Catalina May and the reasons for her search

On July 17, an ad appeared in the LUN newspaper in which a woman was looking for the man who ran over her twenty years ago. This woman is journalist Catalina May, and the publication is part of an investigation that she recounts in Te Busco, an eight-episode documentary podcast that presents its final chapter next Wednesday. But this documentary series is not just a real-time recording of the progress of the research; It is also his own journey to understand that what he experienced was trauma, even if during these twenty years he never thought of this possibility. In this interview, he shares why this understanding gave meaning to his research.

Who can say whether thirty years is a few years or a lot of years? The Mexican writer asks Cristina Rivera Garza in his non-fiction novel Liliana’s Invincible Summer , where he reconstructs for the first time, after thirty years, the femicide of his sister. That’s how long it takes Cristina and her family to reopen the boxes in which Liliana’s life diaries were kept for decades.

“These are moments of trauma; decades,” declares the journalist Catherine May , who holds Rivera’s book in his hands during this interview in which he admits that this text accompanied him in the treatment of his own trauma.

In her case, it all started twenty years ago, when she was walking home from a party and a car hit her as she was crossing the street, leaving her at the edge of the street. dead. He never spoke about his accident…until this year, when he recorded I’m looking for you the seventh season of his podcast Las Raras in which – like Cristina Rivera – she reconstructs, for the first time after decades, this traumatic episode in her life.

– Why do you decide to speak now?

– Twenty years have passed since I was crushed and the idea of ​​telling this story began to arise in me, but in a very diffuse way. A few years ago I took a first-person literature workshop with Jorge Carrión, but at that time I didn’t do it thinking about telling my story. I think in some way I always prepared myself to do it. It’s a great story, but one I’ve never talked about.

– With nobody? Nobody knew?

– The people I knew at that time knew it. And to the new friends I made later, I said something to them: “I was seriously ill, I was run over once, but in the end everything was fine. ” Nothing more.

And it’s not that Catalina decided not to count. In his case, the accident caused closed ECT which caused amnesia. She doesn’t really remember anything from the months before or after the accident. He says the reason he hasn’t completely forgotten is because he was left with constant reminders: the screws in his ankle, the chronic pain in his neck, the scars on his arms, a cleft in his his head covered with hair. “A memory in the body without words,” he says.

Reconstructing history

When the idea of ​​talking about her accident took hold, Catalina decided to seek help. Her goal was to find the man who had run over her because, although he had not escaped, on the contrary, he had helped her, over time all the files were lost. For this, he contacted a group of investigative journalists and with them they created a strategy that involved different lines of research: the first, through formal documents such as the police report, the SOAP and the clinical file of the Salvador hospital, which is where they were taken urgently. But when they found that this was slow and not yielding results, they proposed a new line of research: by putting an ad in the newspaper, the ultimate goal was to go viral and thus reach the driver.

“I’m looking for you. On October 30, 2003, you ran me over in Colón with Domingo Bondi. It was my fault. I almost died. “After 20 years, I would like to talk to you”indicates the notice published in Las Últimas Noticias and which, as expected, went viral.

– Why did you want to find him?

– The answer to this is part of the process. Understanding what motivates me to tell this story now, so many years later, is something I understood and processed throughout the process of creating this podcast and was recorded in real time.

– Of course, but at what point do you say “I have to find him”. Because we could have told the story without looking for the driver.

– My goal is to reconstruct, to fully understand what happened in detail that day. And the question is: who crushed me?

According to experts, a traumatic experience is defined as an experience in which you are exposed to death or an imminent death situation, or to a situation of risk to your physical integrity or sexual assault. Catalina in the podcast says that to try to understand why she does all this, she spoke with two psychiatrists who specialize in trauma. They explain that post-traumatic pathologies can be: post-traumatic stress, which leads to a persistent memory of the event; or dissociation, avoiding everything related to the event.

This is the first time that he considers his attack as a trauma. He tells the specialists that for twenty years he has not wanted to talk about the subject and they respond that it is the most normal thing. “Just like a fracture that we try not to touch because it hurts, the same thing happens in the psychological event, we try not to think because it hurts,” explains one of the psychiatrists. Catalina thus realizes that this is a typical case of traumatic dissociation, “from the book,” she says.

The specialist specifies that it is neither good nor bad, but rather a defense mechanism to continue to maintain a structure and move forward in life. “Everyone does what they can in the face of situations, but ultimately trauma must always be overcome in one way or another and everyone seeks their own path. » said.

Catalina’s job is therefore to reconstruct her history. Understand what happened that day. “For 20 years, I have watched this story with a distance, with the feeling that I am being told someone else’s story, with a total emotional disconnection from this traumatic event. And now I realize that at some point, I invented my own therapy, intuitively. Reconstructing this event was my therapy,” he says.

Now the research makes more sense.

Tell the good and bad stories

Since the beginning of the investigation and until today, when we are a few days away from the publication of the last episode of the podcast where we will find out whether or not Catalina found the man who knocked her down, near A year has passed. “It took months of reporting, recording the progress of the investigation in real time, but there is also this other internal journey of mine. There are two narrative lines: the search for the driver and my inner search to understand this process and try to draw a final conclusion from it,” he says.

Exposing his story and process was extremely difficult. She even received criticism: some called her “toxic” because she wanted to find the man who crushed her. “I didn’t get stuck on it, it seemed more remarkable to me to look at all the messages that came to us after the notice we published in the newspaper. It’s almost like a photograph of present-day Chile. There’s the stalker who tells me I’m pretty, this man keeps calling; Other victims came forward and told me that the exact same thing had happened to them as to me; others who cried,” he said.

“Telling stories helps us make sense of things that happen to us, and telling stories about trauma is that. Far more people than you think have stories they don’t tell. Stories of decisive moments in his life. This is why I like a phrase from the psychiatrist on the podcast who says that “telling stories coherently helps with trauma, helps to heal it”. Telling good and bad stories helps us develop our personal and collective memory,” adds Catalina.

This is how he realizes that talking about his trauma can also help other people. And more or less 70% of the world’s population has experienced one or more traumatic experiences during their lives. This is the norm, it is not the exception. It’s a human experience.

An experience that women also live with guilt. “It was a difficulty for me because it’s super difficult to be guilty and a victim at the same time, where to settle? I never liked either definition, both make me very uncomfortable. No one wants to be guilty or a victim of anything, and I am both. Or that’s how I always thought.”

He says this because on the day of the accident, Catalina was driving with friends, she smoked marijuana and drank, it is not known exactly how much, but the alcohol test indicated a liter of beer. Her friends, in fact, went to drop her off at home because she wasn’t feeling well enough to continue partying. When he got out of the car, he ran through it, apparently through a red light. And within seconds, the car that hit her appeared.

– The relationship that women have with guilt is difficult, it always falls on us. The idea that “you wore a skirt, so don’t complain” or “you drank, so you exposed yourself” is very present.

– Yes po’. The psychiatrist also explains this in the podcast. He says that the feeling of guilt is something that also appears in traumatic situations and that sometimes does not adapt to reality. “You can drink, you can steal, but you can’t get raped or run over.” And I love that he said it naturally because it makes a lot of sense to us women. For me, the feeling of guilt was heavy, but saying it was liberating.

– So, have you stopped asking yourself why you do all this?

– Right now I want to be very kind to myself and understand that not speaking out was the only way to protect myself and move forward with my life, and that it was only twenty years later that I was able to cope with it and feel sufficiently safe. to be able to do it.

Credit: Soledad Aguila.

How to listen:

You can listen to TE BUSCO for free on Spotify and all audio applications. Also in And .

The rare They are Martín Cruz as sound director and Catalina May as narration and content director. The original music is by Andrés Nusser. I’M LOOKING FOR YOU is the seventh season of Las Raras. This is a co-production with Podium Podcast and Fondart RM 2023.

Source: Latercera

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