I always felt a strong kinship to my Latina side but I have to say I barely know my own origins. I talked about it before in a previous post but this struggle still bubbles up. Sometimes it gives me this immense sadness and other times I feel incredible anger. Regardless of which strong emotion comes up, I feel powerless because I look at my past self. The child I was and how I didn’t know what a torta was because I only associated tortas as Mexican sandwiches but when we were in Guatemala for the first time, they brought out this pastry. My younger brother Willie was the one who was most shocked and I barely remember it but it feels like these memories my brothers have are unlocking those dormant emotions.

What I do remember was feeling so frightened when we first stepped off the plan. I didn’t want to leave my mother’s side as she cried and hugged these strangers. I had no idea who they were, they ended up being family. There was no proper introduction, it was as if we were expected to know who they were. We were supposed to behave perfectly in front of people we had never met. It was expected that we knew everything about Guatemalans and their lives, yet we hadn’t a clue.

I still don’t and yes, now I am adult and a lot of it is within my power but it’s hard not to revert to that instinct I had as a kid. My instinct to stay in my comfort zone. As a kid that was clinging to my emotionally abusive mother. Now as an adult it is to learn and ask about other people’s cultures. I am intrigued by them but when it comes to my own origins, I have this burning shame inside that sits at the surface. It’s like I’ll burst into tears at the idea of even asking about any of it because I feel like such an imposter.

I know next to nothing. I get teased for not knowing the entire Spanish vocabulary. I am distant with my parents due to their toxicity. If I ask my family in Guatemala, they will feed it back to my parents and I really want to leave them out of it. I have this shit holding me back. I fight that urge to give up so soon but I am overwhelmed. I don’t even know where to start in order to unpack where I came from.


Family Secrets

Soon it will be 20 years since I last set foot in Guatemala. The last time I went, I was 9 years old and it was an anxious trip for me. I think that’s when my anxiety fully started. I didn’t know it then, what it was. These feelings bubbling inside me. I didn’t understand and my family sure didn’t. I was supposed to get my shit together because this was a major family reunion. My Spanish had to improve and I had to be polite. I was excited to see the Mayan ruins at Tikal but there were a lot of other things that happened–many photos captured were of me in tears and splotchy faced; forced to be in front of the camera.

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