I had been in Spain for three days, and had not ventured out of the house except to go to class, and when my host family showed me around the city. I’ve had a horrible sense of direction all my life, and by this time I’d been lost so many times it didn’t really scare me anymore – in America. But there was something about the narrow, twisty streets, the lack of street signs, and the lack of people who spoke my language, that made getting lost in Spain different. I was less inclined to wander out on my own.
But on this third evening, I had to meet the other American students in the center of the city for a cultural excursion. My host mom drew the route on the map, and walked me there, pointing out landmarks as we went. It was about a half hour walk from their apartment. When we found my group, she left me with this advice, “If you get lost, just keep walking downhill. You’ll find us eventually.” Right, so no worries.
Of course, I did get lost walking home. It took me a while to even realize I was completely off track. At first all the cobbled streets tight with tiny shops and scattered with beautiful churches and cathedrals all looked the same to me. By the time I realized I was lost, I could hardly even find my way back to the beginning, and just as if I was in the movies, the sky turned dark and it began to pour. It took me almost two hours to get home, by which time I was soaking wet. But after that, I had a much better understanding of the layout of the city, and I knew they were right – I would find my way home eventually. I wasn’t afraid of getting lost in Spain anymore.
Getting lost has always been part of my life, and always will be. Getting lost can even be fun sometimes. I met one of my best friends when we got lost together at fifth grade camp. I got lost many more times in Spain, and sometimes it was horrible. Once I got lost with a good friend when we were visiting a city far away, and she was dehydrated and vomiting and we needed to get back to the hotel – it was not a good time to be lost. Once I led another friend an hours walk out of the way because she trusted me to know where I was going, and I didn’t.
They say that everything comes from the home. They tell us that our past experiences help shape who we are as individuals in the present. Like much of us, I had a less than grand childhood complete with a useless, neglectful biological father and the hateful, power-hungry stepfather. My childhood, by all means, was not lifetime movie material, so why bore you with specifics? However, I think having those past experiences with these two as “father figures” has definitely made its lasting mark on my personality. I, of course, anchored myself to my mother’s side and learned to stifle all emotion and thus my “resting b*tch face” was born. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the nicest, most hyperactive people you’ll meet, but I taught myself to conceal any form of weakness and to trust that nobody would stick around —that humans would always fail you. I swallowed my vulnerability and prayed to God that it would never find its way out of the back door.
I could control my emotions like a light switch. I took pride in being hard, cold, and emotionless when I had to be. I remember my stepdad towering above me, throwing his man tantrum while he yelled in my face. For once, I was unfazed. I smiled internally as I stared him straight in the eye with my best blank face. I’d hoped that my eyes were the emptiest he’d ever seen. Noticing my expression, he yelled in my face..
“YOU THINK YOU’RE HARD?!”
To which I replied…
“Do you want me to be scared of you?”
Even at that young age, vulnerability was my worst enemy. Its shows up, unexpectedly, with good intentions, but only brings feelings of shame, guilt, and weakness. It results in a loss of power and control, which in turn is triggers me to rule my own body with the iron fist of abuse.
I cried after you were satisfied. You didn’t know this, but warm tears ran slowly down my face. Like many of my mistakes they were filled with salt and regrets. Like tequila shots with salt around the rim, I took the sting to be numb to what was surrounding me. This moment was fleeting like a short breeze, but within it I realized how little I loved myself. Less that I had thought I previously ever could. I cried and the tears tasted of fear and pain. I was terrified that I would always be an object for someone else’s pleasure. You laid next to me satisfied and with steroids being pumped through your blood. I laid next to you and wept because although I promised I wouldn’t, but I had too.
I replay the moments that led to this and in every moment, my mind rejected you, but drew you in to feed all the same. Sometimes I think of this and it still stings, like rubbing alcohol on an open wound. I used to think of this memory with hundreds of regrets that poured through my subconscious like a waterfall. In this moment, I realized my insecurities could no longer be dulled by the affirmation of a mans touch and grin after I had been everything he hoped for. You have been my friend for years from this low and you have never known. I felt so alone in that moment.
Like a sheep without a shepherd, I wandered through my mind grasping for protection from my ownself, looking for a reason to justify this penetration of vulnerability. For the first time, the negative voice in my head aligned with my actions and I was exactly who my subconscious told me I was. So I cried and as you turned to hold me, I held my breath, afraid that you would hear the water rolling down my cheeks. Every drop amplified through the room. My insecurities drowned out your soft breath on my neck. I drowned in myself.
For a moment, I had disconnected from myself like I’ve done so many times in the past. Insecurities ran deep, as deeply as the rooted trees from which I couldn’t even separate my own identity. Frightened by the reality of who I was in that moment, something reacted. Like something that was in motion by the laws of physics and could not stop, but this triggered another reaction. It would not easily be pacified. I would be lying, if I said I did not still feel regret, but I did learn something; what I would not be again. I made mistakes after this moment, but the pain I felt in that moment has remained an anchor of something that I left in the past. I was an empty vessel, a artifact that had not served a purpose in hundreds of years. I was functioning for a purpose I was never intended to and in this moment I realized this.
My tears formed into truth.
It lasted thirteen long years. We provided you with too many second chances and in return we only received a failed hope. The word “family” and “love” blinded us because those were the labels you were supposed to wear in our eyes, but they never stuck. Do you even realize what you did? Do you care even a little that you’ve hurt us to the point where we’ve excluded you from the family? Is there no fight lift in you to win us back or are you only filled with the fight to dominate, control, push, hate, poison, hurt, lie about, and feel superior over someone else’s life…more specifically, towards a family member’s life?
Did we even have a choice? Did you ever think what you were doing was hurting anyone and did you ever think to stop? Honestly, everything you did tore us apart, literally. My parents divorced because of you, the family believed the rumors you told about my mom(which caused my dad to side with his own family when my parents were together) and it also caused my mother to fall into depression again. Why did any of that have to happen? Why couldn’t we have started over and found forgiveness in our hearts as God teaches us to do? Did you never want that or did you not know how? My childhood and most of my teenage years were filled with fallen tears and scars left on our hearts by you. Does that make you feel anything?
I know for myself that I’ve felt too many things I should have never had to feel this early in life and it should have never been because of “family”. I remember watching my mom cry too often because of you, and sometimes it got so bad that she would have panic attacks and sometimes a small glass of wine to calm her down. Let me make one thing very clear right now about my mom that you will never get the chance to learn: my mother is an extremely strong person and she isn’t a drinker so for her to do any of that means more than you could ever fathom. All the crap you’ve put my mom through is so unreal. Do you realize that these past 13 years could have been spent growing a friendship with much laughter and love, you could have made lasting memories together and had countless inside jokes, but you threw the opportunity away. You’ve decided instead that you weren’t going to like my mom because she had what you wanted…my dad.
Honestly, how pitiful of you to think that while being married to one twin, you could also have the other.