the audio story
storyweek — day 3: early childhood

story transcript

10m 37s
read time
hi, its Elsa and this is StoryWeek day 3.

forgiveness is, life is no ones fault.
by Matt Kahn

i was a child once. you were a child. we all were. every-single-one-of-us. so i wonder, how important is our upbringing? does it shape our story? if so, how and why?

while in panama, halfway through the world, in march 2015, i wrote. “my mission with the adventure would be to better the lives of orphans. how do you see i can help you right now?”

“You could be an ambassador,” Brittany said, “someone who uses what you do to raise awareness for the orphans living in our community both here in Panama and throughout Central America. You can raise funds that will better the lives of orphans.”

i then typed in our private chat, “sounds like i am becoming your ambassador. i am up for it. are you?”

“yes I think so ;)” she replied in seconds.

Brittany DeVries, an american woman in her mid-thirties, was an avid advocate for orphans in panama, and also a mother of four for two of her own, and two foster kids, a 5-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl.

when i got to panama i knew i would soon jump on a bicycle and connect a cause that’s bigger than me to then carry a message of hope on wheels through the wild plains of central america and mexico. i chose orphans for my mission. actually, a friend chose it for me. and Brittany was my person to talk with.

by the time i got to panama city, Brittany had already helped to improve the situation for children living in institutions. she had pushed through important laws with the help of local and international organisations and foundations. her remarkable contribution helped to create the Foster Care Program and also ease the process of adoption in panama.

her knowledge became my entrance to the unexplored.

while i changed homes like socks and ate what was given, i spent countless hours learning about orphan care in panama and in the world at large of which i knew nothing about even though i was one of them, the fatherless one.

within the first weeks, in huge bites, i devoured material sent from Brittany. it wasn’t long when i realised, raising funds was secondary. people didn’t even know what they were supporting.

rarely did anyone stop and think what their money set in motion. more institutions were built and more kids got trapped in the headless system.

i remember being shocked when i heard and rewatched a 2-minute animated video with words from the one and only, J.K. Rowling.

uploaded in 2012, she said.

“right now 8 million children around the world are living in institutions that deny them individual love and care, that can damage they brain development, and destroy they understanding of right and wrong. this is a serious problem that one i know we can solve. more than 90% of these children are not orphans and have families who love them and want them but in many countries health, education and social services do not meet the needs of all children. those living in poverty, with disabilities, or behavioural issues often fall through the gaps.”

90 percept. that’s insane, i thought and continued listening.

“Maria is one of these children. her parents support had run out of food. so tomorrow she’ll be taken away from them and brought to an institution. they will be told this is the only option. she will be robbed of her identity and reduced to a number. with little physical or emotional contact Maria will soon forget what it means to be loved. isolated, locked away and forgotten by the world Maria’s future will be blink. the system will fail her. and years later she will be release as a young adult with little education, no relationship with her family, unprepared and unable to survive in the outside world. she’ll be 10 times more likely to be involved in prostitution. 40 times more likely to have a criminal record. 500 times more likely to commit suicide.”

while i listened i saw myself in Maria’s skin but as a privileged version of her. starvation was a horrifying king in her reality where in mine it was schizophrenia.

apparently Maria’s story was not unique. her future was a blueprint of vulnerable kids but like J.K. Rowling, the founder of Lumos, famously said, “it doesn’t have to be.”

this video threw me in action. in a heartbeat my mission merged with Lumos. like they, i too, wanted to assure that all children like Maria will be raised in a family environment where they would get the love they need and the future they deserve.

Lumos with a help of ngo’s did everything to transform this uncaring system by changing the equation. they believed that the same resources spent on institutions can be used to support services in a community. such as financial assistance and social programs for poor families, and training for institution personnel to become teachers and foster parents.

i nodded and i followed.

after all, they spoke my language. they knew that food and clothes and education for kids were incomparable to love, to human connection. stuff is stuff. materialistic needs can never overthrow emotional needs.

i discussed the video with Brittany and heard that numbers had changed. instead of ninety, in 2015 it was said that over 80% of kids living in institutions were not orphans. they had birth families who loved them, who wanted them. but instead they were imprisoned in institutions.

the numbers were shocking but they encouraged me to cross the idea of funding and put all my eggs in one basket — awareness.

it was the month when my heart shattered but my hope grew. and once my direction was set i began merging my lessons of love. meaning, i recalled what i had learned so far.

a year and a half before panama i dripped on a book called Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza. like a magnet it clutched on me and stayed for years to come.

i read the book in tiny bites. usually a page a day. i fought hard to process information inside the book with my mind shutting down. i either read a sentence ten times at least or i fell asleep with an open book. but i didn’t give up, i couldn’t. even as a no-reader i knew, it was the book for me. i felt it.

the book talked about mind over matter and how to lose your mind and create a new, and how to so-call hack human genetics. by reading, i became a believer and a doer that i can break free and stay free, to become sober of toxic patterns. once i heard the power of thought and the power of belief and the power of habit, and that i can reprogram my mind and body and heart, i became addicted.

with a page a day, it took me seven months to reach page 185 which read brain-wave development in children. i drunk the wisdom in one go with several pages at once. thereafter i felt a major shift with an epiphany that marked the beginning of slowing down my busy mind.

according to the book i have brain-waves like radio frequencies, either coherent or incoherent, and from slow to fast they are called — delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma.

and here’s how i understood the unschooled.

before the age of seven i was like a sponge. i sucked up everything from my environment. everything i could smell and touch and hear and see and feel. and like data on a hard drive, it all got saved in me. i had become it, the product of my story with all the said and unsaid words, with all the felt and unfelt feelings that got stored like secret cia files in my genome. all saved for later for robotic behaviour with 90% of my personality formed in my early years.

that was scary!

it hurt to know, i was suggestible to everything that entered my field, either heard or unheard, either seen or unseen. no secrets. zero. nada. i realised then, children heard without hearing. children saw without seeing. children knew without knowing. they were sponges, they felt it all.

kids are like animals. they have no past, no future, only the present, the sweet sugarcoated moment of the now. no analytical hocus-pocus. no rightwing reasoning. only the now. kids, they are the zen masters of feelers with vastness of openness in the play of free flow.

i sat with this. i felt how my younger self was cast away from the imaginary world of fascination. how she didn’t get the motherly care she so wanted. how she shut down her emotions only to survive in the outside world. how she was innocent and vulnerable and had no control over the outcomes she faced.

i knew, something happened in my early childhood. something i couldn’t pinpoint. something i had no one to ask from. something that was locked way in the story of my life.

but i did know this.

before my birth my mom developed schizophrenia, the severe version. hysteric episode with rage unseen were a part of her daily life. when she got pregnant of me the doctor said, not advised but told her to not go through the pregnancy because to go through the nine months will risk the lives of both, her and the child. but she gambled, and she won, and then hours after birth she gave up her parental rights and walked away without me.

the early childhood development with my inflated interpretation said, when mom is out of sight, she is fucking gone. she’s either here or she’s nowhere. so i cried my crocodile tears. but how long can one cry? how long?

i had to be independent from day one. i had to accept the unacceptable. i had to learn how not to cry and how to swallow my tears. i did it. and i mastered it all.

i then fast-learned, half of my then 29 years i had lived in high beta, in the brain-wave level of flight or flight, on the highway of conscious mind, the thick analytical thinking. and from high beta, there was only one level up — gamma, the extreme of the extreme, live or die before the muddy graveyard would kiss me goodbye.

no wonder i processed information slower. nonstop i was driven by hormones of stress.

but i wasn’t discourage. in fact, i felt the exact opposite. i livened up. from then on i was eager to live fully, deeply and madly. and since then, through dark and light, i grabbed every opportunity to unlearn and relearn the ways i had come to see this world.

i knew, change was possible. someone had done it, so can i.

and now, months later, in panama, i saw a link between them all. so i took the topics of orphan care and the teachings of mind over matter and the notion of good vs bad and the question of what’s your story, and i married them all in a holy matrimony.

before cycling my voice went through a stage of puberty. it got focus. it got thrive. it had a mission. and the preacher in me was reborn.

from then on, whenever i opened my mouth to advocate for vulnerable kids my eyes lit up like a christmas tree. i was unstoppable. i couldn’t shut up. i was on fire. i was blind to see but i know now, i got trapped in more talking and less listening. but roles swapped when face-to-face with another advocate.

in june 9, 2015, as an ambassador of hope for orphans i embarked on a ride of a lifetime. in 5 months, i cycled through 7 countries and dozen institutions before i crossed the border of United States of America.

it was then when, in steady flow, miracles rained down on me. when my fascination and my repetition and my bravery helped to unlock doors locked before.

but most importantly, all doubt was gone. i met clarity unheard and unseen in me. i knew better as never — we all need more love, not less. and i mean everyone, not just orphans. humanity at large needs more love, not less. love is what we need to sing our song.

and here’s today’s question to your heart.

what if no one can be blamed for anything? what if everything is no ones fault?