every scar is a story

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“I was maybe 10 or 11. I realized when I went to gym class, I couldn't touch my toes.  I still can’t. I went home and I was like, ‘Ma look I can’t touch my toes,’ and she saw the hump. She started investigating and she found out I had scoliosis. 

You know how if you get a cut, but you don’t see it, it doesn’t hurt, but as soon as you look at it, it hurts? That’s how it was. [Suddenly] I would get back pains, I couldn't stand up for too long. Certain positions would make my lower back start to hurt and then people started noticing it more. One day I was leaning over reading a book in class and my teacher was like, ‘Oh you have a hump on your back.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah I know, I have scoliosis.’

It was very prominent, the curve. [But] people didn’t stare or tease. They didn’t really pay attention like that.

[A] majority of things were still the same, but it was just [that] the pain was [stronger]. 

I’m horrible with pain. I have a fear of needles, a genuine phobia. I practically beat my mother when I had to get shots. She had to bring another nurse to hold me down. But I want tattoos and a nose piercing.

The night before [my surgery] I was freaking out, crying. The doctor, I liked him because he was good with children. There was a thing between us to wear crazy socks. Cartoon characters, skulls and crossbones, stripes. Once he had a pair of socks with Santa Clause on a motorcycle with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That was our thing. He made me more comfortable.

[After the surgery] I was definitely taller. It was immediate. I gained, two inches, maybe. I was relieved because the surgery was finally over. [It lasted 8 hours.] I didn’t have any pain after [until] later in the night, lying in bed. Physical therapy was a bitch. The day after, [my physical therapist] was like, you have to get up. She came in, she would make me get up, I had to walk over to the chair, sit down in the chair, get out of the chair, walk back over to the bed. It hurt like a bitch because the muscles were trying to get accustomed to the pins and the rods in the spine. So I was screaming down the place. It was crazy. That hurt so bad. After that no matter what pain I get, none of that pain could match up to that.

[Knowing that it’s in my bloodline] doesn’t make me hesitant [to have children].  I just know that either they will have it or the grandchildren will have it or the nieces and nephews will have it. Somebody’s going to have it. I just have to be prepared for that, be prepared for whether they need a brace, whether I catch it early, or whether I can get a surgery for them. I would get a surrogate or I would adopt. But having children naturally, that would be a lot.

Just stick through it. It’s a deformity of your body. So it’s like, what happened in your genes? Why are you the one that got deformed. It’s gonna make or break me, so I might as well let it make me.

Every scar is a story. It has something behind it, good or bad. Mine in this case was in between. I used to be self-conscious about it, especially because it was really dark, but then it lightened up to match my skin color. The only thing is it has a little keloid on the bottom, but I actually welcome my scar because I like it when people ask me, oh how did you get that scar? I’m like oh my gosh story time! I like telling the story. 

I talk to everybody because in life, you never know when you're going to talk to somebody you either make their day or they just decide to give away money to the next person that talks to them. I always  have a smile on my face and say hi, how you doing, and I have a big smile on my face. I don’t know how their day is going. So I don’t know if my smile or my happy attitude is going to make the rest of their day for them. I try my best to make people happy. It’s fun. It makes me feel good inside.

Everybody has something good about them. Whether you give awesome advice, dance well. Find what makes you you, what tells your story.”

As told by Kyara

letting people in

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"I spent a lot of my life trying to make myself happy, trying to make things happen and I finally reached the end of this road in 2014 just really struggling a lot with my life. Struggling with my personal relationship with God and struggling with relationships with people and struggling with myself.  I think I just really needed to hit rock bottom. That was the final push, just rock bottom. Deep in depression. Deep in self-hatred. Deep in all these things toward myself and towards my life.

Hitting rock bottom is where God met me. He first spoke to me about [New Zealand] and then he spoke to me a little bit later about the program that I did.

It was almost a [year-long] process. I kept it a secret from my family because culturally my family is very Hispanic and at the age of 28 you’re supposed to be married and you’re supposed to have kids and you’re supposed to have a job and have a car. That was the biggest fear that I had, to the point where I wasn’t going to go.

I finally told my parents, my mom and my sister actually, and [we] got into the biggest fight I could ever imagine. My family was very harsh and critical and very angry and not at all understanding of what this Jesus thing is. They weren’t able to understand that God speaks and he talks and he tells you to go places. That concept is very unfamiliar territory considering that I’m the only Christian in my family. In that stage, maybe for a split second, I hesitated.

[But after] I went through all of that with my family there was no way I [could] take my word back. I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that God called me and I knew that He wanted me to know him truly and deeply.

I kind of went, ‘Okay I’m going to know God and it’s going to be amazing and it's going to be green pastures’. That was my mindset. I really didn’t know what to expect. But I just found myself, getting there, being in a room full of people younger than me or around my age. I was quite terrified and I found myself, my voice, shrinking.

I was just terrified and scared and I had this anxiety. I associated that with the fear that this was going to change my life and that God was going to do so much in me. I have so much stuff in my life that I’ve kept suppressed, that I’ve kept hidden that I’ve buried, thinking that I was okay. 

I felt like a teapot. Everything was boiling and I could feel myself about to explode, but in a beautiful way. I knew it was going to be painful. 

For the first three days it was all about meeting people and introducing yourself. We were going to have a whole week before we started lectures where we were going to share our life stories. 

I thought ‘this is it’. This is my chance to finally share everything that has happened with me. And I kind of went in that first day thinking, ‘Ok, I’m just going to share this part and this good part—I found God in New York, and all these other things—that was going to be it. But once the first day wrapped up, being in that room and hearing other people sharing their life stories of just really really painful things from being raped to having problems with drugs to death and grief, that’s when I realized I couldn’t keep hiding anymore. I needed to let everyone in. 

The biggest thing, was the broken relationships that I had when I was in my early 20’s and what that carried with it and how I viewed myself after that. I swept it under the rug. I viewed myself as the other woman. And I viewed myself as being used like a rag doll. I shared how I thought about myself because of that relationship. And I just couldn’t believe that I said that out loud. I actually said it out loud in a room full of strangers.

It’s one of those days that I will always remember for the rest of my life—the moment I let people in and shared these really hard and really bad parts of my life and things that I carried. I carried a lot of shame. Looking back at that girl, I would say she was very broken. I feel like it’s the day I became alive, when I let people in. "

As told by Christine