~ Eve – Part II ~
"On Being Human" is a collection of stories. These are stories of the brave young people, the morally confounded and misguided who try to make sense of their severely impaired lives. Here you see the "bright-spots" that intervene and give hope and reason for another day. Humour, faith, family, caring organizations and friends are a common denominator that affects their lives for the better. These are stories of youth on this island. There have been some alterations in order keep their privacy intact, but the essence of the individuals remains. I share as it were snapshots of experiences and impressions made on me. My intention is not to highlight what is wrong with the youth, but to pose the question: "How can we help these youngsters to flourish?"
Left off from last week...
A student here on our friendly island, Eve lives with her mom Jacqueline, her brother David, and little sister Jessica. She has a healthy sense of self-awareness – something very rare in a person her age (may have to do with being educated in the US). She has an open face and a smile that can light up the darkest room – her light not yet snuffed out from blows pounded on her back. She's lived in foster homes here, frequented the mental health here, has even gotten locked up here. Her relationship with her mom is explosive and volatile; as far as Eve is concerned, it's always been that way. When asked if she loves her mother, she answered honestly: "It's complicated." When I asked, "Does your mom love you, Eve?" She answered, "It doesn't feel like it."
The power of stepdad
Eve was born in one of the Dutch Antilles islands to 19-year-old single mom Jacqueline. With no father at the cradle, Jacqueline decides to explore other opportunities in the US leaving Eve behind with her maternal grandmother and grandfather. At five months, Eve is whisked away from her grandparents and reintroduced to her mother in the US. Eve recalls her first stepdad as being a very good presence in her life. "He loved me as his own," she says with her infectious smile. The details around her stepdad Jerry are foggy. "It's because I was young," she explains, "but he was good to my mother and me." The overall feeling Eve recalls is positive. When her baby brother David is born, she is ecstatic. "I thought, 'Finally someone to share with.'" Eve's relationship with her mom seemed dire. "She seemed hell bent on taking her rage out on me," Eve reflects. Her demeanour is still as we talk, almost dissociative, but not without her charming smile. She uses this smile quite effectively to cover her feelings of disappointment and pain. In her world, vulnerability is not safe. You would be hard pressed to get Eve to say anything disrespectful about her mother. "I just got the feeling my mother just couldn't love me, though she clearly showed love and affection for my younger brother and sister." I asked her why she thought this was, and her response is painful, but loaded with "complicated" truth. "Because my father was not there to support her in any way," she says seriously. This time, she does not cover what she reveals with a casual chuckle. Her black eyes contemplate and weigh out thoughts she does not share.
Cause she's a super-girl
On meeting Eve, you are greeted with an enthusiastic smile. Eve is sturdy and strong. There is a childlike playfulness about her, one that if the backdrop is grass fields, you could imagine her running through them or spinning with her arms open wide taking freshness of wide open spaces. Feeling wild and free or playing pranks on disagreeable old folks, you know, the kind that take themselves much too seriously. She admits she's never been into dancing, except for some on again off again trials with ballet. No, Eve is a bullfighter in disguise.
She taunts and teases, weaves and bobs; once she's in the ring, she's on fire. She delights in mental manipulation (getting into other people's heads). Her justification for that? "But only if they were bullying someone, Miss". Eve is excitable and exciting in the same breath. Injustice awakens the Hulk in her. Her ability to quickly assess her survival in a heated foray is intact. "I don't like injustice miss," she says to me. Her claim to be fully aware of her raging, kicking, punching, breaking and throwing stuff makes me doubt the diagnosis she received at the mental health facilities of "bipolar." She laughs and says, "Miss, I don't have no bipolar." I cannot refrain the smile that creeps over my face. We agree, however, that she is a "disordered personality."
Eve's physical prowess is intimidating. Other girls her senior hesitate to engage in combat with her, but she is at the mercy of her impulsivity; certain environments render her victim to her moods of agitation and anger. "I just feel like I can't sit in my chair another minute, all the blabbing and noise." When she lashes out, some teachers are quick to enquire on whether she's taken her medication. The overstepping of boundaries by authority figures makes her feel ashamed and causes her to lash out. The inappropriate divulging of a student's privacy in the presence of her classmates is done with the intention to shame her into behaving. When used often, it is a method that helps to create more distance towards the student and more disrespect from the student towards the teacher.
This method has a polar opposite effect of Eve. "You know what makes me so mad, Miss; when I do good things around the school like help a teacher or something, then some other foolish teacher sees and says, 'Look, I told you she could be good if only she tried.' I am a good person," she proclaims. I believe her, but her reality is slowly but surely corroding her morality.
We know how this ends
Eve has two stepfathers living abroad. She holds them both dear. Regular attendance to church in her youth has made her contemplative. As I've mentioned, she seems wiser than her years. She is intrinsically busy. She is calculating. Being in a relationship where you must rely on your abuser for survival and remain true to yourself is wearying and eats away the ability to concentrate on academics. The abuse at the hands and heart of her mother has made her a vigilante to the bullied. Her brother saved her life by being her witness and her champion. Her stepfather's legacy to her, that she is still able to trust.
She is a virgin, wary of falling in love. She has witnessed other friends lose their minds by being disregarded and used up in cyber wars, and a disregard for each other that makes her sad. In the inherited culture of beating the bad behaviour out of her, her meanness like gremlins wreak havoc in her environment, but also in yours. In an age of plenty, it is not incredible to believe that to her chagrin, she sells drugs for money. All the drama that comes along with "drug world" helps impress on Eve who she needs to become to survive. Eve has used, but she thinks it's the worst thing people can do. "What a waste," she says. Her mental disorder or as many here would put it, her badness leaves her vulnerable to use eventually. When we spoke about that, her only response was that it is better to sell it than use it.