Submitted by: Ibet Hernandez, Faculty, Sanctuary Institute
For as long as I can remember, I have had an enormous fear of writing. The thought of putting words on paper frightened me to the equivalent of someone experiencing stage fright. Requests for term papers, proposals, essays, etc. sent me into panic related symptoms, hyperventilating, sweaty palms, and sleepless nights. I consider myself relatively intelligent and quite competent in my field. Having had a very rewarding career in Mental Health I often was faced with the need to write. Every time I had to do so, I experienced the same anxiety.
Much to my dismay I was recently asked to write a blog for the Sanctuary Website. I felt the panic crawling up my feet engulfing me reaching up to my neck and strangling me. On my drive home that evening, I had to pull over and throw up. And there it was again, the familiar feeling of vulnerability, shame and fear.
I know where it comes from. Being a Latina and speaking two languages was always a bit confusing at school. I had to think in one language and quickly transfer/translate that thought into another. I often lost something in the translation. It was a tough task which was more difficult to accomplish effectively in writing than in speaking. When required to do so, I freeze. The thoughts are plenty and the ideas abundant but the words never reached the paper.
Yes, I know, there are a lot of famous Latina authors with bestsellers. Esmeralda Santiago, author of “When I was Puerto Rican” quickly comes to mind. How does she do it, what tools does she use, maybe she has Help. Hay Dios Mio, I need Help!
Who can I ask for Help? Asking for help is something I am learning to do in my new position at Sanctuary. “Who are you going to ask for help?” is a question posed to me everyday in community meeting. I need help to overcome my fear of writing because I finally realized that I am Traumatized. Yes Traumatized. I had my “aha!” moment during one of Dr. Sandy Blooms lectures. She said that BIG RED LETTERS written in an e-mail or across a written communication is violent and can be traumatizing to the recipient of such communication. And right there it hit me. I’m traumatized from all those years of seeing BIG RED LETTERS written across my numerous term papers by violent professors who were not emotionally intelligent; professors who did not take the time to engage in social learning about bilingual students. What happens to bilingual students? They never asked the question. It wasn’t important to them. In their eyes the solution to my problem was to write BIG RED LETTERS across my papers insisting on more DEPTH and BREADTH. Hay Dios Mio, what is that? Can someone please “splain” that to me?
Now every time I’m asked to write, I get flashbacks of those BIG RED LETTERS jumping out at me and screaming “needs more DEPTH and BREADTH”. But, lucky for me, I am in a safe place…Sanctuary. A place where I can feel SAFE to express my fears, confront my EMOTIONS of shame for not being a deeper, broader writer, process my LOSS (all those lousy B’s), and begin to write a blog in the FUTURE.
I’m on my way towards GROWTH and CHANGE, the FUTURE looks promising.
I finally found Help from my supervisor; she says “I can Help You, you’ll be writing in no time”.
SO yeah, this can probably use a little more depth and breadth, but please, this is only the surface, I have not yet explored the DEPTH of MY potential.
Look out world, AQUI VOY YO!!