Out of Darkness

Sitting in a counseling office, dealing with anxiety and depression, and listening to advice given by the counselors: this is a familiar setting for senior Leslie Delgado who has been facing family problems since she was young. Delgado lost her mother at the age of three and her father at the age of nine.

“I always had family problems because I grew up with my grandparents,” Delgado said. “I always had anger issues and depression. I never knew how to handle them.”

When Delgado entered high school, her problems persisted. She dealt with emotions that changed her, but she would not show her anxiety to others.

“I guess when I hit high school, I had so much anger bottled up [that] I ended up growing to be a lot more grouchy than I should be,” Delgado said. “I get angry really easily and I try not to take it [out] on other people because that is not the way I am.”

However, she is currently faced with another complication– her grandmother. She has recently been staying at the hospital because of her health complications.

“My grandma goes into the hospital [at least] once a week [and] that is very often,” Delgado said. “The person who would help me would be my grandma and aunt. They will always try to figure out what is wrong with me when I am sad.”

Aside from the support of her grandma and aunt, Delgado was able to cope with her emotions because of the extra help she received.

“What [helped] me with my anxiety was a STARS academy that I did,” Delgado said. “That showed me that I have to [toughen] it up. That was a big stress relief for me at that time. They taught me self-discipline and how to control my emotion [at certain] places.”

Although this journey has been a long ride of difficult experiences and uncontrollable emotions for Delgado, at the end of the day, it is all about strength and perseverance.


The Chocolate Cake

Life for me was never a fairy tale. My experiences weren’t like those of a normal childhood playing with pretty Barbie dolls and make-up for little girls. Motherless at three-years-old, I was honestly lost as to why I had to live with that kind of pain. I was depressed because I couldn’t do a lot of things other kids did with their parents. My dad was deported and I was left with my grandma and honestly, in the deepest corners of my heart, I hated it. I loved my grandma, but the fact that she wasn’t able to come and take pictures with me and my friends after receiving an award made me angry and sad. I was never able to celebrate my birthday with my dad only because my birthday was always near the start of school. My grandma and I would always be back in California instead of Mexico before school begins.

One year, my grandma decided to stay and celebrate my birthday with my dad since that was my wish the year before. On August 1, 2009, I woke up to a big chocolate cake with the words “Happy Birthday, China.” My dad had to have gotten it for me. He knew my favorite flavor and my nickname. He woke me up early to surprise me, always reminding me that I look so much like my mom and telling me that he regret laying a hand on her; that he loved her so much and didn’t realize it until she was six feet underground. “Us men are dogs and I’m not about to let one bite you,” he said. I smiled and enjoyed the rest of my day with him.

A few months later, I came home to my grandma crying and yelling, “No no no! Don’t tell me that!” I had bad feeling about it. My heart dropped. I was sent to watch television in the next room, but I knew something was wrong with my dad. I refused to believe it had anything to do with death. I asked my aunt what was wrong with my dad—she refused to give me an answer, but that gave me an answer. The funeral was where my heart was buried six feet with him and his coffin. You can say my dad broke my heart before any other boy can. My brother whispered in my ear: “Pain is temporary, but pride is forever.” It was a great phrase. I cried for years as they denied me my right to see him. For that simple act of denial, my whole world was flipped; I refused—even until now—to believe my dad is dead. I’m not the type to believe it just because you said so.

From that moment on, I developed anger issues and stubbornness and even worse, depression. I can’t say I’m completely recovered, but simple things can make me happy. But the memory of my dad kills me. The fact that I’ve had my heart broken twice by boys from an unloyal, untruthful, backstabbing relationship makes me wish my daddy was here to protect me from them like he said he would. I used to think of broken mirror pieces, shaving blades or even scissors against my wrist—suicidal thoughts—as my best friends, but never an option. Every time, I tell myself, “I’ve made it this far without ending everything.”

I’ve graduated from a Sheriff Academy, made it through high school, and I plan to go to a rigorous academy. Why stop? I found myself appreciating my grandma more and my aunt and uncle for putting me through these programs to find out who I really am. I don’t need specific people to stay alive, I just need the right people to keep me going. My self-esteem fluctuates but I let everyone know that I’m a Queen. Maybe one day, I’ll accept my father’s death and move on. But for now, I shall continue to make myself a better person for myself and others.

I’ll remember all the good things my dad gave me including the chocolate cake.

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