An open letter..

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To the only man I’ve ever been in love with,

I have so many thoughts I need to express and feelings I have to get off my chest. First off, it’s important you know I don’t have any ill will or hatred towards you. The hurt is being addressed and I’m facing those unresolved issues on my own. Each day I am making more peace with the past. I don’t feel that restless anger like before. In fact, my issues with you and moving on have been because of my unwillingness to acknowledge the reason I actually suffer. Ironically, it is because I still love you, very much in fact. Not in the same capacity as before but I’ve seen how my love for you has evolved over the years and changed into the mature love that it is today. I want nothing but the best for you, James. You once told me something that profoundly resonated with me. You said, “I want you to be happy, babe. Even if that happiness may not include me anymore.” It hurt so much in that moment to hear those words. It sliced me right to the core, leaving me to feel a sort of inevitability in those words. I eventually decided that I needed you to go. I would have to love you for the rest of my life from a distance. It was a truth i never wanted to accept but in order for me to be with you, I had to deny myself so many aspirations and dreams. I’d concluded that dreams change sometimes and mine unexpectedly had. Before I knew it, the only dream I truly cared about fulfilling anymore was you.

In the beginning I resented you so much. The anger entirely eclipsed any sign of love I once felt. In many ways that anger left me completely numb to the pain I was feeling at the time. All I knew was that I wanted to hurt you and make you pay for all the hell you repeatedly put me thru. There are so many horrific memories that haunt me in my sleep at night. A random thought can trigger a memory I’d thought I’d long forgotten. Your addictive personality and deception was what eventually killed the love I had for you. I felt as if you ruined everything and I was determined to make you feel all the horrible emotions you made me feel all throughout the 10 years we were together. I wanted to force you to regret ever doing me wrong and in time, it eventually worked.

I began by ignoring you everyday. I found attention from other men and made new friends that didn’t have any ties to you. I cut off all your family and severed all ties I had with you physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. The only exception I made was to discuss the well being of our children and even in those cases I remained ruthless. I never gave you more than the necessary communication and I constantly withheld any sadness or remorse I may have felt from losing you. In those months that you were still trying to win me back, I came to discover that I was unable to cry anymore. I figured it was because I’d already cried oceans of tears over you and eventually had no more to shed. I no longer had the energy to expend, no more compassion to give, no more affection to show. I was lifeless, lost and purposeless without you or our love.

I can recall watching you as you sobbed in front of me in utter confusion. Somehow I’d become like a stranger to you, a stranger that no longer welcomed you in her bed. You’d asked me to hold you but my arms never could reach the places in your heart you needed touched most. There were many occasions that I looked you straight in the face, repeatedly renouncing my once strong hope in you and in us. You cried and begged, we yelled and screamed, until eventually I forced you out the door. You reluctantly left and told me on countless occasions that this wasn’t what you wanted. You didn’t want the divorce and you fought tirelessly to change my mind. Problem wasn’t in my mind though. I’d finally had a change of heart. I’d had enough of the arguing, lies and constant struggle. I hated that I couldn’t trust you even in the most innocent of things. You’d broken trust so many times that I’d lost count and this final stint with rehab brought my once believed perfect world to a tragic end. I pushed. You pulled, but eventually you gave into my wishes. I told you if you loved me you’d have to let me go and you did. You got your own place and within 2 weeks already had someone around to fill the void I’d left in your life.

Meanwhile, I stayed single and remained in the very same shithole you left us in. I dragged every morning to wake up. Each sunrise brought on only more battles of emptiness and depression. By staying in that house I felt trapped by evil memories of us. It had an eerie morbid feeling. That house on Hartford was more like a mortuary of death than a home of warmth and laughter. Even though I was adamant about changing everything in the home, your spirit continually lingered in the hallways, demanding to be acknowledged and heard.

I remember drinking myself into a stupor many nights and weeping all alone on the kitchen floor. I had lost my passion for life and purpose. I only knew how to be a half and with you gone I didn’t know how to even begin to be whole. We both went from having a whole family one day, to becoming single people overnight. Every other weekend the kids would be with you and I’d be left to fight my demons all by myself. In those early days my anxiety gave birth to my new merciless companion that the doctors referred to as “insomnia.” The nights during that period of my life were the hardest and most destructive for me. I cut myself, I cursed your existence, I never slept at night, I drank a lot and ran the laundry list of “what ifs” in my head. I had on many occasions attempted to try and drink the pain away but each morning I’d find my struggles right back where I’d left them. And so the vicious cycle began. It was like I had an ongoing revolving door of broken and addictive men that paraded in and out of my life after I’d left you. None of them I ever “claimed” or loved. Truth is, I often used them as distractions to avoid my pain. Like the alcohol and pills, they were only temporary fillers for me that came and went. In my mind I’d resolved that it was easier to place all my focus on them and in turn throw all the blame onto you. I had absolved myself of any sins or wrongdoing and concluded that you were the reason I’d never know happiness again. After all, you were the one who broke me. You were the monster that terrorized me, so it was only fair to blame you for being the one who destroyed me. You “victimized” me but reality proved that I chose to remain a victim. I felt comfortable in my uncomfortablness and I learned that you can also form addictions to people and states of emotions. I was consumed with thoughts of only you and overtime I no longer could recognize my own face. I felt stuck by my love for you yet I hated the outcome of all your selfish actions. You abused me and I called it “love.” You lied and I called it “trust” You cheated yet I called you “loyal.” You were the very best part of my life and yet you were the very worst part of it too. And for a very long time i believed that my entire self worth was based on who YOU believed me or saw me to be. I placed you on a pedestal, put God on the back burner and myself as the doormat that you stepped on everyday. It was a very unhealthy and abusive situation but being honest, I have to say our entire relationship was not only this ugliness. It was so much more.

In fact, we shared countless moments together that are worth mentioning. There were many trying moments that made us stronger as a couple and made us better as people. We saved each other and loved one another in ways no one else could. Not many will ever understand the dynamic you and I shared. And I’ve learned that they don’t have to. No one knows all the countless kisses and embraces we shared that went unnoticed. All the profound conversations we had behind closed doors. The random things you’d make or buy me just to say “i love you.” I miss the movie nights and waking up to beautiful music while you cooked the kids and I a big breakfast. I know we shared a lifetime’s worth of laughter. Even to this day, certain memories still make me pause whatever action or thought I’m doing and make me smile. It was wrong of me to deny you this acknowledgment while I was hurting. It just hurts to remember, but even harder to forget. You were undeniably the source of my happiness for a very long time. You were my first boyfriend, first kiss, first lover and the father of my children.

Every season of life has a memory all it’s own and every memory carries an emotion, be it good or bad. November 21st, which was our wedding anniversary, will always be a special memory of a decision we made to change our lives for the better. It’s no longer the anniversary of what is, but much rather of what was. Our young love was so magical and magnetic and will continue to live on in the sweet remnants of our past. As life goes on, so does the ever present cycle of holidays that trigger bittersweet recollections of the past. Christmas music sparks a sting of hurt because I force myself to keep up tradition and try to “cheerfully” decorate the tree. I’ll oftentimes get flashbacks of you lifting up one of our precious baby’s to place the angel at the top of our tree. Family dinners invariably leave traces of your absence because of the empty place that still remains beside me. I haven’t had a New years kiss since you’ve been gone. Truth is I haven’t really wanted one anyway. February brings Valentine’s day which reminds me of the many poems and cards you’d leave me to remind me of how loved i was by you. You wrote me so many beautiful words that have stayed with me even to this day. Easter egg hunts and painting eggs are gatherings i miss having you by my side. July 7th is Our baby girl’s birthday followed by our sons birthday in late August which leaves a bittersweet taste in my mouth that makes it almost impossible to swallow. I can’t help but remember you on their special days because it was you and I that created them and it was you and I that welcomed them into the world together. My October birthday blends into celebrations of harvest and Halloween. I miss trick or treating with you and the kids, picking out costumes and taking pictures. There is so much I’ve left behind and so much ahead of us that I will as well. It’s overwhelmingly painful at times to remember but I never want to forget who and what you were to me.

You called me your “angel that saved you” and you were my “bad boy” that changed his ways. You called me “empress” because you said I was the most beautiful woman you’d ever seen and had the class of someone who could be royalty. You said I was perfect the way I was and that you’d always love me in spite of any physical, mental or emotional changes I may or may not have gone through. You told me I was smart and could have the dreams of my heart fulfilled. You said I was a good mom and that I was the most selfless person you ever knew. You loved me most in my most natural state and reminded me everyday that I didn’t even have to try because I already was everything. You called me things like your “happiness” your “world” and “the love of your life” You never loved anyone more than me or like me ever before or ever would again. I can still remember the conversation we had in bed when we were just laying in each others arms and I asked you how you knew the love you had for me was “different?” I loved the analogy you gave and how it really resonated with me on a level I could completely comprehend. You said that the women who came before me were like falling in love with a new song and being completely enthralled by it, playing it over and over, day in and out. He said the infatuation could only go so far until it eventually just faded out and then a new favorite song would take its place. He said I was nothing like that song. I was not a fleeting thought, person or emotion. I was unique, special and intricate. You loved how transparent I was and yet still a mystery to you after all these years. It rattled you how well you could read me and later would frustrate you because you felt as though you could never do right by me. You constantly felt like you were not enough but the reality was that it didn’t matter because I picked you and chose to love you. That in itself made you enough but your inner demons of addiction, insecurity and abandonment set in, eventually poisoning our entire relationship. WE loved hard and fought harder. We could be super affectionate one moment only to be like 2 strangers the next. We were an intricately interwoven tapestry of emotions, hurts, weaknesses and strengths. For a while we seemed to manage the current by staying afloat but I was left for many years to keep us alive all alone. I tried desperately to save you ended up only drowning the both of us. Somewhere in the sea of love I lost you and in doing so I lost a great part of myself too.

“It wasn’t all bad.” You weren’t all bad. We weren’t all bad. I can heal from the hurt while acknowledging the worst. Some memories will be left as our secrets forever and certain feelings will never be spoken of again. Truth is that I do miss all the things that you meant to me for so long. I miss the old you that burns bright in the dark corners of my mind. I miss the boy I once feel in love with under that summer moon when I was only 17. I miss those hazel eyes that saw through my motions and found the pure and goodness in mine. You showed me generosity, thoughtfulness, kindness, and love the best way you knew how. I appreciate you for that. Deep down I know you are a man with a good heart, just misguided in your intentions at times. I want to believe you aren’t who your actions have proved you to be and I hope that life’s challenges have brought out the better parts of you that you’d forgotten. I’m happy you have found happiness in the arms of another woman who can love you in the ways I couldn’t. I did my very best to meet every single want and need you ever had but being that girl meant I couldn’t really be the real me. I’m sorry if unintentionally deceived or hurt you by trying to be your ideal perfect woman. God knows I tried my hardest to make us work but sometimes love means knowing when to let go. A lot of times I think I mostly left you because of my own feelings of pain but I also see that sometimes i realize I also left you because I wanted you to be free of your own sadness as well. Love is sacrifice and giving you up was my final act of love on my part. I knew you’d never leave my side so I made the decision neither of us wanted to make and cut the cord that kept you and I together. I don’t regret a second of happiness or sadness spent with you. Although I don’t love you in the same way I once did, doesn’t mean I won’t love you until my last breath, past death.” We made two perfect kids together and I believe they are the very best of you and I.

I’m not ignoring this pain I feel over your loss anymore but I also won’t allow i to consume my everyday either. I’m letting you go every night and forgiving you all over again every morning. Healing from our end is going to take time and work but I know that it is shaping me into the woman I’ve always wanted to be. I hope it is helping you find the happiness you sought in me but never found. I can listen to the song I sang to you on our wedding day now without shedding a single tear. I can go to our old places and not feel the same ache of emptiness every time someone asks about how you are or where you’ve been. I can say your name without feeling the sting in my heart and look you in the eyes without feeling the pounding in my chest. You’re memory is strong but your presence in my future is fading daily. I’m dreaming new dreams now and opening myself up to new endeavors, people and experiences. I still find myself looking up at night sky remembering how I’d sing to you how you were “the little boy made for me in the stars”. My Poochie bear, my best friend, my first lover, my once husband and understanding ear, I’ll cherish the time we had. I make a vow to look to the past fondly and remember the beautiful life we made together proudly and separate the ugliness, malice and pain from all the good we created. It was never easy but the time has come. I’m finally letting you go now.

 

 

The grass ain’t always greener..

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I shouldn’t have read the letter. It triggered all those same emotions I went so long to therapy to forget. For most people it’s just another news story about a girl that was raped, but for me it hits a little too close to home.

I come from a big family and am lucky to still have my parents together after 32 years. My mom gave birth to 5 girls and 1 boy. Sadly I’d never come to know my brother because he was a still birth. His funeral would be my first of dozens and I wasn’t even 2 years old. After my brother my mom had 4 more girls and we became what she called her little “tribe”. Growing up being so many, so close in age, and being all girls, we often drew lots of attention. Everyone would always ask the same exact questions, “Are you all sisters?” ..”All from the same parents?” .. “No boys?” followed by the typical ” I feel sorry for your poor dad!” response. We got used to it but people never got over that. We often joked around with each other saying that we were like “unicorns” because it became glaringly apparent that we were the last of a dying breed. As we got older and began to blossom into young women, the attention only grew. As our bodies and features changed over the years, we still bore a strikingly similar resemblance to one another. Many people confused us and developed crushes over multiple sisters. Many treated us as a group, rather than individuals, but we didn’t care. We were happy, sheltered and protected growing up. All too often we were labeled and judged by our appearance, and the perceived notions of others. Malicious rumors spread by bitter exes and old friends began to destroy our reputation and image over time.

A dear friend of our family always says, “It is impossible to become close to a “Durazo girl” and remain untouched or unmoved. You guys get under people’s skin and draw out their deepest thoughts, love and insecurities. People willingly give to you what they deny others. Falling in love with one sister is like falling for you all.” He says that because we were raised in a bubble of unrealistic expectations that we’ve learned to hold even ourselves to those unrealistic expectations too. It’s depressing to look back on the revolving door of relationships that we as sisters have had and lost. People who promised “forever” are long gone, and men we once adored have become ghosts haunting the hallways of our past. There have been those who came to us with nothing, and in return gained an entire family. It’s sad to see how the demise of our relationships and the loss of our presence has left them in a dark place. I don’t know what it feels like to experience our world and gain our acceptance, only to be denied reentry after the relationship has run its course. I imagine it’s gotta be a lot like culture sock. Both sides hurt when ties have to be cut. Its never easy but we are not the picture perfect image people often perceive us to be. We are more like the desolate desert filled with cracks that run deep and hide incredibly low valleys. We’ve seen our fair share of trials and tribulations. No matter how many there have been, the loss of any relationship hurts just the same, each one being unique and different. Each one baring its own scar.

When it comes to perfection we are far from it, as much as people wanna think how great we have it made, the reality is that there are traumas that have changed us forever. Which brings me back to my original thought about the rape victims letter. I couldn’t believe how each emotional and physical reprocussion from her rape echoed both of my sister’s emotions and cries. I wept bitterly reading the affect it had on her entire family as well and I felt a though I was reading an entry from one of my sisters journals. Not many people know this, but out of the 5 of us girls, two of us have been raped, and the other 2 have been molested by people who were involved heavily in the church. The one sister who has not been exploited in these ways has been cheated on and taken advantage by every man she’s ever loved. We have been manipulated and abused in every way imaginable and it’s always been at the hands of people who claimed to love us the most. It’s hard for us not to believe that there’s some kind of curse keeping us from maintaining any shred of real happiness.  I guess in order for light to shine through it must be engulfed in complete darkness. We bare the symbol and wear the scars. Bound by supernatural ties, childhood memories and vaults of secrets that we will never speak on. Like a chain we are linked together indefinitely by blood and love. We may be the little princess’ in our parents fairytale kingdom, but our father groomed us to be more than just another pretty face. We were trained like soldiers and disciplined as such. We were taught survival tactics that  helped shelter us, but ultimately didn’t teach us how to confront major life issues. As children when we fell we were reprimanded for it. When we got our feelings hurt, we were ignored. When we tried to sit on my father’s lap as we grew older, we were told it was improper. Our parents were somewhat cold emotionally and physically towards us. Cuddling and random hugs or kisses were left for annual holidays and birthdays.  High bars of expectations were set for us to reach in each category of life, and we grew up with the logic that nothing we could ever do would be good enough. Much like the illusion roses have to exude beauty while appearing defenseless, we were able to hide our sharp thorns. We learned how Beauty can distract the eyes long enough to keep our thorns undetected. The men who have tried to possess us, have ended up pricking themselves because they tried to hold us too tight. Some men have been understanding enough to know that roses left to bloom naturally, are the best roses of all. Some have come watering and sheltering us, allowing us the freedom to grow. Some have uprooted us and left us to dry out and wither away. Just as flowers have their seasons of death and bloom, so have my sisters and I.

The men that raped my sister’s were not men, they were cowards. They deflowered my roses and robbed our once innocent kingdom of its peace. Yes, my roses have managed to grow back even through concrete, but we all know that they will never be the same. My heart aches for that young woman the same way that it aches for my sisters. So many questions have gone unanswered and there’s even more that are bound to come up in the future. All I know is that pain changes people, and knowing that other lives are being destroyed by the same means, leaves me feeling so heartbroken. Her powerful letter reminded me to be thankful that I still have my sisters here with me to grow old with. Her words reminded me to remain hopeful and believe, that maybe letters like hers will help bring peace and understanding to other victims and their families. We have been irrevocably affected forever by the careless actions of cowards, but it doesn’t mean we have to remain in the dark places they left us in. We are not the product of things done to us. We are however defined by the way we deal with those struggles after they’ve tried to destroy us. I pray for my sisters and the victims of these vicious crimes. May they find the peace they so desperately seek within themselves and may letters like these continue to bring awareness to a dying world.