My whole life, I have searched to find that eternal magical love that fairy tales promised me. The kind of love that was ever lasting, defeated all evil, love at first sight kind of love. The love that survived wars, and came out stronger after every argument. The kind of love modern day people call “toxic.” The “I hate you and love you” love that no matter the disagreements, always finds it’s way back together. The type of love that united lovers and kept marriages alive for decades. The love my grandparents had and that all the great singers I grew up listening to in Spanish songs gave their life for. The “corta vena” type of love, the love that existed in black and white, the love that was worth serenading for. The love that all the classic writers wrote about. The Romeo and Juliet love. The love that we were told we would be sure of from the very first day, the “hasta viejitos” love. A love that seemed to have existed in abundance at one point in time, and has become so rare, that we are lucky to even witness it in our generation. The “whipped” love, the kind of love where you are completely fulfilled with one person. The “puppy love.” The love that gives hope for the arrival of the next day, because with each sunrise, it’s a new opportunity to find the love that will change my last name.
However, the more I chase it, the more it flees from me. “Focus on yourself,” “When you least expect it, it will find you,” “You are surrounded by friends and family that love you.” Just a few of the phrases I am tired of telling myself. I then thought that maybe love was meant to be found through great friendships. Across the years, there has been a few individuals that I have loved intensely, romantically and then platonically. But love has failed me there as well. Leaving me with friends whose loyalty was nothing more than an illusion of hoping that they loved me just as much as I loved them.
In my 36 years on this Earth, I have learned a lot of lessons, some more important than others, like it’s a bad idea to drink a whole box of cheap wine, that it will only lead to a wave of embarrassing texts and Instagram posts, or sex in a hotel with some fuck boy that took advantage of my drunkenness and used my own debit card to pay for the room as well as order himself some things on my Amazon account. I have learned more valuable lessons like consistency in relationships as well as fitness, results being slow and steady, or even the importance of respecting authority and laws because otherwise you end up having to beg your younger brother to register your car under his name due to your insurance premium having gone up to $765 a month after a series of accidents and traffic violations.
However, the most profound lesson I have learned for a while now, but kept hoping that I wasn’t right, and giving chance after chance for the benefit of the doubt, is that in life you will come across individuals that to you mean a lot, but to them you are just a novelty, a convenience, and entertainment of some sort. We apply so much trust, loyalty, and love to these individuals that we are often blind to the reality of the situation.
As she sat there defending him, I finally had an epiphany, of course, how had I not seen it before. It became crystal clear to me then why I had this man on a pedestal he did not belong on. It has never been about him, sure he is great and listens to me, but so do all of my other friends, who actually give me their time and hang out with me on a weekly basis. Yet I am so possessive over someone that I see once every few months and just talk on the phone with? Why? Why did his views on me as a person hurt me so much last year? I hardly even care what my mom thinks of me, I mean, I care, but to a certain extent. But realizing that he viewed me in such a negative way was detrimental to me causing waves of emotions and rage towards him that I couldn’t comprehend for months. No matter how many times I thought about it or spoke about it to others, it did not make sense to me. Did I love him? Yes, deeply. Did I want to marry him? No. So why did I care so much? But as she made excuses to defend him and portray him as a good guy, I saw myself for the last 10 years in that same place. I just never had been able to look from the outside.
It was Saturday around 2:29am sometime in 1993. My mom, brother, and I had just gotten home from having been at my aunt’s house. My mother has 7 sisters, and each sister has 2-4 kids. It was tradition that every Friday and Saturday we would all go to one of my aunt’s house and hang out till late hours of the night. The adults would listen to old romantic Spanish Ballads, while drinking a bit and telling jokes. Sometimes they would play Bingo, sometimes they would watch TV or just gossip about fulana de tal. The kids and I would be either off running in the hallways of the building, or if the neighbors had complained, we would be playing board games, or fighting, usually both.
However, after a long night of running around and playing games, I was exhausted. But I would take forever to go to bed. Taking a million years to brush my teeth, another million years to put on my pajamas. My mother getting increasingly annoyed with every second. Wanting to put me to bed so that she can finally get ready to go to bed as well. My brother had been sleeping within 5 minutes of us getting home. But I knew what I was doing, this was all a plan, eventually she would give up on putting me to bed and go into the bathroom to do her nightly routine. Then I could have the freedom to go into her bedroom and open and close all the drawers that belonged to my dad. If his clothes were there that meant that he was staying with us, if his clothes weren’t it meant that they had had another fight and it may take a few days before I saw him again. Never knowing how many days that may be, some fights lasted days, some fights lasted weeks, and some lasted months. My dad worked two jobs at the time, so he was hardly ever home anyways; therefore this is something that I did everyday religiously. Even the times in which the drawers were empty, everyday hoping that today was the day that the drawer wouldn’t be empty anymore. As a child I had a huge amount of positivity and hope now that I look back on it. Sometimes my mom would take me to the park, and I would check as soon as I got home, as if the clothes would magically appear from the last 2 hours that I had checked prior to the park visit.
My entire adult life has consisted of me seeking validation from men. Being attracted to emotionally unavailable and narcissistic individuals. Being addicted to relationships that made me feel insecure, jealous, and as if I had to chase and prove something to them. Subconsciously running away from the relationships that were mutual, meaningful and solid. I have had trust issues ever since I could remember, because if my dad emotionally starved me, didn’t meet my expectations and didn’t validate me, why would any of these men that I come across ever do as well? It’s hard for me to remain single and for the majority of my life, I have been a serial monogamist jumping from one “serious” relationship to another in a matter of minutes. The doctor, the white horse, mi lindo, the nurse, the lawyer, the trader, and the trainer, all having been men in my life that gave me just enough for me to get hooked on them and then pulled the rug from under me and emotionally starved me for weeks and months at a time. Leaving me in emotional distress as I ride the toxic ferris wheel over and over again. Every time they would come back into my life, I would justify their excuses, ignore the continuous red flags, and wind up right where they wanted me, wearing nothing but shame, wondering how it lead to this despite the millionth promise I had made to myself to never let them touch me again. Preparing myself, for their grand exit out of my life, and the subsequent weeks of the emotional rollercoaster I was about to board due to my repetitive actions. But why did I continue to give these men chances in my life? I don’t consider myself to have low self-esteem. HOPE. That same hope that I had as a 9 year old child to open those drawers every time that my mom would walk out of her bedroom. Thinking that maybe THIS time around, these men will see how amazing and beautiful I am, that THIS is the time they will fall in love with me, that THIS is the time that they will magically change into the man I have been wanting them to be, that THIS is the LAST time that we will part ways. That they will finally VALIDATE me, finally CHOOSE me, finally fulfill a void that I have carried with me way before I even knew they existed.
So after 10 years, it finally occurred to me, Daddy Issues. I felt this strongly about this man because due to the 16 years age difference and his nurturing demeanor I somehow had associated him with a father complex. He has always been a listening ear to all my issues; making him my best friend in the way that I wish my dad could be my best friend. Seeking his comfort through out my tough times the way a girl runs to her dad after falling off her bike in a park. Being possessive of his attention, and wanting to keep him separate from anyone else in my life, the way a child is possessive of their parent. All comes down to daddy issues. The first step is realizing it, and the second step is working on choosing to not retraumatize myself because this toxic cycle is all I know.
Maybe now that I realized this, I can work on making those feelings a thing of the past, so that I can finally find someone that will change my last name and love me hasta viejitos.