From Yesterday to Tomorrow
Vygotsky believed that “Social interaction and culture are the most important parts of cognitive development. The most important part is the interaction of children with peers and skilled adults for this allows them to use the psychological tools that in turn will prescribe cognitive development.” (Witt & Mossler, 2010) I feel that as a child I was guarded from learning how to be socially interactive, so I sought lessons through experience as an adult to stretch my mind with many different aspects of how people react to one another. Now I have a wide variety of social experiences. This has been the journey of my life--to learn how people are.
I was a shy little girl. Why I don’t know. What was it that I was shy about? Never heard the lesson of what causes a girl to be shy. I didn’t put much thought into it. I just was. I loved to learn in school, and to be honest, being shy helped me do so, as to the other kids wanted to play around, I was void of that and could direct myself to the studies which is what I truly preferred. Or maybe it wasn’t and I just used it as an excuse? Who is to say? My life has been a variety of experiences of learning from others how to socially react to different situations. What I was lacking as a child in social activity gave peers an advantage as we approached adulthood. I felt that if I could have many experiences, I could somehow fill in the blanks and be a whole person. I could then find a form of comfort and be able to feel justified in being who I needed to be. This process has brought forth many beautiful moments and many painful memories, but they are mine to own.
My family had money, not extreme, but I remember that my sister and I were the first girls in elementary with the Jorache jeans in 1980. My mom loved shopping, loved make-up, clothes, and she loved to be looked at by the men that stared at her. My father was all business, busy pleasing his father, my Granddad, the engineer with the German heritage hot temper and high IQ to set things into a whirlwind of "listen to me, I know everything". Now my father was socially savvy, but it could be in part to being the talk of the town since my mom was hot. Exactly who ran our family was not either one of them, but was the dysfunction that sweeps through like a breeze and carries us all like a bunch of leaves on a windy day. And then one day, there was no more wind, and we were all to fend for ourselves, without direction. They divorced after living too fake for too long, with too many affairs. We had a great childhood despite the dysfunction.
As a family, we lived our lives as Christian Scientists, as directed by my grandparents of course who were the founder's of our family, so therefore inherited the position of directors. We went to church with our high society lawyers and brains, all putting God into a scientific Mary Baker Eddy word or two. This was the intelligent way to look at the religion upon which the rest of the world was simply relying on silly emotion, as I was meant to believe. I was taught by my aunts and uncles and by one lady named Ruth Bernstein, who was a lawyer. A religion of somewhat twisted concepts with a touch of anti-social intentions, all comprised of what I felt to be intellectual people during my Sunday school class. Did they prepare the base for my deep moral to never purposely inflict harm on anyone? Perhaps, they were an additive to my awkward sense of self among classmates as a child.
Throughout my childhood I knew I was intelligent, not only did everyone tell me, but I just knew. When the chart the teacher constructed for learning the multiplication tables in elementary had a row full of stickers by my name and no one else's, there was a reality that I was with something that is not average. So when my mom would brag about how I used to recite the ABC's backwards at 2 years of age, and that my father was amazed at my "photographic memory" before I even knew what that was, yes I knew I was different. My extended family treated me like one of those vases that you don’t break because some day it will be worth a lot of money. They tried to shield me from everything. However, they didn’t realize their efforts were in vain, because I knew there to be more than what I was permitted to know. My sense of adventure grew through preparation of a career as a National Geographic photographer, as that seemed to be the only thing that I was permitted to "dream" about in a childish sense other than a career as some kind of brain. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to know what other people were like. They tried to make me into something, but instead of giving me all of the tools, they shorted me valuable information in hopes to steer me. What they possibly did, was ensure my direction to search for what I was lacking, what I was held from knowing... the social reality of life.
My teenage years brought me to a place where my strengths as a budding woman with the mind that I had could push my parents aside easily for they were weaker than I was, especially when their lives were in a state of dysfunction. I often wonder if they would have pulled together, with some effort towards good parental guidance as a loving married couple, what choices in life would have different other than that of the chosen. A study on divorce says that "the standard family environment model assumes that marital conflict and divorce increase the risk of children's behavior problems." (Amato & Cheade, 2008) I don’t know the answer. But I wanted to know about people and I was going to find out. Why did the other kids think differently than I did? What was so socially different about me was my question that needed answered. I now could see that I was shy and this bothered me because I knew that there had to be a solution to it. The solution was to figure out the social system in which I would be able to master the art of fitting in, to be able to feel confident when someone was with an opinion that was different than mine, and not feel like an excuse needed to be made. However, what I learned, in teenage years, without the direction of an adult, was that other kids didn’t like to see that someone did not have a problem with studying or school work. I found it easier to be purposely frivolous with my studies. I gave up trying to be the intelligent girl and adopted the fun loving social girl because it was more enhanced learning for me. School was easy, but this social learning - it was new, and exciting, and I wanted to know it. Therefore, my education became less important while I was in search of something else. I feel if it had been introduced, rather than withheld, as a guided learning process, the result would have been a more productive adolescence. My family bond became weak, my extended family all moved away, my parents split up, we didn’t go to church anymore, and suddenly I was able to decide what doors to open. I chose the ones that used to be forbidden. I went in search of social intelligence; something that was not introduced to me in my "children should be seen and not heard" upbringing.
First marriage, I like to compare to a business deal gone wrong. There was a power struggle who would take the on the roles of the bread winner, homemaker, decision maker, and who was to nurture the children. Coming from a confused family of who exactly was the boss of the family, I fell upon the role of bending and conforming to please someone else's plans for who I was to become. I was not equipped to handle the social demands of being a part of someone else’s family. I became what I like to call, "a pawn" in their game. I was required to give up my dreams, my personal needs, and to adopt their needs and ideals, while slowly stripping me of who I was, forming me into what they wanted me to be. They wanted me to work, when I wanted to go to school and raise my babies. Even though I was a strong woman, I did not realize this at the time, because I believed that I could not make decisions without their blessing as that is what I had become accustomed to over the years. When our divorce became final, it was I that made the decision to permit our 2 children to live with him. His mom was the caretaker while I worked. This decision was made within trustful boundaries of a marriage, and should have rather been a decision that been made with more of an ongoing war of sorts between two people with very different ideals of how the future of all the lives involved should be properly maintained. It was too late when I realized this. The first reality of my life lessons was that not everyone had the capability of being fair. At that time, I lost my home, everything in it, the property, and all the labor that I put into it, and the years of my youth when I had the energy to work like long hours and to provide overtime pay at my post office job, creating a lot of money; all gone. The biggest loss was the loss of my children. This lesson of my life taught me that sometimes people do not have the ability to see through someone else's eyes. They cannot feel what someone else is feeling, or maybe do not care to. This lesson taught me that my way of overlooking a situation was rare, and looked upon as selfish by others, even though my intentions were to preserve the stability of all who were involved and for the future outcome of a shared parental involvement and responsibility. What happened though is that I was to be shunned and made to forfeit my right of motherhood to my children, to be belittled and discarded of as an important factor in my children's lives, or as a friend to my ex husband. My income was all that was desired of afterwards and nothing more. This took me from the focus of who I wanted to become and put more of a focus on how I could survive intense loss while maintaining a steady paycheck.
This lead to marriage number two, with two more children, in the wake of the bomb that dropped from my first marriage and loss that I was suffering through. My second husband was the neighbor boy throughout my childhood. He was the boy who I had the secret crush on from the time I was 10 years old when I started to realize that boys were cute in their silly ways, into teen years when I thought he was very mature, even though he was only 2 years older than I was, and into our early 20's when I actually stayed with my grandparents in Florida for almost a year so that I could be near to him while he was living with his father on the beach. Yes, my infatuation ran deep. I came up with the notion to ask him out after the divorce of my first husband so that I would feel something other than sorrow. He was, and still is, of all of the people in my life that I have ever met, the best at talk... talk of anything to anyone. His "silver tongue" selling himself ability was something that I greatly admired and I was enamored by his social genius. I wanted to learn from him. I wanted him to teach me how to be the way that he was so opposite of me shy and socially awkward. Everyone stopped what they were doing to listen to him, and everyone enjoyed his company. My attraction to him took away the focus on my depression of my previous losses and sent me on a new quest for a relationship with my idol, my mentor, my boy next door romance novel in human form. What I set myself up for though was the worst abuse case that "Sarasota County Florida had seen in 3 years", so said the counselor that ran the facility at the confidential address that my children and I were placed in for over a year for the sake of protection. My husband ended up proving to be evaluated as psychotic and anti social with a very huge drug addiction that the professionals involved said he would need at the very least 4-5 years of live-in rehabilitation to conquer his deep-set issues. So as it stands, we are no longer parental partners or otherwise, as by order of the court, he is not allowed anywhere near us, ever, and has lost all rights to our children. My desire to learn from him, taught me the lesson that I did not give myself enough credit for being intelligent, strong, and yes, I had the ability to love beyond the means of a normal situation... to love a monster that my husband became.
Years followed, and I was free to be me with 2 of my children beside me. We developed a wonderful life together just the 3 of us. We would spend time at the beach and at the park, or taking long walks and eating at restaurants once a month. My job was in a workman's compensation company that was new and possessed energy for their future. I learned how to socially manipulate who I was in the eyes of my coworkers. I felt as though I had graduated into adulthood that I knew who I was, and I knew that I was with the ability to endure more than most would choose to. I was a happy woman with my children. It was at that point in time when I met my present day husband, my third husband. We have two more children together on top of my two that I maintain custody of and the two that live with my first husband that I have strong close relationships with. So now I have the 6 children, 2 to each of my 3 marriages. For this I feel as though I am judged as a moral disaster. I do not have time to explain my whole life to every person who wants to know why, so I have learned to accept who they feel I may be, and not let it compromise who I am and how I perceive my past, present, or future. “Tangney and Dearing (2002) found that in response to transgressions; females tend to experience more shame and guilt than do men” (Wohlwrab, Nunner-Winkler, Meyer-Nikele, 2007)
My husband's name is Ricardo. We are what marriage and family should be. We have the ingredients between us to make the ideal marriage of two become one. I am not afraid of being alone or even death because I have his love. I see there is a definite maturity that has developed over time within his personality that too ensures me that he values our lives together and what our future time together counts for. Within this confidence, I have found a different me. I have quit smoking cigarettes because I am loved by him, and now I want to live forever so that we have more time together. What I have learned from our marriage is that life is what you make it to be. Time is as enjoyable as you allow it to be.
Our country is at the present moment having strong civil rights movements within to rid or to ensure the future Mexican population in our country. This has sent me on a different learning experience of what is fair and unfair among my countrymen. I now have the realization of the reality of how ugly people can be, how narrow minded people can think they have the one and only solution, even though there are obviously many who do not believe the same way. In the description of Lawrence Kohlberg, he states in his theory of post conventional morality, that few people reach the plateau or realm of morality in which "there is a knowledge that the law is flawed and should be changed so that other's do not have to face the same dilemma" (Witt and Mossler, 2010). I have lived in
off and on for the past 4 years. I now have a deep understanding of who they are, in the real life, not in an American community, but as a woman who had to wash her family's clothes by hand with a scrub brush for years. I understand sacrifice for your children. I understand gluttony all too well. This period of my life has opened mental doors that maybe were not closed, but were unknown to me, a fact that Robert Sternberg's research shows that the importance of “the initial step of taking the time to gather a lot of information and then sort through it to find the most relevant pieces for the problem at hand" (Witt & Mossler, 2010). He states that once the information has been introduced, there is greater opportunity for growth of the knowledge of thereafter. Mexico
I am Catholic, converted in my first marriage with a year of classes Wednesdays and Sundays, followed by my baptism. I have remained Catholic, and my children are raised as such. My present husband knows every single word and sings so loud at the service. He is from a family that truly has used their faith to ensure who they would grow to be as adults. I have found myself protected by God throughout my life, and I feel that He has allowed me to endure many things so that I would learn, so that I can use my knowledge to help others. I have helped counsel abused women with my advice in a non formal setting within arranged groups or over the internet, and I have helped comfort people via internet who have been found to be lost within the immigration disaster to give them hope that through their prayers, anything is possible.
I am going to be a teacher. This decision has been thought about for a long time. When I was in my first marriage, someone said to me, "you should be a teacher, because you direct in such a way that is easy to understand." At the present moment I have found the social courage, the endurance, the desire to show off to the world what is inside of my ability to give of myself with compassion and integrity. I am going to be a teacher. I want to be the teacher that a student will remember something that was interesting that I may say. I want to wrap my personality around all the little complications of a student's world so that they feel comfortable with being who they are in a classroom and realize their unique blessings. I am hoping that too, this status will bring forth my desired level of respect from family and friends to a certain extent. I am also looking forward to the rewards of feelings of accomplishment, and professionalism.
Now that I am older, and time has passed, carrying with it many days of the emotions and situations that I have lived through, the thoughts that I have had, the observations that I have made, and all the conclusions of why people do what they do, I now feel that it is time to build and move on somewhat from my journey. “Robbins (as cited in Reardon & Cummings Bertoch, 2010) stated that the immature self is externally regulated and receives a sense of security and direction from powerful others. The mature self possesses an internal system of ideals and values.” It is now time for me to accept what I know to be true of my social wealth of knowledge, my own personal plethora of tragedy and adventure. I now have reached the mountain top and I am happy with who I am socially, so it is time to build a safe home for myself to finish out my years. I will receive my degree, I will become a teacher, and I will teach with enthusiasm for each one of my students’ lives so that I will bring something positive back to the world and possibly eliminate someone’s social fears by being open and honest and caring. I feel that as a child I was guarded from learning how to be socially interactive, so I sought the lessons through experience after childhood, down uncomfortable roads, to stretch my mind for the many different aspects of how people react to one another, and I now have a wide variety of social experiences; my opinion is valued because I have endured, giving me wisdom. I feel that this has been the journey of my life, to learn how people are.