Submitted: A Letter to the Lost

I had been in Spain for three days, and had not ventured out of the house except to go to class, and when my host family showed me around the city. I’ve had a horrible sense of direction all my life, and by this time I’d been lost so many times it didn’t really scare me anymore – in America. But there was something about the narrow, twisty streets, the lack of street signs, and the lack of people who spoke my language, that made getting lost in Spain different. I was less inclined to wander out on my own.

But on this third evening, I had to meet the other American students in the center of the city for a cultural excursion. My host mom drew the route on the map, and walked me there, pointing out landmarks as we went. It was about a half hour walk from their apartment. When we found my group, she left me with this advice, “If you get lost, just keep walking downhill. You’ll find us eventually.” Right, so no worries.

Of course, I did get lost walking home. It took me a while to even realize I was completely off track. At first all the cobbled streets tight with tiny shops and scattered with beautiful churches and cathedrals all looked the same to me. By the time I realized I was lost, I could hardly even find my way back to the beginning, and just as if I was in the movies, the sky turned dark and it began to pour. It took me almost two hours to get home, by which time I was soaking wet. But after that, I had a much better understanding of the layout of the city, and I knew they were right – I would find my way home eventually. I wasn’t afraid of getting lost in Spain anymore.

Getting lost has always been part of my life, and always will be. Getting lost can even be fun sometimes. I met one of my best friends when we got lost together at fifth grade camp. I got lost many more times in Spain, and sometimes it was horrible. Once I got lost with a good friend when we were visiting a city far away, and she was dehydrated and vomiting and we needed to get back to the hotel – it was not a good time to be lost. Once I led another friend an hours walk out of the way because she trusted me to know where I was going, and I didn’t.

Continue reading

A letter to the Vulnerable

They say that everything comes from the home.  They tell us that our past experiences help shape who we are as individuals in the present.  Like much of us, I had a less than grand childhood complete with a useless, neglectful biological father and the hateful, power-hungry stepfather.  My childhood, by all means, was not lifetime movie material, so why bore you with specifics?  However, I think having those past experiences with these two as “father figures” has definitely made its lasting mark on my personality.  I, of course,  anchored myself to my mother’s side and learned to stifle all emotion and thus my “resting b*tch face” was born.   Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the nicest, most hyperactive people you’ll meet, but I taught myself to conceal any form of weakness and to trust that nobody would stick around —that humans would always fail you.  I swallowed my vulnerability and prayed to God that it would never find its way out of the back door.

I could control my emotions like a light switch.  I took pride in being hard, cold, and emotionless when I had to be.  I remember my stepdad towering above me, throwing his man tantrum while he yelled in my face.  For once, I was unfazed.  I smiled internally as I stared him straight in the eye with my best blank face.  I’d hoped that my eyes were the emptiest he’d ever seen.  Noticing my expression, he yelled in my face..

           “YOU THINK YOU’RE HARD?!”

To which I replied…

           “Do you want me to be scared of you?”

Even at that young age, vulnerability was my worst enemy.  Its shows up, unexpectedly, with good intentions, but only brings feelings of shame, guilt, and weakness.  It results in a loss of power and control, which in turn is triggers me to rule my own body with the iron fist of abuse.

Continue reading