He’s All Caught up

Written by Marcelino De La Rosa

Growing up was a struggle of its own. I grew up with one parent, for the most part, my father. But even then, he was in and out of the picture. He was always on the run from the law, but it felt as if I were on the run as well because we never lived in one spot- we were always on the go. I have lived all over Phoenix and with all sorts of people. I stayed in hotels, in shelters, with my cousins, with my friends and on the streets. I never knew stability and stability never knew me.

Constantly moving around made life more difficult than it should have been. My many living situations made friendships nearly impossible. Not having friends growing up made me feel alone and made me feel unworthy. Since I didn’t have a homie to talk to, I kept my feelings and thoughts to myself. Having no one to talk to taught me how to bottle my emotions. At the time, I thought bottling my emotions was a helpful coping mechanism. But looking at it now, bottling those emotions only added fuel to the fire.

Throughout my entire childhood, my anger had been slowly building up inside. By the time 7th grade hit, I was a blazing inferno.

It was the beginning of 7th grade when I met my three brothers Anthony, Isaac and Sergio. We had a bond like no other group of friends at my middle school. Since we all grew up in the struggle, it made connecting with them all the easier. They knew how I felt about life, and I understood how they felt as well; a mutual connection.

We started hanging around each other so much we all knew what each other was thinking. I never had bonds with people outside of my family like I had with them, so I was willing to do whatever just to hold these bonds. That meant whenever they were clowning the teacher, I was clowning the teacher. If they weren’t doing no assignments, I wasn’t going to do mine either. If they were getting sent to the office, I would be right there with them.

In my character, it wasn’t normal for me to be getting into trouble, but whenever I was with my brothers, getting in trouble was bound to happen. I was slowly starting to compromise who I was to protect our bonds from breaking. So, throughout the 7th grade year, I continued getting into trouble with my 3 brothers.

8th grade hit, same Lino from last year still finding trouble. Before it was all about making the best grades. Now it was all about making the best jokes. Before it was about respecting the teacher. Now it was about doing what I wanted. Doing what I wanted because I was mad at the world. That was my excuse. Prior to 7th grade, I had been a respectful and hardworking student, so what changed? “What changed?” I began to ask myself. I changed when I started hanging around the wrong crowd. That’s when I changed. Compromising my character to appease others caused my grades to suffer. In order to fix my grades, I had to learn how to set boundaries with those around me so that way I could pass the 8th grade. So that I could pass high school and maybe even go to college. But to, me, it was more than just passing high school and going to college. It was about breaking a cycle.

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