Creating Space for Papi

              Wassup Mi Gente!

These days I have yet to hug my dad, like go in for the kill. It's not where I am. I don't have that kind of comfort. I'm much more comfortable telling him,

"Cállese y coma. Tanto u'te habla." Translation. Shut up and eat. You talk too much. 

It's kinda like an I love you. For us. 

I cant even think of a time I said, i love you, in spanish cuz that even feels like a guard I'm not ready to let down. I asked for my father's blessing, le bese la mano, for the first time in years when I got back from the Dominican Republic. I guess I was really feelin' myself. And an immense bout of anxiety afterwards too. I wasn't use to it. But I pushed myself to do it. Being away and learning about my parents, and understanding them in much different way, through the stories of others, made me come home wanting to try in my own way to move closer to the kind of relationship I want with this man. 

I can't say I have the kind of relationship with my father that I always wanted because in all honesty, a third of my life, literally, I spent denying him. So, as a kid I focused more of my energy on how much I didn't want to be his daughter and would tell people, 

"That's my uncle. Him and my dad are twins." No lie.

Of course it was a lie that no one bought but, it was very difficult for me to accept my father for who he was. I never saw people from my perspective as a child treat, or say nice things about my dad. Just in school. All the teachers had amazing things to say about my parents because they were always there for some trouble I got mixed in, and they were just always on it regarding schooling. But my teachers were the last people I cared if they liked my parents. Anyways...

I found myself defending him for everything- his character; his comments when people would think he's being offensive but I knew he wasn't; for his ridiculous decision to make, "Betsy" his legal name, which I got teased for for years; down to his skin color- I learned that there must be something wrong with being "black" or of color, because my family would associate my dad with being a monkey or they would call him,

"Un negro feo." Translation, more a less, an ugly black guy. 

All "terms of endearment." No one "really" means it, but they did. And we do. These racially spirited comments are such a part of Latino culture that we joke about it without realizing the impact it's having on our future generations. As a child it stood with me. Trabajo en mi. The moments that I saw how my family belittled my dad mainly about his skin color, or when him and Mami got into very public arguments in front of family and relatives would make their comments regarding my dad or their marriage, manifested in me in a way that till this day still impacts my relationship with Papi. I knew that I loved my dad because culturally, outta respect, I gotta love my dad but did I really? I would think. How could I? I was not given the example by anyone on how to love my dad. I learned to fear him, and essentially dislike him. Mami didn't even know how to love my dad in healthy way because he in return, didn't know how to love her in such a manner. My dad himself rarely got hugs, or "love" in the way I always envisioned him giving me, or my family. He was raised with 9 brothers and sisters, him being the youngest. My aunt, Argentina, basically raised him. My mom rarely got hugs either but, she broke away from her upbringing in that sense. My dad not so much. I always say, I look like mom, but I'm more like my dad. Maybe cause I spent so much time trying not to be like him, that I became an expert on how to be just like him. 

My dad isn't perfect. I don't deny him anymore. I can't tell when I accepted that I'm his daughter, or that he's my father. I'm the first to say that he is very Machista, he swears he's a republican, and he isn't the easiest person to build a personal relationship with but my dad is one of the most hardworking, loving- in his own way, intelligent, hurt, intricate, and charismatic individuals that I've had the immense pleasure of experiencing. That I have the honor of calling my father. 

All our healing stories are unique. I encourage you to be open to yours, to be open to cleaning out some corners of yourself to create space for love. I have no idea how to love my parents, especially my dad. Yet, I'm my best to learn how to. Part of my healing journey I realize, is creating space for loving my parents. Not because I feel obligated to, like I've always have, but because I now want to. And I'm now a little more open for it. 

I wish you all a beautiful Father's Day! 

Thank so much for letting me vent on ya screen, and being a part of my healing.

Stay building.

Stay dope.


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