Lifestyles

Ten Years in the Making

Through the Decade

By: Val Ramos

My Lovely Drag Family and I. Credit: Val Ramos

At the beginning of the decade I didn’t know where I was going to end up. In 2010 I was living in the Dominican Republic, and at the time I felt lost; I couldn’t find where I belonged. 

Going to a private school,  and living in a house that was the perfect epitome of middle class rich would be all shits and giggles, but it was nothing like that. Behind closed doors there was physical abuse, mental abuse, I was only allowed to eat a certain amount of food (practically starving), and at the age of twelve I started to develop suicidal thoughts.

Credit: Val Ramos

I thought I was never getting out of this situation.

I needed something to distract me and that’s when I started getting into art. At school my teacher was talking to a classmate of mine and I overheard them talking about dance rehearsals. 

My first thought was “There’s dance here, and how do I get involved?”

The following day I had a study session with the teacher and I asked, ‘what did I have to do to get involved?’, “Just come to my class during lunch.”

This was it. Everytime I went to rehearsals, I would forget about everything that was happening outside and also it was great to learn more about my Dominican heritage. 

Something still didn’t feel right and all I wanted to do was come back to the US. I packed everything I could. As soon as I landed in the US, I felt the weight lifted off of me and I could breathe again. 

Credit: Val Ramos

To be completely transparent, after that I was distant with everyone. I still have trust issues, but I would constantly smile and think of anything possibly to distract me from thinking of the past. 

It sucks that I’m still distant with my mom even though I should be thankful for getting me out. As I started to feel comfortable being here, things started to feel the same, in the sense of when I would be on my way home, I would hope something would happen to stop me from getting home to avoid whatever was going to happen. 

For some reason my older brother (12 years apart in age) tried to be the father figure of the house, and I can reflect on it now and I have realized how disgusting the toxic masculinity this family had. Again, I was in a situation where I couldn’t get out, I was getting beaten, and my mom wouldn’t do anything and I couldn’t understand why.

“You’re in a different place now, here you can do something about it” was what I told myself when I reported what was happening at home to my school counselor. ACS (Administration for Child Services) got involved, and for a short time I was removed from my home. 

During this time, I had my theater family at John Dewey High School and if it weren’t for them, I don’t know where I would have been. Till this day I have no regrets; I did what I had to do. 

I am amazed by the person I have become, to have a positive attitude and always looking forward to newer opportunities; life is full of endless ones. 

I have found my community, I do what I can to advocate and get involved in any way I can, and I embrace life in a different light where things do not have to be so negative. 

I’ve found my outlet where I can express myself and show my art while being appreciated for doing so. Soon I’ll be graduating with my associates and following my dreams of doing Fashion and International Business using my network marketing skills (thanks to my Trading Fam, I love and appreciate them so much) to help me get there.

 

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