I’ve been very silent lately and I’m just going to come right out and say it: I started having an identity crisis. Okay, actually let me take a step back and say I started feeling really depressed. I started feeling really depressed about myself and my career and my talents and my life.
All those ugly things I was feeling and thinking started to create stress in my relationship with J. “I adore this man,” the thought crept up on me as I stood looking at myself in the bathroom mirror. “Why am I feeding the negativity at the expense of the love and happiness I have here in my home?”
Because I started thinking maybe my story doesn’t need to be told.
Maybe my voice doesn’t matter.
Maybe I’m not beautiful.
Maybe I’m not worth loving.
Maybe I’m not deserving of good things.
I stopped meal prepping, then I stopped working out, then I stopped writing, then I stopped smiling, and finally I stopped eating. And not once did I speak up.
That silence feels so familiar, so comfortable, so raw because I have known it all my life. I grew up not wanting to be me because I thought being Dominican and being a Woman made me less than. Less than my milky skinned friend in High school with the straight & “tamable” locks who boys fawned over, less than my other liberal arts college classmates, less than the boys I crushed on. I grew up fearing my voice and my words because my parents thought I could be something much more practical (and stable) than a writer. So I pulled off my true self, and tucked it way back in my closet hoping to be a different version of me. My inquisitive nature slowly dimmed, my playfulness turned to anger and my youthful rebellion stirred conflicts in me I could not understand.
I internalized a lot of the wars raging inside my parents growing up.
We are not Dominicans. We are Americans. Dominicans are poor, lazy drugged-up criminals.
What are you going to do with an English degree?
Marry a White doctor.
Keep eating and you’ll never fit through the door. People won’t hire you or love you when you’re 300 pounds.
You think a man is going to marry a woman who doesn’t cook or clean?
You can’t be upset with your mother. God doesn’t like that.
Put some makeup on, you look so pale.
Don’t get too dark.
It became so overwhelming, all these rules and expectations that I scribbled in my journal Who Am I?
Who do I want to be?
I listened to Selena, A Seat at the Table and Anti.
I read Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl.
I saw John Leguizamo speak.
I started journaling.
I researched Afro-Latino and Indigenous history.
I meditated to podcasts and cried.
I started eating again. And meal prepping. And cooking.
I smiled. I laughed.
I read affirmations.
I questioned negative thoughts and feelings.
And now I’m writing.
I want to always bring my realest self to this blog, because there’s a lot of lies and deep-rooted hate I have being holding on to as a result of my upbringing as a Latina in the United States. And I’m seeing what’s happening with the Black Lives Matter movement and the Donald Trump presidency and I want there to be more accurate stories about us Latinas– as women, as artists, as educators & Doctors, as humans. I don’t just fit a mold, and all my life I have rejected people who tell me I should or have to.
I want to use my voice.
I want to use my words.
I want to share my art.
I want to talk about what it means to grow up Latina, what it takes to heal and how to love who I am.
And I hope, that in sharing, my words help you break your silence.