in the absence of love

this post will be mostly rambling.  i wont pay much attention to punctuation.

i read a blog post this morning about feeling ugly.  about using your body and sexuality to satisfy the longing to feel love.  to feel pretty. to feel wanted.  i post a lot of poetry, some of which allows the reader a glimpse of me.  i hadnt intended to write anything too deep and revealing about myself.  but you know when you feel that tug, that urge to purge.  more for your sake than for the entertainment of the eyes that will take the time to read the delicate details of your life.  well anyway, it got me to thinking about my childhood.  or should i say the lack of my childhood.  i remember as a little girl wanting attention from my father so badly. and never getting it.  my mother was more present in my life than he was.  but even her presence was a distant one.  like she wasnt nurturing really. nor was my grandmother.  but they were there nonetheless.  my grandmother “cared” for me.  She lived with us until i was about 9yrs old.  she walked me to school.  and she picked me up most afternoons.  on the days when she didnt i would come home and there would be devil dogs (or some chocolaty equivalent) and milk waiting for me.  i would inhale them while watching duck tales.  the intro to that cartoon still makes me sad.  i would do my homework and eventually fall asleep.  i would wake to the jingle of Three’s Company and a piping hot plate of mashed potatoes, puerto rican style pork chops (the best) and some kind of vegetable being placed on a tray in front of me.  i can almost smell the pork chops when i hear the intro to Three’s Company even today.  we didnt eat dinner as a family.  my father was usually working, or pretending to work.  my mom wasnt home from work yet.  and honestly i dont recall her.  she suffered from depression and my memories of her at that time are vague.  she didnt play with me.  she didnt tickle me or read me stories.   i didnt realize those were the things i was longing for.  but i felt the void.  and even though my grandmother wasnt emotional with me, i felt her love in the things that she did with me and for me.  my relationship with father was weird.  he was a drug addict and alcoholic and abused my mother viciously. but i loved him so much.  i saw his heart during his sober moments. and i knew that he was hurting.  he never came to my performances. he didnt come to my elementary school graduation. i was salutatorian and had to make a speech.  and received a personalized trophy.  it was my first ever since i was never enrolled in any kind of sport or dance class.  i remember looking for him in the audience. wishing the ceremony would stall a bit to give him time to come rushing through the doors.  i imagined him making eye contact with me and smiling a proud smile.  i remember going home after the ceremony and finding him passed out drunk on the sofa.  when he did finally wake up.  he beat my mother for making him miss my graduation.  while other kids were at diners with their families celebrating, i was watching my mother being dragged from one room to another.  my grandmother pleading with him to stop. her hands motioning to her chest.  when the chaos was over.  the quietness was deafening.  each party retreating to a corner. i never felt so alone.  i remember going outside that day and sitting on a bench in my graduation dress wishing someone would come after me to console me.  but they never did.  console me.  have you ever run away from someone hoping they would run after you?  i was an only child. and my desire for attention and love was so intense.  more than anything i wanted to be daddy’s girl.

rewinding a bit.

when i was 6yrs old, my mother cut off all my hair.  she didnt know how to manage my kinky curls.  in hindsight i dont think it was so much that she didnt know how or couldnt, i think she just couldnt be bothered.  this may not seem like such a big thing, but it was to me.  i had this mini afro thing going on until the age 11.  those 5yrs were painful.  i was skinny and awkward looking with an afro.  this was the 80′s.  my best friend had long hair, she would braid it and do all kinds of cute things to her hair.  i felt so ugly and was often mistaken for a boy.  did i mention i had HORRIBLE acne?  putting an image together in your head?  yes i was fugly.  i hated to walk by groups of people.  i could feel them staring at my face, even when they werent.  i would choose a seat on the bus based on what side of my face was less pimply.  there was this grocery store around the corner from my building. it was a major hang out.  almost like a community center.  men holding drinks in brown paper bags.  my dad was always one of them.  little kids running in and out with ten cent ices and quarter waters.  women chatting about this and that.  i walked in one day and the woman who owned it was standing there with the woman who would cut my hair.  i am not sure how my pimples became a topic.  but they did.  i hated that.  at least you have a pretty face.  thats what they said to me.  you’re not an ugly girl, imagine if you were ugly and had acne.  i felt the tears forming, gave them a fake but kind smile, and ran out of the store.  i learned the art of fake smiling very early on in life.  i had to do it every time someone would ask me, how are you doing?  i would smile and say fine.  when really everything was a mess.

ok so i am 12yrs old and my hair is growing out.  another awkward stage but i tried to work it as best i could.  my breast began to grow. my hips widened.  and my flat ass became a plump bulge in the back.  and just like that.  ATTENTION.

mmmm damn mami.

i like that ass.

hey chula.

can i have some of that.

hey sexy.

psst psst.

hey mami, lemme get cha number.

dame chocha.

mira mami, venir aquí.

it felt so good.  i was aware of my sexuality and the effect it had on men.  i loved the attention.  it made me feel good to be noticed. to be wanted. to feel desired.  i would dress to accentuate my lady lumps.  my breast were perky. my skin was smooth.  my legs were long.   my friends were already having sex.  i was still a virgin.  i had learned how to masturbate.  it was actually an accident that happened while taking a bath.  but i knew that i liked it and did it often.  i remember the things i would fantasize about while masturbating.  they were odd for a child of my age.  being restrained. gagged even.  but i didnt have the urge to have sex.

i eventually did have sex that year.  I didnt like it.  it didnt feel good to me. but i loved the power in my pussy.  i remember standing in front of a mirror.  my youthful body tanned from a day at the beach.  the neon colors of my bathing suit popping in contrast to my bronzed skin. i loved what i saw.  after years of hating the way i looked.  the feeling of being able to look in the mirror and be in love with my reflection was intoxicating.

the male attention. a poor substitute for the love i craved from my father.  it filled the void only for a moment.  the space he left in my heart is unfillable.

Vanessa xoxo

  1. Damn, mesmorized you had me with this entry. And rest assured, you could have gone on and on and I would read every bit. I can relate to so much of what you’ve poured out your heart and mind. This was a powerful and I thank you so much for sharing this part of yourself, V. Family is so precious whether they affect our lives for the better or worse, they affect us the most and that’s something I know I struggle with constantly.

    “i am not sure how my pimples became a topic. but they did. i hated that. at least you have a pretty face. thats what they said to me. you’re not an ugly girl, imagine if you were ugly and had acne. i felt the tears forming, gave them a fake but kind smile, and ran out of the store. i learned the art of fake smiling very early on in life.”

    Ok, this made me chuckle a little, although I know it was traumatic for you, I only chuchle because I had similar experiences, heard the same “song and dance” about how I was pretty, so somehow that didn’t make my pimples that they were actually conversating about count as much. I actually have a picture of me and my older sister and in it I am sporting a freshly applied “oatmeal face mask” like… one that I made from scratch, lmao. That’s how serious I was about getting rid of pimples.

    At the risk of posting a long winded ass comment, which I think I’ve already accomplished… thank you for sharing another glimpse into you.

    • i used to use the tinted oxy cream. i caked it on tho because it really didnt offer that much coverage. fluorescent lighting was my worst enemy! i was sitting in class one day, and the prettiest girl in school, Nesa (she was something like hawaiian and puerto rican), i hated how pretty she was, her skin was like unnaturally smooth, anyway she looked at me….and she was like…. “what is that all over your face, are you wearing make up?” she chuckled at the end of the sentence, struggled to get the last few words out. because really, what 12 year old wears foundation? i wanted the floor to open up and swallow me, desk and all. it didnt. i just nodded yes and looked away. i wanted to say “fahah wears make up!” but fahan was indian so i guess it was ok. she wore lots of jewelry and make up, but no one thought anything of it because she was indian. i rolled my eyes at fahah sitting in the corner looking like a child prostitute. to make matters worse. it rained that afternoon and i didnt have an umbrella. i knew if my face got wet… all the make up would streak and i would look even more of a hot mess. so as my friends headed to the corner candy store to annoy the owner for the next hour shouting out which candies they wanted like they were on the stock market floor… i ran home.

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