I was born in a big city, and pretty much spent my childhood at a central location. It was a nest; a surrounded nest. We lived in a building that has 4 stories. Like many South American families, we lived above the family business that my parents ran. So the first floor was the family business, the next floor was storage, the third floor was the house, and the last was the terrace.
Having a business took a big toll on my childhood. I understand that it wasn’t mine, technically, none of it was or is. But it mingled with everything about my family’s daily interactions, behaviors, schedules, and even relationships with the rest of my family. So it was part of me, too.
I remember being a young girl and learning how to interact with people. I learned two versions from my parents. My mom taught me how to be gentle, vigilant, postured, respectful, and even grateful. My father taught me how to manipulate people, build entitlement, lie (to myself and others), and how to be vengeful, aggressive, and passionate (even if it was about the wrong things with the wrong intentions).
When I first learned about psychological analysis and conditioning, behavior, I could catch myself replaying scenes of my childhood in my head and attributing traits and behaviors to the environment I was in and the people I was around. Growing up in such a central part of the city, you would think that I would have been obliged to burst any bubble that I built from entitlement or will. However, it did not occur as such. I grew up in a well-off financial situation and didn’t have to suffer out of need, but I was definitely reminded daily by my father, and his “breadwinner” ego, that we didn’t have money. Ever. Although there would be unlimited funds allocated to alcohol, and every other possession he dreamed of having, the budget for maintaining a family was always put as last and marked as unnecessary, wasteful, and only worth it if it involved a bargain. So I grew up thinking that I was poor, or somewhat disadvantaged, but knew I was neither and that the facade was only an image to be portrayed so my father could bargain himself to be part of not only the family around him, but also the businessman network he built through the years.
This perception of disadvantage and “lesser than” continues to be a reality for the way that my father handles himself. Lying to others as a request for pity, a great hook to future manipulation.
But for some reason, not out of particular choice or selective attention, most of my reflections of my life during that time include an image painted in front of a mirror. An empty room of thoughts, reflections, and grievances set the stage. A little girl has tears in her eyes, running down her chubby cheeks, as she clenches her teeth to mimic some control over her emotions. She stands in front of the floor mirror placed in the corner of the room opposite to the door. All she sees is her father. The strongest parts that compose her essence are reflections of him, reactions to him, regards to his role in her life. How can one person mean so much to the person he hurt the most? How does she find strength in her heart to forgive and even mourn every wrongdoing, mistake, and aggression committed?
How has she seen the light out of the darkness that consumes him?
How do I live with the parts of me that I can’t understand unless I look back at him?
I have lost control of how I look back and think back. Even my nightmares have stopped coming to me in stages and during chaos. Now they come every other night, more intensely, deeply. The memories and the thoughts take away a part of my heart each time I remember my past because I have to clench my teeth like that little girl and run away from the fantasies about my father, my life, my childhood. I have set aside the narrative that depression taught me to build. The firewall that avoids the truth.
But, the wall is there. Protecting the more intense and traumatic parts of my memories. It is alive, and operates on its own. Yet, I haven’t lost sight of the truth. It just hurts and it always will. It hurts to remember because I want to forget.
However, writing these recollections have always helped me pull myself back from drifting into my thoughts and alienating myself from my current environment. And I refuse to let the memories defeat me.
Before I didn’t have anything to loose to my depression because I was alone and misunderstood; chewed up by others and spit back out. But now I have people I love more than anything in this world. And they know who they are. I won’t loose them to this. Not now, not ever.
I may be sad again, but this time I am not alone.