Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Existential Questions to Assign Blame

More often than not, when I'm talking about days of future past, whether it's growing up here in the U.S. or of what I remember from Mexico, it's always through a romanticized lens. Memories of learning English, my mom washing clothes on rocks down by the river, playing with friends and shared high school experiences with others. It's all a good time when we talk about those past events and are able to laugh about them now. But that's just how the past works, even the grimy parts of it keep on getting brighter.

Then there are those memories that are attached to smells, sights and in this case sounds. I have plenty of those and the trouble with memories sometimes is you can't pick and choose them. They're just ... there whether you like it or not. As a form of self preservation, I know most people will keep that stuff to themselves, reflect on things when the moment is free and move on about their day. This is one of those memories that is going anywhere anytime soon for me, and it comes up more and more often now a days.

Existential questions of where blame should be placed for, what feels like an unfair life can make a person think, a lot. I have no doubts that for those of us that never had a healthy relationship with our parents, siblings and friends this is nothing new. More often than not, simple things turn into the biggest problems because there's no communication between folks. Things get said and blown outta proportion, it happens. Talking is never easy for anyone, specially when it's tied to emotions. Hence I write.

Specifically for me though, it comes down to matters of physical, emotional and mental abuse that resulted from my parents, intentional or not. I can't count how many times something as simple as a song will take me back to that time and place. The exact moment and replay it in my mind over and over again, tuning out everything around me, solely focusing on that single moment fracture.

One of those memories for me is the song up at the top, No Doubts "Sunday Morning." For me that song just takes me back to 1998 when my family was living in the Willowbrook neighborhood of South Central. I'm sure it was a Saturday or a Sunday because I wasn't in school that day. Instead, from what I remember, I got up, did some everyday things and began cleaning my room while the radio played in the back ground.

Next thing I know my parents are fighting over something as dumb as why my mom can't cook my dad a better meal since she spends all day at home and doesn't do nothing. Thinking back, I know the fact that we were struggling in terms of money and work added to the tension of things. My father and mom started getting into, can't remember about what, but my mom isn't one to take shit from anyone without standing up for her self.

As their fight starts to get more intense, I keep sweeping my room and the song comes on. The details escape as to how things got physical, but what I remember after is watching my father beat on my mom. Making her cry, inflicting pain and man handling her. Talking all sorts of smack to her as he does this. At this point, my younger sisters are already crying, telling my dad to stop what he's doing. As my father continues his abuse, he has my mom pinned down on the floor, boasting about having her where he wants and her not being able to do anything about it.

In that instant, the image of my mom asking me for help. Asking me to get the man that I call father, off her. To stop hitting her, to stop making my sisters cry, was carved into my psyche. I didn't do anything. I just stood there, frozen and watched until it was all over. Everyone in the house crying, not knowing what to do, yet this wasn't the first and last episode of physical abuse my father acted on with my mom. To this day, that's how I will always see my father. As the man who beat on his wife and kids, whether he was drunk or not.

Trauma like that isn't something I would ever wish on anyone, but it happened to me and the reasons why or how don't matter. It happened, and it can't be taken back. Needless to say that this brings up countless feelings of scorn, assigned blame, hate, anger and everything in between. But more than anything, to want to funnel everything that is wrong in my life to these moments. It would be so easy, but as I said in the beginning, one tends to think a lot about this kind of stuff, and well, way to move forward are found eventually, but never completely healed.

What this means for me is that I have made the decision to sign off my father. This means neither forgiving him or blaming him. I can find enough reasons to do either, but it's not that easy, at least not for me. These are moments in my life that are deeply rooted into who I am as a being and how I interact in the world and with other people. Maybe in another 10 yrs or so, I'll look at it differently and form some relationship with him, but for the time being he can suck an egg. There's still more unpacking to be done before I start settling in.