Choose to Hear Yourself

by Queen María

She has always been pretty sensitive. Living in a brown body requires a thick skin. She loves with a full heart giving her all to everything she does. She does not know how to love half way. She is an all or nothing kind of girl. For as long as she can remember, she has had an immense need for acceptance. She never believed she was worthy of love. She thought no one would really ever love her. Her own mother could not give her the unconditional love she craved so much.

She tried everything to get that maternal unconditional love that so many take for granted. She tried pleasing her mom, hoping she will get praise in return. She was disappointed so many times. She remembers every harsh criticism, as if her mom was still here. How could she forget her white mom repeating, “You are black. You must be perfect. The color of your skin does not allow you the luxury of making mistakes”.

“I will do better next time momma. I will work harder and I will make you proud!”, she answered when she got home with a 98 instead of a perfect score of 100. She must have gotten some praise, but she simply can not remember any. The concept of being loved just because one exists was so foreign to her. She thought all these years that she had to be really nice and love first in order to be loved back.

Growing up, she was so well behaved, except when she saw her dad drinking. She would transform herself in those moments screaming so loudly as if her life depended on it. She broke her dad’s bottles into pieces or poured down their content. Desperation invaded her. She felt as if she was possessed. No one could stop her in those moments, not even her mom’s intimidating voice promising a harsh punishment for disrespecting her dad.

She was determined to save her family. Her child’s mind believed it was her job to make sure everyone in that house was happy. She was led to believe that if only her dad stopped drinking everything would be OK. She was willing to do anything to get him to give up alcohol. She begged him, she fought, she rebelled, but she could not save him. They both lost their battle with alcohol.

Her dad tried so many times to get sobber. He succeeded temporarily, only to return to the same way of numbing his pain. She was too little to understand. She does now. She never tasted alcohol in her life, not even a drop, but she battles an eating disorder. Those demons, I guess, run in her family.

She fought battles that were not hers. Nothing changed. She kept trying though. She never gave up even after her mom’s death. She was so lucky. Her black dad was so nice. Even when she threw away his alcohol and disrespected him, he never offended her or lay a hand on her. Her white mom, on the other hand, severely punished her.

She kept screaming, trying to be heard but no one listened. She was alone in her battle. She kept trying to do the right thing, over and over, at her own expense. She only wanted the best for her family. She dreamed of seeing her mom smile and her dad sober.

She thought naively that her parent’s divorce was the answer. She kept repeating, “Mom leave him. We will be Ok without him. I will help you mom. I am here. I will take care of my little sister. I can help you. You are not alone mom. I am no little anymore, just leave him”. Little did she know, she only got one side of the story. She regrets not realising this while her dad was still alive.

She got so tired of screaming and not being heard, that she decided to escape, by going to study abroad. She went half around the world, but she never felt safe. Her mom never divorced her dad. Instead, her mom left the family forever at 45 years old, followed about a year after by her dad, who could not live without his adored wife. There they were, both sisters, orphans with no other family to support them emotionally.

She did her best, in caring for what was left of her family, now including a gorgeous niece. She never stopped screaming, but no one ever heard her. She finally realized the only person that could hear her was herself. Then she started tending to that desperate cry she has chosen to ignore for so many years. Nowadays, she tells her story so others realize they can choose to hear themselves.