“Mostly, I want to be kind. And nobody, of course, is kind, or mean, for a simple reason”
-- Mary Oliver, Dogfish
"I'm sorry I didn't know how to take care of you.
I understand more now.
I can’t explain but can only tell you that
everything is the way it should be”
I want to ask how I could know
that truth but my voice is empty.
“There’s so much more than I can say.
I promise, honey, things really are
just right – you are just right.”
Her words were attempts to reassure but still,
my only sounds were of crying.
-- Listening to my mother's voice, after death,
speaking to me in a dream
Success is defined as, “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Many aim for wealth, career security, and a healthy family as symbols of success. For Bobbie Becerra success means survival, triumph over a life of abuse, and holding a deep understanding that genuine kindness can be born from tragedy.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Bobbie was the last of 14 children, seven of whom died shortly after birth. The remaining seven were abandoned or taken into protective custody, including Bobbie. As fate would have it, Bobbie and one of her brothers were returned to their mother shortly after being taken into protective services. The siblings are the only two children who were raised by their mother.
The family of three moved around several times during Bobbie’s childhood. While they lived in many neighborhoods in various parts of Los Angeles and nearby cities, the majority of Bobbie’s childhood years were spent in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles.
As true with most children, Bobbie looked to her mother for love, protection, and guidance. However, she recognized at an early age that her mother struggled in ways that often “took her away” and kept her from connecting with her children. Alcoholism and her own abusive past were the main culprits for her mother’s damaging behavior.
Subjected to repeated sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, often allowed by or directly from her mother, Bobbie’s upbringing was marred by tragedies which lead her to attempt suicide at the age of five, and a lesson that even the best life would be one of abuse.
Seeing that the patterns of their home life would not change, Bobbie held tightly to her connection with her brother to drive her forward and to keep her looking for proof that things can get better. Though experiences with her mother created long-lasting wounds, Bobbie credits her mother with teaching a lesson that she feels saved her – it is always okay to ask questions.
This one lesson allowed Bobbie the permission to suggest in her own mind that maybe something else could be possible. That thought allowed her to look around for examples of life without abuse, examples of possibilities that, even if rare, did truly exist. Bobbie kept looking, to her mother, herself, and the world she lived in for answers. This allowed her to sometimes experience moments of relief through the kindness and vision of others.
As she grew into her early teens, Bobbie had already been in and fought to get away from sexually and physically abusive relationships. Bobbie began looking for hope in various therapies and worked to build her own sense of possibilities, she nevertheless found herself as an adult in the same abusive relationship that had been set up as a child.
Though successful in supporting her own home environment by consistently finding work in her teens and building a career as an adult, it was not until after her mother passed that Bobbie was able to leave her life of abuse and begin to rebuild her own sense of purpose. As Bobbie continues on her journey, she has developed a true sense of appreciation for having survived the challenges in her life and now works to lend her voice to helping others who have struggled as a result of abuse.