My earliest memory as a child is of when I was about 4 years old. My grandfather’s second wife had brought me into the kitchen, she was holding my favorite stuffed animal in her hands, a small pink pig. “Lo voy a poner en el horno para que se cocine!” She threatened to put it in the oven to roast. I was terrified, standing in front of her in the dim room that was the kitchen.
I wish that wasn’t the earliest memory I had of my childhood. Sadly, I can recall many moments of my early life where I felt fear at home.
about 3 years old
My father was a robust man with a bad temper. When small things upset him, he would enter a state of outrage where too many times he lost control of his own physical strength. My siblings and I were beaten badly on most weekends, which is when we were at home more often, running in and out of the house and messing up the backyard with our made-up games. Once, on a summery morning, my younger brother and I were fighting over a toy propeller that had come as a prize inside a hot cocoa powder container for kids. We were in our swimming suits, as we accustomed to do most of our summer days. We were making our way upstairs, arguing and yelling at each other trying to make the other understand why the propeller didn’t belong to the other. When we got upstairs, my father was sitting next to my ill mom in bed and her brother who was visiting. In the midst of our fight over the toy propeller, he suddenly snapped, grabbed me by the arm, and forcefully threw me in the next room. He unleashed his belt, whipped me, and right as my uncle and mom were unlocking the door, he stood me up and punched me right in the eye.
As a mother, I can now understand the stress children can put you under. Right when you probably need it the most, they can’t stay still, won’t do what you ask them, and/or won’t stop being annoyingly loud. I also understand that the generation before me had little to no exposure to self-reflection, of consciousness, and self-awareness. My parents were most likely never talked about why you should meditate regularly, or the importance of hearing your “inner voice” and go with what makes you happy. I’ve come to conclude that maybe that’s an explanation to the infallible marks of unhappiness I see in the faces of my mother, my aunts, and other adults I’ve met throughout the years. I don’t excuse my father’s brutality toward me, my siblings or my mother during his angry spasms, but I can see how he got there or where there might have been a gap in his upbringing.
My mom got a lot of the shit in her intent to defend us or by upsetting him for doing things that were out of his “normative” (like having her sisters over for a few hours on a weekend, he didn’t like visitors). I lived and witnessed a lot of his abuse. And to this day, I see the emotional traces he left in all of us.
This last year and a half has served as a time to submerge into these perpetual memories. They’ve followed me around as my own shadow does every single day under the sun. During my teenage years, I avoided confronting the marks of that past and the detrimental lack of respect, dignity, and self-worth that my childhood had. I grew up in a home where the dominant feeling wasn’t safety or love for one another, but a constant feeling of uncertainty and fear.
This last year and a half, I’ve immersed into honoring what I’m feeling, whether it be positive or negative emotions. All I know is I need to live it to its climax, cry or laugh or sit there quietly until it reaches its peak (this practice has taken days or weeks in its bits) to finally zip it, and put it aside to continue on, or invite it to walk along my side until it wants to let go. But I refuse to ignore what’s hurt me before. Those kinds of things only dig deeper in you.
“Sometimes the only way out is through.” ~ random tweet I read
Today I honor my feelings, I honor the place they come from, my voice, my desires — I sit next to them, and embrace them.
Yesterday I had a stupid argument with mom and sister that brought upon me all these thoughts of fear and oppression in the home. Pondering, I realized I’ve always escaped home, always imagining that it must be something more than what I saw growing up. And even today, I long for home. I know it I’ll be home when I feel it.
I wish they could understand who I’ve become. I would like them to see through me and perceive that all I’m doing is live my own experience, and that I want them to live their own. Specially when it comes to overcoming all we went through. Their pain is not much different than mine, but moving forward with my traumas has enabled me to progress emotionally. I don’t know how to get them to put their foot in this door of self-forgiveness/ healing/ reflection, so they too can experience the lifting of a burden we no longer must bear.
Yet, as I share my living space with them, I feel a sense of not-belonging. Of a constant search for my own home, a persistent desire to flee and make home somewhere else, alone with Roca. Not here. All the time, I just want to create home, so one day I can step in and feel safe and loved, truly accepted, and embraced.