From Pipes to my Rock

By Samantha Gonzalez  |   From : Pacoima California  |   School : Social Justice Humanitas Academy

My father immigrated here in a semi-trailer, 12 hours of his body close to the hot, engine pipes. He works 14-hour shifts and drinks to numb his sore body as it continues to age, working as if he is 20 while being almost three times that age. Seeing my dad, my role model, suffer so much has made me want to get an education to support my family, it has showed me to give it my all when I set a goal. He suffered so I wouldn’t.

I have always felt this weight—I have to do more than my best to pay back my dad. I pushed myself beyond my limits, creating my own suffering—bulimia nervosa and anxiety. Feeling useless and disgusting just because of my physical appearance, I thought I’d be happy if I ate less than an orange a day. I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror.

On New Year’s Day, I wanted to die, it seemed easier than suffering. I locked myself in my room, crying endlessly, muffling my sobs with my pillow.  

My dad found me crying, and I confessed what I had faced for more than a third of my life. He began to cry. He told me that I am his rock, and if I cannot stand this life, then he should place a bullet in his brain. He helped me realize that though I had been suffering, I had to pursue recovery.

My recovery was trial and error. My parents were against the idea of therapy. As I gained 30 pounds, my self-hatred grew. I couldn’t look in mirrors, I didn’t want to go out. Even though I had A’s, my grades felt like lies. I didn’t have anything I liked, I didn’t know how to use knowledge. I was seeing the world but not experiencing it.

Getting good grades is easy for me, but overcoming adversity is not, and yet it is where I find meaning. My father pushed himself to his limits, hurting himself in the process. I did the same in trying to be perfect. I would tell my dad to take care of himself yet I was hurting myself too.  I had this need to be brilliant, the perfect daughter and student, and I feared the pain of rejection if I didn’t accomplish it. Perfection meant taking care of myself in and out of the classroom, and I was sick of always feeling weak and seeing my body deteriorate.  In the adversity of recovery, I found my reason to live, I found my why. My aspiration is to end unnecessary suffering for myself and others.

I want to end the notion that going to therapy means someone is crazy. I want to break down walls that frighten people from obtaining help. My aspiration is to continue my recovery by getting the help I need, kindle my interest in the STEM field and end suffering for myself and others. It is my reason to live.

I wonder how we live with such burdens, how the human mind is able to hate itself. I wonder how I can be my own worst enemy. I wonder how younger girls going through the same issues I went through can make sense of these illnesses. I wonder why people like my father and me choose suffering. I want to discover what causes eating disorders and how to prevent them, which motivates me to pursue STEM, better understand the world and end suffering. I’m still seeking perfection and wanting more. But now, that perfection is as much about myself as it is about helping out people with mental disorders and serving as a role model for any student from any background who wants to achieve more and quest for perfection as I did.



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