reassault

July 25, 2017

three months ago i was with a male friend at the pharmacy picking up some meds. i was standing at the counter. he was standing right next to me, shoulder-to-head (i’m a bit shorter). when the pharm tech says, “Sarah” to confirm that the last name matched with the name written on the order, i nodded in my typical i have neither the time nor the energy to engage in the importance of names. my friend’s reaction to the tech completely disregarding my name was to discreetly and very matter-of-fact grab and pinch my ass…i knew that this awkward response was his way of telling me that he wanted me to speak up. but in that instant, i felt anger. it had nothing to do with my name. something sat in my throat. and i couldn’t give it voice.

as we walked through the pharmacy towards the exit, a mixture of emotions resurfaced throughout my body. i didn’t say a word. and he was in his own world. he had no idea what was happening to me. when we got to the car he continued talking about quien-carajo-sabe. i took a deep breath and said, “if you ever grab my ass again, imma’ beat the shit outta’ you.” he laughed lightly and kept talking. completely oblivious to both my body language and my verbal language. i stopped him and said, “no. you really need to listen to me. i mean it. if you ever grab my ass again, imma’ beat the shit outta’ you, Zack” (not his real name).

it landed. i could tell he both listened and saw me. clearly.

in typical victim/survivor behavior i started to explain myself, “it’s not that i think you did it with malice but…” he interrupted me immediately. he was visibly upset with himself and stated that i did not owe him any explanation. instead he apologized for being an “insensitive and privileged-asshole.” he owned his shit. all of it. with every word that came out of his mouth he affirmed what many men ignore and dismiss.

he went on saying that regardless of the fact that he was aware of my sexual abuse history, even if he didn’t know the information he does, his action was completely out of line. i have never given him permission to touch me. i didn’t need to say anything. he was working it out in that very moment. promised to do better every day. he came from his Heart. and a bit of my trust was restored.

last week i went to visit some friends. i have to preface that one of the friends, Carlos (not his real name either) was drunk. upon our arrival the energy was happy. we caught up on how work was going for everyone, how our babies were doing, and the usual talk-time spent with friends to reconnect. we went to spend some time and enjoy a distraction from the intensity that is our current life.

we were discussing breast feeding with another friend who was there. she was sharing her experience with us about breastfeeding her children. when a bursts from Carlos screaming, “teta!” with a ridiculous degree of volume, interrupted our conversation. he decided that he wants to focus his attention on women’s breasts. it was beyond the annoying drunk. and we tried to ignore Carlos until he decided it was ok to touch my partner’s breasts. she immediately responded by saying that if it happened again he would get kicked in the balls.

the energy has shifted significantly. and quickly.

i looked at my wife and said, “let’s go.” our other friend stood up quickly, told him to shut up and invited us to come in to the kitchen to see what he is cooking. we spent some time in there speaking about something he wanted to share regarding his health and we all went back out to the yard. as we stood outside, Carlos comes from behind and grabs my breasts. i turned around, with all the anger and fear that i experience every. fucking. time. someone touches me without consent running through my skin. and said, “every time you do that, you trigger me. you trigger every sexual assault i have experienced. from being molested to being raped. you bring it all to the surface.”

he paused, perplexed in a noticeably sober moment, and says something to the effect of how he can’t understand how he, a person of “confianza” would trigger that in me. i stopped him real fast, “this is not about you. this is not about you. this is NOT about you.” i repeated it multiple times.

i could tell his head was spinning as he tried to process this out loud. he stated how he also grabs so-and-so’s breasts and so-and-so, as if that shit has anything to do with me. i could only listen for so long before thinking this will not be a conversation that i could engage in real talk given his etoh intake… he paused and realized it wasn’t about him but i could tell that something had not quite connected. and a bit of my trust was lost.

i’ve been sitting with all of this. and a day hasn’t passed that i don’t think about it since it happened. my body is holding all of this shit. when these things resurface i just want to beat the shit outta’ the person who triggered and everyone before him. and there are days that i hate that my initial reaction is always to talk and not just go fucking violent. it’s like my need to keep things “peaceful” gets in the way of a more complete expression of my feelings. like fucking him up.

but my body, it just holds on tight. pero algun día voa’ reventar. i have no idea what that looks like. and that is very frightening to me. for now, i hold. and continue to digest what i should immediately vomit.

in what world can anyone think that just because it’s person of “confianza,” it’s ok to touch another body? every male who violated my body was always a person of “confianza.” the majority of the perpetrators are. this world chooses to ignore that fact repeatedly. they don’t respect female bodies. they don’t care to respect female bodies.

women and girls experience sexual assault every day. multiple times a day.
your daughter.

women and girls experience sexual assault every day. multiple times a day.
tu madre.

women and girls experience sexual assault every day. multiple times a day.
your sister.

women and girls experience sexual assault every day. multiple times a day. in the language used to speak to them or about them. we experience assault in the wandering eyes of someone who looks to undress. we experience assault in the “casual” grabbing of our body parts. we are assaulted with every cat call that makes us lengthen our steps and increase our pace.

i have two baby boys to raise now…they will know their Mamá’s story one day.  They will write a new narrative where informed consent is always a given and bodies are respected.

#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