. I wrote. I grew. I am here today.
Through my pain, I understood I couldn’t control the external world that surrounded me with all its unfair treaties, and its selfish ways. Pain beat me up to the point of giving in. I sat here, many times, with a broken heart, with tears streaming down my face. This broken heart, with its awful cracks, allowed me to soften, to allow other loving spirits and wise beings to be present, it allowed me to absorb the words I heard, and to understand, truly and deeply, that the immersion into my pain was the only thing I was missing to progress in this life journey. Pain has made me so much bigger, with it I stand firm on the grounds underneath my feet.
When I was in my late teens, I suspected that a sort of emotional crisis was going to come my way. I had gone through experiences earlier in my life that were rather traumatic that had much to do with how I made decisions throughout life. I knew I would have to face those fears and traumas before moving forward as an adult. I didn’t know when those moments I was avoiding with a resilient shield were going to arrive. But I knew that once they had, my heart and memories were going to be scraped down. They were, they have been.
After a whole year, the cracks of my breakup are now scars. I am self-assured of that ( but that’s a story for another post). My heart is finally free and it can breath without hiccups. The federal DREAM Act didn’t pass, but the CA Dream Act did (hooray!). I have too much to thank. I’m on to continue the healing of other parts of myself. Like a dear mentor once told me, “Healing is a life-long process.”
The sky is the limit.