Love and Addiction Part II

Throughout my childhood I would often fantasize of meeting the one, of riding off into the sunset with my love, my savior. I recall once I started dating someone and quickly and easily imagining the rest of our lives together. This started for me at a very young age and continued even after my divorce. In my last post I mentioned that I met my husband shortly after ending my relationship with my high school sweetheart and having a baby. I met him exactly nine months later. I was 19, he was 22 and I was in heaven. He had a girlfriend but that didn’t matter to me. He was giving me everything I needed. Time, attention, sex, and the big one… love.

Clearly, I didn’t have the best example of love or relationships growing up. So, I wasn’t that hard to please, I didn’t require that much. All I needed was a body who loved me and would be willing to jump through the hurdles I would intricately set up for them to prove it. God bless their souls.

I was going to write here about my marriage, but I wrote about that in my first blog post. It was beautiful at times and incredibly sad other times. The important thing is that the entire time I knew something wasn’t right, I knew there was something missing for both of us. The thing is I didn’t listen to that voice. Instead I was so desperate to be loved, so desperate to be chosen and to have someone I can call my own and rely on, no matter what the cost. At the time I had all the time in the world, the rest of my life was not even a thought in my mind, until I didn’t. After my separation, I realized the gift of being alone. Of course, I had to fight all the voices and fears that came up around it. It was an intense training and reprogramming.

Again, the addiction is real. Though it may look different for all of us, at its core it’s the same. Inside this brilliantly crafted patriarchal structure, we are conditioned as women to believe we need a man from very young. Marriage, kids the whole shebang, without it, what purpose do we serve? This is the narrative given to us from very young. So, in hindsight, it wasn’t a surprise that I was completely complicit to settle in a marriage that in the deepest sense left me bereft and blind to other parts of me that wanted to come alive and my authentic-self wanted to grow and nurture.

Point being I was completely willing to sacrifice my life, my life’s purpose and everything that called to my deepest self, to have someone I can always have in my corner. To avoid having to deal with the fear of being alone, I was willing to give up on myself and everything my spirit was calling for. After I left, I realized this was the deepest level of addiction I had ever faced in my life. There is nothing wrong with loving someone and being in a relationship, but when being in that relationship costs you your life, your true calling and God knows what else, that cost is way too high. We’ve got this life, and we owe it to ourselves to live it fully and not betray ourselves, even for the fear of being alone or not hurting anyone. Life is simply too short, and I know we all have plenty examples of that.

After this I began the journey of learning to love myself, independent of another. Again, I have not arrived anywhere, it is a continuous process. I still struggle with staying with myself when in a relationship and for that reason I’m hesitant to get involved as I know there are still many things for me to learn about myself and about being with others, especially intimately. Though be it as it may, we often can’t help the things and people who come into our lives and we’ve got to take it in and do the best that we can.

I recently met the most amazing man and unfortunately the timing wasn’t right. I had to struggle to not make this about me or my abandonment issues. I loved him deeply and it took a lot to make it not mean it was about me or that there was something wrong with me. A place I know we all usually go to as women. It is a continuous process, just like getting up every day and facing the days challenges. We are who we are alone or with another. First, we must be free to be ourselves, releasing the fear of not being accepted. Not playing into the games the patriarchal system has ingrained in us. What we bring to a relationship isn’t our worth, but our very being and that must have an alignment with our partner. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but there has to a sense of equality, freedom, nurturing, partnership and collaboration with one another. There are no concrete steps to a healthy relationship, but the first step is to work on having that healthy relationship with yourself and inside of that, you will know exactly what it is you want and not NEED.

New York City’s Women’s March 2018

On Saturday January 21st, I attended the second Women’s March. I had attended last year’s march with my daughters and a few women in my family. It was empowering, energizing, and inspiring to see all the amazing women, men and members of the LGBTQ community standing for justice and equality for all. More importantly, the march was peaceful, there was a strong sense of unity. I was fired up in a way I had never been (except for on November 8, 2016). I felt hopeful, the possibility of change and a future to be excited for. I was also excited to have my daughters present at what was a historic moment in our country.

This year I attended again, with one of my daughters and a close friend who was out of the country last year and couldn’t attend. We were all excited and pumped to march alongside others and to stand up to the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic and fascist energy that is currently pumping through the veins of this country and sitting in our white house. There were amazing people, the speeches at the rally were inspiring, the signs that were being held up proudly were powerful and there was a spirit of unity. We were pumped to get started marching together with others.

What happened after the rally was at least to me, depressing. Before I start on what my experience was, let me just state that I understand that it may not be easy to manage such large crowds. I also understand that there are measures that need to be taken to ensure that emergency vehicles can get to where they need to etc. However, we have parades in NYC all the time, and I’ve never seen anything like this. I have never experienced what I experienced in this years Women’s march. The St. Patrick’s Day parade for example, doesn’t have that level of containment, restraint and/or tightness.

Once we entered the march, the NYPD essentially put all marchers in groups in cages using metal barricades. From my view, each street block had a barricade and they were letting small groups out of one barricade and into the next, where we were again barricaded for a substantial period. It took us 2 hours to move one block. People became restless and the arguing started. This may not have been everyone’s experience, but this is what is was for me and it felt extremely oppressive. It felt like we had no freedom, as if we were a threat, we had zero control, in fact we were being controlled and I didn’t like it one bit. Maybe it brought up some old energy from my African and Native American lineage. Isn’t that exactly what is happening in the world right now? Where I was, it got to the point that people began shouting “Let us march”!!! Maybe this was a message for me and for the ladies I was with. Maybe others felt the same and haven’t spoken up about it. By no means am I saying that it was a waste of time to attend the march. What I am saying, is that the message that I received was you’re out here taking a stand for something, with a predominantly female group and you still have zero freedom, you’re restrained, suppressed and have no control. We are a threat to the structures and dynamics already in place in the patriarchy, and they will do everything in their power to stop us or slow us down.

The take away message I got was we have a long way to go, and maybe for me, the message was you need to do more. I know we all know this on some level. Whether It’s to run for office, volunteer, start my Reiki, sessions, coaching and kinesiology practice, whatever it is. This is just the beginning and I know a lot of women who feel the same. My advice is to listen to whatever is calling you. This is a time for change and Saturday’s march made me realize that this just isn’t enough anymore, especially not for me. That doesn’t mean we have to stop marching, it means broaden our thinking, see a bigger picture and more importantly, believe in ourselves. Hoping we all took away something this weekend that will propel us forward!

Love and Addiction: are they one in the same?

Love and addiction, is there a difference between the two? Maybe it’s having grown up around addiction that everything starts to look like it. You sort of never want to want or need anything in your life, ever. But then, the things you do want, and need become almost obsessive. My mother was an addict and I was addicted to my mother on some level subconsciously, even addicted to the chaos, though I had no idea yet. I didn’t really want to leave after my mom left, I didn’t want to live the life I was living, but I didn’t want to leave my mother. I had to move from Long Island to Brooklyn. None of my friends knew anything, I had done a pretty good job at hiding what went on inside my house. I just told my friends we’re moving and that was that, pretty much cut all ties with everyone.

As I mentioned my siblings and I were separated, so I went to Brooklyn alone. It was a shock to say the least, Long Island to Brooklyn was a huge difference. In Long Island, I was in public school, I lived in a predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhood and that was my normal. The aunt I went to live with was a Catholic School teacher who went to church every single Sunday. Yeah, so she signed me up for Catholic school, talk about culture shock. The school was predominantly white, all girls and everyone there for the most part was a Brooklyn native, I was completely out of my element. I made a few friends, but they might as well have been from another planet. I didn’t realize how completely isolated I was in my little chaotic world. I hadn’t even kissed a boy and I was in 9th grade! Pretty much every girl I met was already in love and definitely not a virgin. Nevertheless, I used my intuition (which I had become damn good at) and found one or two girls that I felt I could connect with on some level, though they too were way more experienced than I, as far as boys were concerned. So, I was fully thrusted into a world I had to quickly adapt to and at least that I was good at, survival of the fittest.

Let me make a long story short. Within 6 months, I was smoking weed, hanging out till wee hours of the night, drinking and dating. I was socializing for the first time and had a freedom unlike I had ever experienced. I was able to do what I wanted to do, and having an aunt who worked in NYC and had never had children of her own, made that very easy for me. The times that she didn’t, I would just sneak out. I dated a few guys and kissed and fondled here and there and it was intoxicating. It was unlike anything I had ever felt, needed. To be honest, it was the first time I had ever really felt wanted. I don’t come from a family of huggers and we didn’t say I love you often, if at all, so I was in complete bliss when I was with a guy. That people, became my drug. Now don’t get me wrong, it felt so good, but I wasn’t interested in feeling that with multiple men, I believed at the time this is what could possibly save me, love. And so, my search began, for my drug.

Now let’s keep in mind I was 14 at the time, but I had already begun to drown in romantic movies and the notion that romantic love saves all. Pretty Woman literally had come out that year, not take anything away from the movie, but you get my drift, fantasy land. So, I had begun the search. I know it’s crazy, but low and behold, I found him. Shortly after my 15th birthday, I saw him from across the street, he held my gaze and he came over and well that was it. I spent the next 5 years with this boy. I lost my virginity to him, I tried drugs with him, I had a lot of “firsts” with him. More importantly, I made him my world, my entire world. By the age of 16 and a half, I left my aunts house and moved in with him. I was still going to school thankfully, he wasn’t, and I didn’t care. This boy could do no wrong, even when I knew damn well he had flirted and maybe kissed other girls here and there, there was no way I was letting this go. He would have to either kill me or do something reprehensible for me to walk away. Of course, he did the latter, it was a toxic relationship to say the least. He had no drive, wasn’t seeking an education and was even selling drugs for a good part of our relationship and none of it mattered. Like addiction, no matter how bad it hurts us, letting go is even worse. I found out I was pregnant in my senior year. We decided to keep it because after all, isn’t that part of the fairy tale? He gave me this song and dance about needing to get out of the hood we lived in to get his shit together for us and for the baby and I believed him. I gave him my full support. He moved to Miami with his sister in pursuit of his GED, while I stayed in Brooklyn living with his mother and working. I was still in communication with my family and at this point my mother was back, but in and out of my life. This is the time I mentioned earlier where I realized just how much I wanted my mother. He came back, sans GED of course, and I was 9 months pregnant at the time. We had a baby shower and I was just waiting to go into labor. I knew something was off upon his return, he was different and not in the way I would have expected.

One evening he had received a call from his sister in Miami and he took the call in another room as he often did. Something told me to check up on him and well I found him whispering sweet nothings into the phone that one would not or should not be saying to their sibling. I confronted him, I lost my shit and he admitted everything. He had met someone in Miami and had fallen in love and was planning on going back. I was completely and utterly devastated, I wanted to die. I fell asleep crying out for my mother that night. I stayed with a friend for a few days and ended up coming back on his insistence and went into labor within a few days. I was terrified, and it was just him and I, he was supposed to be the only person I would ever need, and he now felt like a stranger. The baby was breech, and I ended up having a Cesarean section. It was dramatic and euphoric and in that moment, I was full of love and gratitude and hope. We had a son and he was beautiful and healthy thankfully.

After my stay in the hospital, we went back home to his mother’s apartment. My mom came and stayed with me for a week while I healed from the Cesarean. Maybe it was that, maybe having my mom around gave me strength, my new drug was back. Whatever it was, two weeks after my son was born, I called my aunt and asked her if the baby and I could go back to live with her and she said yes. I didn’t say anything, I knew he was going out on Saturday and while he was out, my family come over and helped me pack our things. He walked in as we were loading up the car. I don’t know how I got to that place so fast, but I was done in every single sense of the word. He had broken me in a way that I could never go back to what we had. I remember thinking I must be cold and heartless and maybe on some level at that time I was. Or maybe it was a survival instinct. I knew this man wasn’t going to change overnight and I now had another life to consider and our future. I may have been broken, but I was far from out. More importantly, I was not willing to let another person fuck me over in every sense of the word again.

I remember how beyond disbelief he was, where was the girl who chased him, forgave him time and time again and adored him. The girl who believed he was everything. She was gone, and we were done, and I was clear. Something shifted, maybe he showed me something that was all too familiar, abandonment, feeling unloved and not valued, and I was unwilling to feel that again. But as with most addictions, we always have the possibility of relapse and relapse I did. He may have killed the fact that he was the one, but he sure didn’t kill the fantasy that somewhere out there, there was someone who would give me everything I’ve never had and so the search went on. Within 8 months I found him, my new drug, my knight and shining armor, everything my ex was not. Employed, living on his own, a sense of maturity and even had a similar upbringing, a fellow survivor. Unfortunately, he had a girlfriend at the time, but that didn’t stop us. In my mind, the chaos felt right, nothing good comes easy right? In fact, this one my friends, I ended up marrying… Ahh that feeling when you get your fix, the high, though we all know, addiction usually doesn’t end well.

To be continued…

On this MLK day 2018

As MLK day is meant to be observed as a day of service, I woke up this morning thinking about what that means to me now and what it has meant for me in the past. It’s a special MLK day for me this year given it’s also the year that I launched this blog. Though it’s a blog about my personal life experiences and journey, my intention is to inspire and connect with others. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for many years now. So today I asked myself the question, why now?

First, let me start by telling you why not then. Well there was the obvious thing, fear. I was afraid what I wrote about wouldn’t be interesting let alone inspiring. I was afraid that I would be judged by others given some of the things I had to share. I didn’t believe my writing was good enough, I mean it’s not like I majored in English for starters. The list goes on… The biggest reason though for my fear, was because I didn’t think anyone would really care. I never backed the belief, that I could make a difference or that I could inspire someone. I saw myself through the multiple identity’s society has placed on me and women like me for centuries. I was a statistic, your typical Latina, I wasn’t the kind of woman people listened to. I was just another brown girl. I mean let’s face it, the number of women of color who open their mouths and people actually listen, are few and far between. Of course, this is now shifting some thankfully. However, I have to say, for a very long time, I believed you had to look a certain way, talk a certain way and have a certain background, before anyone would give you the time of day. And I know I was not alone.

Though our current political and social climate may suggest otherwise, I feel we have a slight opening. There has been enough movement for women, especially women of color, to speak up, share their voices and more importantly, to lead. I realized late in my life that my experiences as a child and in my early years all happened for a purpose. It was, it is, a part of my journey and my purpose. A very important part. There is something that happens to a human being who has experienced trauma, abuse, neglect or abandonment. It changes you, it alters you. I know this to be true from personal experience and from people I know and admire greatly. Some of the best people I’ve met in my life have suffered greatly and it’s something I feel personally called to study. Of course, when one undergoes those experiences there is for the most part, an increase in compassion that occurs naturally, but I believe there is more to it than that. It senses almost like a soul’s calling to something bigger.

I’m just a normal simple woman, so I’m not saying that my starting to write this blog means the world is going to shift, or maybe it is, who knows. I just know I can personally state that something huge shifted in here for me to finally take this step. Is it the force of women rising everywhere? Is it the threat to the patriarchy? I have no fucking clue yet, but rest assured, from now on, I will keep you posted.

And on this day and every day, thank you Dr. King. We stand on the shoulders of those before us.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others? – Martin Luther King Jr

What my mama taught me about the Feminine: Part II

When I was thirteen, I remember coming home from school one day and waiting for my mom to come home that evening, she never did. She had gone from drinking to using drugs again, it was the late eighties at that point, so crack was her drug of choice. Some of the past is still very blurry for me, a lot happened, I remember my siblings and I being separated and I moved with an aunt in Brooklyn. Not to get into too much detail but from that point until my early twenties my mother was in and out of my life, she was in and out of rehabs or on the streets. It wasn’t until I had my very first child that I had become even remotely interested in helping her. I’m not saying one could only have come to that conclusion by becoming a mother, I believe we are all mothers. However, in my case, having a child at 19, I wanted nothing more than my mommy. I spent the next few years helping her get clean, but also studying her. Getting to know her pain and her anguish. I had never really taken the time to do any of that. It was easier said than done believe me, I wanted to give up on her countless times. I searched for my mother in alleys, all over the streets late at night sometimes, it was agonizing. I was so angry, I didn’t want to expose my children to that, but in hindsight, I am glad I did. It was real, and give me anything real any day over bullshit.

One thing I failed to mention in my prior post, was some of the things I learned about my mother during her recovery. As I stated she lived with me as she was working on her sobriety and through countless relapses. I got to see her addiction live and up close, but this time as a woman and mother myself. I remember attending a family meeting for her final in-patient recovery stay. In that meeting, I learned my mother was raped. She was somewhere between 13-15 when it happened and it was someone she knew. He held her at gunpoint and raped her. I was shocked that my mother had experienced that trauma and here I was at 26 not ever knowing this important part of her life. Please make sure you’re sitting down for this next part. She didn’t say this at the meeting, she told me this once she was released during one of our talks about her life. I remember asking her what happened, why didn’t she go to the police? She kept telling me she handled it, it took me a few hours but I finally got it out of her, she had shot and killed him. Now I’ve seen enough throughout my life and in the movies, to not faint when she said this. I was angry for what she endured, but still, to take a life? All those years ago, all this time, all the other abusive relationships in her life. I remember thinking in that moment, shit, I wouldn’t want to live with myself either. I mean damn, what else was this being walking around with? I remember often watching her at home doing some random thing on the weekends and thinking, no matter how angry or slighted I may feel at the childhood I didn’t get to have, nothing can compare to what I know she lives with on a daily basis.

Please note: I am not endorsing this as an approved method of revenge in any way shape or form. I know fully that this is a crime, not ok and did more harm than good. I am simply sharing the truth.

Now let’s fast forward, the point of this is that I never really knew her. In fact, I had never really taken the time to explore what it was to be a woman in this world period, until my mother’s recovery and more deeply during my work at the School of Humanity & Awareness. My teacher there is the most brilliant woman on the planet. I am deeply humbled to be her student. She designed a curriculum that walks your psyche through levels upon levels of trauma and experiences so that you can shed what is not you in order to allow the authentic self to arise. During one of the longer courses there, I started this inquiry and dove into my subconscious to dig out the answers I had already mindlessly inherited and or absorbed from my culture and society. I had many breakthroughs but I remember the moment I realized, my mother never stood a chance in this world. She was indigenous, she was an empath, she was strong, she turned away from the Catholic church, she practiced Santeria and she had a hard life and no one truly gave a fuck. Now let’s be clear, I am not suggesting my mother needed to be rescued. I did have some realizations that I was victimizing her in order to defend her, to be the righteous child that protected her and no that didn’t work out well for me either. Nor am I suggesting there weren’t people in her life who tried in the best way they could to help her get clean. However, being clean and dealing with your trauma, demons whatever you want to call it, are two very different things. I am simply stating that she did not have any real resources, the conversations we are having now collectively, they were not having then. The work I was doing at School of Humanity & Awareness wasn’t available to her. She was expected to swallow her life and move the fuck on like a good little girl. Shut up and appreciate what you do have, you’re lucky you survived. Well clearly that was too much for her and well you know how the story ends.

After her passing and during a course is when many of these realizations came to me, and oh how I wish I could have shared them with her. In another life maybe… This awakening is what changed my views on the Feminine forever, this had me sit my girls down and tell them EVERYTHING. I remember telling myself this is it, from now on everything is on the table. No bullshit, no making it pretty, no protecting them from what’s real. I decided I was going to be a warrior in the fight for the Feminine to exist, to be valued, honored, seen, heard, and to lead in this world. I also decided I would raise my sons to do the same.