Saturday, January 31, 2009

After Effects

I'm pretty sure I'm fucked up for life. I mean, even if DREAM passes and I eventually become a citizen, the emotions, frustrations, fears and nightmares won't just clear my mind. They'll linger.

Here are some writings from previous times; times in which I was overcome by the situation, in which I let the anger and fear and frustrations take control. Times that will no doubt never leave.

Sometime in 2004

I look at my 1991 Honda accord. Paint peeling. My clothes are next. Dirty pants. Worn shirt. Stained shoes. Then my hands. Dry. Dirty. Scratched. Rough and scarred. My American Dream. Materialistically speaking I’m nowhere, spiritually I’m lost. Psychologically I’m deteriorating. My american dream is not mine at all. More like a carrot that is forever dangling before me. Constantly: contempt. Cynicism. Anger. Hate. Emotions that cloud my thoughts. How can any one be so selfish?

In 2006

- try one month of the following: lose your social security card. Burn your driver’s license. Move out. (See your mother, becoming frailer by the week; work a meaningless job that does not deserve her. Her tired smile as she tries to comfort you). Go out. Present yourself in front of countless people and try to get that job. Feel that? It’s fear and anxiety. Will it stick? (You have to jump through hoops for me. I have to jump through hoops so that I can flip burgers.) Here you sit, in the fullest vulnerability, naked before this person who holds your future in their hands. “Please sir, gimme a chance I work real hard. Been in a warehouse, I do it all; because its expected of me. Demanded of me. Hoops? Yeah I jump ‘em. For free too.” Now you got it. Either two types of jobs: Fast food or warehouse. Fast food is demeaning; at 24 with a bright yellow uniform and a clip on tie that has a goddamn smiling burger on it (You always wanted a job where you have to wear a tie right?). You’ll work the drive thru, and get spit on so some hick teen can get his kicks. At the cash register, an american citizen who never accomplished anything in his life will cut you up, “you pathetic son of a bitch loser get a real job or go to school move out and better your self oh you’re probably too lazy or stupid do you even speak English”, why? Because he can, because it makes him smile and everyone knows “we love to make you smile”.

Warehouse is half a step up, or down. Depends on whether you’re a pessimist or an optimist. Regular schedule: Monday thru Friday, cold winter days and unbearable summers. You’ll suddenly lose interest in that “hip” fashion sense you were once so proud of. Here it’s jeans and a shirt, sometimes the same ones. At least you don’t smell like beef and cheese though, nah sweat it’s better. No greasy body to take home afterwards just sore muscles cut up hands (you always wanted working mans hands) and absolutely no respect. You’re the warehouse whore, do anything for anyone. The warehouse will provide countless opportunities for you to see how hilarious the fix you’re in is. You’ll meet a Vietnamese man, Phuc. Two months in, then he’ll ask you to call the DMV and schedule his driver’s test appointment for him. Heh. First time for everything right? Or a Chinese senior “citizen” who doesn’t speak a word of English but is 100% american citizen, yes sir. What’s that on the radio? An immigration raid next door. Shit. You’re the only one here who speaks perfect English so why are you hiding in the back of the warehouse afraid that you wont make it to your sister’s graduation that weekend, planning a way to get out or how get back into the U.S. of A, or how to get to Queretaro where you think you have an aunt you once might have met, maybe. Shit, you’re missing your lunchtime for this too. False alarm. For how long?

When the day is over, back home. Long drive, it is even tenser than at work. Is that highway patrol behind me tailing me? Shit what did I do? Shit shit slow down, no speed up. Damn, show no fear they can tell when you’re afraid it’s reflected in your driving. Relax.

See your friends. Comfort. Laughter. Ease up man. You’re young. Live your life man. Enjoy it. Quit being a whack ass. Goddamn you’re depressing me. You don’t have it that bad. Learn to apologize, “sorry, I sometimes forget what a downer I am”.
Occasionally, more often than not you’ll forget about it. It’s an effect that happens, your senses start to numb and you get into the routine of things. Hell you’ll even start to feel like you belong sometimes. Then some teenage girl at the mall will ask to see your ID while you pay for your american eagle shirt and you’ll feel your color rising up. Red faced and shaking you’ll point out that it’s on the card. I swear it’s on the card. You’re scared shitless, that old ID anxiety taking hold of you, and this chick is thinking about her date last night.

Later someone will tell you “why don’t you just go home?”. You’ll sit in your car at 3am thinking about that, finally saying to your self, “I thought I was home?”. Then you’ll go to sleep and rest up, for tomorrow is a new day with new hope.

The weight that we carry is of monumental proportions. We work, often to support not only ourselves but also our families. We study so we can better ourselves. We try to hide this anxiety, because we can't tell others about what we're going through, it's our burden.

I've been thinking about this more and more, and realize that there has not really ever been any mention of the psychological and emotional effects of being a fully assimilated undocumented youth. Aside from not being able to utilize our diplomas, and the incessant passage of time (a re-occurring theme of mine), the psychological scars are of concern.

It's like doped up post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, contempt, depression, anger, all wound up into a nice little package.

Add to that the guilt that comes with knowing, that in the grand scheme of things we don't have it all that bad, and bingo! you're officially fucked up.

Anyways, it's late and I'm rambling.


  1. I've been there too and occasionally those feelings come back.

    I wonder how we would react if DREAM passes. I think I wouldn't feel much at first because I secretly would not believe it and also because I know that I would still have to deal with those emotional scars.

    These side effects are not talked about enough when DREAM is presented to the public. It's usually just implied or mentioned very quickly. It really deserves more attention.

  2. I think you've studied and grasped the full concept of the emotional weight that we dreamers go through. It's tough being one of us, and no matter how much we want people to empathize, i believe most can never do so.

    Also, i think consciously and subconciously you analyze the psychological forces for a while now. I feel like I do that as well, but i noticed that it sometimes comes at a price. This is just me, but i think as we ponder upon these things, we also intensify it's damaging effects. I suggest at times to ignore it for the sake of sanity.

    In any case, awesome post. Keep it up. I like reading blogs.

  3. I've also tried to ignore it a lot of times, but sometimes it is just hard.

    Great post too! Very much true.

  4. Daydreamer, I completely agree with you on how the over analyzing comes at a price. It's never good to fixate ones mind entirely on one thing.

    But like iamashadow says, some times its just so hard to ignore, since there are so many reminders.

    I guess its a very fragile balancing act.

    I also agree with Lu, this is never really touched upon, and it should get the attention it deserves.

    Thanks for the support guys

  5. Reading your post brought back an idea I considered a while ago in school. I have contemplated research on the "psychological effects of being an undocumented immigrant who has fully assimilated" in the US. No doubt that everyone who is in our situation has experienced those scars as you call them. They linger in the shadows and from time to time resurface again.

    I hope to be able to do something about that idea soon.

  6. even though i am not in your shoes, i experienced similar feelings because of my husband--worrying with him about where his ID would and wouldn't be accepted, worrying about him driving back and forth to work everyday, being so frustrated that he speaks English, pays taxes, helps old ladies cross the street for pete's sake, and yet. now, all these political appointees are discovered to not have paid thousands in taxes, but that's OK, no biggie, slap on the wrist, they don't get their appointment, whatever, life goes on for them. and it's this nonsense, these games that prevent meaningful change from happening, in immigration or anything else. sorry to be a bummer...

  7. "Add to that the guilt that comes with knowing, that in the grand scheme of things we don't have it all that bad, and bingo! you're officially fucked up."

    Ain't that the truth.

  8. Yeah, that's the part that gets to me the most...

  9. your wrist looks sexy.
    Hey can I steal this post?
    um, the one that says...the one about the carrot dangling. the short one.

  10. "Then you’ll go to sleep and rest up, for tomorrow is a new day with new hope."
    -But the feeling lingers...