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.

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.

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…