Uncovering The Core of My Anxiety and Reclaiming My Life
By Marilyn Mendoza
Key Themes: memoir, addiction, agoraphobia, anxiety
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“From Agoraphobia to Zen,” is the author’s true story of her lifelong struggle with panic attacks, agoraphobia and food addiction.
On the dawn of the millennium she makes a decision to break the cycle of mental illness that destroyed her mother and threatens her own life. This authentic, sometimes, brutal journey takes the reader from trauma to comedy, from a Brooklyn housing project to the Hawaiian Islands and from fear to hope.
Armed with her mother’s journal and a deep desire to be healed, she uses spiritual guides, imagination and hypnotism to uncover the secrets and lies that both mother and daughter kept. This powerful memoir, filled with fascinating people and compelling photographs is intensified by a genuine sense of time and place, and the author’s belief that it’s possible to triumph against mental illness.
About the Author
Marilyn Maya Mendoza was born and raised in Williamsburg Brooklyn, New York City.
For the last 35 years she has lived in Makaha, the sunny west side of Oahu, Hawaii, where she teaches English as a second language and writes. She has four grown children, a supportive partner Jackson and an adopted Havanese dog named Chic. Her hobbies include dancing, traveling and eating French toast; not necessarily in that order.
It was August 24, 1970, my nineteenth birthday, a year after the summer of love ended with a fatality at the Rolling Stones’ free Altamont California concert, and I was about to be raped and murdered.
“Everyone likes you in the beginning, but when they get to know you, they want to smash in your smiley face.” I stopped and stared for a minute. Had the fool actually said something meaningful? I was so giddy to be rid of my husband Jose that I carried his suitcase six blocks to the 18th Avenue train station in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
Before this I was barely listening. “You know I love you; why’d you make me hurt you”; Blah, Blah, Blah. He was referring to the previous weekend when I gave him a jar filled with my home made potato salad for dinner. I was partying in Central Park with my friends, picking up my daughter at my mother’s afterwards. He ate the damn thing before tossing the empty jar at me with such force it barely missed Elena in her baby carriage. How dare I not serve him a proper meal at the table and in a jar yet? And where was I all day; with Frenchie? He had stolen my diary during our last breakup and read, “The business with Frenchie is over”. Was I still seeing Frenchie? I didn’t respond until he said...
“All you care about is reading and eating.”
“All you care about is pot and standing on the corner, rain or shine with your worthless friends.”
His disregard for our daughter Elena was the catalyst that drove me to kick him out this time; not the ten black stitches sewed into the gaping wound in my thigh. He called the ambulance against my protests when we couldn’t stop the bleeding. They didn’t believe my story that it was an accident. I kept the secret but we knew he had to leave, so here I was listening to his whiny voice and carrying the rocks he seemed to be bringing out of my house. I tried to forget him and instead concentrate on the fun I would have when he left with his smelly socks and beer breath. It was almost worth the scar to be free again.
That night we were going to a new place for me, “The Village Gate” the legendary jazz cavern which tonight featured Latin jazz.
As we took the F train, facing us was a threesome of undetermined sex, age or species. I only peeked at the one with a charred face and red fright wig. Too afraid of directly looking at them, out of my peripheral vision, I noticed they were pointing and laughing at us. The thought would have been amusing if I wasn’t about to pee my pants.
Then one said, “The one with the long nose is Barbara Streisand and the blonde with all the makeup looks like Bridget Bardot’s ugly sister.
I felt a bad omen knock out some of the boundless air in my balloon but thankfully they got off at the stop before West Fourth Street.
My mood changed the moment the night air hit me. I was pretty again and the air breathed sweetness on my skin. I was wearing hip hugger vertically striped Chic jeans which I paired with my own invention, a tight purple vest-sans blouse crushing my breasts and revealing bare skin. I was being called out by girls and boys alike with “Hey I like your top, nice”
“Thanks man,” I was taught always to be polite.
I had thought of this nude look to showcase my flat stomach. It had been a year since giving birth to my first child and gaining forty pounds. I lost it with the popular Stillman diet, basically meat and an ocean of water and although I had lost my concave stomach, the 70’s equivalent of a six pack, I celebrated my new body and birthday at a boutique when I reached 115 pounds. Tonight would be my debut.
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