Childhood

Growing up love wasn’t spoken of or said to me or any of us.

Growing up in a Mexican household its almost taboo, well it was in my family. Machismo takes over; pride doesn’t allow men to love or to show emotion. Men are stern, and proud. Affection wasn’t something I had growing up.

It was something I craved. But I didn’t get it. It just wasn’t us. You learn to live in a certain setting that was mine. But we are able to stop cycles and create new ones. For that I am grateful.

I don’t know why, but no one in the family ever says it. It doesn’t make any of us less or weaker because we talk about it or express it. But it had been going on for generations. We tend to replicate what we know. I never blame either parent it was how they grew up.

But now I am choosing to create change. I make sure my niece and nephews are able to express themselves without it feeling awkward. From the time they were young I always made sure they knew I loved them. Make sure they knew and heard how beautiful they are. How proud I am of them. I want them to understand and know their worth. To be able to walk with their heads high knowing they are loved.

I am proud of my brother for also changing. I constantly see him being affectionate to his kids. Telling them he loves them. I’m glad he also broke that cycle. It took my mom a little bit but after the birth of my youngest sister she now makes sure we know.

This may seem weird to some. But it has been my reality for so long. I am grateful that we are creating change in our family. Machismo isn’t something we are feeding anymore.

If we want something to change we have to be catalyst for it.

Alcohol was also very prominent in our family. Growing up with an alcoholic dad wasn’t fun. It was sad, and hurtful. Drinking is made to be very normal. We are encouraged to drink for a young age. It’s something we all laugh at. I was given my first sip of alcohol before I was a teenager. Its encouraged it’s laughed at. It becomes normal, more for the boys. It’s almost a rite of passage, but no one ever talks about the consequences.

My father never worked, drinking was his life. I never saw him sober. That is sad. All the memories I have of him are drinking or passed out in the couch from it. This isn’t the glamourous life; my mom had to work multiple jobs at a time just to get us fed. Even then we barely managed. Somehow she managed to pay rent but we grew up with a lot of lack. But she never let us feel it. Being the oldest I saw it, I remember it. It sucked.

I had to step in because he didn’t. I learned to cook; I kept the house clean as best as I could, I made sure my brother got up for school. Made sure the others were fed.

He would hit her. That was something no one ever said anything about. It was allowed. It was brushed under the rug. Everyone knew it but no one stood up to say enough. Not even mom, she was made to believe this was normal. It just something men do.

NO.

It’s not normal.

So much was seen growing up; so much that I wanted to change. He stole from us.

Mom bought me a ring for my quince; I know how much she had to have saved to get me that. I had told her not to have the big quinceanera for me. I knew we couldn’t afford it I refused to put her through that. Well she gave me this ring, simple but it meant the world to me.

Well my dad stole it, pawned it, and bought beer.

Happy birthday to me.

I am grateful mom had enough and divorced. He was toxic for all of us. I saw it. My siblings being younger didn’t. My brother in particular, he loved him so much nothing he did was ever wrong. He was angry at my mom for a very long time. He chose to see what he wanted until recently.

Machismo isn’t cute. Its toxic, is controlling.

Alcoholism isn’t fun, it’s shameful, it’s toxic, and it destroys.

We are made to believe they are otherwise. We laugh and joke about it. But I see nothing funny about it. We lived it.

I am grateful for the change we created. I am grateful to know that the new generation won’t be growing up in a toxic environment.

If we want change we have to create it. We have to end cycles.

Things repeat because we allow them to.

Enough is enough.

– Z

 

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