The beatings my mother gave me were brutal. They were brutal enough to make me walk on eggshells every day and every time. They were brutal enough that I had fear instilled in me for years coming and had a huge problem distinguishing the thin line between respect and fear.
Back in the days this discipline wasn’t considered child abuse. It was just a parent making sure her child didn’t come out of pocket. It was the everyday behavior she gave because that was all she knew as a child. I knew that she loved me but those actions were easily translated into the pattern that in order to feel love it had to have pain attached to it.
As I got older I realized that it was mommy’s way of curbing her fears. That it was her way of gaining control after running away from Puerto Rico. She ran away from a family that did nothing but abuse her in every way imaginable. Her mother had died when she was a young girl and was turned over to the care of her aunt that ended up treating her like a slave. It was during these years that before my mother became 13 years old she knew what it was to be abused from men that were supposed to make her feel safe. Her aunt made her take care of her own cousins hand and foot. They passed my mother around to men so she could clean and tend house. They made her test the moonshine they made. The stories my mother would tell me of how the men would abuse her sounded like a repeat of my life. How her Aunt and other woman would put her down because she was considered the dark on, the stupid one, the one that was a burden. How her uncles would send her off to other men like a piece of merchandise. It was when her own father tried to sexually abuse her and she jumped out of the window was when she made the decision to never return and leave the first opportunity she had.
My mother arrived to New York as a woman not being able to speak a word of English in a place that reminded her nothing of what she left behind. It was after I learned this fact that I knew why my mother till this day would never return to Puerto Rico. She would always tell me that it had bad memories and there was nothing for her there. Lord knows the many times I offered to take her to Puerto Rico to vacation with me and she would look at me as if I had 2 heads.
It wouldn’t be till a few years later of entering New York City that she bumped into the only sister she knew. It was only when I understood this that I was able to forgive her for the beatings she gave me. A lot of those beatings she gave me growing up were senseless but a lot of them I give her thanks for. Of course no one understands those certain golden rules that are preached to us on the daily from our parents lips. At the time they don’t understand, they don’t let us breath, they just want to control you. When at our age they are just avoiding the craziness their life was. I might not be loved for what I am about to say but as I walk around and look at youth and there are a few kids that I know that would benefit from a good ass whooping.
When the abusive chains broke it was a very hard thing for me to come to terms with and I walked around very angry for quite some time at myself more than anyone else. In understanding that I had to learn that what I thought was good for me wasn’t. With this lesson at an early age I had to look at myself as a gay man. You can just imagine how shocked I was when I realized that as a gay man I had choice. That all along I had preference in what I liked and was willing to deal with for myself and with myself. It wasn’t an easy realization.
Now I can sit with this awareness and say that it’s only through the grace of GOD and my own naïve mind that I survived all this without going crazy. This is not to say that there wasn’t a point that I didn’t medicate this. I sure did. I went on a 9 year binge of drugs trying to find myself. So many years just crying and in a pain knowing in my heart of hearts I wouldn’t survive if I tried to feel any bit of it. That feeling of despair and loss was overwhelmingly powerful. It is now and I still feel it a bit at a time. It leaves me amazed at how I still through all of these trials and tribulations love people.