OPINION: Together we are stronger with each story we tell

CSUN senior Jane Kubes holds up a childhood photo of herself as a kid on Nov. 30, 2022, in Northridge, Calif.

Jane Kubes, Reporter

Oftentimes in life, we are plagued with bouts of intense loneliness. Society amplifies this through its continual need to keep moving forward and failure to cultivate a space for healing. We are taught that there is no place for our vulnerable expression and that we are better off suffering in silence.

I remember the origin of distinctly feeling unlovable. I sat sobbing on the sofa as I watched my parents quarrel. The horror drove me to our deep walk-in closet where I comforted myself between the soft linens. When I was finally found, I remember cowering away, begging not to be comforted. The look of confusion was broken by insulting snickers when I screamed, “You don’t love me.”

I remember writing at the age of 6 a “Sorry Card” to the mothers of my Catholic school. A folded poster board, with my adolescent chicken scratch littered across the top, was my plea for approval. So desperately, I longed to be seen for who I was.

I remember the smell of butterscotch cookies baking as I lay in cool bath water. I distinctly felt confusion about such a sweet smell. A few hours prior my mother had slammed on her brakes and grabbed me by the shirt collar. Once again, I was full of fear. I was taught that love is to be degraded and controlled like a puppet on a string.

I remember that in your death I found the precious gift of life. A sibling I had hoped for all these years — to fill the lonely void within my heart.

Tragedy strikes in moments unexpected.

There he lay, three weeks old, a lifeless body upon my 11-year-old lap. My tears flowed as freely as each drop of a waterfall. One by one, dismantling each thought of what pain was and permanently etching it to what is.

I remember dragging razors across indiscriminate places to watch the only pain I could control bubble and fall away in a thin red liquid. The only evidence of my struggle were small carvings littering my body like trash in a riverbed.

My addiction came to me like the leaves of a fall tree. I began to smoke at 14. By 16, just a few pills. As it happened, I began to desire more. I struggled to cope with my grandmother’s death. The one person that always loved me for who I was. I was lost in a sea of misery, swimming aimlessly against treacherous currents.

My mom used to tell me, “The devil works overtime.” By 17, I found myself enthralled with broken windows. When my fist wasn’t bloody from fits of rage, my nose was from the white crystal relief. Finally, I found something that took it all away. I could sever the cord between my heart and brain — driven by the need to forget.

CSUN senior Jane Kubes holds up a childhood photo of herself on Nov. 30, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Brandon Sarmiento)

The only thing that kept me going was my youngest brother. When I looked into his eyes, I did not feel ashamed. I felt guilty. I knew what I was doing was wrong. If I cared about this child, how could I hold him and teach him about love with poison running through my veins? This child loved me. Nothing mattered to him except my presence. It reminded me that to someone, I was perfect being exactly who I was.

I remember our family affair became even more entangled in destruction. A tornado ripped through my mind as you endlessly tormented me. Unless I was completely submissive and enacted your will, I was unworthy as your daughter. I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but I witnessed your break.

There you were, screaming at the top of your lungs that you were going to kill us all and yourself. That afternoon, I’ll never forget. I listened to the suggestion of a friend to call 911 in fear you would take your life. I couldn’t even trust my own judgment to do what I knew was right. I was punished, once again. When you came home from your 72-hour hold, I wasn’t allowed home because you needed to forgive me.

I think I will always remember the feeling of fear paralyzing my body when I walked by and you whispered, “I hate you.”

Confusion and intense pain plagued my life. In these moments I turned to nature. I tirelessly tested my body, in ways I had never before. I hiked for hours, and in those moments found slivers of clarity. I found relief and was graced with acceptance. Somehow I was able to release the thunderstorms of my soul.

That is when community found its way to me. We sat deep in the forest as one, experiencing every emotion together. I remember crying not only for the injustices I had experienced, but those felt by all of us. Crying for the story of our world.

This is not all of my story. And this is not where my story ends, but rather this is where it begins.

In my pain, I viciously fight against my feelings to recoil from human connection. So deeply afraid to be mocked and humiliated for my own feelings, I have spent a lifetime trying to erase them.

The fear of openly expressing these things has eaten me alive for the past few years. Now, I say no more. I refuse to run any longer from the truth of who I am. I refuse to apologize for who I am anymore.

When I look into the eyes of our people, I can momentarily see their pain and I know how badly it hurts. In these moments, I remember myself. I embrace wholeheartedly the beauty of their imperfection. Now it is time to embrace mine, although I am deathly afraid of what lies on the other side.

I offer you the opportunity to look at my story in hopes that you will not underestimate the people around you. We are fearless warriors. We are given these experiences not to hide in shame, but to courageously share our part of the story. To victoriously prevail through the battle of self-doubt and triumphantly unite as one.