“You’re scared, I’m nervous
But I guess that we did it on purpose..”
I used to live in a world of black and white, but now I live in a world of grey. I am the product of many years of maturity, growth and life experiences. Today, I see things very differently. I’m not the naive little girl that once lived in the protected bubble my parents created. Looking back now I see that it was more like a kingdom that they alone ruled and controlled. The years I lived in their care were some of the best memories of my life. We were always sheltered away from the realities of the world. I never knew the depths of depravity that ran rampant right outside our front door. I was unaware of the real life nightmares others around me were living. I thought my upbringing was how everyone was brought up and in my ignorance I judged others from the high pedestal I had been placed on. I thought we were the lucky ones who knew the truth, but it turns out that they all knew better than all of us. Now I see that the world isn’t as simple as my parents made it out to be. Sometimes the “monsters” aren’t the creatures lurking in closet or the boogeyman underneath our beds. Truth is, oftentimes the monsters are those we love most and call, “friend”. Sometimes the ultimate enemy isn’t something or someone attacking us, but instead, the cancer of self-destruction that lies dormant inside ourselves. I was taught to put all my faith and trust into my parents hands, and by doing so, I became emotionally paralyzed and incapable of doing anything for myself. Everything was always done for me and decided for me. My father provided financially and my mother stayed home and raised us. He met our physical needs, while my mother tended to our emotional. Being little girls, I don’t think they realized just how great the effect our father’s lack of presence would have in our lives. Since our relationship with him suffered all along, so did we.
I was taught to never trust anyone else but my immediate family and make my decisions based on doubt and anxiety. I was never allowed to venture outside my parents overly- protective reach, and in time our home began to feel more like a prison instead of the fantasy castle we once believed it to be. In time, the walls that once protected us, would become nothing more than impenetrable barriers we could never be free from. Although meaning well, my parents suffocated me and had me living like a drone, subjected to a way of life and thinking they thought was best for me. Anytime I challenged that notion or their stance in anyway, there were consequences. Sometimes those consequences were far to harsh for a young girl of my age. Really, I don’t remember living a day without fear of judgment or not feeling under pressure. Many times I felt my existence was to better and protect the existence of my sisters, and others around me. I was the “guinea pig” and the “black sheep” since birth. Dubbed my parents “love child” only to be referred to as, “the problem child” in latter years. I would come to pave the way for my sisters, but it would cost me plenty of psychological damage, physical bruises and emotional scars that would follow me for the rest of my life. My sisters only know so much, and then their memory grows weary. It’s possible they may have even forgotten how bad it got, but I never did. Sometimes I can visually imagine that “road I paved for them” solely made up of my blood, my sweat and bitter tears. Even now, I don’t believe that they understand how traumatizing it was to be me growing up, especially being a sensitive, people pleaser like I am. I’m not trying to paint myself as some sort of scapegoat or victim, but if you’re going by the actual definition of those names, and all of my countless years of therapy I had listening to a professional pick me apart and diagnose me, than those labels were exactly what I was. Naturally, I’d become super defensive and want to rationalize all the bad. I didn’t want to believe the reality of what I’d experienced and I was in denial of it for a very long time. In many ways I still think some of my family is in somewhat denial of it or they want to play it down. I’ve accepted that they will never understand it as I do, and really, I don’t want them to. As much I gained by fighting my way out and breaking free, I still remained a prisoner to the mentality I was raised in. And so began the arduous struggle between my truth, and that of my families.
I know I was close minded for a very long time, shut off and far removed from everything and everyone. I lived, thought, breathed, reacted, processed and loved in constant fear. I knew I was loved, but I was never shown it in the ways I so desperately needed in order to feel it. I never felt quite right in my own skin, and I remember the many days I dreamt of eventually becoming someone else.
I know that as a child, I thought that puberty not only changed your physical man, but also your inner man. Somehow I thought that one day I’d wake up as someone else with a different filter of emotions and mentality, but that never happened. Puberty came and went, but I was still the same old me. Only difference was, I became more and more aware of my inability to be what others wanted me to be. I would struggle my whole life to meet their expectations, but in their eyes, I would continue to fail miserably. I sometimes look back on my decisions and wonder how many were really mine, and how many were done for the sake of “keeping the peace” or as an act of pure rebellion. I guess I’ll never know and it really makes no difference now, since the past has come and gone. But the pain has changed me and molded me into a different person. I see the world through knowledgeable and understanding eyes. I feel and follow my heart and emotions more than I do my head these days. I have grown so much in the last few years and learned to separate the image others have of me, from the actuality of who I am. I’m not a robot that can be controlled and set aside when they’ve grown tired of me. I have cried enough tears for those that have claimed to love me. It’s time I dried my own eyes and lived for myself, and so I have. I’m no longer seeking the conditional love and approval of others.
Some of you have irrevocably damaged me, and gone about life as if it never happened, checking on me every so often, to help you sleep better at night. Although forgiven, I have not forgotten your heartless acts and I will never allow myself to be hurt by you in those ways ever again. If you burned me, just know I burned that bridge that united us when you betrayed me. If you destroyed me once, I promised myself to never let you have that chance to do that to me again. My mantra has become a “take me as I am” philosophy in regards to my life. If you don’t like it, keep it moving. I’m done begging, chasing, and holding onto people that only want to stray. As Robert Frost one said,
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
See, the thing is, you don’t have to like me, agree with me or condone my actions, decisions and behaviors. You don’t have to like who I am friends with or who I chose to date. You don’t have to tell me what you “feel” is right or wrong, or tell me how I should live my life. You’re sole purpose in my life is to love me in spite of everything I am and everything I’m not. You’re role is to encourage, uplift and try to understand. If I haven’t asked you for your opinion or thoughts, than honestly I couldn’t care less what you have to say. As much as I have tirelessly loved so many of you, I have reached my breaking point and I am at the end of my rope. I cannot do for you, fix you, make you happy, or be the person you want me to be anymore. I was a victim of my past, but now I’ve found my voice. I am more than my mistakes and what has been done to me. I am more than just a mother, a sister, daughter, aunt, niece, granddaughter or friend. I am an entity all my own and if you want to be a part of my life, it’s gonna have to be on my terms. I’m not censoring, filtering, or watering down any part of myself to accommodate anyone else. If you love me like you “claim to” love me then this decision will make no difference to you. I’m so fed up with being condemned and questioned. I’ve changed in recent years and I am not following suit like I used to. Others say they are overwhelmed with trying to keep tabs on me and feel helpless, but guess what? I’ve lived in that feeling for over 3 decades. Some of you can’t take this small portion of rebellion in the last 3 years! I have spent my entire life, saving others and always being there for them. I had a good run but now the emotions are too great to be bottled and my wings are too big to be held down. It took what felt like an eternity, but now I see that I am actually free. I know now that there is so much that I’m still getting wrong, but along the bumps in the road there are some fundamental truths, I’ve gotten right. And maybe that’s really what life is all about? Carving out your own path along the many that surround you. Maybe life is about taking chances and making mistakes while learning to stand on your own two feet. Either way, I believe we all come to that moment in life where we stand facing the fork in the road, and have to choose which road to take. Even with all the pain and loss I have felt, I can be honest and say that I wouldn’t do it any different. I wouldn’t take it back or erase on of my experiences, good or bad. Maybe you’re right when you say I’m nothing like the girl I used to be. Maybe change hurts but with it comes growth. Today, I choose to believe that all of that black and white throughout the course of my life, helped to soften me to reflect a lighter shade of grey.
Tonight I was listening to some old songs with a friend and my memory began humming the lyrics to a spanish song I’d known since I was a little girl. Back then I didn’t truly understand its significance or meaning but the melody and harmony was catchy enough for me to always remember. As the years have passed by, many artist have attempted to do their best with their own rendition of this soulful ballet, written by the late, Juan Gabriel. The vocal range of the song is challenging in itself , and many have fallen flat when trying to express the true tragedy of the song. Up until recently no one was able to do it justice besides the original singer/writer. That was until I heard Jenni Rivera belt out (what I believe to be the best cover to date.) I guess I am also a bit biased because this rendition is done by a female. Its made it so introperspective, personal and more heartfelt for me.
I am a proud Mexican American woman made up of a vast blend of ethnicities, races and cultures. I am what you call a “mut,” who has roots planted in a handful of different continents all over the world. I am proud to be latina and am blessed to be a part of culture that is primarily focused on family, faith and keeping up tradition. One of my favorite aspects of our culture is our music. No matter the style of spanish music, it is always passionate and powerful. I love how an entire meaning can be conveyed in a single word, and in turn every song is an entire story of its own.
Sadly, both have passed on but there work, has and will continue to live on in their unforgettable music. Though this man recorded hundreds to thousands of other songs, this will forever be my favorite by him. The lyrics although brutally honest, are also liberating to the listener and the singer at the same time. It’s the entire healing process of what happens during and after a break up all in one song. I commend Juan Gabriel for his ability to translate such a complicated human condition into a lovely poetic tapestry of words. Of course when it is translated nothing comes close to its full meaning, but I think I found an english translation that came exceptionally close. Enjoy!
“How it was”
Forgive me if this makes you cry
Forgive me if this makes you suffer,
But it’s just not in my hands,
But it’s just not in my hands, I’ve fallen in love
I’ve Fallen in love, I fell in love.
Forgive me if I cause you pain
Forgive me if today I tell you goodbye
How could I tell him I love you,
How could I tell him I love you?
If he was to ask me, I would tell him no
I told him no.
I’m honest with him & with you
I care for him & you I’ve forgotten
If you want we can be friends,
I will help you forget the past.
Dont You Hold On,
Just Stop Holding on, to the impossible
Just Stop, doing yourself & me more harm
You know very well that it wasn’t my fault
You left without telling me anything
And even though I cried like never before
I was still in love with you
But then you left..
And never told me you were coming back
and with nothing else, why i dont know
but thats how it was, how it was
I toast to you the best of luck
I told myself to never talk or see you again
And now that you’re back,
You see that there’s nothing left.
Now I cant anymore…nor should I love you
I dont love you anymore
I’ve fallen in love, with a devine being
with a good love
Who taught me to forget,
And to Forgive….
“I know I’m gonna hurt..
more than you’ll ever understand..
cause I love you more..
than you love me.”
Here is my good friend and local Arizona talent,Yasmeen Hormez, doing an acoustic version of her beautiful song, “waiting.” She’s so talented and genuine. She makes it impossible to not love her or her candid approach to writing and musical expression. No matter how many hits she makes, this one will forever hold a special place in my heart..”I guess I’m still waiting..”
Dear loved one,
I know this letter is bound to upset you, but I’d like to apologize for it in advance. Bare with me as I shed my skin and reveal my truest self. I guess the best way to put it to you, would be to say, I am a mess. And when I say “a mess” I don’t mean the kind you can ignore and simply sweep under the rug and be done with. I’m the kind of mess that hoards piles of unresolved issues in any and every dark place you can imagine. I hide them from my own self, but I hide them especially from you. I prefer to show you the softer side of my personality, to keep you from the ugliness that lies beneath.
It’s safe to say that I am a roller coaster of emotions because I possess this innate ability to feel everything so much more than the next person. Luckily for you, this will work in your favor because I will be able to love you unconditionally and uniquely, the love I give, I guarantee you; you will find nowhere else. No one will think of you more or consider your feelings more than I do. No one will protect you, comfort you and console you in the unspoken ways I only know how. No one will be as consumed with you and your emotions than I am. When you are with me, I will make you the center of my universe and you’ll feel that. I would willing subject myself to any negative situation or thing, just to ensure you never shed a tear. You’ll hurt me often, but I’ll never show it or hold it against you. In all your imperfections you will be absolutely perfect to me. Understand that this “superpower” to love greatly comes at a great cost, and in turn I have suffered because it is also my greatest weakness. It makes me prone to dark moods, physical sickness, random bouts of heightened anxiety and prolonged depression. I am literally drained mentally, physically and emotionally whenever I leave you because regardless of what I’m feeling I will give you all of me, even if that is barely anything at all. I will save nothing for myself because your happiness brings me true joy. Every sacrifice comes with a price, and I’ll usually be the one to foot the bill. I can’t help it, it’s my nature and belief. As hard as I’ve tried to “put myself first,” I cant, just as sure as I can’t convince you to believe the sky is red.
Sometimes I won’t be able to cry and other times I’ll cry too much. I’ll have a smile on my face regardless of which mood I’m in, because I never want to worry you. I am like a person with chronic physical pain, I am always hurting, but only internally. I’m silently carrying the weight of the world and its problems all on my own. I am the one that needs saving, but I’m the first to lend a hand when everything else is falling apart. Helping you and being there for you is my calling and without it I feel as if I’ve lost my purpose. I am so heavily invested in you, even if I fail to show it at all times. You’re in my heart, prayers, thoughts and dreams. You’re precious and irreplaceable to me.
I should also tell you that I am indecisive and fickle about everything. I go back and forth with my feelings and thoughts because I am someone who over analyzes and dwells on experiences. I do it as a means of understanding myself and others. I thirst for understanding and knowledge. I’m either completely indifferent or totally consumed. Its not in my DNA to be in between. I am very secretive, but it’s mostly my fault, because I can’t open up. I gave everything to a best friend that died prematurely and to an addictive ex that took complete advantage of me. Growing up, my father paid very little attention to me unless he was angry. I never heard kind words from my dad nor was he ever affectionate. I learned very early on that the only person i can fully depend on is myself. So I tend to omit and shut down a lot.
Secrets make you sick and I have more secrets than you could ever imagine. Please know I never mean to manipulate you under any circumstance. I come across insincere or chameleon like, because I truly long to be whatever person you need me to be whenever I am around you. Setting myself aside isn’t a choice, it’s the way I’m wired. I never want to hurt or disappoint you, so sometimes I omit my own truths to spare you unnecessary worry. Trust me when I say, I worry and stress enough for the both of us.
I know you love me, but be aware that I will test that love all the time. As much as I have faith in you and your abilities I have even more faith in myself to somehow fuck it up. I constantly wonder if I am enough or not enough for you. I’ll have moments of weakness and be unable to compose myself but don’t worry, I’ll figure it out on my own because you can’t help. Not really, so don’t exhaust yourself trying. Best bet is to just be there for me and hug me when I fall apart. If I let you see this side of me know that this is the closest you will ever be able to get to me. It will go no further because I can’t give more than that to anyone anymore. I’ll shut down and deflect. I hate even the idea of vulnerability, let alone vulnerability itself.
I have lots of abandonment issues and where it stems from I’m not quite sure. All I know is that those scars are there and I find myself waiting for that other shoe to drop constantly in every friendship and relationship. It’s not really you that I don’t trust, it’s more so me. I know myself best and I realize how defective and tarnished I am. I have been through things I’ll never speak of aloud. My self esteem and confidence is down to nothing, so it won’t matter how often or how much you sing my praises, I won’t hear them. I struggle with self hatred. I always have.
That takes me to the other bad habits I have that you’ll try to discourage me from. Sometimes I drink to forget and other times I drink to actually feel. I’m not an addict, but i can be codependent at times. I also have this problem with cutting whenever I feel too out of control, overwhelmed, ashamed or angry with life or myself. I guess it’s my way of punishing myself because I was abused growing up. The last time my father attacked me I was 19. I came home too late and he met me at the front door with a belt. I have never been so terrified in all my life. I vaguely remember the disgusting names he called me as I begged him to stop. I rationalized his outburst and still feel as if I brought that upon myself. Really, I should’ve known better.
For that reason and many others, I do not trust men. They have cheated, lied, damaged, broken and abused me in every way possible and abandoned me emotionally. Men as a whole almost feel like my captors, so this only invokes a greater need to flee or escape. They couldn’t possibly understand these inner demons I fight daily and chances are they probably would just leave like the rest. They think I am stronger than I am and they throw punches that feel like they were meant for giants. Instead of being on the same platform they have put me down and sized me up. In every instance I have failed and not been enough. I have not loved hard enough, forgiven enough or believed enough, so in turn their faults have fallen on me.
Because of all my childhood issues, I have this undying need for constant affection and attention, yet I’m constantly rejecting and pushing everyone away. I confuse and annoy people because they never know where they stand with me and the reason is because I don’t know either. I’m sure this probably goes back to the conditional and abusive love I knew even in friendships. My best friend in grade school was the big sister I never had, until one night at a sleepover I awoke to her molesting me. I pushed her off and left to be alone in the open living room. I didn’t want to tell or call my parents because I assumed that maybe I had done something to give her the impression that I wanted more. I blocked out the memory and went about life as if it never happened. I carried that shame and still do. This is why when you find yourself growing close to me, I’ll unexpectedly go M.I.A. As much as I love close bonds, they have this profound ability to mentally break me down and emotionally destroy me. I don’t want to be too open again and I don’t want to make someone believe I’m willing to give something I’m not.
I know you’ll scold me for this, but to me, sex is a physical act and not an emotional connection anymore. One reason I feel this was is because the night my sister was raped I looked into the eyes of the man who destroyed her. He was cold and soulless, and for the exception of his breath, it’s hard to imagine he even had a heart. He went in and stole my sister’s purity and I left believing sex was something tangible that could be taken away at any given moment. I know you’ll try to tell me It wasn’t my fault, but it doesn’t matter what words of consolation you’ll use, I am damaged because of it. She never again was the same and I haven’t been either. I won’t talk about it and I’ll never bring it up. It hurts too badly to remember the monster, it’s hard to separate that from every other man. Along with my theories of sex, my ex often withheld it from me for various reasons, one mainly being his inability to get hard because of all the pain killers he was snorting or smoking. I was so unaware and because of that, I came to believe that he didn’t want me sexually because I was so undesirable. I starved myself and worked out 2 times a day to get as small as possible. I wore more provocative clothes and made sure to always go to bed in something sexy that would grab his attention. It worked for a short time but then he went back to his old patterns. I took diet pills and felt like a sex toy he could just take out and use when he wanted and put back when he didn’t. He rejected me on tons of occasions and finally I stopped asking. I cried myself to sleep hundreds of nights praying for a different existence. It seemed as though every other man could see me but him. All the attention made me feel dirty and I avoided going out as much as possible. I was desperate for love and attention but instead I was ignored and resented. I changed my hair so many times and even got colored contacts to drastically change my outer appearance. It didn’t matter though, the woman underneath it all was still me. I know you’ll read this and try to convince me of a kind of beauty I have, but I’m telling you don’t bother. It will go in one ear and out the other. I wear an image and it is intended to keep people off my back. Deep down I’m still that insecure girl from grade school pretending not to be scared. You wouldn’t know it though because I was the center of attention, the outspoken student and the outgoing friend. I put others at ease but internally I was at odds with myself. I hoped one day to grow out of it but the wounds only deepened. Cuts became canyons and tears became rivers. I lost myself in all the wreckage, but you would’ve never known I was so miserable unless i told you.
I know that I am more than you expected and more twisted than I seemed, but I hope in telling you all this, you’ll somehow feel comforted by your efforts to reach me. I see you more than you see me. I pray for you and want nothing but good things for you. Just don’t give up on me, okay? I’m trying to get better and learn new ways of coping. I don’t want to be fixed, I just want to be loved and even when my actions don’t reflect that don’t lose heart. Every effort is helping me find that next step to faith and self discovery all over again. Thank you for loving me in all the unique ways you all do. I appreciate you and love you so much!
Thanks for always listening.
I remember watching this when I was in high school and being so mesmerized by how effortlessly beautiful and sweet she was. I tried to emulate her unique look and got colored contacts of my own to offset the black hair I had at the time. I loved her style! She was definitely ahead of her time and was a trendsetter in her own right.