Why I was so afraid of dating white men and what happened after I did.

Ever since I started noticing boys which was probably around 4th grade, I had this feeling that white boys were not an option for me. No one had ever literally said that to me, it was a notion that I had clearly inherited, it’s not just our looks that we inherit unfortunately. Either way, that’s just how it was for me, I simply excluded them. I started to notice in grade school how I gravitated toward only black and Hispanic boys. It just seemed to me this is just naturally how it “should” be.

Though, before I go further let me point a few other things out. I am an afro Latina, with very fair light skin and green eyes and in my family, I am one of only two light skinned women.  It never really occurred to me what that meant to either myself or the outside world until one moment in 7th grade. I lived in a predominantly black and Hispanic community. I spoke Spanish, I loved Spanish and fried foods, R&B, Hip Hop, Salsa and everything about my rich culture and my people. This was how I was raised. I never thought that I could be perceived as anything different than that. Let me say this is something I struggle with even today, I’m aware of the privilege my light skin gives me, and I struggle between wishing I looked more like my people and owning all of who I am, especially in this moment in time.

In 6th grade I had a crush, he was black, and he was beautiful. He was smart, funny and had a great smile. We talked and one day waiting for the bus outside school we kissed, just a tap kiss. Nevertheless, shortly after that we began “dating”, which at that time meant, holding hands, eating lunch together and walking me to the bus. One morning I remember getting off the bus at school and hearing that some girls wanted to fight me. I couldn’t imagine who or why. Later that afternoon I found out from my best friend, that a few black girls whom I wasn’t exactly friends with were pissed because I was dating this boy. I racked my brain trying to figure out what the issue was and soon realized they didn’t see me as I saw myself. I talked this out with my friend who is black, and though she didn’t feel that way. She was able to understand their position. Now I will not assume to know how they felt because the truth is, it was never discussed. I called my mom from school and she came to school and essentially threatened everyone and well nothing ever came of it, though I was left impacted for life.

After this incident, I began to question who I was, was I a fake, did I just acclimate to my surroundings etc.… An existential crisis at 10, and with parents who had no clue on how to have a real discussion with me about any of this. So, what I did was I chose to claim who I believed I was, I kept dating this boy and I didn’t let what other opinions were on the matter affect my choice. However, they did deeply affect my self-identity. Living in a household of chaos and where my needs were at the bottom of the list, I was left to explore and define this on my own.

As stated, I claimed who I was, and I also realized that I lived in a world that was not ready for such an exclamation or lack of excuses. This had me look at everything, I began questioning what I liked, disliked, all my choices. Now though I knew who I was, it didn’t change the fact that what they saw was a light skinned girl with light eyes and not the Indigenous girl I am. Or if they were also indigenous, they saw a light skinned privileged girl.  I was constantly stepping outside the boundaries of others and having to deal with the impact of that, just by existing. So, that’s where the fear of dating a white boy originated. I started to read books and magazines. I watched every movie I could find. What I came away with was as Anita told Maria in West Side Story, “stick to your own kind”. That was my safest bet. I began studying everyone and everything around me. I saw our cultural differences and the assumed views our cultures had of one another. It was traumatizing, and it was sad. Based on what I had been told, seen, read, and experienced, I came to the following conclusion. White men dip into the Latina/Black pool for few reasons. 1. To experiment, 2. We’re thought to be slutty and sexually promiscuous 3. We are the women to have on the side. My response to this was a quick fast get the hell out of here. That’s when I officially made the decision for myself, no white boys for me and I stuck to it. Stuck to it I did, at least until after my divorce from my Puerto Rican husband. Hey, trauma changes people.

I had a mild flirtation going on with a white business associate I often crossed paths with at work. He was handsome, accomplished, and he was white. We never crossed any lines until a few years later when he got wind that I was divorced and to my surprise so was he.  After a few phone calls about life after divorce, kids etc. he asked me out, I was terrified, but I said yes. Every single fear I had developed and some new ones, came up. To be completely honest, deep down inside, I never really thought I would be any more than a good lay and a good time. I eventually said fuck it, I met my fear head on and went for it and we had a great time. Our first date was a blast, great conversation, great food, a night of dancing and laughing and yes, we spent the night together, but to be fair I had known him for over 5 years at this point, we were pretty good friends (still making excuses for myself). For the next 6-9 months we dated and had a great time. We had some similarities and many differences, but we had a great friendship and amazing chemistry. Our relationship deepened, and we bonded over our mutual experience as single parents and starting over after failed marriages. It was great, and I fell in love, as did he. I recall one of our last days together, after making love, he told me I really thought you were the one. Our last night together went like this; he had called me, he said hearing my voice made him want to see me immediately. He drove over an hour to see me close to the middle of the night. He came over, we talked, we laughed, and we made love and that was the end.  Less than a year later he was in a serious relationship with a single, never married Italian woman with no children. Someone he could proudly bring home to meet mom and dad.

I knew why he ended it and I confronted him about it, but he denied it. We had come to the point in our relationship where as he said, he thought I was the one. So, what would have been the logical next step be? Introducing me to his family and eventually his children.  I believe, I didn’t fit the model for a traditional Sicilian Roman Catholic family, because I am Spanish, divorced single mom. Not an Italian, divorced single mom which I assume would have eased the burden a bit. I never did get him to admit it to me, but I didn’t have to because I just knew. I knew he loved me and I knew the block had nothing to do with how he felt for me personally. It was heartbreaking, I didn’t go into a deep depression about it, but I was present to the things that divide us as human beings. The fears of letting down our families, of upholding standards that we didn’t create, to doing the “right” thing for the external perception versus following our hearts or beliefs. This was a sad state indeed and such a downright depressing way to live life.

Eventually I got over him and over it. I did end up dating another white man after him, but I kept it cool and detached, zero emotions. We are friends to this day. This experience did not leave me opposed to dating white men in the least, though I would be lying, especially in this current social climate if I said I wouldn’t hesitate. I would hesitate, but I wouldn’t let it stop me. After all, these are made-up barriers and inherited ideals we must outgrow if we are to evolve. Of course, there are people evolving everywhere all the time, but I can only speak of my own experience and it is still something I struggle with and see others struggle with too.

This conversation hasn’t gone away for me, but I’m aware of it and I know it’s not real. However, that still has not changed the fact that I know I am not always perceived by others as I am. I must work to shut off the voices that are constantly screaming at me which stereotypes society has boxed me into today, which varies depending on who I am in front of. In front of a white man/woman who knows I’m an afro Latina, I show up as one thing. In front of a black man/woman I show up as another and so on and so on…  This really does get exhausting, but even through my personal fears, inherited voices and self-deprecation, I go on. I talk about this stuff with friends and clients all the time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and so it will take some time for us to get to the place where we see one another as human being to human being. I have hope, and I believe that we are working on breaking stereotypes and the boxes we put people in before even really knowing them.

This works both ways, all ways in fact. As a parent, I especially believe this is an important teaching, one that I’ve discussed with my children, whom have already had their own experiences regarding the color of their skin and their heritage. Of course, we can’t change everyone’s perception, but we can create change one being at a time. Right now, that is the best we’ve got.

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.

What my mama taught me about the Feminine

Speaking of the Feminine in my last post, reminded me of studying the feminine and how that had me take a closer look of my first model of the feminine, my mama. My relationship to my mother was a tumultuous one. If you’ve read my prior posts, you know she was an addict. Not only was she an addict for most of my life, she was an addict long before I was born. My mother migrated to the US with her mother, father and four siblings at the age of six from Puerto Rico. They landed in Spanish Harlem and my grandparents spent their lives in the hustle, living paycheck to paycheck. My grandfather was an alcoholic who from what I was told, would often verbally and physically abuse my mother and her siblings. They were poor and his drinking problem quickly spiraled into a gambling problem and he would often come home having gambled away his earnings for the week. This left my grandmother to have to go to work to make sure the rent was paid and there was food on the table. My mother wanting to escape her reality turned to the streets. Anyone who is either from a low income urban neighborhood or who has watched enough movies knows the streets, especially at that time in the late sixties and early seventies were harsh.

My mother was tough, she had to be of course. I mean the kind of tough that you rarely saw in a woman in those days. She literally did not give a shit about what anyone thought about her. Interestingly enough, it was one of the things I loved most about her. Unfortunately, that tough exterior also led her to believe she was indestructible and she fell victim to drugs. By the time she was thirteen she was addicted to heroin. I’ve been told from members of my family, that from the age of thirteen until her early twenties, my mother was in and out of rehabs or in the streets. At the age of twenty-two, she met my biological father, they fell in love and my mother found out she was pregnant with me during her last detox/rehab stay for heroin. This, I recently found out when I was reunited with my biological father after 38 years (more on that later).

So, my mother then began substituting alcohol for the drugs she felt she could no longer do. My biological father left us when I was three, my younger sister was 1. My mother quickly rebounded and settled down with my step-father (who also drank a bit more than normal), and had two more children. Long story short, from that point until age thirteen, my childhood consisted of almost daily fighting, in which I had to jump in and separate them before someone was killed. In addition, I was caring for my siblings to make sure they were calm and also didn’t get hurt. The cops knew our home, as domestic disturbance calls were the norm. My mother was a bad drunk, I mean nasty. When she drank, you could literally feel her disgust for her life. Of course, I had no idea at the time what that meant, nor did I care to be honest. She was my mother, what she needed or wanted was irrelevant to me, unfortunately that’s just how it is, no one tells us different. One day she was especially infuriated and drinking, I had taken a dime from my stepfather’s dresser, unaware that it was a part of a collection. My stepfather unfortunately thought it was funny to piss my mother off and would often do this when she was inebriated. This particular time, she was more angry than normal. She grabbed me by the throat held a butcher knife to my neck and threatened to kill me if I didn’t tell her the truth. I have to tell you in that moment, I literally believed my mother would kill me, I was 10 years old. She didn’t hurt me other than the tightness of her hands on my throat. However, I never felt safe again, not that I ever really had, but that had done it for me. I hated my mother growing up, because I thought she hated me, why else would she allow this to be our life?

Fast forward to my early thirties, just before my marital separation. I had signed up for this course in Atlanta at The School of Humanity & Awareness, one of the best things I have ever done in my life! After the first course, I signed up for multiple courses and a theme started to become very apparent to me. Our teacher kept referring to the Feminine in many of her teachings. Now, I had no teachings about the Feminine growing up, so here I was at 33 trying to figure out what that meant to me. Was this something I acknowledged, valued and honored in my life? Throughout this exploration, I realized that I had rejected anything remotely Feminine my entire life. The color pink, Barbie dolls, any magical fantasy, anything traditional, and being ladylike. Yes, that bad ass identity I mentioned in my first post, had a reason for existing. Such a mind fuck, I was relating to my mother as Feminine because she was “a mother” so I didn’t want to be Feminine because I had defined mothers among other things as Feminine. However, I had literally morphed into my mother sans drug/alcohol addiction. Having come upon that realization, I had to come to terms with the fact that subconsciously, I rejected the Feminine. Now given this information, not only did I have to redefine the Feminine for myself and educate myself on what I believed and what I wanted to teach my children, I also had to redefine my relationship with my mother. Life is funny though, these realizations came to me after my mother was no longer with us, she had passed away the year before of liver failure. So, I had to figure out my relationship to her, without her. It wasn’t easy work by any means, I had to face some hard-core truths and even cough up some delusions I had made up about my mother to make my life right in some way. It was both freeing and painful, like a breakdown to breakthrough.

The beauty in this story is that I was able to forgive my mother from deep within. I realized she did the best she could with what she had to give. Healing or studying your relationship with your mother truly provides access and freedom to how we hold the sacred Feminine. That healing will look different for all of us of course, there is no one way to do anything I believe. As for me and my mom, I had forgiven her in life before she passed away. She spent her last eight years sober with me and her grandchildren, which was an absolute gift. However, I hadn’t forgiven her deep down inside, and that was reflected in how I held and valued the Feminine or lack thereof, prior to doing the work I had done. Needless to say, I had an opening. An opening with which I could now redefine the definition of the Feminine for myself, free of my childhood and free of my past. I also had the ability now, to truly teach my children, especially my daughters what this means. Thankfully, it wasn’t too late. PS, it really never is.

Wait, it took how long for me to find my inner voice?

I wanted to begin my second blog post on the heels of my first. I wanted you to know that what happened in “How in letting everything go, I found the beauty in nothing” was almost ten years ago.  I also wanted to specifically note that, I was 34 years old. 34! It took me 34 years on this planet to not only hear my inner voice, but 34 years to listen to it and trust it. Now of course there were a ton of other things going on in my life during those 34 years that I’m sure we’ll get into in subsequent posts, my mother’s addiction, traumatic childhood, teen pregnancy, disastrous marriage, obsession with the material… I won’t go on yet… The reason I’m saying this is because I know as women we beat the shit out of ourselves. We can never, ever get it right. Be it for us or those around us. The world has come to know this as just a common trait of being a woman. I on the other hand see this as thousands of years of trained behavior. Thank you, family. Thank you, culture. Thank you, society. Thank you for determining that we as women, should not trust ourselves.

I’ve found this fascinating as every spiritual teacher I have ever studied under has repeatedly taught me that women are the access to all. We are the way. The way to Spirit, the way to love, the way to peace and the way to access all revered things in this world. I know, it sounds like I’m adding more to our already full plates. Let’s consider a different perspective for a moment. Why else would the world spend thousands of years suppressing everything and anything Feminine. Why do people shun what they don’t know? Fear, that’s why. To live in a world where the Feminine is valued, honored and sacred would be like a magical sci-fi fantasy, a quantum shift. It would alter everything as we know it, how we do things, how we interact with one another and our future.

We are currently living in a time where all that has been under the surface of our lives and interactions with one another, is currently being ripped out from under the rug and thrown on the table and that is a good thing. Not many of us are shocked, but to have it all on the table for discussion, to have people actually being held accountable for their actions, this is indeed a new reality we are creating. Why now? The election of Trump maybe, the astrological shift that occurred in August and possibly many other reasons. I personally believe it’s a mix of all things, times up for sure on a hell of a lot.

As women we have endured, well I don’t have to tell you. Countless forms of degradation, abuse, inequality and positioning within the patriarchal structure of our societies, cultures and religions. This has affected us all, whether you’re a CEO, a homemaker, an educator, or a student. You’ve experience some form of suppression, inequality, demand to stay quiet and out of sight. “Women are to be seen, not heard”.

Today I see the amazing movements that have been happening all over the world (The Women’s march, #metoo, #timesup) that show a shift to what I pray is an opening for the Divine Feminine to rise. We’ve run the world underground, it’s time for us to start showing up in all of our glory, everywhere we can. I don’t want another woman to spend 30, 40, 50 years or even worse a lifetime, to realize she hasn’t been living her truth, listening to her voice or serving her purpose. Mad love…