I challenged myself to post daily until my birthday next week. That’s what the cryptic count down is about. At this moment in the heart of semi-hiding I’m wondering if I did so to avoid the one platform where I get more engagement, Instagram.
It might seem off to you, why would anyone avoid such a thing, especially someone who creates content as part of their work?
Well, as much as I’m talking about this birthday as I mentioned in a prior post, it’s uncomfortable for me. My whole life attention in general meant danger. It meant Mom got hurt, it meant I would feel the sting of my father’s projection, it meant my brother would pile on that sting to please my father (and thus keep safe himself), it meant another echoing message that I don’t matter.
It makes me wonder if that’s why I’m digging into my little blog, on my tiny new site, where I’m trying to build traffic instead of my usual work to build community and push my other content on insta.
It could be because on there posting has become tedious. The app is constantly giving me issues like losing 30-40 minutes of my work by not posting one of my reels while not keeping it as a draft, closed captions for the audio not working at all, music not getting added, posting the reel but missing the whole huge ass caption I wrote for it… My favorite is when it just makes everything I made disappear because I added one too many hashtags.
Perhaps my apprehension is partly due to the unsolicited advice and the trolling about my self advocacy. I’m tired of asking for help. I’m tired of being worried about covering rent and keeping the lights on, I’m tired of people assuming I’m too inept to find other means of income. I’m tired of saying again and again that what I do full time is make sure my mother is safe and making her last years or months or weeks or days as comfortable and not terrifying as possible.
Saying this here is preaching to the choir right?
At the end of the day I’m thankful there are a handful of people who believe me and do what they can to support me whether by extending my reach with their own, whether it’s conversations, laughs or company on and off public spaces, whether it’s their financial resources or just time by taking in what little I have to offer I can never express how much it helps me move forward.
In my 16th year on this planet I learned how little I could trust my father, less I had ever imagined even seeing his regin of terror in my family’s life. I thought he ignored our traditional latino celebration of the 15th birthday for a little girl “Quinceañero” and that he got Americanized to care more about a “Sweet 16” when he told Mom to go all out for my birthday.
It was the first time I had everyone celebrating my existence that wasn’t back in Cayman Islands (where I was born and left when I was 5). I thought I was loved and cared for as Mom got me an ice cream cake in my favorite flavor but it melted and Dad said we had “more than enough” money to get me a replacement.
Mom looked so happy to make me happy. We couldn’t find the same flavor to replace the first cake but I was pleased and grateful that I was getting anything special just for me. Remembering this as I write it’s funny that now people have called me ungrateful and entitled when I protect my boundaries or ask for support.
Usually my birthday was over shadowed by my brother getting gifts, my father’s birthday or the aftermath of Christmas. Since the decorations were getting taken down the same week, there was always a fight because my father refused to help Mom and we were already getting homework from school so us children couldn’t help either.
Usually, I would day dream about getting surprised by friends or even the family the way I saw things happen on TV. Every year I felt forgotten. Every year I felt unwanted. Every year I felt unlovable.
A little more than a month after I turned 16 my father told us he was moving out “in a month.” Two weeks after half our stuff was gone, our life was left in chaos as my father had left ghree months worth of debt in unpaid bills, just enough to keep the lights, phone and water on and just weeks away from foreclosure on two mortgages.
Then I remembered Mom pondering something outloud in just a few weeks before my birthday at Christmas time. She had quit one of her jobs just fed up with racism and abuse from management and my father was actually supportive and didn’t fly off the cuff with anger. He also was making big gestures of love and adoration to her. She mentioned to my brother something like “usually he does this sort of thing when he’s feeling guilt.” She wondered what was going on that he didn’t want her to know.
All of a sudden my magical 16th birthday was revealed for what it actually was, an act of guilt, a slight of hand for Mom to not question his financial moves, an illusion that everything was quite all right and okay, when the truth was he was leaving us in deep poverty and despair.
I felt like a fool thinking my abusive father loved me though the child in me longed for that love to suddenly appear until the day my father passed days before his 61st birthday. As one therapist I watch on YouTube and insta, Patrick Teahan, explains this is typical “magical thinking” that our inner child harbors because of childhood trauma.
Birthdays never got easier even when Mom was loving and caring and happy to celebrate me as a single mom with freedom over her finances but also struggling to keep us housed and fed my brother took the reigns to make those days painful for me in endless micro aggressions that look innocent to anyone else or might mean nothing to someone who wasn’t conditioned to have deep lack of self worth. Even when he moved out he made sure to remind me of the “forgettable” narrative and eventually due to my Mom’s condition she stopped remembering my birthday too but mostly because she couldn’t remember days in general.
Three years ago I had been in therapy for a few months and she who shall not be named told me the best would be to make a big deal about my birthday myself. How I was supposed to do that with practically no local friends, complete lack of financial resources and lack of desire for large social gatherings was beyond my scope of understanding. There’s only so much I can expect from my online community. A few people saying “happy birthday” feels as cold and almost meaningless as leaving the date public on my social media and Facebook telling people to remember. It’s a knee jerk reaction, a social construct of being polite.
I’d rather not talk about it and just let myself nurse my own wounds leaving my heart in my own hands, lacking trust in anyone I care about. My therapist (who we all now know is toxic) said something like I didn’t give people a chance to surprise me, to show me there’s something different for me out there. Since I started the Twitch thing I have streamed on my birthday, usually sit there playing music mostly alone and get the two words from everyone who comes in while all of me is thinking “if I didn’t tell you right now you wouldn’t even blink, you won’t remember past this moment, we’re not even close enough for me to expect it from you.” while also remembering other streamers getting lavished with monetary support just because knowing my community is small and equally lacking finances as I am…
It all hurts and makes me feel like an asshole for wanting more as if I don’t appreciate the things my friends do that are within their means, as if they’re not enough but they are just right and so appreciated.
All of this makes having no means to meet my basic needs myself even harder. When Mom stopped remembering me I just reminded her and made my own way trying to remind myself that my healthier Mom would do everything she could to make me feel loved within her means. Now I can’t even really do anything but shut down and maybe that’s why I’m making these posts.
Can I possibly help someone out there feel less alone in similar memories and emotional flashbacks and pain?
Can I make my 40th trip around the sun a gift to this slice of the universe by bringing a sense of peace reassuring you or anyone else who might read this ever by showing that it’s not that you are unlovable? The matter of this pain is that our society is bleeding and hurting, generational trauma causes these rifts in love and lack of connection but you deserve kindness and warmth and love.
Can I be the light in the dark for anyone who relates to these struggles?
I’m taking my chances and hoping I can. It’s what I hope for every time I birth creation from my spirit and every time I work to find little me lost in the dark.
“Here Goes Nothing”
I will say this always, always, always my sweet lovely and dear one…
Your light matters
Your voice matters
You’re not alone
Sending love and peace from the depths of my aching soul, spirit and body.