You and me, we’ll get through this

Posted by Ragel Ibarra on

Writer: Will, 23, IL.

        I’d just like to begin to and say that I’m a 23 year old guy seemingly happy, selfless, and motivated to make a world a better place with my existence. Now I want to say that even though I’m “still young” as most of the world would say, I feel like I’m a 70 year old man and under that exterior I’m living under is a sad kid trying to figure out where he belongs in this life and I’m here to reach out to others that may (or may not) relate to the story I’m out to tell. It’s hard for me to come out and say all this but I’m here to let others know, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Lets be friends. Lets build each other up and work through this hard but beautiful life we have because after all, what we have (even if it may not seem like much) is priceless and need to remind ourselves of that everyday as I do. Family, friends, dogs, cats, ferrets, lions, tigers & bears… you know the deal. So without further ado, here it is, my story.

I was born in Central America in a country with the economy depleting faster then someone draining their phone battery on social media apps. I love my heritage but I can’t really love my country with the amount of deaths, poverty, & illness there is. Needless to say, I’m happy my life isn’t revolved around that. Now growing up, I’ve come to learn what experiences I’ve gone through really mean. When I was at a very young age I remember having a babysitter. Just one. And in that time, when my parents were gone and off to work, she would babysit me. Literally. I remembers her laying me down on the cold ground after a bath, naked, and begin to (as many would say) straddle me. Now Being at such a young ago, I thought this was the norm. Until one day I showed my parents what she was doing to me by mimicking her. I remember my mother asking me where I had learned this in the most caring way possible, (probably so I wouldn’t get alarmed or whatever) and with the few words I knew how to saw, I began to tell her my babysitter did it. I still remember that vividly to this day. After that, my mind was here and there with memories of that place. 

        Anyways, when I was 3 maybe 4 years old, my mom and I moved into the states as we followed my dad because of how our previous home wasn’t safe to live in. However, we didn’t go straight to him when we moved. My mother and I initially lived in Miami for about 7 months, I vaguely remember that. Soon after, we flew out to Illinois to meet with my dad. And our family would finally be united, so I thought. Now the word “united” is a strong word to describe us. In my eyes, I would say we were “put together”. A few years go by and we’re living in a town called Waukegan in the northern suburbs of Chicago. At this time I was about 6 years old. Where we were living was not such a good area and the schools mirrored that. But when you move from one poor country to another with higher expectations with a child, it’s easy to understand that life wasn’t so great. I didn’t do all that great in school, and an incentive to do better, my father would grab one arm by the wrist, lift me up so I would touch the floor to try to run away, and hit me with a belt, full force, for every math problem I got wrong. I remember that one day it got so bad that I started urinating myself as it happened. The next day, I had bruises all over my back, stomach, & hamstrings. Now, I know what you maybe thinking, “Where was you mom when this was happening?” Well, with that kind of discipline to your own child, you can only imagine what she might’ve been going through. I don’t blame her for any of it because at the end of the day, she would come to me at night, tuck me in bed, and with tears in her eyes, she would tell me, “everything is going to be alright, hijo. I love you with all my heart.”. A few months go by, and my mom tells me one day, “We’re moving hijo. We’re moving to Kansas with family.”. I can’t remember much after that as far as what I asked her after that or what my reaction was but when she told me my dad wasn’t coming, I had this sense of calmness rush over me. I’d like to say that about a week after that, we were all packed up in my moms ’99 Toyota Corolla and we were on our way to Kansas to live with family I’ve never met before.

        So there I am. 6 years old, living in Kansas with Connie, a teach, Rex, a dentist, Katisha, a college student, Cole, a high school senior, & Barlow their dog. They took my mother in as a foreign exchange student before I was born and I loved every single one of them. They made me feel loved. I knew what it was like to be a kid, have great friends, live, laugh, and experience everything a kid should. I played with Barlow everyday and I grew the love for dogs from those moments. I loved to play basketball with Cole. Rex would let me keep my X-rays of my teeth from the dentist. Connie would take me to my soccer games with my mom. Mind you my mom was working almost 6 days a week all in a 7 month period. By the end of the 7th month my mom and I were moving BACK to Illinois with my dad. Now at an older age, I came to realize they had a separation. As I asked my mom why were moved back when I was in my high school years, she told me that he convinced her that he had changed. That was a lie.

        We moved back to Waukegan, to a different house. A house where my dad was renting out the top half of. Beat down house, sketchy neighborhood, untrusting bottom half neighbors. I was about to turn 8 in this time. The beatings seem to have stopped at this time but something more sharp came into play. Something just about as bad if not as bad began to unfold. Words. You know, It’s funny, most of us were raised with the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”. And I’d like to challenge that. What if you grew up being told you’re not someones son. That you’re not blood. That you take advantage of everything provided for you at just 8 years old. There’s definitely a lot more into what had been said over the year we lived with him but I think I made my point. Nobody deserves that, and I wouldn’t wish that upon anybody. Needless to say, my mom and dad got a divorce when I was 9. You might be saying to yourself, “Finally”. And I think at the time, deep down, I said the same thing. That’s when I believe the sadness started to set in my life. My mother and I moved about 20 minutes west. My mom got us an apartment, and we lived there for less then a year before we moved again. I was saddened by that because I loved the outdoor pool we had there where I thought myself how to swim. Before I knew it, we were at another apartment complex where I spent about a year in. Within that year, I had made a few friends at that complex and would ride bikes everywhere and had enjoyed being able to be outside and explore for a while. Now, I honestly give so much thanks to my mother because in the midst of it all, she was providing everything she could for me. She would work day to night while I’d go to school until I got home and wait for her to come home, bought the cheapest food because rent wasn’t cheap, and got me clothes almost every month because I was growing out of my old ones fast. She is the strongest woman I know and I love her dearly for all the sacrifices she made for me. She is my hero. Yes, I’m a momma’s boy if you hadn’t figured that yet. One day, she asks me if it’s okay if she could start dating other guys, and at the time the first thing I said to her, (which was kind of rude) was “I don’t care” in a very nonchalant way as we were going to my of my friends house and she was extremely happy about that! Looking back, first off, I would’ve slapped my old self for saying that to her the way I did, and secondly, the FACT that my mom had the courage to ask my permission before she did anything completely blows me away. Like, for real?! That’s a great mom. Okay, never mind. That’s an incredible mom. So needless to say, after that, she met a guy named Brad who later on married my mom. And yes he asked for my blessing first in turn I said yes because he was a great guy. AND he game me his playstation. Like com’on. He later moved to my apartment and after they were married, we got a house about 30 minutes east of where we were in a town called Beach Park. 

        One day, I get a phone call from my real dad and he tells me he’s moving back to our home country. That was the start of this hole growing inside me. At this time, before he told me he was moving, he was still verbally abusing me and making me feel guilty for living with my mom so when he told me he was moving back to our home country, it didn’t phase me. So I thought. So I saw him one last time and he was gone. This is where the sense of abandonment started to settle in because this is the technically the third tie he’s left my mom and I. It really started to root in other problems within me because even though I had a step father, I was missing something. I had grown up around friends with fathers that would teach them helpful skills like, how to fix a car, how to handle money correctly, how to play sports, ETC. It really caused this emptiness to grow within me as the years went by. Brad (who I consider my father now), didn’t have much of a connection until I was 22. Everything I had learned I had either learned through teaching myself or watching others. By the time I was in high school I was eager to fit in somewhere. I wanted a clique but never really found that. I had “friends” like we all do in high school but as time went by, those all disappeared. And when that happened, that hole kept on growing. So I went through all 4 years of high school and graduated. I made momma proud. And after that, I was working in an indoor waterpark as a lifeguard barely making $9 an hour. By the time I was 19 years old, I felt the pressure of not doing anything with my life when all the friends I knew were off in college making something of themselves. So I joined that Armed Forces and moved out to California on my own for 3 months with hardly any contact with the outside world, friends or family. Once I graduated from bootcamp, I again made my family proud. I became something more then what I was before. I accomplished what most people wouldn’t or even couldn’t do. By the time I was done with my job training which was another 2 months after bootcamp, I was able to move back home since my station was close enough for me to live back at home. For those of you that don’t know, this is being a reservist. In this time, I felt like I could do anything considering I just accomplished the two most hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my entire life at the time. 

        When I got back home, I unfortunately moved in with the wrong group of people. I fell into drugs for the simple fact of feeling the need to “fit in” somewhere. Two years of drugs led me to what felt like a near death experience. To the point that I called my father (Brad) and told him everything that I was doing. He picked me up that late night, and I moved back in with my parents. At which time I had just begun a relationship with a very beautiful girl. After that experience, I had stopped doing drugs that affected the way I was thinking for myself, family, and girlfriend. Some months go by and I feel fulfilled. I have a beautiful girlfriend, I had saved a lot of money,  and things are going great until one day, My girlfriend, Kali, tells me we’re pregnant. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think I was ready for a child but at the same time, I don’t agree with abortions and the moment she told me she was going to have the procedure done, this huge conflicting arose within me. We had talked about it and I of course tried to talk her out of it, but her mind was made up. In that moment I decided that, I would be there with her to have it done to be supportive for her even though I was walking with a broken heart. So it eventually happened and I felt lost and confused. A couple months go by and I found out she was cheating on me. That destroyed me. That was the first time I experienced someone cheat on me and let me tell you, that was a rude awakening. Everything that I had been dealing with, the abandonment of my dad, my previous drug abuse, the abortion, and her cheating on me had all fallen on my shoulders. My heart felt heavy and in so much pain. So this hole I had within me grew even bigger and what did I do to fill it? Go to concerts and pop some pills. I just didn’t want to feel anything. And in a 2 month period of going through that (which wasn’t enough time) I quickly jumped into another relationship with a girl from Alabama. Someone 3 states away. Can you believe that? I was desperate to feel wanted again so I filled this whole I had with another relationship. A relationship that lasted an entire year of just pure toxicity. But I felt love in all the wrong ways. So after a year, I came to find out that that girlfriend had been “talking” to and messing around with my roommate that I had moved in with a few months back. I was just devastated by that fact. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, constant anxiety, depression through the roof, and one night, I was in so much pain that I took a bottle of prescribed medication, And took it all.. I wanted everything to stop. I wanted to ret. I wanted to know a day without constant pain was. Everything that had happened in my life seemed to consistently run me over. I just couldn’t handle it. My roommate at the time, found me laying on the floor of my room with the bottle in my hand. He dialed 911 and before I knew it, I was in a hospital. 

        Now, if you made it this far into reading this novel of my trials of life, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I just wanted to take some time to tell you that through my circumstances, I’m still pushing for more out of this life. I’ve been seeking help, I’ve been reaching out, I’ve surrounded myself with a supportive community, I’ve redirected my faith into something more. I’ve come from a world that seemed hopeless to me. A world not worth living. But that’s a big lie. You can’t give up hope. Just because seem to look one way, does not mean it can’t change. I’ll be honest, I still battle depression and anxiety from time to time but I’ve given myself a reason to live. I live for my mother, sister, brother, cousins, niece, friends, and most importantly for myself. SUICIDE IS NOT THE ANSWER. You are worth a lot to a lot of people whether you may know it or not. You and me, we’ll get through this. Fight the hard fight with me and don’t let your mental health wither. You are beautiful and I love you.

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