This video was to accompany the post and I don’t know how to blog.
Some friends may know that when it comes to Spanish music, I recoil.
I get questioned as to why pretty much 100% of the time. For most people, music makes them happy. For many second-generation Latinos like myself, this is the branch between being American and being from wherever-your-family-is-from.
The way I recoil is also very immediate, and usually in horror/disgust. Seriously. If I was previously dancing, I will immediately stop, look for the closest chair and sit down. Most likely, my mood will drastically go from “Yay!” to, “I want to leave. Now.”
My reaction is overreactionary. I don’t even react to Justin Beiber and his ilk as strongly.
I have been called “arrepentida”, which makes no sense because I speak, read and enjoy the Spanish language, and my favorite thing about having studied political science was learning about Latin America. And just no.
For most of my life, my father was a raging bull of an alcoholic. He only stopped drinking heavily because he needed a liver transplant. He got one and is alive and all that. We still don’t have a great relationship and probably never will, and our story would make a really great book some day. He pretty much ruined Spanish music for me. I have those crazy flashback-reaction moments, and describing that in full detail would entail a lot more writing.
So today, facebook got me clicking one link after the other until I came around to something from El Salvador, where my dad’s from. I came upon one of his favorite bands. I clicked. I stepped away from myself and listened. The orchestra is fantastic. The lyrics are quite nice. Some of them are moving, actually. I listened to a few songs. I did enjoy them. I didn’t recoil (too much).
There’s no real point to this. I’m talking about myself and my internal psycho-babble. My writings are essentially notes on my own analysis. I feel that I do this so well that I am a horrible client for therapists because I end up arguing with (or even lecturing!) them about “what does this mean?”
So when I’ve asked for an older therapist and I’ve been questioned about it, it does mean that yes, I do not trust a younger therapist’s judgement. I’ve literally left different therapists speechless, which is when I realize that I’m wasting my time and money. Out of five therapists I’ve seen, only one actually helped me. I could also write a lot more about this (notes to self). Therapy is hard not just because it’s therapy. You actually have to like your therapist, too.
I will never be able to “just enjoy”. I probably will remain uncomfortable dancing to Spanish music, and please don’t make me, because there are many battles to fight and I really don’t feel like putting any effort into this one. I will probably always think about my father, because that’s what messed up relationships can do to a human.
One of the interesting things I feel from other obvious emotions is regret mixed in with a little anger. I could have had great memories with this music. I could have thought about Christmases past and other family reunions with fondness instead of the jumbled mess I feel. I’m mad at the missed opportunity.
I’ll just go ahead and add that when I see friends sharing a beer with their fathers, I get pretty jealous. I’ll never be able to go out with my dad, share a couple dozen oysters at a seaside restaurant, and wash it down with something cold and refreshing. I’ll never have him over for dinner to have a hearty Italian meal with a robust red wine. I’ll never have a good conversation with him over a neat whiskey. I’ll never be able to listen to this music and share a dance with him, or anyone. It kind of sucks. It would have been nice, I think.
I’ll never get to know my father as an adult, and let that relationship mature and grow the same way my relationship with my mother has grown up. I love how we can tell each other nearly anything, and I never tire of her company. I find my mother to be an interesting human being. I love having her become my friend.
So, my regrets. Aside from having all that in-the-moment bullshit I dealt with by having an abusive alcoholic father, and the years of therapy and crap that followed it, I now deal with the regret of not being able to have my father today.
He’s alive, but our relationship will never have, not even for a moment, the kind of fondness, trust and comfort that I wish it could have had. I can only call him a “father” when I recall my early childhood, before the shit hit the fan between us — apart from my parent’s divorce. He’s practically a stranger to me now. I can’t comfortably call that man “my father” today.
Not even for a moment.
One of the few things I’ve learned after therapy is that once these moments happen - a breakthrough, if you will - is that it can get you all wound up, and you really should not let these realizations get to you. It should be treated carefully. It’s very easy to relive each moment, with many renditions of shoulda-woulda-coulda. Hindsight can be difficult to deal with.
Another thing I have learned is that even though things are theoretically fixable, it doesn’t mean that it can and will be. My father is alive, and theoretically, I can put in the effort to fix our relationship. I know he wishes things were different like I do, too. Theoretically, it can be fixed. Still, there is a huge blotch in it that is over ten years long, and some stains just won’t come out.
Maybe the kind of relationship we have today is as good as it’s going to get for a while. Maybe it needs more time. Maybe this is it. Uncertainty is also another difficult thing I had to learn to accept.