The Unfamiliar

The fallout continues. Monday’s argument with my dad  really wrecked havoc on me. So much so that I barely remember what happened. I get these moments of calm and moments of anxiety (feelings of being alone) throughout the day/night and it’s unsettling. I realize that what has been happening throughout my life has been a series of fractures and Monday was a major one.

To me it’s like a chick hatching from an egg. So much struggling resulting in fractures against the safety and familiarity it knows. The safe familiar structure served a useful purpose but no longer applies, it no longer fits. A chick will struggle and have periods of surrender, then struggle some more fighting to get out. Then it emerges into a new unknown place. But unlike a chick, I am not so confident in what is happening or where I am going.

Loss and grief are huge painful moments of growth and in addition to loosing what I knew as my family (the ability to relate with them), I’ve also lost my ability to relate to my culture. I’ve always felt like an outsider in both, but I was able to be in relation with them. Now I am simply a stranger to both. We have not much in common yet so much in common.

As a people, we are only a little over 650 years old. Among other things, we are a people birthed out of oppression and shame. I am not saying that we are ashamed to be Mexican, but that we are a product of an opressive presence that shamed our indigenous selves. I believe that we have inherited that shame and have passed it down through the centuries. I can only speak from my experience as a Chicana in the U.S. when I say that I see my culture living in a reactive way. In reality, I see everyone and every race, living in a reactive way, but I can only speak for that which I know.

Our people have so needed to stay together to survive that the concept of loosing family is a huge paradigm shift. It triggers anxiety and a sense of ungratefulness, and leaves me in a place of unfamiliarity. As  child when you are scared by the outside world you would want to run to the “safety” of your family, I am scared now and have no family to run back to. They cannot help me with this. In the meantime I have no idea how to relate with them. What do I say? What do I do? It’s painful when all around me all I see is other Mexican/Chicano/a families being in relation with each other (healthy or not). They spend weekends together, take care of each others children, have celebrations, etc. and I can’t relate at all.  This leaves me feel like the biggest traitor at times.

But yesterday I remembered something. Many indigenous cultures practiced different rights of passage. I am not familiar with those that females experienced, but I know in some tribes young men had to venture out on their own and learn to survive as an individual. When/If they returned they were no longer the same person that they once were and were no longer perceived as the same person. I have also heard that in some nations they were also given a new name. The person also came back with a new perspective of the tribe. The end result being a collective of individuals in healthier relation to each other. You lived for the good of the individual and the good of the tribe.

Yesterday I realized that the journey out of the tribe is where I am at now. I began to accept that this unfamiliar place (and my fear of it)  is a sign of change. I am no longer in the familiar enmeshment of my family. I am teetering between reacting with them and reacting against them, and all the while trying to find the equanimity of just being me without reacting at all.

Again I have to say, I wouldn’t have been able to understand this without the help of my therapist and the ACA group. Although my family can not give me the knowledge of how to survive on this journey out of the tribe, my therapist and ACA can. And I love them immensely for that.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rob
    Feb 18, 2011 @ 08:30:31

    I too am scared with this whole new prospect in my life-There really is no family to fall back upon-only my own dreams and aspirations-I’ve always (more or less)only had that to fall upon.It took a long time to trust myself,and I feel somewhat stronger now then I have in quite a while.My fear of failing is once again creeping up on me-I’ve never done something on a grand scale as this-T.V. is no place for the insecure,but with the right support,I think this may really work.Abiento alors..

    Reply

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