Smile like you mean it

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Not so Good Friday

My uncle passed away this morning. We’d been expecting the call for days now. Whenever the phone rang at unusual hours our hearts would skip a beat. And it finally came. I don’t know the details, but apparently he died in his sleep, his heart just gave out. My mother, together with my remaining aunts and uncles left around noon to be there for the wake and burial and are coming back tomorrow afternoon. A couple of my cousins left a bit later and got there by the evening, they’ll probably be coming back at down tomorrow. Irapuato is a 4-hour-long-drive away, give or take. And still, despite all these facilities and opportunities, I stayed behind. That’s how much of a chicken I am.

I chose not to go to the wake for a number of reasons. The good thing about driving my mom to see my uncle for the last time a couple of weeks ago, is that I myself got to say goodbye and see him while he was still conscious and express my aunt (his wife) and one of their daughters (the one I’ve been closest to), how sorry I am for all of this. Having said my goodbyes and having seen the two women I wanted to see, I couldn’t really find a point in meeting up with the rest of his children and grandchildren, whom I’ve never been close to. Also, there’s the fact of how horribly triggered I was the last time I was there, just by the mere idea of seeing this particular cousin of mine whose memories I’ve been having to deal with ever since that night I stayed there, and all of the terrible dreams I dreamt that caused a week-long anxiety attack.

I feel like shit about staying behind, and still I think it was what was best for me. Amongst other things, I would’ve been forced to see my cousin, and I don’t know how triggering that might have been. A couple of weeks back I suffered like hell, and I think now it would’ve been worse. However, even staying here in Mexico City didn’t entirely keep me out of harm. I’ve been having these palpitations and anxiety pains that got so bad I actually needed to resort to my anxiolytic today.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been having a different kind of chest pains. The experience is similar to what you feel when you just heard incredibly bad news, something you just couldn’t believe possible or something that goes terribly wrong and there is way too much at stake, do you know the feeling? I can kind of describe it like my heart flipping over… it’s weird and it feels horrible. The thing is, I’ve had this sensation while doing the most ordinary things, it’s happened while driving, teaching a class, working, playing with the kitties, anything really, and since I felt it related to my heart, when I shared it with BF he obviously got worried.  The first thing he wondered is if this was an anxiety-related issue, like the regular palpitations I get on Sundays and I said no way, because this time it wasn’t happening while I was experiencing anxiety or angst in any way. So, when I continued to feel this way, he suggested I met with a cardiologist or something like that. I of course didn’t like the idea so I was trying to ignore the sensation.

Today, however, the sensation happened so many times I lost the count, and by the evening I was also experiencing my regular angst chest pains. That’s when I decided to hit the med cabinet and grab the anxiolytic. I don’t like taking it, it makes me feel like I’m weak and a loser, but today I really needed it. It was also sort of an experiment, if the heart-flipping-over-thing didn’t stop with the med, then I would be sure it wasn’t anxiety-driven. But it did, both to my relief and sorrow. Relief, because it means I won’t have to go on a heart-doctor-quest that would most certainly imply uncomfortable and expensive tests. Sorrow, because it means I’ve developed yet another cuckoo symptom. Now I’m getting anxiety related “heart flips” or whatever you want to call them, and I get them even when I’m not particularly stressed! Granted, today has been a stressful day with all the family issues, but this thing started before today.

And now I’m gonna have to mention this to the shrink board. Because yeah, I really haven’t brought it up before since I had convinced myself this was entirely physical. So, I’ve been dealing with a new and quite discomforting symptom, and haven’t said a word to the actual people who might help me deal with it, way to go! I was probably just waiting for it to go away and leave me alone, but by this point I’m beginning to realize it’s not going to go away by itself, damn it!

About my uncle, I can only say I’m relieved he’s resting now. Of course it’s terrible to have someone in the family die, but what he was going through was way worse. I only worry about my aunt now, she had been taking care of him for so long she practically gave up her life for him. I just hope sadness recedes just enough to let her see he’s now in a better place, whatever it may be.

I’m still going to see her and her daughter next week though. As I mentioned before, I’m going on a small trip with BF to this village called San Miguel de Allende, which is actually just an hour away from their city, so when we head back, we’re going to stop there for me to give my condolences to them, and hopefully by then the family huddle will have dissolved.

Downtown San Miguel de Allende
Image credit: Sandy Baum Photography

Take it as it comes

I have so much work to get done by tomorrow is unbelievable, and after such a stressful long weekend I don’t even know where to start.

As some of you already know, I spent the weekend at my uncle’s house in a different town. My mother asked me to take her there ’cause he’s dying and she wants to be close to him. I drove all afternoon and we got there in the evening. I truly was not prepared for what I was about to witness.

The last time I saw my uncle was at his 50th wedding anniversary. His children threw their parents a beautiful shower and they brought everyone together, even the ones living abroad. For one afternoon, everybody put their squabbles, traumas and resentment away and celebrated a lifelong marriage. He was already sick, he had been diagnosed with diabetes years before and he was getting dialysis, but he was still lively, danced around, and we all had a nice time. Now, 3 years later, he’s had one leg amputated, has moved on to hemodialysis, and is in constant excruciating pain. I had no idea all I would see was bones covered in skin. A man who cannot even sit up in bed, or eat, or speak without his tongue getting twisted, or speak more than a sentence without uttering screams of pain. What’s worse is that the man’s head is all there. Granted, he is in and out of consciousness, but when he’s awake he’s all there, aware of what he’s become. When my mother got close to him today to say goodbye before we left, he tried to grab her by the hand and told her “Please, don’t come back”. I had to step out of the room because it was just too much. No one should have to go through this, it’s torture for both the sick one and his family.

After that and the horrific, gruesome dream I dreamed together with the memories it brought back… I just don’t really know what to do with myself. I have some texts to read, I have a weekly lesson plan to finish, and oh yes! To top it all off, my thesis seminar is tomorrow! God, this seminar was ill-fated for me ever since it started. I only hope I don’t make a huge fool of myself, at least not as much as last time, I only hope that this time around my writing speaks for me, the written word is really the best way I handle communication with other humans 🙄

Daddy issues, part 2

Shortly after I turned eighteen my father called me and said he wanted to meet for dinner. Silly me, I thought he was going to give me a birthday present for the first time in my life. What he actually wanted was to tell me he “no longer had the means to keep helping me”. That meant, of course, that he was about to cut me off from the minuscule allowance he had been so magnanimous to spare me since I was in high school. Hurtful in itself, I was well aware I was hearing this from a man who arrived in a brand new BMW driven by a chauffeur, and that’s what made it hurt ten times more.

I grew up with my basic needs covered. I didn’t starve, I never lacked a roof over my head, and I always went to school. Nothing really to moan about, right? I later found out that while I was attending a shitty school where not only did I not get an education but actually got bullied, his other, official children  (when I found out about their existence) went to an expensive school I always wanted to attend.

I guess what I’m trying to express here is that my father never gave me anything other than money, so I rationalized he just wasn’t good at expressing affection. However, he was astoundedly cheap and petty regarding me. I wasn’t good enough for a higher education, nor was I good enough to live in an appropriate home (’til I was 14 I lived with my mother in a one bedroom apartment. First we shared the room, when I grew up I was sent to sleep in the living room). So really, if he expressed his affection in $$$, truth is he didn’t love me quite very much, did he?

Anyhow, he decided I wasn’t getting another penny from him. I was still in high school, and mexican laws say that parents, regardless of their marital status, must provide for the child until s/he finishes studying, even if they go to college. Well well, it’s not like every law is followed in Mexico you may say, and you’d be right. But wait, did I mention the dude is a lawyer? Well he is, so I may be making a mistake here but he must have known what he was doing was plain wrong.

Oh but his balls didn’t end there. I think it was in yet another meeting,though it might’ve been the same, he actually got the nerve to explain he didn’t really want a kid with my mother in the first place. He went on and on about how she tricked him saying she was taking the pill when she wasn’t. What was I supposed to answer to that? Did he not suspect I had put two and two together by then? Maybe he did and that’s why he was justifying himself? I don’t know how on earth he ever thought that was a good idea, but what’s clear to me is that my feelings were not a factor in the equation.

I didn’t see him or talk to him in several years. Then one day he calls me on my cell to congratulate me for getting a diploma at my uni. I was so incredibly pissed I felt I was going to explode. How could he dare calling me? To congratulate me? Really? So now he cared? I’ve been a straight A’s student all my life, did it not occur to him that I might have needed his praise more when I was a kid?

He called a couple more times until I managed to say something remotely nice to him, and somehow he got me to agree to dinner. It’s been 2 years since that dinner, I’ve seen him four or five times since then. On the second time he actually cried. I felt like slapping him or throwing him my coffee, now I was supposed to comfort him? Make his guilt go away? His guilt is his problem.

Most times I think the relationship is too damaged to even attempt reconciliation, now and then I wonder what’ll happen if he dies before I forgive him, will I be the one crying for loosing my chance? That’s really the only reason why I’ve agreed to meet him, I don’t want to be the old lady crying, I don’t want to be him.

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Daddy issues

Mommy wasn’t married to Daddy. In fact, Daddy was married to someone else. Everyone knew this. Everyone except Dani that is. Dani was told mommy and daddy were divorced, but she shouldn’t say this to anyone because it was a secret. Mmmm, ok… but, then, how could she explain the three of them traveling together and Mommy and Daddy kissing in front of her and sleeping on the same bed during those trips? Well, she just didn’t, because children just don’t ask those kinds of questions, they just acknowledge there’s something phony and then go around it.

I met my father when I was around 6 years old. Well, technically I’d met him before, there are pictures to prove it, only I was too small to remember. Don’t know if I’d asked questions before, I’d lived all my life with my mother but then, just around this age I guess, I was told I had a father. “Me?? I have a father? You mean like my friends at school!?” I remember my mother telling me they used to go motorbike riding all around Mexico, and I even remember little details like her telling me the exact spot where he used to park his bike. Then I was showed pictures. And then the day came when he was going to pick us up and we’d all go on a road trip. I was kind of disappointed when he didn’t show up in his bike, mom had forgotten to mention the three of us didn’t fit in one.

One of the pictures I was shown

I guess it must have been between the ages of 6 to 8 or 9-ish that this sort of event happened. After a period of time that seemed like ages to me, he would show up with presents and we’d all go travelling to all sorts of places. Later I figured out that we went on what might have easily been covered up as “business trips”, because he’s always gone on those because of his job. Then it all stopped. Daddy didn’t love Mommy anymore.

Me and my father on a trip

Me and my father on a trip

After this period, my mother would nag me to make me call him, like it was my duty. Had I been older, I might have said something like: “Now, wait just a minute, why should I call him, isn’t it HIS responsibility to at least check up on me???” But I wasn’t older, I was still a girl, and I had always been scared of him. So, I was made to call him to his office, and I was told to change my name when I did so, probably so the secretary wouldn’t ask why a girl with her boss’s same last name and who wasn’t his wife’s daughter was calling…or something.

So, my responsibility included calling him and asking him to meet me, and during this meetings, which usually took the form of Saturday breakfasts, I was instructed to ask him for money for all sorts of things. And he would refuse and I’d have to beg. I was also told to say this and that to him, I think my mother was just a step behind making me learn my dialogues, and so seeing or having any form of communication with my father became something I dreaded profoundly. Of course, the breakfasts became more and more spaced, until they stopped too.

The next time I saw my father I was in high school, and I was so filled with anger and hate towards both of my parents that I barely uttered a word during the whole dinner… but I’ll leave the reasons for my feelings to another post.

 

Related articles:

Daddy issues

Mommy wasn’t married to Daddy. In fact, Daddy was married to someone else. Everyone knew this. Everyone except Dani that is. Dani was told mommy and daddy were divorced, but she shouldn’t say this to anyone because it was a secret. Mmmm, ok… but, then, how could she explain the three of them traveling together and Mommy and Daddy kissing in front of her and sleeping on the same bed during those trips? Well, she just didn’t, because children just don’t ask those kinds of questions, they just acknowledge there’s something phony and then go around it.

I met my father when I was around 6 years old. Well, technically I’d met him before, there are pictures to prove it, only I was too small to remember. Don’t know if I’d asked questions before, I’d lived all my life with my mother but then, just around this age I guess, I was told I had a father. “Me?? I have a father? You mean like my friends at school!?” I remember my mother telling me they used to go motorbike riding all around Mexico, and I even remember little details like her telling me the exact spot where he used to park his bike. Then I was showed pictures. And then the day came when he was going to pick us up and we’d all go on a road trip. I was kind of disappointed when he didn’t show up in his bike, mom had forgotten to mention the three of us didn’t fit in one.

One of the pictures I was shown

I guess it must have been between the ages of 6 to 8 or 9-ish that this sort of event happened. After a period of time that seemed like ages to me, he would show up with presents and we’d all go travelling to all sorts of places. Later I figured out that we went on what might have easily been covered up as “business trips”, because he’s always gone on those because of his job. Then it all stopped. Daddy didn’t love Mommy anymore.

Me and my father on a trip

Me and my father on a trip

After this period, my mother would nag me to make me call him, like it was my duty. Had I been older, I might have said something like: “Now, wait just a minute, why should I call him, isn’t it HIS responsibility to at least check up on me???” But I wasn’t older, I was still a girl, and I had always been scared of him. So, I was made to call him to his office, and I was told to change my name when I did so, probably so the secretary wouldn’t ask why a girl with her boss’s same last name and who wasn’t his wife’s daughter was calling…or something.

So, my responsibility included calling him and asking him to meet me, and during this meetings, which usually took the form of Saturday breakfasts, I was instructed to ask him for money for all sorts of things. And he would refuse and I’d have to beg. I was also told to say this and that to him, I think my mother was just a step behind making me learn my dialogues, and so seeing or having any form of communication with my father became something I dreaded profoundly. Of course, the breakfasts became more and more spaced, until they stopped too.

The next time I saw my father I was in high school, and I was so filled with anger and hate towards both of my parents that I barely uttered a word during the whole dinner… but I’ll leave the reasons for my feelings to another post.

 

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