Welcome back. You belong here.
The other day I saw my beautiful boy who’s almost 12 speak out in a way I hadn’t seen before, more direct, more assertive, more like the young man he’s quickly becoming, it was beautiful.
And it got me thinking about my pre-teen years and how my growing up years were delayed by about 20-25 years due to being an immigrant and growing up far from home at age 11-12. Something happens to you when you go from being a regular kid to going through war, separation, flying to a new country by yourself, then being the new kid on the block without your mom and dad, new language, new friends, new place to live, new culture, new school, it messes with your mind.
I think being an immigrant is a gift, you feel like the world is your playground, you find yourself being able to adapt and feel love for just about anyone, no judgment or critique. But being an immigrant and growing up far from home at age 11-12 seems to delay the normal process of childhood development.
Look at this image, the adolescent brain matter and the frontal cortex (where rational decisions are made) peaks at around age 11-12. If trauma (separation, war, fear) happens around that time, in my opinion, the development of the frontal cortex is delayed. The ability to know yourself, to make mistakes and learn from them, to explore your body, your surroundings, your abilities, you skills and what you do well and not so well, take a back seat to survival.
For me survival looked like not knowing if would stay in the country or not. It looked like not knowing if my grandma would be healthy or not, it looked like constantly wondering if I was hitting the mark and in that wondering, it seemed less and less possible to know if you had done something well or not.
In me, it created this sense of insecurity, doubt which turned itself into drivenness, perfectionism and later into fear, anxiety and depression until you find your way later in life which by God’s grace I did. In many ways, I honestly feel like I didn’t find myself for the first time until I turned 40, about 25 years after it was supposed to happen. In many ways, I went through midlife and childhood development at the same time.
In reflecting upon this, I can say the following:
1. Trauma is real
2. God’s grace is amazing
3. Nothing can replace the love of a mother and father
4. It’s never too late to become the woman or man God created you to be
5. Healing is possible, no matter your trauma. I am leaving proof.
6. Though there’s pain and trauma and loss in the night, #GOZO! comes in the morning
My prayer for you today, is the prayer I have for my boy, our girls and all those I love – may you know that you are more than enough, that I am proud of you and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
May you know this truth today and may it sink deep into the trauma and spaces of your heart. I love you guys. I hope my story can help some of you out there or someone you love.
Your #GOZO! friend,