I’ve experienced so much of you in life. While pregnant with my twin sister and me, my mother mourned the loss of a love I am not sure she was ever actually allowed to revel in. That’s because a mocha-skinned Caribeña caught the eye of a Taino warrior; a young man who was unknowingly fighting on the whitened side of a racial war that still haunts their beloved island-nation of the Dominican Republic today. Her darker skin, reminiscent of the Haitian grandmother she worked so hard to deny, was a glitch in the blanquamiento scheme the Spaniards trained my parents to eat up like the ceremonial habichuels con dulce (sweet bean soup) every Good Friday. But the heart wants what it wants. And my parents loved each other, HARD!
Lore goes that my paternal grandmother, and some of my aunts, were not having it. No Negra was gonna tarnish their white-appearing lineage; a racial project they were being trained to value and protect by any means necessary. As a result, stereotypes about Black female sexuality were imposed on my mother’s name. No Negra was honorable enough to be loved by a man like my father. That’s why the babies my mother was carrying “were not Francisco’s children”. But God has a sense of humor! I sometimes wonder if I am my mother’s child because my twin Migue and I look so much Iike my father’s clan. Suffice to say, my parents’ was an impossible love of sorts.
Loss, my parents' love was up against jealousy, anti-Black racism, and even post-1965 migration. My father was one of the first from his village to join the growing surge of Caribbean migration to the US, as sources of cheap labor post World War II and at the peak of the Cold War. Off he went to become a short-order chef in diners across Manhattan.
My parents never shared a home in the two-decades’ long relationship they shared. Their impossible love was enough to brake my mother’s heart. So much so that in 2006 she suffered a heart attack. Being love-sick is no joke. That’s why Raulin Rodriguez be like “medicina de amor, quiero de ti” (love medicine, I want some of you).
No amount of passion reinforced my parents’ futile attempts at building a home on sinking sand. I wonder if this is why I’ve tended to run when “playing house” starts to seem too real?
Loss. You’ve reprogramed the neurons in my brain in a way that allowed grief to set up a home in my heart. That’s because instability, grief and despair were the main ingredients when Migue and I were conceived. Your birth story can provide much insight on our life’s path. How you were made, carried and birthed all influence how you see the world. If you don’t know, ask about your birth story and watch missing pieces of the puzzle to your life appear. I see this A LOT in the 7 years I’ve been a birth doula.
The Celestine Prophesy taught me that so-called modern humans are often addicted to pain and grief. A level of pain that is often deep and most of the time etched in our minds as children. It seems that my brain was wired to recognize tension as constant. When grief was not present, I felt alone and lost. So I went to work! The Brujas’ magic kicked in and I conjured enough magic to co-create problems that needed “fixing”. In short, Drama!
I’ve chased an emotional high and low in the same way the junkie chases the next hit. But something shifted for me in 2018. I paused and watched my life for a moment. I took it all in and realized how much I’d overcome.
This past summer’s eclipse seasons were no joke. And the two eclipses taking place this month (January 5th solar. 20th lunar) follow suit. The cosmos want us to get our shit together a la buena o a la mala (the good way or the bad way). So I’ve had to pause. By pause I mean going with the flow. Standing still long enough to watch your life passing by. Not passing by in the cryptic “we all gone die” way. But almost as if taking inventory of what you’ve created so that you know what needs changing. The pause can be self-induced or you can ignore the urge and let the cosmos send you a pause. Self-induced pauses can include cutting back on consuming unhealthy foods, sticking to one of those 30-day challenge (plank, water-drinking, napping) or even taking time away from social media. The self induced pauses help us put ourselves at the center of our circumstances. Taking time to look at our life and acknowledge what matters and what can be put to rest. Without these pauses, we are swimming uphill and ignoring God’s call for us to be our best selves.
Without these pauses, we also risk the chance of having life take the pause for us. This is often when people lose jobs, become ill, or experience major upheaval in life. Not as punishment, but as a way to take inventory of life. To determine how you’re showing up for yourself and others. Cultivating the fertile ground of our lives with intentions to grow and prosper.
Loss, I need to detox from the emotional drugs I’ve been co-dependent on for most of my life. Real talk, our brains respond to emotions the same way they do to food or images we consume. And, just like tobacco and alcohol addiction, these drugs can be passed down from older generations. So some of it isn’t even my own shit! Space is taken up in my baggage by emotional addictions that my parent’s inherited and cultivated.
My mother’s emotional drug of choice is worry. It keeps her steadily occupied on conjuring up all the possibilities for negative outcomes. My father passed when we were 16. I can’t tell you what was his emotional drug of choice. What I do know is that “poppa was a rolling stone”.
Why was my father unable to be a stable fixture in my life? Had he seen enough death and loss, as a young soldier in Trujillo’s national army, to become hardened and callous? Did HE ever torture anyone? If so, what does that trauma look like 2 generations later? In Talib, our 4 year old. And how do we break the cycles? Loss, that’s how deep your grip can be.
Loss,I lost a connection to my mother at a vital stage in my development. At 4 months, Migue I were being breastfed by our mother in a dilapidated tenement in the lower east side of Manhattan. At 5 months, two cousins were carrying us across an ocean to meet relatives we had never met.
Mami did the best with what she had. But being undocumented pushed my mother to do things to survive. So she sent her two cubs away, to be saved. Circumstances kept my mother from soothing us as our first baby teeth broke into our gums. She missed our first steps, and our first words. “Mami” was my eldest aunt, Mama Cilila.
Three years later, our biological mother returned to DR, ready to start a new life with us in Nueba Yol. She got her documentation in order and was settling into a life as a seamstress in garment factories across East NY Brooklyn.
Ma was ready to take us, but the village was not ready to let us go. Another loss endured. We went from an extended family raising us, to being tended to by baby sitters and state-employees at our head start program in east New York.
Loss, I experienced a loss of innocence at a very young age. At 4, my sun Talib’s age, a 19 year old cousin played housed with me. Thankfully, survivors of sexual violence disassociate; their brains help them temporarily forget deep trauma. So I forgot. Completely. Until I was 21 years old listening to an India.Arie track in forgiving the losses in our life.
Like a floodgate opening, memories of the way he pinned my baby body down and humped me like I was a rag doll almost took my breath away. The memories were too real. Though I had NEVER thought of something like that in my conscious life, in my gut I knew it was real. Many survivor’s can attest to the fact that, in order to save itself, our bodies shut down a part of the brain where the memories live. Many go years without recollection of the experience. Reading the book The Body Keeps the Score helped me recognize the patterns associated with PTSD as a survivor. It’s real!
The moment I was led to remember the experience was an awakening of sorts. I was broken. My sisters were there to hold me and hold space. I still rely on them to remind me that deep belly laughs is an anecdote to the suffering that you’ve triggered in me. My sis-friend Christine Guitierrez taught me that Tribes Save Lives.
I just turned 37 this past August. For most of my adult life, I found myself in a state of deep grief at or around my birthday. It’s as if drama provided me comfort. This is the only way I knew how to process emotions : grieving. In short, Drama!
"Beat life to the punch. Brace yourself for the blow, regardless of whether it comes or not". Have been holy mantras that were drilled into my sub conscious mind. But something’s shifted.
Loss, I am tired. I ask you, as a shadow aspect of my self, that you please show me what you are made of. Talib, my sun, is my fearless ally. His innocence is a major anecdote to loss' casualties. He stands behind me as I confront you loss. With love, and deep gratitude, I ask you to show me what you want from me and then peacefully leave me in peace. I forgive you. I forgive me. Now please, let me live!