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The Moth Radio Hour: Afraid to Look

2021-10-26 | 🔗

In this hour, stories of nerves, anxiety, fear! And the courage and support that allow us to overcome. A phone call, a taxi ride, and a stranger's generosity of spirit. This episode is hosted by The Moth's Artistic Director, Catherine Burns. The Moth Radio Hour is produced by The Moth and Jay Allison of Atlantic Public Media.

Storytellers: Amanda Stern, Tim Manley, Annoush Froundjian, Cheryl Murfin, Devan Sandiford

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This shows supported by the Schubert Organization in partnership with the camel cultural Campus presenting Rogers and Hammerstein Oklahoma at the forest theatre. This is homer, as you ve never seen or heard it before. We imagined for the twenty first century and that Tony award when for best revival of musical this visionary pretty she and allows the classic Musical and our country to be so. In a whole new light. Coming to Philadelphia March, eight through twentieth for tickets visit, tell a charge dot com. The mouth has brought you by progressive. Have you tried the name your price tool, yet it works just the way it sounds. You tell progressive how much you want to pay for car insurance and they'll show you coverage options that fit your budget. It's easy to start a quote and you'll be able to find a rate that works, for you is just one of the many ways you can save with progressive, get your quote today at progressive dot com and see why four out of five New Otto customers recommend progressive
Progressive casualty, insurance company and affiliates pricing coverage match limited by state law, Hapag haslets nerves, MEG bulls from the moth. Here you may have heard that the moth is turning twenty five and to celebrate were releasing a new book. On April twenty six, it's called how to tell a story: the essential guide to memorable storytelling. We ve collected a treasure trove of knowledge that we have gained working with storytellers over the years earth from had an earth, your own story, gems, TED tips on how to tell them. While we talk about ways to combat the inevitable nerves and even share some observations on how story shows up in our everyday lives, we mean it we say everyone has a story and where excited to help, you discover yours priority your copy. Now on our website, the moth dot org slash how to tell a story.
this must renew our frontier acts and I'm Catherine Burns? I'm usually a problem. Solver someone, you isn't afraid to jump in talks have been through until I figure it out, but occasionally I find myself overcome by a vague axed. The its everything and I'm afraid to look at things too closely, What Alan cover monster, retailer and beloved meditation instructor share in Salzburg says fear and worry make it impossible to see. Our situation is clearly without clarity. Answers are hard to come by if we want to fix things, We have to deal with our fears because they keep us from seeing the solutions. So this week we're gonna, hear from you. retailers who are afraid to look but somehow managed to muster the courage to peep through their fingers and
to find their way through first really here from the writer Amanda Stern, a mandatory was recorded, LIVE Samians Church in Brooklyn Heights. This was during the pandemic. the very tiny audience made it mostly of our mast and socially distant staff and crew- add just one. Mention that in this story there is some- Discussion of thoughts of suicide Here's Amanda Stern live at the mall So I was a child. I've hell I've been held captive by this nameless, invisible dread The feeling was so all encompassing it made routine things like coming and going feel like I was putting my life endanger. It convinced me
that if I wasn't watching her, my mom would die or disappear. I felt responsible for her safety. this made leaving her every single morning to go to school, feel unbearable and leave. her to go to my dad's every other we can feel like. I was walking towards my own kidnapping. The only way that I could alleviate my apprehension com, myself down and find relief was just to avoid the hard thing stay at home, with my mom, where I knew I would be safe, noble, Knew what was wrong with me? They called it homesickness this feeling of mine, but new that couldn't be right, because I felt Even when I was home. All I knew was that I felt defective and broken
and I secretly worried that I was crazy. I didn't anticipate that the dread would grow as I grew, and that I would bring with me from childhood into adulthood, but that's exactly what happened. the year is nineteen. Ninety five and twenty five years old. When a small apartment with a shower in the kitchen, That's more set is my generations. Current soundtrack haven't left the apartment in three weeks. I dont have a job, so that's not a problem, but only if the house to see friends or go to bars or do anything you twenty five year old should do. when I get hungry I order in, but I dont get hungry because I'm thinking of killing myself
Now, I'm an adult, but instead of me Mother being The central thing around which my dread has organised itself- it's my apartment, my apartment has become my muff. only now, just the thought of leaving sent me to the bathroom to throw up. I worry, that any small movement will set me up. So I stay as still as I possibly can. But then they worry that I'm running out of air, so I raised to the window and I opened it But as soon as I stick my head out, I can feel the dread in the wind rushing towards my face, trying murder me I slammed the window down and I respect the bathroom to throw up, but this is a start me from worrying that I'm running out of air so, every now and then a Czech opened the.
apartment or I take a couple of steps out, but nope no milk. I can feel that black cloth of dread turning to drop over my head and pull me too brave and bury me alive and cement, and I respect airport men and I always end up throwing up in the bathroom. I can't I have friends over because I'm so afraid. Breathe all the available Aaron all die from socializing. I want a big life. I want to perform and be I'm stage. I wouldn't gray books and do readings from them. I want to host dinner parties and actually tell them But how can I do any of this when I can even be around people
the only way out. The only thing I can figure to do is just to end my life. It just makes the most logical sense, but before do that. I need to know the name of the thing that wants me to kill myself, and I know the person who knows that is my mother. I know that my mother has been keeping us for me, I know that she believes and knows that I'm crazy. but she somehow managed to keep it from me to tell all my friend and boyfriends and teachers and she managed to tell everybody in my life tat. I would ever meet to keep this fact from me to humor me, but I need to know. I need to know the name of this thing that want me dead. So I call my mom. I tell her.
I'm not doing well, and I tell her that I need to know what's wrong with me. I need to know it to me and she says she doesn't know and no one knows and- and I tell her it's ok I am prepared. I'm ready, I'm actually calling you for this information. I need it. I'm ready give it to me. Tell me I'm crazy, but she won't do it. She denies it. She tells me that if I were crazy, she tell me totally on believe, but she says it. Anyway, she she doesn't like the way that I sound. So she tells me to show me We call a cab and I should take it and come over to our house, which is five blocks away now. The only thing that can actually get me out of my apartment would be the promise of being close to my mom. We're not even
you know, we don't even really get along that. Well at this point, but the umbilical cord between us, as has never been cut. So being near her. I feel for just be the thing to get me out of my house, so I re somehow downstairs and into this cab. As the next shut the door, I look at the lock on the cab and I put my fingers in a v and I put them on either side of the lock, because I want to be ready for when the cab driver depresses the luck, because he's going to kidnap and murder me but I'll be fast. I can flip flop back up a grace out of the cap. Now, even in my suicidal despair, I can see how absurd this is, because here I am wanting to kill myself, but I'm afraid this guy's gonna do it for me, like
Wouldn't I want him to kill me, but the truth is I don't want to die. I just don't want to feel like this anymore, if only I could feel differently, if only I could not be filled with dread. The time, if only I could feel relief and any moment my body somehow calls up there. feeling that I want, and I can feel it across my chest and. It is so delicious it so perfectly perfect. It gives me a third option because the truth is. it's in the absence of feeling that I want it's the presence of relief that I alone and I know that the the way to feel this feeling to fill
my body with it is to conquer my fear and they only way to conquer. My fear is to face it and I understand in the back of that fact that the thing that is hardest everyone in the world to do which is to face your fear actually feels easier and less exhausting to me, then continue to live my life, the way that I've been living it and so that it that's what I decide I'm gonna live my life facing my fears, because I cannot continue to live my life beholden to all my terror. We pull up in front of my childhood home and I remove my fingers in the lock and erase inside the promise of being close to my mom the next morning amount send me to our therapist, and I find myself sitting in front of him
asks me for all my symptoms, and I tell him he asked me how many weeks been feeling this way, and they say, don't do that kind of math. I've been feeling this way. A thousand weeks I was a baby and these shocked than I gonna song without being diagnosed or treated, and he tells me that the net, My condition is a panic disorder. Only my peanut disorder grew up, got married and had babies. and now my body is home to five or six different anxiety disorders and clinical depression. He put me on medication. I start seeing a therapist and I slowly get better and better and better. My twenty five, old self was right facing my fears is easier than avoiding them.
avoiding man, gave my fears power, but facing them gives me power. Now I can get into a cab and not be afraid, he's going to kidnap me. I can write books and two reading and then I can have dinner parties and actually a ten them. I can be afraid, and do it anyway because I know that facing my fears won't kill me. But running from them almost dead. Thank you. Amanda Stern. Is the author of the novel, the long haul, the memoir little PEN and eleven books for kids, written under pseudonyms
a man, is working and her next book and can be found on facebooks bulletin, for she hasn't newsletter called out alive coming at a man's repressed, feelings cost physical problems in his body. An anxious pride introduces her fiance to her armenian traditions and stressed out new mom struggles to cope. That's when the moth radio, our continues
the most radio hours produced by atlantic public Media Woods whole Massachusetts and presented by p r exe. this is the mouth review our from prx, I'm Catherine Burns in this hour were hearing about I'm we put our heads in the sand and try to hide from life. Even if that doesn't work. Now we're gonna hear from he people we met and our story, SAM Competitions, starting in New York City w and we see as a media partner here ten manly. It was a spring I in two thousand and eight and lying under the covers next to my best friend Ben, this has become a kind of normal for the past few months that we slept next to each other. With this, like one foot space between us.
We were pioneers of new masculinity comfortable wrestling our platonic care for each other now concern for homophobic social norms and totally in love with him not now like a friend love love like when I like felt alone, I thought about been, and it made everything. Ok and I tonight was now. I was gonna, tell him and he's lying nice people Facing the other way, so I can see is the street light on the curve, of his shoulder. I start to say something, but the word stop in my throat and so I reach
my hand, but no matter how much I will it. I can't move my hand closer to him. I can feel the words inside of me: they're, like physical objects that are like all piled up and like pressing against me, but I can't say them in my body is a mobile in the morning. Gauvain wake up Ben makes us some granola yogurt. I said that the kitchen table, silently and underneath the table. I massaging my own hands because, when I woke up, I had these weird tendered nodules, like on my palm and in between my fingers, he's like red bumps that hurt when I press them, but I kept Pressing them and when I went home I had to lie down on my bed because my legs heard so bad. When I lie down, I look them my legs, rural swollen and they had these red splotches on them and on my thighs room where those like bumps again
my roommate came in and she said that the bombs where my emotions trapped inside of me, If I could just learn how to say the things that stuck inside of me, my body would show that. My room intelligence felt. Otherwise. c c, like you know, felt right, allow my arm. She cut out a big chunk of my leg. And C B, a little by little piece of my leg, ash clarify and there wasn't that crazy. and she explained that the you this it tells you a lot about what's going on beneath it that it sort of like the communicator between the inside of your body and the outside world. She also told me that I had this rare thing called cutaneous Polly, Ardor Rightist, no dose riot totally seeing the buzz we'd article about it. It's it
inflammation of the blood vessels, but only in the skin and said that I'm actually, I was actually very lucky that it was only in the skin, because if it moves to my internal organs, which sometimes it did, it was often fatal and I asked her. How often does that happen and she replied casually none of research We are right. Well, She gave me Jimmy a prescription for medication. That's usually used to treat gout and the elderly on my way home I passed by the drug store and for some reason I couldn't bring myself to go in and get it filled said. I went home and I worked for a long time on an email to Ben which, of course, I couldn't and when I was done, all the words seemed cliche all the sentences started with. I feel like a lot.
I needed instead sort of like a more and more. We can email. Wasn't right, Sir, What I did, then I open up the drawer next to my bed and I took out a black pen and I wrote, on my hand, been in the ink shimmered for like a heartbeat and then it dried, and I continue to write a message to him. I wrote Ben I feel stuck or when I feel frozen by my fears and by my doubts I think, of your face and you're telling me. Yes, I took a photo of it. But the camera on my laptop, but I couldn't email him. The picture is a fellow could be to vulnerable, and that wasn't has been that I had these, inside of me that I needed to say to them. You know the results are like my brothers and sisters and my mother, my father, my stepmother. There were so many people in my life where so many things to say, do and so
I decided that I would write a message to someone in my life every night on my hand, and I took a photo of it every night and I started a blog called. I need you to know how much I love you. Didn't tell anyone about it and every night right in my hand, I post the photo. and in the morning, at wake up with like phrases like tattooed on my face backwards and they become righted, the bathroom mirror like come. I I don't know but- or I wish I could. You are so, and I was taking those things that were trapped inside of me and I was commute getting them to the outside other sources. I did it for like a well as it did for months, the stuff on my arms and legs,
utterly cleared up. I was also like exercising morn eating better and drink more water, and I started wearing these. Like me, high anti embolism compression saddened that grandma's where, but it was definitely all about letting the feelings out, and so once once one sir, my body look good. I knew I could call ban and I called him from the window My bedroom- and I told him Ben I have this idea about me and you. It comes to me in the way that ideas for drawings come to me. I mean you swapping t, shirt, meaning you holding hands mean you like brothers, and he said to me TIM. I think you know and I did Know- and it felt so good- and he said I you know that I'm only attracted to women and. That's how I was so sad, no way because I knew I just lost the thing that made me feel less alone, but also my body felt so good, because I learned how to take this step. There was inside of me- and I put it outside
and in the process. I transformed who I was on the outside and inside and then that night wrote on my hand, Ben thank you for helping me become the person I wished I could be Thank you was to marry me he's a creator the Emmy nominated web series. The feels a show about it, by the way, too many emotions You can watch it on you to his friend is an artist living in LOS Angeles and am happy to report. The timid ban are still best friends TIM says, he's very happy being in structure and the Moths Education programme. Ten or so grateful to have you Now I ve been here a story from New York City Grand Slam. Again for our media partner is W. Am I see I think many brow
Its will agree that planning a big wedding is an anxiety, ridden affair, especially when you intense cultural differences and expectations into the Mets. Speaking too, that is, these giant live at them off its one. Thing to tell someone that your arming and it's a completely different things, to explain to them just how arming and you are because there levels level. Armenian is hey. I'm armenian. My last name ends with an iron second live whose hey Armenian, are you going to the church Brinkley Congo? Does her figure cook a great will see you at the church. Picnic third level is, dear guide dog meagre by our scheme, part about love, another sign into born to know where you are, and all of that whether year by yourself or whether round other Armenians or but you ve been proposed to buy the man of your dreams. Who is not armenian? How
explain this to someone from batten, Rouge, Louisiana and and you say just in new. I was armenian from the start. He knew from the beginning that I went to an armenian day school, that I spoke a different language and that I sometimes go to social events where people would spontaneously grab pinkies and whip handkerchiefs in the air. but there's more. If you walked into wholly martyrs armenian day school, which is the school that my grandmother founded and pulled little. french genocide and said one day you're going to marry a normal man with a normal last name and making a real american lessening like the kind that starts with an eminent, see, an end and who knows how to do normal things like play, pool and play poker and who understands american football? She would have said this injures words means dreams. What are you crazy because I still new, even at a young age, that there is a big world out there full of people with me.
is like Lindsey and New and who I thought, people who didn't care that share was armenian and then and I knew that I had to keep this always secret. You know enough to be safe. You know so but has no wedding got closer and closer. I had to start coming to terms with a couple of things and admitting some things to myself like. I don't think I can and get married in a converted barn, I I I need to get married and wholly martyrs and basic New York with a peace priest with a beard and a knows, he's gonna put go. crowns on our heads and where the best man will hold a cross over us and where will exit the church to the sound of celebratory armenian hymns with the accompaniment of symbols, which is often as an option, in addition and after which our family we'll dance in circles, hours and hours and hours, and when I am told ass, just
in his reaction was sure yeah, just We know where I gotta be, because because he's Kind- and listen, I don't know who is getting himself into. I mean the armenian charge. You are talking about here, it's old fashioned, it sexist its them and its Christian, but like the old kind of Christian, like the kind it's dark and smoking and the men of beards like Frank Zeppa, and when, and when they hold out little cross out. You you're gonna, have to kiss that thing and says, I'm gonna get baptized for this, and I said no, no god he's scared already, oh, no! No! No! You cause you Polly been baptized before right and you think so, and an AIDS is because his family religion wasn't part of his childhood. I mean the first picture and that is man. We celebrated the one that he created, which is the annual pool tournament.
so he pulls out responses. I know what takes my mom so he takes his mom says: hey man. Could question was ever baptized, and she response, no, you are heathen so so we get on the same to me with father, mouthwash, yonder homely martyrs, whose first reaction to just in this you're, not oh, my god, can just looks really armenian. I mean he's, got the eyebrows in the face and more handkerchiefs, thank God and end up with, get more and more intense like like. Do believing the Father, the sun, the Holy Spirit, and then you know that the Armenians were the first people to accept Christianity than wiping out names like Saint Gregory, the illuminated Barton, Mommy Gandhian, I'm going slow down to pass through bass and were, and we eventually plan for an April fourteen baptism in addition to several one on one sessions that just in will meet with the priest for to prepare for the event on the right home, it's quiet and I'm
I feel this shame and embarrassment, but what I mean, Fraid of what I'm really afraid of know what I did. What I need is for him to not find this whole thing: ridiculous, because this Armenian think pretty goofy, but it's mine and it's really important. They are not be left at right now. and I don't know where you said you know what I like talking to the father and he does look. I just want to marry you if I have to renounce Satan for that fine I'll walk over hot coals. I don't give a fuck reaches I or any armenian bride could ever hope for. Thank you
that was on you strange. She draws cartoons for annual talks to start for web comic about a girl who talks to inanimate objects on you shouldn't just importantly, live in a house in Connecticut next order. Her parents see a picture of Justin's badges em and of the two of them wearing their glittering wedding grounds. The big event go to them all, or the military now to LOS Angeles story, slams very partner with Casey, our double here's Cheryl Merkin, live if Emma I work with new parents brand spanking new parents, who are very tired and are there any new parents out here parents and general move gone through this You know what I mean:
When you have a new baby, it's the form of insanity, You're up all night age, you're tired your boobs league, if you're them, if you're the mom and so when the benefits of my job or one of the things that have with my job. Is I often get calls or texts from new parents usually It's a new mom. I shall tell me some catastrophic thing that has happened. Oh my god. I forgot to change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night and she probably has diaper rash, or Oh my god, the baby fell off the bed. Or might the most recent one I got yesterday was the baby is looking at me, skeptically, and so every time this happens, I I I get to reassure the the new parents. You know you are the best mom this baby ever had, which is-
through and that can that makes them feel better and then and then I'll follow up with A story- and I dare say you know what I'm gonna tell you something is going to make you a really good about your parenting, because you really are the best parent Europe you ever had and Tell them a story about when I had my baby twenty to twenty three years ago. I was one of those very tired moms and I didn't listen to my midwife when she told me I should stay in bed with my baby for a week and not do anything else. I should not get up. I should not go shopping. anything like that. I decided that on the fourth day after A baby was born that I needed to go, grocery shopping, even though my mother was there, she gone grocer shopping and she'd rearranged, my linens and the closets and everything I decided I needed. go grocery shopping now, as as as somebody who's in the birth field. I know that it was my hormones going up and down that caused me to want to go shopping, but I did
packed my baby up in the car seat. I put her in the car and we drove off to the sure store and we went through the grocery store isles and everybody Boon audit. The baby- and I thought that was great and we got through the Check- outline and back out into the parking lot, I put the groceries into the car and night drove off and apparent music. About ten minutes later. I realized the baby wasn't in the car, so you emerging with a little bit of panic. I didn't illegally U turn over four lanes of traffic and gunned it back to the parking lot and I actually left when I look their retirement Two click came screeching around into the parking lot and I came to a stop and I just looked out of the window of my car hysterical and there's a circle people all around. I can't see the baby, but there's a circle of people I get out of the car and I'm
shaking and I'm crying and I walk over the circle and a kind of bricks open and there's the baby look. Happy as clam in her little car sea going up and standing over. Her is right. Other large elderly police officer. I thought, oh, my god, I'm gonna be taken. maybe arrested she's gonna, call C p S, I wait She looked at me and she said. Is this your first day I said, and so she over to me and she she picked up the baby carrier and she walked over to me, the police officer and she put the baby carrier, my hand, and she said I M going to walk you to your car and she walked me to my car. She made sure that seat. Car seat was adjusted right in the car and then she said I follow you home. Ok, she followed,
me home and I'm hysterical drew very slowly where all the way home we got home she can. the house and make sure that it was my home and there was a place for the baby- and walked down to the to the door, and I I was terrified she was going to call cps in and then I was terrified but I was going to say to my husband and she she took my hand she knew she was. She must have must have been. Maybe sixty, which you ve actually close to retirement. she took my hand at the door and she said I want you to know. I'm not gonna call Cps and I'm not going to call your husband and I broke down and terrorism is no. Thank you. So much is there any way I can do. Can I call you are you're commanding officer and just say thank you. She said. No, I don't think that's a good idea said, but there's something
You can do. You know some day you're going to run into you. Gonna meet another parent or another young mom, whose having a really hard day and you're, going to be able to tell. person there really doing. Ok, that you know what that worse. Things could happen, because you, can be able to tell them that you have won the worst mother in the world. I get to share that story with every new parents. That texts me about her baby rolling off onto the bad or all these things, and then I get to. Olive and tell them that babies are resilient and new parents are resilient and and that they're going to be just fine. Cyril Mirth and lives in Seattle, Washington, where she writes in hand it's for Seattle, child magazine, she told us. Despite the incident I went on to start nesting instincts, perinatal services, ruddy birth imposed
Pardon duly support, childbirth and new family education and other services to clueless people like I once was Cheryl tells us it. Both her kids lived growing too happy healthy adults. In fact, the baby in the story was in the tender. The night she told the story coming out. A young man find the courage to ask about a painful time and his family history. That's where the I read you our continues to renew our is produced by atlantic public media, in which all such use, sits and presented by the public radio Exchange, Pierre Ex DOT, Org. This is the moth review, our from pure ex I'm Catherine Burns in this house
we ve been hearing stories about things were afraid to face. There's been this discussion in recent years by how trauma is something that can be passed down from one generation to the next through our physical bodies are less Retailer has told many slam when you stories at them off and this his main stage debut the show took place outdoors. A Greenwood cemetery in Brooklyn York. This was in September of twenty twenty six up for a handful of staff, the vast majority of the audience were watching from Home You also may hear the occasional plain flyby here's Devon, Sandford live agree with cemetery in Brooklyn. It was in the craziness, events in June that I made the decision I'm sitting on my part, When in Brooklyn New York, global pandemic, I'm at home? I just finished a late night of work. After helping my five and eight year old sons with their remote learning and now, when I
The decision to do the hardest thing I've ever done in my life call. My mom c is cut we're being a thirty five year old, who is afraid to call his mom but on the youngest of them in my family and I kind of just took on the role of the peacemaker, my family, someone, My brother and sister would start arguing. I would try and find ways to joke and make everybody back to being peaceful and happy at any time, my brother wasn't being a good listener. I made sure to always listen to my parents and pick up things from the House cuz. I just wanted to bring everybody peace and happiness, but afraid to talk to my mom on this particular night in my apartment, because I know the conversation I have to have with her is not going to bring any peace. It's only going to bring pain, because I have to talk to her about her brother died. When I was little, I don't really know the story because no one's ever told me, but I've pieced together little pieces and what I know: is that when I was six years old,
I'm a brother was shot and killed on the front line of my grandparents home by the police and I can't really blame my mom for never told me the story, because I know it's really painful and I have a lot of painful memories and painful moments from my life that I've never shared with her. So I can't really blame her and there's especially this one painful moment that I but I never really stared with her and it happened when I was twenty one years old when I was too years old, I transfer to a new university in Southern California, where, from and universal was out along the coast in long beach, and I had this roommate situation set up. My roommate kind of just fell through and even that was working thirty five hours a week. I didn't have a way to pay for my
place out long beach, so I had to drive all the way from my parents place, which is an hour and a half away. If there's no traffic and in southern California there is always traffic, so I had to wake up from my parents house and get out of the house by like for thirty five o clock. If I left my parents house even one minute after five o clock, I be sitting in my three hours of traffic, and this was like my daily commute. I would drive to work. I would sleep at my in my car for a little bit and work for a few hours, and I, the school where I was double majoring and biomedical electrical engineering and then that's after my late night engineering classes will end. I usually stopped by the gas station grab. Myself and energy drink and these not a butter bars which we're just delicious and that's the only way I could get home, I would just be way too tired and I was there, this for a long time- and I decided to tell my my parents that I was staying with a friend, but I started sleeping in my car next to my work.
And just in this random parking lot. It wasn't so bad though I could. You know park there in the little secluded area, and We think that would have to worry about really are the bugs getting in inviting me. I'd have to worry about. Rolling up the windows so that people will know that I'm there and rolling down the windows, so it would get fogged up and that's what I did and my pet Do know that I was doing this, but they knew that it was starting to get taxing to drive, so they decided that they wanted to get me a hotel and the first night I sit at the hotel. It was this wonderful. I had this big room to myself and the bed to myself and I could watch ESPN until I fell asleep in the Austrian. We just watch me. It was just great, but my parents raised me and my siblings to be responsible, independent, and I don't like to just use my parents money for some time, I prefer to just sleep in my car still and not tell them, and I would do that special
it's what I knew that I would have a long day at school. I would do it by every once in a while. I would treat myself to the hotel and a one night after my late night engineering classes, I left the school at around ten one thousand and thirty, and I pulled into the hotel parking lot and, to my surprise, I saw a parking spot right by the door of the hotel entrance and I passed it and I wanted to back up and get this spot, and I see a car coming from the back and I slowly back into the parking spot and I grab my backpack and I step out of the car and, as I step out and see, the car rolls up and it's actually a police car and the police officer flips. License steps out and asked me for my license and registration and I'm like that's a little weird like you came from the other direction. I know this can't be traffic related and it's been several times. I've been stopped by the cops before for nothing. So I know exactly what he's doing when he tells me to sit on the curb. I know it's a routine racial profiling. Stop he's going to take my information he's going to check it against his database, he's going to come back when he finds out that I have nothing on it.
and he's gonna. Give me my stuff and let me go and as I'm sitting on the curb there waiting, I hear these tyres rolling into the park is bought parking lot and I think to myself. Oh my gosh. How embarrassing like another! asked is gonna come in and they're gonna see me here and there and I think, I'm a criminal alike, and I look up shoulder- and I see it's not another guest, it's another cup and this cop car pulls up, and it shines a slice directly on me and took officers that balance and behind the door and now like a little worried like what's going on, never even had a speeding sick it before I have never had any traffic tickets, I come from a really really religious family to actually have never had a call, even though on twenty one years old. Some, like I don't know what's going on before I can process this. see the lights of another car coming in and that another police car it pulls up behind me and its shining it's on me. Another officer gets out, and finally there are the first officer comes back and he's asking this question you want to know.
Where my coming from and what am I doing here and then he asked me if he can search my car and I paused for a second because you're my rights, and I know I can tell him no, but as a black person I also That back had make me look more suspicious that I'm hiding something I'm not hiding anything. So I tell him, sir, you can search my card, he begins to search my car and he looks all the way through with his flashlight and when you finish, as he asked me, if you can search my trunk and I think to myself. No like don't such my turn, like. I haven't done anything and as I'm thinking this, I see another police car pull up and others for police cars and six office all surrounding yes, I'm sitting on the curb, and I feel like the scum of the earth.
And I told him he can search the trunk and he searches through the trunk and he eventually goes back to his police car and I'm just sitting there and I'm so frustrated because I had been doing everything I was supposed to be doing. In my life I was double majoring in biomedical and electrical engineering. I was working thirty five hours a week, put myself through school and I was even thinking about my parents money and easing their minds to not have to do these long drives and still I'm sitting here on the curb surrounded by cops like I'm a criminal and finally, the officer comes back and he answering my license and registration. He says you're good to go
I just saw somebody called about suspicious person, and when I saw you park your car, I thought you might be trying to get away from me, which makes perfect sense, because, usually when people are trying to get away, they take their time to back their cars into a parking spot and step out slowly and wait for you. That's how you get away, and I know it's complete, complete lie. And what strikes me in that moment is it doesn't matter if it's a lie or not, that this police officer is a position of power and he can say anything he wants, and I can only just sit there you take it and I'm so ashamed when I just sit there and I don't fight back and I dont resist, but I also don't want to to end up dead
And as I'm sitting there, I think about my uncle and I visualize what I've always thought about naval, not knowing the story that gives his face is face down on the ground dead somewhere, and I just say whatever I gotta get back into the hotel and just let go of this and as I'm walking, away. He looks the police officer looks at me and says you know you have that another butter in their look like you have a really great dinner and this, It tells me off because he last to himself- and I'm like this- was a joke to him, and this is not a joke to me and I walk inside the whole. Tell and all the people who know me from the days before they're like oh, my goodness, I can't believe it. Happened to you like. Are you okay? Like? Can we report this like? What should we do and I tell him no, I don't want report it. I just want to get to my room and I want to get my bed and hide and pretend like this never happened, and so that's what I do for you,
whole life. I pretend like this didn't happen, and I don't tell anyone. I tell my parents to small details, but every times another black man comes into the news with a death I picture my on that curve and picture my uncle, and I know that I have a pain, and so I want to call my mom and find out what has happened to my uncle. So I finally get the phone in my apartment and I call her. And as I get a hold of her, we talk- and I tell her about all these- to whom Kaiser moments in my life and I open up to her, and I tell her all the pain that I have and I ask her finally ask her to tell me about her brother and what happened, and she tells me about his life growing up and she tells me about the dress that she was wearing. She was wearing this red dress on the day in my uncle was kind of going a little crazy and the cops had gotten called and they had content down, but when he walked outside the cat, Throughout their with their guns drawn all around him and my dad was there saying: don't you don't you don't shoot
and they Saddam anyway and said that he had a banana, but when they search they didn't find one My mom tells me the story. he's getting a little emotional, but it's until she gets to the part where she talking about my grandma and how my grandmother used to always just re. Tell this story anytime. A visitor would come over to the house And every time I grandma told the story, my mama had to relive the moment all over again and for the first time in my life I'm seeing tears fell into my mom's eyes. Can I can just feel her pain and I feel so bad that I've brought her this pain and I thought I was supposed to be the peacemaker, but I have done here is bring her this pain, but I know that I had to do this. I know, there's so much pain inside of me, and I haven't been able to give my heart too
people that I love and to bring peace to anyone from the pieces of my broken heart. her. My mom continues to tell me more things. We talk for three hours. I realise that what I'm really looking for was a connection to my mom and to break the silence that I've been holding onto and to break the generational from that. My family has gone through before tat. Go on to my sons and now all I can do is hope for healing, as I continue to share my story and to share about the things the pains for my life and I think that begins. As I speak. My uncle's name for the first time my uncle's name was rolling at Edwards, but I called him uncle RON. Thank you, that was Devon Sand affords?
given is a writer storyteller and workshop facilitator who lives in Brooklyn stories have been featured in the Washington Post, speak up storytelling and many other places. There is also the founder of unwilling, storytelling, Brooklyn based community, providing a platform for the repressed perspectives of people of color women an end When you has felt pushed to the margins never talk to his mom. He realized that the day he had randomly decided to call her was However, three of his understand Devon this memoir, which he says is about how he lost his humanity and his voice until he learned to dance with, Skeletons in his closet. after telling the story. Devon joined the staff at the mouth. Where he's now our community programme manager, he and I recently sat down to talk about what he finally felt compelled to tell this story and what's happened, sense terms of starting to share these stories that
it's hard for me, but I see them as ways in which I could cause pain to my family. I don't want them to have to relive these moments- is very difficult for me to done that, but also to know that I have a reason behind doing it, and I realise that how much I had been like hurting my son's either can hurt my parents in my family, why will hurt my sons- and I had to make the choice and obviously being a parent. It was like. There's no way, I'm going to purposely hurt my son's. I can't pass them, but I can't pass this on to my son's at night, happen at the end of your story- and you mention saying your Whose name and so do you wanna talk about what happened appear? Yeah I got to the place where had planned, to say my uncle's name and I began to say his name. And said the wrong name instead of
Ronald, I said Roland, and then I like heard myself saying it, and so it was done. I didn't feel like I could say, like. Oh sorry, I messed up. I was just like devastated from be a part of telling the story was like giving my chance. My uncle a chance, like reclaim a bit of his humanity and you're talking to my wife and my best friend. It was like very clear that I haven't just slipped, but that the reason I had forgotten his name is because it wasn't some. He wasn't somebody we talked about, and I didn't say his name. given the want to say full name. Every one of the radio can hear it yeah Uncle name is Ronald Edwards. We call monk IRAN, lotta people call him Ronnie TAT was Devon, Sandy forward to see foe,
in video suggestion and his uncle Ronald Edwards go to the mosque outward, that's it for this episode of the March radio, our we hope you'll join us next time. This episode of the Marshal Radio, our which produced by me, Jerry, Allison and Catherine and who also hosted and directed the stories in the show co producer, Vicki Mary. Social producer, Emily Couch, additional grand slam, coaching by Jennifer eggs in the rest of the most leadership, team, include Sarah Haber. Miss Sarah stinginess make both Kate tellers Jennifer. Birmingham, Marina Clue, Suzanne Rust Brandon grew Inga Dusky, Sarah Jane Johnson, and all because up more stories are true always remembered and affirmed by the sword. Our theme, music, is by the drift
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-02.