Last month my father kicked the bucket. The tone tells you we were not close. The first thing that my family said to me was to forget it all and forgive him. I was furious. This man did wrong by us and he never made an effort to get to know me. I know that they meant well because they want me to heal. They want me to move on. But why is it that death becomes an automatic clean slate for most. Even for those who do not deserve it.
All these years I harbored anger. I bottled up a lifetime of resentment. And all of a sudden, because he died I am supposed to just “forget about it?” I know that most of us need to shield our vulnerability so that we do not hurt even more so. Coping with unwarranted situations is understandable, and in many cases, there is no other choice. But to sweep it under the rug is not healthy. Any therapist would agree.
To move on without closure is like already dating someone new while you are still trying to break up with another. Why do we complicate our lives like that? LGBT lives are wounded lives. We are surrounded by people who hurt us. For us, healing is especially tricky. We overcome milestones just to figure out who we are. And on top of that, after they hurt you, you just forgive them?
There has to be accountability somewhere.
In Latino culture, telenovelas teach us to endure a lifetime of pain. Good eventually overcomes evil. Life is not a telenovela. LGBT people cannot live life by this philosophy. Waiting for redemption is a luxury not many can afford. We need to learn and teach one another to stand up for ourselves. Resilience is one of our best defense mechanisms. Fighting back should be one too. We have lived in the shadows one day too long.
All this month my mom kept telling me “ya hijo, olvida el pasado que de nada te sirve recordar…” I love my mom. But I could not disagree more with her. The past is what made me be who I am today. The good times. The bad times. The lessons learned. It is all important. They are all threads of a life sawn together. History repeats itself because we do not learn from the past, or at least we try to pretend that it did not happen. It is understandable. No one wants to remember pain. But knowing where I come from makes me stronger; and knowing where I come from allows me to see where I am going…
I think of the past as a beacon. It is there to guide us. When we feel lost, our past is that beacon that shows us our way home. To bury a past is to bury a huge part of ourselves. Who wants to live like that! As empowered LGBT individuals we must take control of our lives. This includes our present, our future, but also our past. What we do with what life has put us through will determine how we heal. We can look in the mirror and embrace life for the roads traveled. Or we can forget it all and sail into the unknown with no compass.
As this chapter in my life closes, I pick up the pen to begin writing the next one. With my father’s death, Pandora’s box was opened. It will take time to sort out my feelings. Healing is a process. Healing takes time. Do not be too quick to say forget it and move on as you may be killing a big part of you. There is a reason why a wound leaves a scar.
…Don’t ignore it.
legacy is committed to empower and strengthen the lives of LGBT individuals.
Santa Bárbara * Santa María * Ventura * Los Angeles
legacy – what’s yours…
By Joseph García