forty-three

May 5, 2017

Note: before you read this, look at time (watch, phone, whatever). stare at it, without any interruption for one full minute. listen to your breathing. be mindful of the noises you hear. remember that as you read this.

i am hyper aware to almost every minute of the day. these days it all seems to move in slow motion and it all blends just to make it feel as if i am looking from the outside at myself. i can literally feel my skin. i can feel the hairs in my arms when the wind blows. i feel my heart in my chest.

anytime my phone rings, my heart sinks. i look at the number. a knot plays twister on my throat. my vocal chords utter a dry hello and i listen, “This is Dr. so-and-so… the babies are okay…” as he went on to tell me about medical students who will be observing today and he was requesting permission for them to see the babies. the exhale my body releases in that precise moment comes from a depth i have never known.

i think about them constantly. i find myself looking at the ten billion pictures i’ve taken already or recalling how i’ve changed their diapers and saline-gauze-cleaned my babies. i’ve taken their temperatures, i’ve weighed their bodies, all while my hands are inside this incubator that’s perfectly warm and humid. i shake my hands briskly to warm them up. today, the humidity setting went down. now we’re counting down the days whem we can both hold them to our bodies.

i wash my hands every time i walk onto the unit. at the bedside, i hand sanitize like i wanna’ kill even my own flora just to keep my kids well. no germs on my babies, i think to myself. i have been sitting by their incubator-side for eight days now. i write to each of them. i tell them about any slight setbacks and all the small victories they’ve achieved so far. i update them on each other. i tell them about my day. then my Wife and i go together to each of them. we read and sing, we pray, we chant… ellos piden la bendicion y nosotras se la damos.

our babies are magical miracles. a micro perfection of fragility and strength.

for the most part, we get our updates from the nurses. unless there’s a new finding or change that warrants a conversation with the provider. as much as we like them, we would prefer not to have to speak with them.

the nurses tell us that the babies communicate with each other. “when one’s alarms go off, the brother likes to show him up,” they say smiling. i smile and think that my babies are experts in energy shifts already. that is the essence of their Light, a radiant energy that when combined with ours, forms a perfect balance in our lives. we love being with them. and they Love us. when we’re together, their measured markers improve. come to think of it… it’s probably the time during the day when i am taking the most breaths and feeling the most at ease.

i find myself with a heightened emotions. my senses are on high alert and the seconds seem eternal between minutes. i cannot hold an hour in a glass when my hands shake.

i am relearning how to breathe. i breathe in their gentle ease. my babies do it so much better than i do. i stare at them long enough to count the rise and fall of their chests: forty-three times in a minute.

cuarenta-y-tres respiraciones en un minuto. and i’m just trying to exhale after saying hello.

#52essays2017

shift towards Light

April 16, 2017

my mother left a couple of sundays ago. i’ve been processing our very short but immensely sweet time together. she spent the weekend with us. then headed back Home to Puerto Rico. she Loves it. it Loves her. you can tell by the way she speaks about it. or how quick she is to say “llevame pa’ casa,” when the sun hits her skin and a quick, strong, cold air reminds her that this is the land of April’s fools.

it was a sunny New England sunday morning. we sat “en el balconcito,” as she named it, and shared dos tazas de cafe and a New York Bagel (yes, it warrants origin). here, in this place, thousands of miles from where our relationship began, we shared in space and time. we were present. in each moment with each other. and this time it felt so easy.

for so long i’ve resisted allowing myself to be mothered. mostly because of our history.

i stare at the picture i took on my cell. we are getting older. damn! we’ve come a long way. there was a time when we couldn’t be in each other’s presence for more than a couple of hours. there was so much tension between us. the history of everything we lived through was so intense that for some time it pushed us away from each other. and when i share that i was a queer woman, the divide between us grew exponentially.

i’ve been thinking about the visit since she left. a part of me wishing she lived closer.

she came to spend a couple of nights with us. given our current situation, it was a different type of visit. it demanded a different focus. but we got to spend time alone, together. i know she felt my tension but we both knew this time it had nothing to do with us. this time, the situation called us in closer. and she asked how i was doing and waited to hear my response. and felt my response. and we cried together.

maybe the reason we felt so connected was because she could feel that what i was experiencing was monumental. she knew that my worry was so heart wrenching and it felt as though for the first time, she saw me as a woman. and i saw her as someone i could trust. i allowed myself to be vulnerable. shared all of my worries and fears. she held the space with me.

ours has been a 40-year-old journey. an intense walk through our lives as mother-daughter. there has been laughter and joy, pain and sorrow, anger and frustration, y un sin numero de emociones y desencantos. but we managed to arrive here…

a few years ago her and i sat down to talk. we had a heart-to-heart. we discussed a lot of the questions left unanswered. she was honest about them. i could tell by how difficult it was for her to share them. some things she did not talk about. and i understood that like myself, we all reserve the right to hold on to things que se llevan a la tumba. we worked through things individually and together. and since then i see her in a new light.

in this visit i felt a shift towards each other. a new understanding. and a Love that matured.

when we let go of the choices/mistakes our parents made we begin to move towards a more wholly person. we are made whole by the fractured parts we choose to replace with Love. i believe there are some relationships that are not repairable. but i am filled with a gratitude unlike any other that ours was not that relationship.

i am lucky to have the opportunity to sit and talk with Mami, even the hard conversations were made “easy” because we were both willing to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. the power of open hearts and communication can heal in ways i never thought possible.

this journey away from each other brought us back to us. except this time in Light of everything we lived together.

this time in Light.

#52essays2017

week 22

March 29, 2017

she sleeps. i stare at Her and my eyes fill with tears. of all the things i have done in my almost thirty-nine years of life, She was the best decision my heart ever made. i waited a long time for Her but i had to wait.

i’m writing from a hospital room. she was admitted because our babies are “threatening labor” at 22-weeks. basically, they need to cook longer. that is what i keep telling them. i told them they’re on “time-out” for at least twelve more weeks. i know, i’m already setting limits with them but you have to start early.

i have never felt more human than in this moment. the fear sitting on my throat is heavy and real and suffocating at times. i find myself going for a walk around these sterile floors and looking out the windows for signs that all is well. i’ve chewed up the last of my nails, skin and all because these are coping mechanisms; ways to shift the energy and move it through in hopes that the news we get later today will ease some of this.

if i’m honest, i’m scared as fuck. and i know the reason i am scared is because i Love deeply.

this particular Love is unlike anything i have known or felt. it sits in a place in my heart that i wasn’t aware of until two heartbeats emerged off-beat and synched mine into a Love i only knew on the receiving end, as a daughter. this Love has a magic all its own. it feels like uncontainable joy and terrifying fear collided inside of me. my spirit wants to both run and hide.

my spouse and i have had some serious conversations in the last 24-hours and one of the many things she said last night wrapped in our mocos and tears was, “God didn’t bring us this far, after everything we’ve been through to drop us off here.” her Faith was one of the most attractive gifts she displayed from the day we met. even in the absolute uncertainty and emotional roller-coaster ride of the two-and-a-half years we have spent trying to get pregnant, on the days that our Faith wavered, she always invited me to prayer. she brought me back to the basics of breathing and being present. of calling on our Faith to stand in it, even if on bended-knees.

i kneel in this moment because my legs are weak. i bring my hands to my chest because my heart wants out.

as we figure out ways to honor our emotions and stand in our Faith we dig deep to find that in each other, in this time and space we have one unshakeable certainty, we are rooted in our Love. and that Love is ever-steady and ever-growing and ever-affirming that everything is in Divine order.

and to our two beautiful little souls, please know that our Faith is in Love. and our Love is yours to keep.

#52essays2017

unlearn fears

March 7, 2017

when your Mami told me we were pregnant, i went down on my knees. my legs couldn’t support my body’s newfound emotions. i cried. i cried hard. i cried for the 28-other months that i held her while she cried after we read another negative result. i cried for the 28-other months that we either walked into a sterile exam room or met up with Doddie, filled with all the hope of creating a family on our terms. sometimes in the middle of work weeks we’d drive into the city and back on the same day, days in a row, just to try again. i cried for the over thirty injections i gave Mami every night for two-weeks (her abdomen filled with puncture bruises -i tried my best to be the most gentle nurse). i cried for the day we went in for egg retrieval and i sat in the waiting room alone, sending positive energies and calling you forth. i cried for the day when they did the embryo transfer but i was hospitalized the night before and wasn’t able to be there. i cried for the day, ten-years ago when i had a hysterectomy and said farewell to you from my own womb. but i cried mostly because Mami’s heart broke so many times before the day we finally received the good news. i was overwhelmed that the Happiness of You had finally come to heal our broken hearts.

and just as quickly, fear settled in.

how do i unlearn almost 39-years of learned fears? of doctrine and dogma? how can i make sure that i don’t teach you this? will i be a good parent? how can i make sure that you won’t hate anyone? especially me? will lack of biology affect our relationship? will you be bullied at school because you have two moms? will my family see you as one of us? will their religion get in the way of seeing you in all of your beauty? will they see us as a family? and why do i even care about what others think?

the layers run deep.

on december of 2007, Mamá had a hysterectomy. i still remember that day clearly. your Mami and i had not yet met. i seriously thought that the reason i was unable to have my own children was a direct result of a punishment reserved for me for being queer; for not being what the world wanted me to be. and so on that day when they removed the crib that i thought would one day hold you, i became womb-less and actually believed that i was less of a woman because the sum of my parts no longer added to the expected whole woman necessary to bare and raise children.

we have waited a long time for you. every heartbreak along the way has strengthened our Love for you. but before it strengthened us, it broke us into a million shattered pieces. when you Love someone the way i Love your Mami, and you know they want something so wholeheartedly, that every time they don’t get their wish, a piece of your heart experiences necrosis. it dies. it feels unrepairable. and it’s not that i didn’t want it as bad as Mami. it’s that i had already reconciled it in my head that you were no longer a possibility in my body, so i shut that down and hardened my heart. so when Mami and i were ready to start the journey to you, i chose to focus my energies on helping her bring your Light to this world. and each time we received news that we were not pregnant, i witnessed Mami’s pain and i couldn’t place it anywhere but inside of me. i didn’t want her to see my hurt and i felt that i needed to be stronger for her.

when your Mami and i met, one of our first conversations was around raising children. we talked about everything related to this , including and questioning if this was something reserved for “the others.” we struggled with questions around heteronormativity and whether we were trying to assimilate to “them” (as if parenthood is reserved for just one set of people). we struggled with the idea that if we went through with it, we’d have to find an environment where you would be safe and you could thrive and grow, happy and healthy… and safe again.

i feared the church. that place that watched me grow and screamed from the pulpits that i was an abomination. i feared what others said, that our Love was null in front of the eyes of god because “it wasn’t real.” i feared it would show up in places that would affect you and your emotional and spiritual development. i feared you’d hate us, or just hate me because the biology wasn’t there. And well, blood is thick and heavy and it weighs in. but it also flows…

i was immediately on defensive mode thinking that at school you’d be “the weird kids.” i was scared that anyone would harm you, either physically or emotionally. I for sure would catch a case and end up in prison because i already Love you like i have never felt Love before. if anyone even attempts to hurt you i will literally loose my shit. you see, your two little lives, are always be protected by my own and Mami’s as well. you should also know that you are officially covered under the insurance of our Love. that means that no harm will come your way that you are not equipped to handle. that means that you are always protected.

all of these fears, my little big Loves, are just fears based on my upbringing. this world will try to teach you things that you will need to unlearn real quick. i will do my absolute best to make sure you don’t learn those lessons that come from a place of other people’s void or ignorance.

the truth is always in Love.

this world you’re coming into is pretty scary nut beautiful. and it is going to try so fucking hard to show you otherwise. this world will want to make you think you are something other than Loved. some will never see us as Family, some will want to make you think you don’t belong here or you are something different than your peers but i will raise you to know and understand that you are perfect, whole, and complete as you are.

you come from a deeper Love. you come from a place of Hope and Faith. you come from Fight and Struggle. you come from Joy and Peace. your existence is powerful beyond measure. your existence is a revolution all its own. ignore the noise of other people’s fears projected on our lives.

we are Familia. punto.

when your mother told me we were pregnant, i went down on my knees and an overwhelming gratitude filled my entire body. you became not one but two heart beating reminders that fears dissipate when i surrender to Love..

 

#52essays2017

 

Dismissal

March 1, 2017

The day she dismissed me I felt a shift on the ground beneath my feet. It felt like seismic activity at the core of my root chakra. And the rubble piled at the center of my chest. The dust took years to settle and more years to pick up the pieces and rebuild.


Many years ago I was involved in a relationship with a woman I gave my heart to effortlessly. I’ve always been the type of person that Loves deeply. But with her, it was a hand over of my heart fully. No excuses. No hesitation or reservation. Just Love. I’ve usually been the person to initiate interest. But she was very sweet and romantic in her approach. Something I certainly wasn’t used to. It felt so amazing, that I surrendered willingly.

I met her in the country that witnessed my first breath. She took me everywhere on that half island. She showed me some of the most beautiful places my eyes had ever seen. I experienced the most amazing sentiments in every ocean view, in every mountain top. But one of the most beautiful experiences was the way she held my body as I floated on that clear ocean. She promised to Love and hold. I was so certain she was the person I would grow old with. Our relationship continued to grow. I felt stronger. I felt us stronger.

Days turned to months. Months turned to year one. And I was trying to live in Dominican Republic as a double transplant. I was born there but raised in NYC and then decided to go back as an adult to see if I could find Home and work on writing my first book. She was so supportive of me. She made space for me to be able to focus on my work. And with her, I felt safe.

There was so much laughter and joy in our relationship. We found ways to push each other professionally and personally. She transitioned to several positions in her field of work and held a very prestigious position at one particular place.

I was always out and proud about who I am. She had but a handful of people who knew she was queer. And she was nowhere near being ready to be out much less in DR where the machismo and hypocrisy of church are as deep and rotten as their racism.

Slowly I began to feel the heaviness of living in that place and space. Dominican Republic saw my first steps but never recognized me as her daughter because I was… well, not Dominican enough.  I didn’t “look Dominican” to them. I didn’t have spaces to be myself. In fact, at the one bar that was for queer women, you couldn’t even dance or kiss your partner unless you were inside and couldn’t be seen by the neighbors.

I was used to “freedom.” I grew up in NYC. City of No Fucks Given. City of Kiss my Ass you don’t pay my bills. And hell, I never lived in a closet. I never came out. Once I knew who I was had a name, I named it and kept it moving.

But she never saw that; at least not at the time. And this started to affect us as well. But we held on because Love. Or so I thought. We continued to strengthen our relationship behind closed doors. But I was never anyone but a friend outside of the house; sometimes reduced to the “La Gringa” friend of hers who was her housemate. And I was internalizing all this shit slowly and the chakras kept slightly shifting.

But when she loved me behind closed doors I forgot about all of that because it was that intense and that beautiful. It was the kind of Love you watch in some Hollywood blockbuster. The kind that wins you Oscars. But that was just it… it was fiction. Because in fiction we can dismiss the story and the characters and walk away. In fiction, the characters don’t have to perform pass the end of the movie. So when I moved back to the states and she promised to follow shortly after I arrived with a plan in mind of all the things I needed to do to prepare for her arrival.

But instead she cheated for three months prior to seeing each other again. For three months she would call and say, “I Love you” and I would write poetry on every phone card I bought. For three months we would Skype each other to sleep. I purchased a ticket to bring her to my arms. She arrived here by plane and landed to tell me that she had been cheating; the chakras shifted differently and more intensely but didn’t crumble. Instead, I felt the pain in the center of my chest like a boulder on my sternum.  I remember the day clearly. Silent tears fell out the side of my eyes. How fucking stupid can I be not to see this coming? Is my version of Love so utopian that I couldn’t see the fiction in it?

But that wasn’t even the part that made it all crumble… it was the way she wouldn’t even try to figure out a way to make it work. She simply didn’t want to. No explanations. No reconnection to what we had already lived. She simply walked away. The movie had ended. The actors where paid out and all I had left were pages upon pages of fairytales I had written in journals that I drowned in the Caribbean Sea.

That was it. There was no trying to save a friendship even though I made every attempt to remain connected. She returned to her cheat. And after that disaster (because everything that starts ugly ends uglier), she dated and then entered another relationship and when I asked her for some private time to discuss some of the things I needed to make sense of for myself, she said she couldn’t connect because her current partner wouldn’t approve.

I was dismissed. And just like that… the ground shifted and everything I believed about Love crumbled within me.

What a mind fuck. To feel like you lived some Truman Show type shit is earth shattering.

Dismissal is a mother fucker. Dismissal will have you believe you are worthless. Dismissal will have you believe you have lost your god damn mind. Dismissal will make you question your very existence; it makes you say shit like, “Did I do something wrong?”

It was much later that I understood that she had to dismiss me because I am a constant reminder of what she could be if she allowed herself to be free. I am a constant reminder of a Love she will never feel again. I am a constant and persistent reminder of who she wanted to be.

People act based on their heart. Hers was/is one that comes with the delete feature. Or perhaps it was all just a show. Either way her dismissal of me was the first step I took inward. It was in her dismissal that I admitted and committed myself to Self.

And that has strengthened my core in such a way that I am now aligned with an unshakeable Self Love.


Fueled

February 9, 2017

The second time I expressed my anger outwardly I was about 15-years-old. I was so angry that day that I broke three tennis trophies; one of them flew out the window seven-stories down.

The anger I felt that day was very different than anything I had experienced before. You see I was in Love. But I wasn’t just any teenager-in-Love. I was in Love with my first girlfriend. Her skin was like canela dulce. Sus ojos negros and long dark hair were a strong reminder that our Taino ancestors are still very much among us. I felt their anger also.

Earlier in the day after school, Sunshine and I met up at a diner we both liked on the corner of 116th and 2nd Ave. There was this little place where we’d meet and sit at a booth. Our feet would intertwine under the table. We could talk for hours. We tried to be as discreet as possible. This was 1994. And while Ricki Lake was talking about the gays, we were Latina. And female. And Pentecostal.

church_rainbow_flag

Credit: ehrlif via iStock/Salon

 

There we were, 15 and 17-years-old trying to grasp what we were feeling and everything it implied for us. We were too young to fully comprehend what was happening but what we did know was that our relationship was both incredibly beautiful and intensely frightening.

We played footsies under the table. I had proposed marriage to her a few weeks prior. I literally ran to her house, from Spanish Harlem to the Bronx, my feet in cadence and moving like Thundercats Cheetara over that Willis Avenue Bridge and down 3rd Avenue, just to get down on my knee and ask her to spend her life with me. She said, “You so crazy,” in that soft voice of hers that made my body feel all sorts of feels.

Suddenly and without any warning her brother and my mother walk in. The look on both their faces was of complete disappointment. They both looked like they could kill us. My stomach sank. I felt like someone had punched me so hard, I’d lost my breath.

Sunshine’s brother looked at her and said, “Let’s go.”

My mother said, “Ni una palabra.”

We left. I have no idea who paid the bill or anything related to the restaurant.

The entire walk home (about 3 blocks) felt like an eternity. We walked in silence. My anger was boiling. I felt the heat in my body and at the center of my throat. I could feel my mother’s rage. In the building we went, seven flights of piss-scented elevator combined with my mother’s fury ablaze, it could’ve gone up in flames.

When we walked into the apartment my mother went off on me. Everything from how I would burn in hell to “Yo prefiero una hija puta a que sea pata.” That shit was so hurtful that I looked at her in the eyes and said, “I wish you die” and I locked myself in my room. And my mother yelled from the other side of the door, “Cuando me muera, no te quiero en mi funeral.” It was so intense.

I stared at the trophy that read, State Tennis Championship Runner-Up 1990 and below it my name. I took that trophy and smashed it against the wall. Quickly, I grabbed the other one and smashed it on the ground. My mother was banging on the door, asking me to open it and I flung the last one out the window as she managed to break down the door and grabbed me by the face. I stared at her so intensely. And she did the same as she said something along the lines that made me understand that if I were going to live under her roof, I would have to live under her God’s commandments and being a lesbian was not one of them.

I didn’t like the way my body felt in that moment. I felt out of control. I didn’t like that I didn’t have enough things to break that weren’t valuable. I didn’t care for those trophies so I wasn’t emotionally connected to these items; I just needed to release that energy somewhere. But I couldn’t control the anger, the tears, and the injustice was suffocating.

I saw Sunshine at school the next day but she didn’t say much to me. And I could tell that fear was stronger than the Love she had for me and I wasn’t ready to just give up on this. I challenged the very church we grew up in (this is what I think drove my mother mad often). I challenged what she was feeling and asked her to consider that if Love was wrong then there could be nothing right in this world. But eventually, it all faded away and I moved to Connecticut during the end of my junior year of high school.

She visited for some time and then on February 14th, 1995 she came to visit me. She caught the Metro-North to the last stop and my cousin drove me to pick her up. We spent the day together. She brought me balloons and I gave her flowers. Towards the end of the visit, she said she had to tell me something and broke up with me. She said this couldn’t continue because “God and church” and who knows what else because I tuned her out. I dropped her off at the train station again, said goodbye and went back home.

At home my cousin asked what was wrong and I shattered. And then the first break-up cry that is reserved for your first romantic Love happened. The amount of mocos and tears was just overwhelming. It was a cry that came from my soul. Valentine’s Day was never the same. Anger looked different than it had in the past. I started getting involved in LGBT youth related activities. I engaged in community activism and wanted to fight to change this for the better. I wanted to fight so that I would never experience that anger the church and my mother made me feel. I wanted to fight so that people like Sunshine wouldn’t feel like they had to deny a part of themselves that was clearly a beautiful piece of the Divine Creator’s work.

Anger led me to activism. I turned to community. And it was then that I started my journey as an Organizer. I was going to be the change. And anger was my fuel.

#52essays2017

 

 

 

breathing anger

February 8, 2017

I’m trying to breathe in a world whose air is toxic.

I can’t even fucking write because every time I turn to the page I just want to burn it. How the hell do we tell our children that this world is anything but about to implode? How can I look at children in the eye and possibly utter a word of affirmation when this shit-show is on loop?

History repeats itself in the wombs of our daughters.

When I was a little girl, I had all the hope of a new life. I always sought ways to make people smile, or feel better, or anything that I thought would brighten their day. I thought that if I did my part, in time, things would get better. I grew up in NYC, in the 80s. During the height of both the AIDS epidemic and the crack vials that lit up the concrete ground my little feet walked on. But I was surrounded by Love and I was a firm believer that Love wins.

But Love doesn’t win folks. In fact, it loses more every day.  And don’t ask me to keep the faith because faith walked out of this world when that little girl was raped. Faith died at the hands of genocide and wars and corrupt governments and world hunger and poverty. Faith died when men decided to put money and power over people.

Recently I was asked how I felt about everything happening with this new evil circus in town. I expressed myself pretty clearly. I spoke about my fears and my concerns. And as I spoke my voice was shaking, I felt tears in my eyes and I swallowed them whole as the person responded to MY EXPERIENCE with shit like, “you need to breathe.” Privilege will come in dressed in white trying to tell you to breathe like yo’ ass ain’t got a set of lungs screaming at you that what you’re breathing is hurting them. I had to walk away otherwise I’d be calling my wife for bail.

Que cojones tiene la gente. I have a right to be disillusioned and scared and even fucking furious cuando me de la maldita gana. I have to a right to say that I don’t believe Love wins and that I’ve lost faith. You don’t have a right to tell me to relax around the issues that are directly and indirectly affecting me and mine. Your words are unsolicited and unwanted.

I get it USA. I get that you have NEVER witnessed the atrocious realities (many of them created by your policies) the rest of this world has lived through but fuck you. I don’t need to experience something directly to understand its impact on humanity. I don’t need an international organization commercial highlighting malnourished children to know that hunger pangs are real and these children exist. I don’t need a campaign to raise funds to get clean water when I bathe myself daily in these hatred infested water that continue to fill our bodies with lead. Somebody turn this shit off.

You want me to write from a place of hope? Give me something to be hopeful for that is tangible. Give me a hope I can breathe into. But until then, don’t tell me to relax and breathe like I’m on a fucking yoga mat, wearing lulu lemons and sippin’ Starbucks frappes.

This world is imploding. My children are watching… our anger is the only thing tangible in my skin.

#52essays2017

untitled

January 24, 2017

You know that feeling you get when you feel something eerie approaches? It’s a feeling that something bad is going to happen. It’s the feeling that sits in the back of your throat like heavy metal and then plunges like an anchor to the center of your chest?

Last week my partner described me as someone who is conflict averse. I nodded in agreement but it didn’t quite sit with me until later that evening. It made me feel some type of way when I thought about it again. I wasn’t mad at her for the comment, I was mad at myself for being that person, for so long. It’s not that I didn’t know this about myself but that I heard it out loud that triggered a series of memories.

My parents are both conflict averse. They’re peacekeepers. They’ve always said that “la gente se gana con cariño.” And so I’ve always managed to avoid conflict, even at the cost of walking away with zero fucks to give about not having engaged because it takes two to fight and my biggest battle has always been with myself. So I don’t feel the need to add another. I am the type of person who will never escalate a situation. I’m the complete opposite. If an argument or a disagreement is brewing, I start thinking immediately about how I can diffuse it before it reaches any level of discomfort or awkwardness.

The very few times I have ever exhibited a hint of conflict initiated by me, I was immediately told that it “doesn’t suit” me. I was told that anger wasn’t something that I was known for. That in fact, I was known and admired for the opposite. I was told that people have always known me to be pretty steady in character and mood; that my temperament is very relaxed even in times of stress.

I have always thought that for the most part, there wasn’t a valid reason to get worked up about things. Life is too short. I’d rather spend my days here in peace. And conflict is messy. And it takes up energy and it exhausts you spiritually and emotionally and physically. Conflict will leave you feeling defeated and deflated. Conflict is that word that by nature invokes tension. It makes the heart feel scared and confused. It makes the soul weary and the Spirit fatigued. So no, I don’t do conflict because who the hell wants to feel all that heaviness? And this is why I will do everything in my power to find my way out of the potential conflict so as to not have to feel that anchor in the center of my chest.

Pero conflict has come to me.

And it has done so in the most spiritually damaging way. This situation has me feeling anger so strongly that for the first time in a long time I feel hatred. And my thoughts lately are filled with an anger that has me outside of my skin and I no longer fit in it.

I sit with conflict in this body that feels too much. I have to figure out how to put it to work for me because right now it just feels like puro odió. It feels like hatred and evil. It feels like violence. It feels like defeat. It feels like struggle.

But I read somewhere that conflict and growth go hand-in-hand. That growth is impossible without conflict because conflict is the catalyst for change. But change is unsteady. It could also be good or bad.

You know that feeling you get that something eerie approaches…

the fire

January 12, 2017

​Most days I wake up completely exhausted. It’s not the exhaustion from not having slept enough but more like that spiritual exhaustion you get from not being able to quiet the noise in your head or the angst in your heart.

I’m an empath. I feel everything. Everything. Absolutamente todo. So when I read/see the news about what’s happening around the world or right down the street, I can’t separate myself from it. I don’t have that “outta’ sight outta’ mind” mentality. In fact, the reality that I am not there to help exacerbates my anxiety.  

Then there is this country I live in. A place my Puerto Rican grandmother came to in hopes that her family would have better opportunities; this place that didn’t witness my birth but has watched me grow since the age of five.

Based on where I grew up I wasn’t supposed to succeed. But I took advantage of many of those opportunities Abuela envisioned and some she never even imagined. 

I’ve lived in this country since I was five. I have lived through six presidents. Though I only recall five of them. My maternal family has never really been political. And one of my first memories of any political talk was abuela telling me that she never pulled a lever that said republican candidate because “esa gente no nos quiere mi’ja.” I never understood why they didn’t like us. And when I asked why, she pointed to her brown skin and said, “Porque a Dios le placio hecharnos sazón.” I loved how she said it too. So much pride in her voice –it made me feel strong. Like I was untouchable. Pero right now I feel everything but fuerte.

A fire is coming.

A fire that most of us have never witnessed. One that many thought would hopefully never come again. And I am trying to manage my sentiments and temperament around it but the reality is, this fucking sucks. For years I was an idealist. I was that little girl who always found a way to make things better. I was that teenager full of energy and a fire that blazed not to burn but to provide warmth and light.

My first career was in politics because I believed I was going to change the world. I had a fourth grade teacher tell me that I was going to be the 1st female Latina president because I never gave up. I believed that if we remained honest with each other we could overcome our differences and find the common ground in Love. But Love is hokey for many and for the Powerful it is a five letter word that grows in their bank accounts along with their hatred.

This world may want to change but the Powers that be are ruthless and heartless. Those muthafuckas’ could give three shits about any of us. That includes about most of you who voted for Voldemort.

The fire is still coming. 

And I’m trying to keep my shit together, you know? I’m trying to hold on to hope but I find myself holding on with these arms that cramp every time I hear or read another headline. I’m struggling not to let hatred enter my heart. But that has become increasingly difficult as well. While I don’t promote violence, I get why folks wanna’ hurt somebody. In my head, the idea of taking a bat and swinging for the fences is sometimes appealing because I wonder if it will take away some of this anger that’s brewing inside me like lava in a volcano that has never erupted.

I know that there are better ways to deal with this. I know I could use my writing as a weapon of mass reconstruction. I know that I could use my profession to build meaningful relationships where we can engage in conversations that can truly heal. Pero coñaso eta’ vaina no ta’ facil, no. It makes me feel helpless and hopeless. And I have never felt that way even in my darkest days –and rape is pretty fucking dark. 

So I am trying really hard to stay centered. I wake up every day and do my best to create positive changes. I ask myself, what can I do differently to uphold Love and healing, to bridge communication, to encourage conversation and promote community? But it is becoming more and more difficult to keep this once untamable Spirit fired up. The noise in this head when everything is quiet gets louder with the passing of each day.  

For now, I plan to do the only thing I know: imma’ hold on to the Love from my wife, my parents, my beautiful nieces and nephews, my siblings, my friends… I am gonna’ hold them closer. Because Love may be hokey for some or money in a bank account for others but to me Love is the only thing that is anchoring my sanity. Y anyway, Abuela said that Dios me hecho sazón. So let it burn asarozo’, because it is in the heat that we release our true essence. We thrive in the fire. We are fire. And we are here to burn. 

#52essays2017 

No.

June 7, 2016

A mother asked her daughter to forgive her perpetrator.

you say forgive him like you’re telling me to change my shoes or something.

you say forgive the man who raped me when i was 5-years-old. that i should forgive him for myself, not for him. as if this was some magical act that would heal that little girl and erase the memory of the pain between her tiny skinny legs.

you say forgive him because god has forgiven me.

Lady there is no fucking way in hell that i would even consider it so much as a thought.

there is no God in rape.

there is no God in taking your dick and forcing your way into a 5-year-old’s body.

No. no Lady. i will not forgive him now or ever. he doesn’t deserve forgiveness.

i will tell you that every time i read another rape headline, i wish i could be the person to carry out the punishment.

i will tell you that i watched that Scandal scene where Olivia Pope kills her perpetrator over and over and over. and i was scared at how good i felt after watching it.

i have imagined me, a wooden bat and Fran in a room many times. except i didn’t kill him. death is easy. i want that cabrón conscious. fully awake for what i’d like to do to him.

God made a mistake. God has made many mistakes. he was one of them. the four men who raped you, they were a mistake as well. and so is every single rapist. mistakes made by your god. mistakes disguised as, “oh look at how much stronger you are. you survived.”

you have no idea how fucking difficult this is. you say you do, but you don’t.

you don’t know what it’s like in this head or how heavy is this heart. you don’t know the years of therapy i’ve got sitting on that couch trying to make sense of senseless, fucked up, shit.

thirty-three years ago Fran decided it was ok for them to rob me of my innocence. and not ONE FUCKING day has gone by that i don’t think about it. thirty-three years. and every day the headlines rape me all over again. every day this world reminds me of the fear that little girl felt that day and so many other days after that… i carry that shit in  my heart, so heavy at times i get chest pains. and anger sits on my throat.

so no. no Lady. i will NOT forgive him. if your god wants to take on that bullshit, he can.

blasphemy is the only unforgivable sin?

you mean to tell me your god is more concerned about how i speak about him than about one of “his creations” raping a 5-year-old?

no. i’m all set Lady. but you… you figure out a way to forgive yourself for asking your daughter to forgive that fuck face when neither you nor your god, were there to protect her.