My name is Guadalupe Granados. At 35 years of age, I feel like my life is just beginning. I’ve wasted so many years as a passive bystander, depressed, isolated, just letting life happen to me. But no more. This is my story.
My dad was a monster.
My very first memory is sitting on the floor playing, while above me and around me my mom and dad are screaming and fighting. My dad grabs my mom, rips her clothes, curses at her. Her face is contorted, smeared with tears and makeup. She’s trying to get away from him, but he catches her and hits her.
After that, my mom disappeared. And never came back.
With my mom gone, my dad turned his abuse toward me. With alcohol on his breath, he would get in my face: “You’re so stupid. What is wrong with you?!” Sometimes beating his words into me.
He also expected me to take my mom’s place, cleaning and caring for my three little brothers. At night, he would keep me up late, watching TV, while he drank until he passed out.
My dad didn’t seem to have a real job. We lived in Los Angeles. He would go to the thrift stores during the week. Buy stuff, salvage it, clean it up and sell it on the weekends. We had food stamps. Whatever cash my dad had, he spent on alcohol.
My dad was always drunk. He never told me he loved me, never helped me with my homework, never encouraged me.
The only time I felt OK was when I watched cartoons. And so I watched a lot of TV. People seemed happy there.
My dad was from Mexico. My mom was born in El Salvador. Beyond that, I don’t know much about them. I have a clear memory of my mom giving me a glass of chocolate milk before I went to bed, but that’s about it. Eventually, I did see my mom again. I had fantasized that she would be beautiful and loving – my wonderful mother who my dad chased away – but it turns out she was toxic, as well.
My dad’s words are always in my head: “You are worthless. You will never amount to anything.” Eventually, I believed him, and I stopped trying because…what was the point?
“I stopped trying.”
That sentence pretty much sums up Lupe’s adult life before coming to the Union Gospel Mission. He worked a string of fast food jobs, watched a lot of TV, played a lot of video games, smoked a lot of pot. But he had no real goals, no real plans for the future, no sense that he had a contribution to make to the world.
“I felt insignificant. I felt stuck.”
At this year’s Gathering events in Spokane, we had Lupe’s story (edited for brevity and clarity above) read by a child to remind attendees of how vulnerable Lupe was when he experienced the trauma he describes.
We also invited Dr. Mark Baird, a psychologist whose expertise is in trauma, to the Gathering to explain some of the effects of childhood trauma on the brain. He cited a study on Adverse Childhood Experiences that showed a clear link between early adversity, diminished physical and mental health, higher rates of substance abuse, suicidal ideation and lower socioeconomic status.
Adverse Childhood Experiences include growing up with a depressed or addicted parent, losing a parent, enduring chronic humiliation, emotional neglect and physical abuse.
Lupe experienced all of those.
An article in Psychology Today explains some of the brain changes: “…kids who come into adolescence with a history of adversity and lack the presence of a consistent, loving adult to help them through it may become more likely to develop mood disorders or have poor executive functioning and decision-making skills.”
Everyone agrees that there are no quick fixes for childhood trauma.
In the LIFE Recovery Program, Lupe had to learn a whole new way to view and process the world. He had to work to grasp the concept of a loving God, when his earthly father had provided such a poor model. He had to build the ability to trust people and believe they actually cared about him.
And he had to come to recognize his father’s words – “you will never amount to anything” – as a lie. He had to take risks to discover the truth of his God-given value.
Upon completing the program, Lupe worked for several months at UGM Motors, a safe and healing environment where the staff recognized his contributions and encouraged him.
“I’m glad I was here,” Lupe says of that experience. “Even though I was still on my own personal emotional roller coaster, this place kind of helped keep me stable. I really believe if I was hired anywhere else [at the time], I’d fall apart and stay apart again. … But God’s grace, mercy and love through the people that I’ve worked with here, I said, ‘Wow, I can’t believe these people care so much. It’s ridiculously unbelievable.’ ”
Lupe’s job at UGM Motors paved the way for a full-time job in custodial services with Whitworth University. He is committed to ongoing recovery and is even coming back regularly to volunteer at UGM Motors.
Lupe has worked hard to pursue healing from the deep wounds he suffered as a child. But he still needs ongoing support and encouragement to continually embrace his new way of life.
And hundreds of others in our midst still suffer from invisible, festering childhood wounds.
Please partner with us in prayer for the hurting and broken people who come to UGM to find true healing through the love and power of the Gospel.
Your partnership provides classes, counseling, and ongoing care in UGM's LIFE Recovery Programs. Click below to give a helping hand to someone like Lupe.