There is no escape for you except by a radical psychological
transformation of yourself. – Neville Goddard
I believe that some people are taught hope by example. I wish I could say that about how I was raised.
I grew up always looking to others for direction and a sense of purpose, never understanding what it meant to make my own way in the world. When I became a parent, sharing life with my husband, I let his presence overshadow me. I let his dreams and desires take the lead. Essentially, I was living his life, not mine, and his life was very destructive and indulgent, centered around self-medicating with drugs.
Please hear this: I am not blaming him. This was my internal struggle, as if my mind and feelings were working against each other. I felt like I wanted something more for my life, but my mind told me that I wasn’t worth it.
I joined my husband in addiction for many years, doing things I thought I would never do. We were physically abusive with each other, waking up and getting high every morning. I used drugs and alcohol to numb the knowledge that I was living a life I didn’t want. I didn’t see myself as worthy, and the longer I stayed in that relationship, the longer I delayed the development of my own identity.
Basically, hope died during those years. I gave up on myself. I was still pretending that I was a good mother even as I continued getting high. I was in denial about the neglect my children were experiencing.
Then it all came to a head. One morning, my husband slapped my daughter, and when school authorities noticed the bruise on her cheek, they sent Child Protective Services to our apartment. They demanded that my husband leave immediately because of his obvious drug use, but he refused. A week after their case was opened, he went to the kids’ school and caused a major scene, cursing at teachers and the principal. The cops arrested him, then came and got my children later that day.
I ended up sitting alone in our apartment with a cat.
That was the darkest moment of my life, an epicenter of despair. I had lost everything as a result of repeatedly making the wrong choices.
I know it sounds crazy, but at 31 years old I finally started taking care of myself. I had to construct my life from the ground up, knowing that the love I had for my children was more important than any of the habits to which I had clung.
I got a new place to live and continued to work. I welcomed the programs CPS required of me, seeing them as necessary to take responsibility for everything I had done, every choice I had made. Most importantly, I started to search for meaning within myself, to finally prepare for the life I always wanted. Everyone has dreams. For me, this was resurrecting my gifts as an artist. I began to paint, take photographs, and reconnected with my joy for singing.
It took me over a year to get my children back.
The greatest gift that came out of that period of loneliness and regret is a truth that is now essential to me. Hope is about the will to choose what is right for us, choices that manifest love and fulfillment in our lives. We don’t have to live in regret. There is always a new day.
Choice is what gives me hope. I have the power to choose my dreams and to make them as big as I want. This is a power that each of us has and it gives me so much hope to know that this power is within me. It helped me rebuild my family from broken pieces. I am now self-sufficient, no longer living on public assistance, and I am actively involved in both loving my family and pursuing my dreams every day.
Every time I feel lost, I remember how I survived that time, how I worked to pull myself out of that darkness. If I can do that, I can do anything. So can you!
Yasmin Gudino is an artist and mother of three gifted children. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree with an emphasis on photography from the University of Northern Iowa. As a singer, she has performed with a local alternative band as well as the San Antonio Choral Society. The San Antonio Housing Authority chose her painting as the design for its annual Fiesta medal in 2015. She is the co-curator with Krin Van Tatenhove of two compilations of art and writing: Box of Darkness and Presence, and a contributing author for What Gives You Hope? coming in 2023. Currently, she is a member of the Blue Star Arts Collective in San Antonio, preparing her contributions to its Yanaguana ART-A-THON and Fotoseptiembre USA.