Growing up in one of the few Black towns in Northern California had its perks. I grew up with a sense of community, respect for my elders and the knowledge that if I ever set a toe out of line, somehow it was going to get back to my mother or grandmother. In a small town, everyone knows or thinks they know your business, and they are not afraid to tell everyone what they have heard.
My mother raised my brother and I with the help of my uncle and grandmother. We loved and protected each other the best way we knew how, and I have always felt very fortunate to have the family that I have.
My mother moved from L.A. with my brother and I, after my dad was sent to prison. Their marriage had not been an easy one. My mother was only 18 when she met and married my 29- year-old father. He had lived his life hand-to-mouth on the streets of Boston since he ran away at the tender age of fourteen. My mother was a quiet, sheltered bookworm, starting out her first year in college when they met. She had me 9 months after their union.
My dad was a hard man and didn’t know how to provide or care for a family. When they met, he was in the Mosque trying to turn his life around. But he soon found that family life was much harder than he had anticipated, and he quickly turned back to the life that he had known before — hustling to make ends meet.
By the time I was three years old, I had witnessed my father emotionally and physically abuse my mother. But I loved him the way only a daughter could. And when my mother received the call that my father was in jail and wouldn’t be coming home, my heart was broken.
I remember listening to a professor speak on epigenetics and DNA. He said that unresolved trauma becomes trapped energy. Cellular memories pass down from one generation to the next, until someone within the family tree changes their dysfunctional environment — which leads to the trauma being released. That release creates change, that change creates healing, and that healing removes sickness and trauma from being turned on or expressed within the genes.
The end result is healthy DNA to pass on to future generations. For me, ARCS is that professor’s words in action --- and the healing journey is that release and change.
My story does not involve drugs or alcohol. I was simply “over” the direction in which my life was headed. I was completely “burnt out” with life, with my career, and with not feeling complete.
I am a survivor. After a traumatic childhood in an alcoholic family, I entered into my adolescence with deep sadness and heavy resentment.
I had my first psychiatric hospitalization when I was 15 due to suicidal thoughts, and I was already a self-injuring “cutter” by that time. My parents and I had continuous friction in which they became abusive and overly restrictive, so I chose to live in a group home right before I turned 16. I got my own place when I was 19, but unbeknownst to myself --- I had already cultivated very unhealthy relationship patterns.
As a co-dependent, I was subconsciously attracted to and comfortable with the same patterns of dysfunction that became so familiar in my family of origin. This generally meant someone who was active in an addiction, narcissistic and self-serving in nature.
The ARCS program has been an amazing experience for me. It challenged and engaged me from the start.
While I thought I was participating in the program to help others, I quickly realized it was therapeutic for me. I had shied away from attending therapy for more reasons than one — but ARCS was just what I needed.
Being an educator for over 20 years, the format of ARCS was a natural fit for me. I was fascinated with the knowledge gained in each lesson, and I looked forward to weekly class sessions.
I have had friends, best friends, boyfriends, lovers, one-night stands, enemies, family, etc. All have come and gone to make me who I am today.
Someone I once knew said, "Some people are in your life for only a season." As I think about it now, it is the perfect way to describe life when you are young.
Heartache, love and miracles happen. As individuals, we must take each experience as a learning lesson to build our character.
I was raised in a dysfunctional household, with a narcissistic mother, and alcoholic father. After having a string of failed relationships, I decided to begin healing with ARCS.
The ARCS program has taught me how to value my inner child, how to put myself first, and how to set boundaries.