Volume 2, Number 4 -- April, 1997

Buy a Damned T-Shirt!
Slave of Your Own Culture

by Maria E. Villanueva

 This past Monday evening, I had been feeling very emotional. I figured it was the beautiful full moon, because I really had nothing to feel all that emotional about. I had been feeling great all day. Full of confidence and vigor. Later that day I ran across Gilberto. We had a long discussion about many things, primarily our relationship. THEN I had something to be emotional about. And I was. Terribly. I cried all the way back from Woodland. One whole hour. I couldn't stop.
 When I got home to pick up Aaron, I felt this big relief, but I was exhausted. Later that night I took out my notebook and began writing.
 Suddenly this image pops into my mind and I was drawn into it as if I were living it again. It must have been the middle of the night. I couldn't sleep. I was feeling remorseful for some reason. Guilty for upsetting my mother and father. So I got up and did something that they asked of me constantly. I cleaned the kitchen and the living room. You could have eaten off the floors. Then I set the tea pot on the stove so that when they awoke, all they had to do was turn the stove on. On the kitchen table, I set the cups, spoons, coffee, and sugar. I did it beautifully, then sat down to write them a note of apology for being a horrible daughter. I made the comment that "...someday I would pay for all the bad I'd done." What a terrible thing to say about myself. And that's when it hit me. "IT'S TIME TO STOP PUNISHING YOURSELF." It's incredible and yet terrible to finally realize how unworthy I have felt all these years. As I retraced my life, I found that, to this day, there isn't one thing I should be ashamed of. We all do stupid things, many stupid things. But they are experiences that help us grow. They may perhaps, boggle our consciousness because of our culture, our upbringing and our beliefs. But as I look deep into my soul, I find that it's clean and pure.
 Once upon a time I went in search of myself. I went out to explore new religions to look for peace for my filthy soul. But what I found was that I had been looking in all the wrong places. I took a moment to analyze what it was that I was really searching for. I then stopped seeking peace in strange places, in people who claimed to be true and good, and yet proved to me the opposite. I decided to stop looking for SOMETHING to believe in and finally decided to start searching within myself. That's where I needed to look. And I did. And I thought I had found what I was looking for. I felt peace, I felt love, I felt confidence, I felt independence and power. I had indeed found myself. Life was a wonderful place.
 But I realize now that what I have found is only the first step into a long journey in finding the real me.
 Maria E. Villanueva 3/27/97
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