It’s December 24. For this Christmas newsletter I would like to share with you
the thoughts of a wonderful young writer. In her peace she talks about the
voices in the woodwork in our lives that are silenced out of fear. Through
her observations of six women she saw dance with the darkside of fear, she was
able to draw quite incredible conclusions. We are all survivors; whether we
see it as a blessing or a curse is up to us. I bring you Stephanie, age 25, a
Voices in the Woodwork, the peace to my puzzle
by Stephanie Rivera
I must give recognition to my mother: my mother succeeded in putting my
sister and I on the path to being educated, and in position for a successful
outcome. However, some days I look at all I have achieved up to this point
and ask myself, how could I be so lucky and still lack? In my case, I have a
hard time trusting men, even when they’re great. After so many failed
attempts, petty arguments, empty sex and conversations, I saw something.
To understand the cause, the root, meant to verify or debunk a fear or belief.
I just could not put my finger on it.
As with anyone’s inner-conflict, time doesn’t stop, the moon still dances
around the earth, you still eat, sleep, live. Conversations with friends, the
Dr. Phil’s of my life, always gave the truths that only faith could
entertain. “Have patience, it’ll come.” “You can’t be searching for it.”
I was impatient and yet unable, still to make a coherent statement for all my
contradictions on being a successful woman with big insecurities, incapable of
coherent reasoning for distrusting but still clinging on. It is in this
condition that I walked into this play. I had actually learned it was about
women, but didn’t inquire any further; I just wanted to go to a play in the
The play is a set of monologues, telling, recounting the stories of six
women. The theatre is where my journey took place, letting the
actresses, poets, and singers allow the audience to feel the stories down
their spine. Discomfort in the space as the temperature rose in the room,
their voices carrying the feeling of being tortured, abused, and assaulted.
I could sense what I just got myself into.
The feeling was restlessness, I felt as if I was going to be exposed, and I was
not a part of the cast. To answer to myself why I was feeling this fear of
being exposed was going to uncover why.
As I was growing up, my mother’s intention was to protect me from making a
classic mistake, marrying too young, and/or getting pregnant out of naivetÃ©.
My mother used psychology called conditioning; the method used was fear. She
held back no story as I grew up, the realities of women in labyrinths of
suffering. Stories of wives with cheating husbands, stepfathers abusing
children, bruised hearts, faces, vaginas. My mother held back no story.
Ingrained in my head was, “you cannot trust.”My mantra had become “I rather be
alone than in the wrong situation.”
I saw the root of my lack to be my distrust.
It was because of my mother’s lessons on life I felt solidarity to each
story. I could have shed tears for every single one. I could just imagine
all the situations my mother described to me on another level. As I sat in
the audience, I paused. I poker-faced my way through the degrees of pain and
suffering these women were going through in the play.
For others, it’s to make real what was a concept. For me, it was a reality
that was in my family’s home country of war-torn El Salvador from the 80’s.
They have military, paramilitary taking each other’s lives and using rape as
tools to instill fear, thus be in control. Abusive behaviors either from post-
traumatic stress, financial strains, drugs or alcohol were all realities in my
culture’s past, my neighborhoods present, what of the future?
My joy was to not let their suffering be in vain, I am not in a situation like
that. My sorrow is in still trying to configure how love existed, for me and
At the end of the play, I let the tears go. The pains of so many women in my
community, the vice and abuse on our children, how could I have loved without
They helped me see why I am running this path of independence and path towards
success beyond the romanticized view of what my future role is as wife and
mother. No longer having this question hover in my mind, “why have I been
running for so long?” , at the end of the play, I felt as if I could move on
now, no longer feel guilty about my choices and the lessons that accompanied.
Not only do I know trial, I learned triumph. My role now is to make sure to
not let their triumph be in vain. By living in fear I am not allowing my
heart to experience. This play became the peace to my puzzle.