For My Sister

I’M A MOTHER. I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy when I too was a child. Only nineteen years old. It’s funny because when I was nineteen years old I thought I was so grown and mature. Now, as I look back years later, I know that I wasn’t ready. And, is it bad to say I was never ready for this responsibility? It doesn’t take away from the present. 

 

I only regret that I used my child as my scapegoat. I used my child as an excuse to stay with him. With the man that abused me for years. Verbally. Physically. Emotionally… That man was a monster, but I wanted the best for my baby boy. So I stayed there slap after slap…the striking right hook to my face. Again and again for not agreeing with his archaic, misogynist, and racist ideals that he wanted to instill into my baby. How I hated this man so much and was so used to pain…constant pain…being treated like a crumbled piece of paper in the wastebasket that was not even worth recycling. I had hoped my tears and bruises would serve as visual reminders that what he was doing was wrong.

 

This was all I knew. When I finally got the strength to leave him, he would use flowers, the “ I love you’s, I never meant it’s, and I’m sorry’s” to try to force me back to his dungeon. He thought we were in a game of poker and I would eventually fold, but he didn’t know I had four of a kind. I won. I won.

 

But why, why did it feel like I didn’t? This emptiness, these insecurities that fog the mirror and my self-worth… I didn’t feel like a winner. My son only saw a champion that wore her smile. He’d ask why his father was gone and why we stayed with abuela… but how could I be the one to tell him his father wasn’t the superhero he believed him to be. He was the antagonist in this story. And because of him, I couldn’t allow another man to actually love me. Abuse was my normal and I don’t know how to separate my normal from realistic expectations. I’m broken.

Jersey Girl

New Jersey. My home.

A densely-populated state yet my choice of companionship seemed rather unfortunate.

People and places on every exit of the parkway.

Rutgers on exit 130.

Exits seeming so paradoxical because I would never take exit 141 again… I even avoid reading certain highway signs because I connect city names with previous lovers.

Exit 147- where my home used to be. The home my family lived in the farce of a nuclear family, the American Dream, and happiness.

Eventually, my cheating father and lonely mother parted. But, everything is far more complicated than that.

Now I live off of exit 145…recovering from all the wounds that disturb my peace.

All consuming and exhausting from all the men who wanted me for convenience or stripped my innocence.

New Jersey, the garden state. Well, its home. Where all my experiences- my ups and my downs contribute to who I am.

So, Thank you New Jersey for giving me memories with friends and family, drunken nights in Hoboken, summers spent at the beach, apple picking and pies in the fall, and for allowing me to meet the people I was meant to and discarding the rest like pollution along the shore.

I’ve finally met the right man I can share infamous New Jersey diners with at 3 am or 3 pm.

I’m not a secret.

I’m wanted and loved. Thank you New Jersey.