She often says that as a child she had no vocation, but that they encouraged her to enter communication because they told her that she spoke with eyes and smiles. Irene Villa (1978) had only 12 years to get strawberries on her knees. From October 17, 1991, he had to reinvent himself to learn to walk again.
On Camarena Street in the Aluche neighborhood of Madrid, the car in which he was traveling with his mother suffered an attack by ETA that, in fact, was aimed at his father, who at the time held the position of general director of the Police. There Irene lost both legs and three fingers on one hand. His mother, María Jesús González, a leg and an arm. On the same day, three other attacks of the same style took place.
At the time, Irene was going to school. After the attack, he accompanied his mother in recovery, and both the discharge cost them dozens of surgeries, in addition to infinite therapy. Today she has become a militant of resilience, even timely summoned by Diego Simeone to strengthen Atletico Madrid. and works in schools and companies to learn to accept and resume what touches.
The attack. It was on October 17, 1991, on Camarena Street in the neighborhood of Aluche, Madrid. Photo EFE / File
She is in a couple, has three children (11, 8 and 7 years old) and is an outstanding Paralympic athlete. Journalist, writer, psychologist and lecturer, she never lost her smile and managed to get ahead with a lot of positivism and strength, the same that has helped her overcome the psychological and physical sequelae because, as she herself says, "the key is to transform problems into life and learning lessons. The love for positive psychology does come to me as a child because I always tried to help others and if a girl cried in the yard there she would make her smile."
Could you tell me about any barriers you feel you can't face?
-Loss is just that capable of splitting your soul in two and tearing you apart. What's more, I think losing one of my best friends last year to cancer has been the most painful and difficult thing to embrace. Sometimes I feel like I'm still grieving. But we have to let go and let go of those who fate makes them have to leave early. I have learned to grasp life tightly and to value the gift of being alive.
Villa says optimism has no downside.
-What value do you think humor has in everyday life? What hinders or is not useful?
-The sense of humor, which should never be lacking, has saved me from many. It's what helps keep your head afloat when you think your body is sinking. There is no obstacle in it, unless it takes you away from reality. What hinders is at the opposite pole: battle against bad attitude, fear and ego.
-Tell me the negative side of optimism.
-They are all advantages! Because it helps us see more possibilities than limitations. So circumstances have no power over us, yet what we say or think about those circumstances does. Being optimistic is not being naïve, candid, it does not mean living blindly, but trusting in oneself, in what is in our hands, facing difficulties, overcoming fears and opening new paths without losing sight of that vital engine as strong as hope.
In the attack he lost his legs and three fingers. He went through multiple surgeries and years of therapy.
-You have a strong position taken against ETA, can you share it?
They believed themselves to be liberating heroes and condemned thousands of families to live dismembered. We were always asked for generosity, to turn the page... We are doing our part, but what can never be done is to bury the memory of so many innocent people gunned down. That is why the famous series on ETA are necessary. After watching the chapters almost uninterruptedly of The Challenge: ETA (a true thriller with action sequences that bristle the hair) with much pain, indignation, helplessness and many tears, I think it is essential to remember everything that those murderers were capable of doing. Fernando Aramburu's "Patria" was a resounding success since it was released in 2016. The series of the same name based on this novel, causes controversy in those who interpret an attempt to whitewash those bloodthirsty acts. From my point of view it is a document faithful to a reality that shrinks the soul. Beyond that, I also believe that personally the only way to turn the page is with forgiveness, because it is the way to free yourself from all harm and cut the link with what tried to destroy you.
Why do you think it is such a complex problem?
There are many who believe that ETA did not stop killing out of moral conviction, but out of strategy. That is why their environment continues not to condemn violence, because they recognize its usefulness. I wish everyone were able to calm their anger and forgive, which is not forgetting, but the previous step to be able to walk through life in peace and without emotional burdens. Then a deep and powerful feeling of gratitude magically governs us.
What kind of mother is she? What do you care about leaving in your children?
-We are responsible for how our children face their lives and their difficulties so I try to empower them by giving them self-esteem, fostering their resilience and enthusiasm but without paving the way, I prefer to teach them to get up than not let them fall. We must make them unavailable to discouragement and zero vulnerable to destructive criticism. To foolish words, deaf ears.
Sportsman. Irene Villa is a Paralympic athlete. Photo: www.irenevilla.org
What is your position on the current feminist movements?
What we always wanted was equal opportunities. Because we were always behind in rights, or we were labeled as "weaker sex", something that produces laughter for being so far from reality. We have shown more productive and powerful mental strength than physical strength. But apart from the differences that a physiologically more connected brain than the male one offers us, there are things that we do better and for certain tasks they have more dexterity. Superiority does not lie with one sex, but is well distributed. Finally machismo is dismantled, but do not reverse the forms, that is to say that no one is more than anyone. We want a society in which the conditions and identities to fulfill dreams do not matter.