Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When feeling afraid brings out the best in you!

Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz[1]

I have spent a large portion of my life feeling afraid and reacting to that feeling. Insecurity, not feeling secure after a catastrophic event, is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. But when you spend a large portion of your life feeling afraid, in spite of external or environmental stimuli, the normal behavior is responding to every stimuli (good, bad or indifferent) by being hyper vigilant, hyper tense, and over reacting constantly, in everyday life, these types of individuals react abnormally to a normal event.

Four sources may cause feelings of insecurity: (1) mother, (2) immediate family, (3) religious leaders, or (4) teachers. External control begin with “Don’t get wet, you will get sick” or don’t walk in the dark room “te coje el cuco” (the buggy man will grab you), or “good boys don’t do this or that”. Implying that since you were doing and unwanted action you were not a good boy. As you grow older you go to church with your elders, while you are quiet, prayful, and do what adults do, everything is good. The minute you start acting out your boredom, you are bad “the devil is surely going to get you boy!” My father used to say.

As you grow up the external stimuli get more sophisticated and hard to follow. “Joe is a good boy, he is at times misguided”. Boy that teacher really treated me well she said I was a good boy. I proudly walk out with my mother and as we turn the corner to go down the stairs, my mother’s hand hit me in my “cachete”. “What did I do”, I ask. My mom responded you made me look bad, it is as thought I “never redirect your behaviors” (my mother was a teacher too, and more difficult to understand).  !Mamii “she said I was  a good boy.” “Yeah, did you hear the rest”. “No mom I forgot”. That initiated an hour length discourse into all the bad things I did, and how many times I embarrassed her.

As I grew older, I was skinny, shock a lot (no me podía estar quieto) and kept quiet.  Well, soon after my 15th birthday, experiencing personal difficulties in turns of understanding what satisfied the adults around me I went away. The little fish had outgrown his pond.

In the ebb and flow of life, I found that I was very good in crisis situations. I was perceived as functioning in a normal way during abnormal times. I had found my calling, as time went on I volunteered in community initiatives. At times I took on more than I could, just so that I could find a solution to the situation. “Yo era diferente” for sure. I became a very good initiator, but very bad at follow through.

Even though I am older and my energy is dwindling, there was a time when at the sound of a radio tune, you would see the white and red jeep speeding down the road. This big guy, got off, ran to the Job Manager and said “Disaster Joe at your service sir.”

[1] Dr. Prewitt Diaz is the recipient of the 2008 APA International Humanitarian Award for service rendered through the American Red Cross in disaster situations. 

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