NOTE: This post may trigger some people because I share the story of my childhood trauma when one of my parents left in the context of separating children from their families at the Mexican border. I’m not angry about my experience nor am I placing any blame because I fully believe that we are all doing the best we can every day. If you choose to comment on this post and make any disparaging remarks about my family or say the current immigration crisis was created by Democrats, you will be blocked because neither of those things is true.
When I was six years old, my mom left our family.
My three-year-old brother and I were left with our dad who was working full-time in Chicago, an hour away from our home in Arlington Heights. Dad still had to work, so he arranged for us to be taken care of by a neighbor. After school, rather than turning right on Kaspar Avenue and running home to play at my house and watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, I turned left and knocked on the front door of a woman whose name I don’t recall. I don’t remember if she had children who were the same ages as Dave and me or how our family knew her.
I don’t remember much about this time, but I do remember not knowing if or when Mom would come home. I don’t think I knew where she was and I don’t recall speaking to her while she was gone. I had no idea when Dad would come pick us up each night. I would sometimes play outside and see his car pull into our driveway, but he wouldn’t pick us up immediately.
What I do remember is that it was during this time that I first developed migraine headaches. I can still vividly feel how my brain felt like it was trying to break through my skull and scalp to escape my head. I remember sitting in the woman’s 1970s kitchen in an uncomfortable yellow plastic bucket chair and describing the pain of my migraine in these words – my brain was trying to break through my skull. She did nothing to help me.
I’ve suffered from migraines since I was six. I can directly trace my anxiety back to this time of my life. I have a constant fear that people who love me will leave me and I’m sure it traces back to this experience. This may have been when I began biting my nails (a habit I gave up in my 30s).
I don’t remember all the details of the my mom’s absence, but it traumatized me.
And it was 41 years ago. And I’m typing these words through tears.
Ultimately, my mom came home. She had been in Colorado at her brother’s house trying to figure things out. But she returned home.
On The Last Word tonight, Lawrence O’Donnell shared a story tonight of a little girl named Jessica who had been stolen from her parents by the United States of America when her family tried to seek asylum here. She’s now in New York. The woman who made the video worked in the facility where the child is being held against her will. After she made the video, she quit her job. The video is heartbreaking. (About the 1:55 mark)
Later in the same video, about 4:20, Lawrence shared the story of a six-year-old girl who was being incarcerated in the United States. She was allowed to speak to her father, who was in El Salvador. The call was recorded by The Washington Post. Listen to the Post’s full recording of the call. According to the translation of their Spanish conversation, the conversation went just like any typical father-daughter conversation might until the little girl asked her dad when he was going to come get her from the detention center.
Her father was silent. He had no answer. It’s not up to him to decide when to pick up his little girl. It’s up to the United States government.
“Daddy, when will you come get me?” she asked again.
Finally, through tears, her father told her he’d get her soon, but they had to fix the airplane first.
What else could he tell her?
The truth is, he has no idea if he’ll ever see his little girl again because President Trump creates policies without thinking about the repercussions. What’s worse is that even if someone in his administration tried to voice a concern, he wouldn’t listen to them.
I don’t have children, but my heart breaks because we have become a country that steals children without giving a damn about the lifelong trauma we’re causing them. The U.N. says this is torture. I agree.
When will we stop traumatizing and torturing children?
What in the hell is wrong with us?
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