Thursday, March 7, 2019

It's the Small Things. . .

Last night, I cried tears of joy over fruit snacks and animal crackers.

Okay.  .  . , let me explain myself and give you some background on why this happened to me:

I grew up pretty poor, but it wasn't just the lack of money that led to my deprivation. My mother was incredibly strict and stingy with what foods she would purchase for the household. She would not allow me to have any sugary snacks or cereals. Her reasoning was that she wanted us to be "healthy" & she considered herself a "health nut," but it was contradictory in that she would buy a box of Twinkies or a bag of gummy bears for herself, and not let me have any!

It was super unfair, and if I asked her to share some with me, she would become irritated and say, "Go buy some with your own money!"

My allowance was only a measly $5-10 every month or every 2 weeks if I was lucky. And I couldn't spend it lavishly as I desperately needed it for bare necessities, such as body wash, shampoo, deodorant, pads/tampons, clothing, etc. since she usually did not buy these things for me and expected I do it myself.

And please, don't think that's all she could afford to give me. She was busy donating $15-$25 or more a month to charities like St. Jude's Hospital, Union Rescue Mission, Feed America, etc. when she literally had a hungry child at home! (Oh, the irony!)

I will say, when you have abusive/neglectful parents, you take what's good and leave the rest behind. I definitely learned how to budget my money well as a preteen and spend only on priorities. If I had any left over, I'd save it to buy something I really wanted, like a GameBoy Color game. (Ah, #Throwback)

But my mother was very selfish and would buy some of my favorite snacks and refuse to share with me. It was heartbreaking and devastating.

Because of it, I started to develop unhealthy binge eating behaviors. Once, I was allowed to visit a neighbor's house, and her mom had a gigantic bucket full of fruit snacks. I had to have eaten 20 packets in one sitting! Her mother became somewhat upset with me, but she understood that I really didn't have access to that type of luxury in my household, so she brushed it off.

I tended to do this whenever I went to a friend's, relative's, or neighbor's house. I would eat all of the candy, sweets, and junk food they had in sight because I knew I wouldn't get any at home. I'd stock up while I had the chance. Thank goodness I didn't end up having an eating disorder, and luckily I managed to grow out of this bad habit. (So a small lesson to learn here for current or future parents, DON'T deprive your child of small snacks they love! Just let them have it in moderation or from time to time so they don't end up doing what I did!)

However, in the midst of all this, one of the small things I do remember enjoying as a young child was my grandmother or uncle always surprising me with Barnum's Animal Crackers. They were cheap, probably only 79 cents or $1, but I loved the cute box & the fun shapes.


This box looks exactly how I remember them. <3

When I went into foster care, my foster mother always had a huge cookie jar full of animal crackers, and it was a nice snack to munch on in between meals, as well as brought back some of the very few fond memories I had of such a chaotic, tormenting and horrific childhood.

Another thing I remember were these cheap, single serve pies called "Mrs. Redd's" that you could buy at Food 4 Less or any other discount supermarket for 4 for a dollar. Occasionally, on a trip to the grocery store, my mother would allow me to pick one, I'd always get the chocolate pudding pie, and it was my little dessert that I was allotted maybe once or twice a month, or less frequently. But it always made me smile. :)

I happened to recently find them again while I visited my childhood Food 4 Less, now they're 2 for a dollar (go figure, inflation I guess, LOL). But I'm excited to eat them when I get a craving from my sweet tooth.

The new version of Mrs. Redd's pies. The packaging has been updated, but they still taste the same!

So, this is the reason I cry tears of joy over some fruit snacks and animal crackers. I went on a trip to Costco, saw them, and immediately picked them up & hugged them. After I brought them home, and placed them in my cupboard, it made me sooo happy to know that I can buy this type of food for myself, just to have as something to snack on at home, or bring to class for a quick bite when I get hungry in between breaks. They were something I wasn't allowed to have, and now that I have the freedom and ability to buy them for myself, I don't take it for granted.

Not to mention, they also serve as a reminder that I managed to escape that emotional abuse & neglect, and I now live in an apartment I love, a home I created, and I can provide for myself.

Welch's Fruit Snacks (my favorite brand) and Costco brand (Kirkland) Organic Animal Crackers

It really is the small things in life that matter the most and make us happy.

Thanks for reading. <3

Monday, February 18, 2019

Profound Moment


A random act of kindness; one of life's mysterious, beautiful, & meaningful moments. 

I had an interesting, strange, & profound moment at Union Station the other day. As I was waiting to board the Red Line train in Downtown LA, I thought very briefly about launching myself off of the edge of the platform & being killed by the impact of the train. I wasn't feeling sad at all. I had just finished class & was relieved to have gotten through the week. But the thought came to me in a split second. A daydream about ending it all. The thought scared me. It scared me to feel that way. To want to off myself even though seemingly nothing was wrong. I shook my head & pondered, "It's probably just because I'm very tired." I've felt tired of life often. 


I caught the train to Union Station, & as I arrived, a man kindly approached me. His skin was of a bronze complexion, he may have been Latino or Asian, I'm not quite sure. He was dressed in a black coat and looked a bit disoriented. He came up to me & asked "Excuse me, you speak English, right?" I nodded & verbalized "Yes." He proceeded, "Can you help me?" I obliged. He held a discharge sheet in his hand & explained to me how he had just been released from a mental hospital. He had since taken his psychotropic medication on an empty stomach & was starting to feel the side effects kick in. He appeared uneasy. I offered to buy him a small snack. Happily, he said he would like that. I walked him over to the small convenience store, letting him know that I could only spare a few dollars. He said that would be fine. I watched as he hurriedly grabbed 2 small bags of Famous Amos cookies & a Vitamin Water, trying very considerately to not take up much of my time, & politely apologizing for the inconvenience. I told him not to worry. We waited in line for the cashier, & I paid for the items on my credit card. $5 and a few cents. We walked out together and he thanked me & told me how much he appreciated my help. I told him that he asked the right person. I shared with him that I, too, have been in a mental hospital. He asserted, "Ah, then you know how it is." I told him "Yes" & shared with him my diagnosis. I told him that I then went on to work in a psychiatric ward for a year, & am now pursuing my doctorate. He thanked me again & told me to have "a blessed evening." I told him to do the same, & we said our goodbyes.

I cried immediately after the exchange, and for several minutes during my ride on the Gold Line train home. I thought about how good it felt to help him, to have the capability and privilege to spare a few dollars for a small snack that could reduce some of his discomfort. I thought about how good it felt to be able to help someone, but I also thought. . . If I had killed myself just minutes earlier, I wouldn't have been there to help him. And again, this thought scared me.

This interaction caused me to re-evaluate my existence for a moment. I truly do believe my purpose on this earth is to help others in the ways I've learned to help myself. I truly believe that is why God created me. And it's my reason for being.

It gave me the opportunity to look at how far I've come. I've been through so much. Only a few years ago, I was in that man's shoes. Feeling uneasy, alone, disoriented and in need. And now, I'm accomplishing great feats.

But when taking a step back from this experience, I now see.  .  . I don't think I helped that man as much as he helped me. 


 Thank you for reading. <3