“Di papa w!” my mother yelled dismissively at me in Haitian Creole, “Tell your father!” “Leave me alone!” I yelled. I ran into my room, slamming the door with such force that it made the room quiver. I stomped around until I finally collapsed into bed. I cried. I cried so much that I would cry myself to sleep. I was always aware of what was happening around me. I had to be; it wasn't obvious growing up that my parents didn't love each other. Although they never got into verbal arguments, the animosity was there. When they communicated, which was rare, it would be brief and followed by a petty comment behind the other's back. One of the things that would cause tension was transportation. I was always unsure who would bring me to and from school—would it be my mom, siblings, cousin, or a family friend? I never thought that it'd be my dad, as Mom made it clear that he “was busy playing dominoes with his friends” and that she would never ask him to pick me up. It was something I'd always have to do alone: be the messenger between two warring sides and I would grow up to mimic their behavior. Some of the ways they dealt with their issues with each other rubbed off on me, as I would often avoid conflict, ignoring the feelings building up within me until I would finally implode in a fit of rage and tears I couldn't explain. At school, this manifested in intense anxiety and reclusiveness, as I kept to myself and didn't share any parts of my home life with anyone. I can now say that I was heartbroken over the fact that my parents weren't getting along. I was confused as to why my parents, who were unmarried and clearly not in love, were still living together. I'd think to myself “What's keeping them here together?” and my subconscious answered back, “Me.” I began to blame myself for their hostility towards each other. I came to realize that I needed stability and affection, but I knew at that moment I wouldn't get those from my parents, so I looked towards a hobby that would help. Quilting became a way to create something meaningful and practical. This expensive hobby was made possible by a $500 grant that I earned and the rewards are invaluable. Quilting taught me how to adapt. For example, I used an old bed sheet to create the backing for my quilt, in doing so I also lessened the mental clutter I was struggling with. With every thread that connected and endured, it became something deeper than just sewing. As I would work on quilts, all of the emotions I felt overwhelmed by could be stitched into art I controlled. Quilting also became a medium to express my Haitian roots as well as be able to provide a little warmth to someone in need. As I made more quilts, my confidence began to build. At school, I no longer felt like a recluse who would walk around, hanging her head in despair. I would now hold my head up high with pride. At home, it has brought me closer to my mother, who's offered to help me sew. Now I hear “Moutre papa w” when I complete a quilt, and the tension in my home is eased knowing that she's saying “Show your father.”
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