I AM A SURVIVOR
We all have dreams of making a better life for ourselves. My dream is to become
the first person in my family to get a college education. I want desperately to become a
Radiological Technician. This goal may not seem like a big deal to some people but for
me it would be a way out of my oppressive heritage. In my family, the highest level of
education is barely a high school diploma .This is not because my family is not intelligent
enough to get a high school diploma or a college degree, but growing up in a home with
only one parent, we didn't have a lot of resources. I would like to put an end to this
vicious cycle and to prove to my family, my children, and myself that it can be done.
However, life has taken me down a path filled with obstacles. These obstacles have at
times caused me to become discouraged and frustrated in my quest to better myself.How-
ever, they have also made me into the strong, courageous, and determined woman that I
The first obstacle that I had to overcome was my family. I come from a large
Italian-Catholic family. There are seven of us, and I am the baby. Four boys and three
girls. My mother, who by the time she had me, was forty and worn out, and was tired of
kids. Therefore, she neglected me. In addition, she was not a very affectionate person.
There were no hugs and kisses, nor any words of encouragement. However, in her
defense, she had endured a lot by the time I was born. She had no education, her marriage
to my father had failed because he was emotionally and physically abusive. He also did
not support the family financially, so mom had to shoulder this burden on her own. She
worked the graveyard shift at a nursing home as a nursing assistant. So, needless to say
she slept all day and I had to basically care for myself. My siblings, because they are all
older than me, were either at school or their job and too busy to worry about me.
Sundays, were the only good days. This was family day. We went to mass in the
morning and mom would spend all day cooking a big meal, which usually consisted of
pasta. Although, it was family day, it sure was not a day of love. My siblings would take
the time to fight among themselves and subsequently, torture me. The only part of the
day I really enjoyed was mass. I loved the smells of the incense, and the sounds of the
organs. I loved the feeling of peace, and I would get the strength I needed to survive
another week with my family.
The next obstacle was school. When I started, I did not know what to expect.
I had no idea who I was or what to expect. Living with all the negativity, lack of parental
guidance, and lack of love, had made a huge impact on my self-concept as an individual,
I did not have one. Furthermore, because I was not raised in a positive environment with
sensitive and loving caregivers, I had no basic trust. I was petrified of everyone and ever-
ything. My world was all about fear. Consequently, I had no self-esteem and latched
myself onto the "wrong crowd". In seventh grade, I started smoking and drinking. I was
only thirteen, and I thought I was cool. It was the beginning of the end for me. I did not
realize this until years later, but I was trying to cure myself; I was self-medicating. When
I was drunk, I felt good about myself. Then, I had all the self-esteem I needed. Most
importantly, I had friends who cared about me. I did not have to worry about them
judging me, or ignoring me, they liked to hang-out with me. However, I knew that if I
stayed on this path, I would end up exactly like my family; poor and un-educated. I was
at the point that I did not care though. This was the first time in my life that I felt good
about myself. I was not too concerned with the fact that it was not the right path.
The day I turned sixteen, I quit school. Yes,...
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