More than flesh and blood.

   I have been gone far too long. I realize that. Mainly, I realized it because of the effect it’s had on me. I go through bouts where I lose myself, lately. Then something amazing brings me back and I’m left in awe of the little things (and some big things) that can bring us back to life when we’ve begun to wither and lose our capability to move forward.

A few months ago, the ever awesome Wil Wheaton made a post on his blog that jarred me back to reality. At the time I was out to dinner with my husband and during a brief lull in our conversation, we checked up on the internet (to make sure it was behaving, obviously). I was stunned by the raw honesty in Wil’s post about his kids. The post can easily be found here

As I read it, my thoughts immediately jumped to my dad. My awesomely funny, abrasive, supportive dad. I immediately wanted to run home and write this post, but life and it’s many detours kept me away that night. As more days passed, I faced other obstacles which led to my feeling like, “why should I even post anything, really? I’m new at this. I’m not famous or anything. What on earth can anyone gain from anything I have to say? What right do I have to a soap box.” and I just sank. I stopped in mid-cycle and didn’t move forward for a while. So please forgive the tardiness but allow me to respond to Wil’s post with a post of my own.

Most people who see my parents walking down the street with me tend to assume that my dad is my birth father. They’re always shocked to find out he isn’t. My Aunt Pichy even found that he and I have identical “beauty marks” on the same exact spot of our right forearms. The truth is, though, my birth father is not my father. He never has been and never will be. I was fatherless until I was 5 years old. My mom struggled like crazy to provide me with shelter, safety, love, and food. My mom’s great. Flawed, like any human being, but so great. I honestly never thought I needed a dad. I had a ton of awesome aunts and grandparents, and this totally screwed up but sweet human being for a mother.

Then she met Luis, or Saso as everyone we know calls him. I can’t lie. To me, he was moms boyfriend so I can’t remember much about the time before he became “dad”. But I do remember a few things. This guy DID stuff. COOL stuff. He took me fishing, gave me piggy back rides, made donuts at home, and tucked me in. This guy came to school with my mom to enroll me. He walked me to the bus stop. And when my uber dumb cousin would pick on me, he’d say enough was enough. At the time, he was a total rockstar.

I still didn’t call him dad though. I think I didn’t know how to. I don’t even remember calling my birth father dad. What, between the constant belittling of my mother in front of me and the brilliant disregard he had for me as a little kid, it was amazing I even recognized the guy as a parent.

I don’t know what triggered it. I just remember the moment it happened. It was a slightly foggy day in Massachusetts and ‘Saso’ had walked me to the bus stop. I was wearing a yellow shirt and these blue jean overalls with flowers embroidered on the corner. As we waited for the bus to come and pick me up, he held my hand. Steady, firm, warm. He reminded me about my homework. He told me what he made for lunch for me that day. We got quiet. It was really early and the fog made for a pretty gloomy morning but as he held my hand, and as I looked at his hand holding my own, something stirred inside me and I very carefully, quietly, and with a shaky voice and tears in my eyes, I asked him: “Can I call you daddy?” and he looked at me at first with such worry, some sadness, and very kindly and quietly he squeezed my hand, and as his own eyes teared up he said “Yeah, you can call me that.”.

My dad is no saint. No one person really ever is. We all let someone down along the way. But he’s always been supportive and even when he was furious with me over something, I never once stopped being his kid.

Sadly, from the time I was 12 until I was around 23 or 24, I honestly felt like I had lost my place in my dads world. You see, I was sexually abused as a little girl by my cousins boyfriend (and later he became her husband). For years. When I finally spoke up about it, a lot of things were turned upside down and inside out in our lives. Suddenly, for whatever reason, I felt such a huge distance between my dad and I. I felt like I could do nothing right, except academia, and my anger, frustration, and depression was really screwing that up, too. I was desolate and desperate, angry, and hungry. I was so hungry for anyone to blame for so very many things that I think I pushed people away. Especially, because I felt like I could not speak up about how I felt. My family is awesome but for a long time we were a family full of silence. We didn’t discuss our pain or dialogue our needs, and it corroded us from the inside. My mom stopped doing creative projects. My dad started reaching outside of his family instead of within it. I wallowed and blamed. Everyone, including myself. I ripped my inner thighs to shreds with cuts. I burned myself with matches just to remember I existed.

After an explosive situation with my mom and dad, I realized that I was so exhausted from the sheer silence, that I spoke to my mom first. I explained that I needed to talk. I needed her to talk, too. I needed him to talk as well. Most of all, I needed them to remember I was there. She and I came to a serious understanding that night and now, even if she does get very excited or sometimes a little defensive, when I voice things, she does listen and she does reciprocate.

Dad took a little longer. I think, because of the fact that I’m not his blood-borne, I worried about disappointing him more so than I worried about disappointing my mom. After all, if the blood father could reject and throw me away, couldn’t he? Eventually, I overcame that worry. While Mom was over in Puerto Rico helping my grandmother out with my great grandmother, I took the chance to talk to Dad. We spoke of our regrets and our worries about how we’d handled our lives as a family. I stood in the doorway as he folded his uniforms for work, and I said, for the first time in my life since the abuse, “I thought you stopped hugging me because you thought I was dirty. I felt ashamed. I thought you didn’t think of me the same way anymore.” and he crumpled up his chefs shirt and held it close. He started to cry a little and said, “I never thought that. I was upset. No one told me anything specific, no one told me what was going on. I couldn’t do anything. I felt helpless.”.

After finally understanding some of my dads distance, I felt such a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. Better yet, lifted off of my chest. I had been drowning for so long that this conversation reminded me of just how true my father was. It reminded me that I may not be his own flesh and blood but I am so much damned more than that. I am of his soul.

So when reading Wil’s post, my instinct was to want to hug him. To tell him that even if his kids aren’t all flesh and blood of his, that they are of his soul. And that Anne is one hell of a mom for taking them out of a hurtful situation.

Wil, if you ever do read this, they are so much more than blood. They are of your soul.

Just as I am of mine.

Thank you for reminding me of that.

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When Not Knowing Who You ARE Defeats The Person You COULD Be.

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When massive changes come into our lives, there are so many possible things that can occur within us. We can transform from caterpillars into gorgeous butterflies… or we can shrink like ugly brown leaves in Autumn. Let’s face it, even the bravest of people can become shell-shocked when encountering something new that’s far outside of what they could have ever imagined.  I am not particularly brave but I’m not cowardly either. I’m in the healthy middle where if poop hits the fan, I can roll with it and come out standing. Whether I’m as I was before is a completely different matter. Due to the fact that I am a (confessedly) tad emotional at times, things can often hit me very hard and even if I do tend to take things as a lesson and grow from them, that doesn’t mean they can’t leave scars in the meantime.

I am, to be completely and most unabashedly honest, utterly lost. I was once a very go go go individual, always with a project, always independent. That changed when I moved to Canada (or Canadia as I like to call it). I’ve always wanted to travel and live abroad but in my imagination it was going to be some place amazing with a ton of rich history dating back CENTURIES upon centuries. As a History nerd, that concept thrilled me in a way that chocolate, girl toys, and watching anything Bradley Cooper does never will. And Bradley Cooper thrills me. Oh he does. My husbands not even jealous about it, which is awesome because it’s not like I’m ever going to get to meet Mr. Icy Blues. Point being, I had plans.

REALITY: PLANS CHANGE.

That can kind of suck. In ways one wouldn’t believe. Where I was once on a path to being a History Professor with a background in marine archaeology and ancient art, I’m now a housewife. Don’t get me wrong. I love taking care of my guy and he is great at taking care of me (especially during tear-filled breakdowns about how I miss my crazy family so damned much it hurts)  but often times my mind wanders right back to the shoulda beens and coulda beens. I am not one of those people who picks up a hobby to fill a void. Yes, I enjoy knitting scarves and making jewelry. I love watching anime and am kinda enjoying this blogging thing a lot. At the end of the day though, it’s not what fulfills me and pretending it does is a very unhealthy way to push into the coming years. The question is: Is having a “secure” future with a job of my dreams, most likely without my awesome husband in tow, worth it?

Kind of obvious answer here: Hell no.

I know a lot of self-assured women out there probably just guffawed at that but the fact is, I DID grow up with instability. My parents tried their best. I don’t resent how I was raised one bit. The reason my husbands worth sticking around for is simple. A life filled with everything except that one cure for the hollow aching in ones stomach to know that they will have someone at their bedside if they get ill, or to understand the really dumb jokes we make, that person who can hold you when you sob at 3am in the morning over something you can’t control but wish with all of your might that you could, makes no sense. We die alone. Everyone says that. I get that. Funny thing though. We aren’t BORN alone. We’re not. Which means that whichever route you prefer to take is up to you. Live alone, thrive on money and whatever makes you tingle inside as long as it harms no one else. Or live with someone who drives you nuts sometimes but makes you laugh and smile a hell of a lot more than they make you angry. I prefer the latter.

That doesn’t mean that I’m comfortable giving up independence and the career I love. It means I have to tweak my career options to still fit what I love to do within the realm of what I can do. That’s hard as hell in a very small town that has no desire to pursue these matters. Art and History get shelved in the far back of the priority bin here. I can hope that changes or we can figure out what our lives will have to be like for both of us to be comfortable in the future. Personally, I need my family. Hell, I need a LATIN FOOD restaurant that isn’t Taco Time (which is almost 2 hours away by the way!). As a Hispanic American who has to deal with so many levels of ignorance here that I cringe whenever someone equates Puerto Rico to Mexico (I have an awesome friend from there who has many similarities to me, but we are completely different culturally speaking, and that’s just fine) or whenever someone tries to lecture me on the struggles of minorities when they themselves are not a minority, I get fidgety and fantasize buying a plane ticket back to the States.

Here are a few of my gripes:

1.  Many people I meet feel the need to lecture me about the United States. I have to listen to everything about how our education system “is” (and they are often times WRONG) to conspiracy theories about how the Boston bombing was a hoax set up by the government (which let me tell you, the governments of MOST countries have so much on their plates right now that bombing a race is probably their least priority and I find it shocking that anyone would make such an uneducated suggestion followed by “So I don’t care if those people died because like, there are people like, dying in Venezuelan hospitals, like right?!”. I grew up in Massachusetts you dillhole. I don’t want to hear that crap, nor do I have any desire to feed into the anti-anybody mentality.

2. Getting blasted about Native culture by anyone who isn’t Native. Hi. I can read. I’m well aware of the current situation. I won’t voice my personal beliefs on the matter but I will say this. I will not tolerate anyone insinuate that I’m a racist against ANY Native culture. Why? Because Puerto Ricans are TAINO’S. I.E. A Native tribe currently encountering similar circumstances and ailments, just handled very differently. Different methods, same results. So I don’t judge.

See? Not actually that many gripes. There are some things I like about where I am and some I dislike. Kind of the same as anyone else in the world right now. What matters is how we approach the situations we are handed. What matters is how we make the best of everything around us and try to be the better person when someone strives to upset us. Also, sometimes people don’t even mean to upset us. They might be having a bad day and that in itself is okay. It’s not okay to treat your friends or loved ones badly because you’re not sure how to handle whatever you’re going through. That’s when you stop, clear your head for a moment, and ask for help.

Currently, I’m in shadow-mode. I look at my own shadow and don’t even know who it belongs to anymore. So what? I’ll get to where I’m meant to be eventually. For now I make the best of it.

But for the love of all that is good, stop trying to convert me. I’m an American Puerto Rican Israeli with a bunch of other ethnicities tossed in there.

Like my dad says: “I don’t need to do anything except stay Puerto Rican and die.”

Now, to end this on a happy note:

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See? Thrills. Just Thrills.