Thursday, September 26, 2013

I was not supposed to be a Father

Growing up with wrong beliefs took me into a path of challenging relationships and the ultimate misconception about parenthood.

I grew up listening to people’s stories, many of those stories were telling me I would never be able to be a father, to dig even further, some of those stories made me believe I would never be able to love or be loved.In one of those memories I was about 12 years old, I played these sexually charged games with a cousin of the same age, regardless of being so young and having little understanding of feelings, for me that was a relationship. I felt a deep, passioned, love for him. One day we were talking, away from the adults, having our own serious conversation. He said, “You know Juan, because you are this way (gay) you will never have anybody to love you. But me… on the other hand (he never considered himself gay even if he always started to play those games), I will get married, I will find the woman of my dreams and one day I will marry her. We will be at church getting married and you will be sitting in the last row, crying for me, because you love me, but I don’t love you”

I believed him.

I believed my cousin because I loved him, I trusted him and I admired him. What he was saying was painful, but I chose to believe not only because he was right, I was in love with him and he was not, but because his prediction was also supported for many other stories that I was told about been gay and been a sinner.

I agreed.

I made an emotional agreement with myself, that I believed I was not worthy of love.That twelve-year agreement that I made had a great impact on my emotional and psychological life. At that age, after my sexual discovery and the conflictive Catholic believe system that was imposed by my parents; which undoubtedly determined I was a lost soul and I was going to hell, I was ignited to a whole new way to cope with life. The strong belief that I was condemned even when I was the best student at catechism school vs. the strong desire to be a good person and to make my parents proud of who I would become. The conflict, between who I thought I was and who I wanted to be, became so strong and tangible that I started to play the role of the person that everyone wanted me to be, keeping my secret life separate.

I learned to lie.

At one point my facade didn’t work any longer. Teenagers were getting stronger and successful at soccer and I was this rachitic, weak, big teeth kind of kid. My years of high school were hell. I learned to hate my bullies and to build a wall around me to keep everybody away.

I was bitter.

When I left the small town for college I became a time bomb. I wanted to experience everything. I leaned about existentialism and for the first time I didn’t feel alone, there were other people like me. The darkness was a place in which I could survive after all. My desire to please those who considered me less than human were gone. It was the 80’s baby and I was ready to learn how to party. I felt so free, scared but free. Why bother trying to be a good person? I was going to hell anyway. Why even consider finding a nice guy for a relationship if I would never be able to be loved?

I was determined to live my life at the edge. Chasing for pleasure and danger–anything that make me feel something.

I was super intelligent, creative, charismatic and talented yet my cousin’s voice was always in the back of my mind whispering to me that I would never be loved.

My path of auto-destruction lasted for about 30 years, I wouldn’t attribute all of it to this childhood conversation, which only represented my first love lesson. Others’ wicked beliefs added compiled along the way, well organized and purified to the core were a big part of my ever growing shield as well.

At one point in my life my mother told me: when are you going to give me a grandchild? She said that with shyness and almost jokingly, I looked at her and said, “why should I bring a child to an overpopulated world? No way. That answer probably reminded her of a conversation we had few years earlier when I was a kid.

She hung clothes in the backyard as I , frustrated, after trying to play a complicated game I just invented with my 4 siblings, who were younger than me said to her, “why did you have so many kids? We don’t have enough toys, we will never have good opportunities in life, we are stuck…”

She just kept hanging her laundry.

For me,my short answer,as I would come to understand a few years later, was to cover my unequivocal belief that I wasn’t good enough to be a father, I was unable to have any relationship and mostly, because I was gay and I would never change.

When my partner proposed to have children 25 years later, my very first and visceral answer was NO. No, no and no! Besides, what a selfish idea. Bring children that are never going to have a mother. That’s plain wrong. A mom is everything, they take care of us, they nurture us, they don’t answer us when we talk shit, they hang our clothes. A mom is irreplaceable!

Then my partner said, there are different kinds of families, some families don’t have a mom, but if there is love, there is a family. He didn’t try to be pushy with me, but he planted a bug in my mind. The bug grew quickly because of its simple architecture. Any time I prayed or meditated that simple idea, the bug, was always there, intact, impeccable and pure.

Okay, I thought, a kid may not require a mom in order to be happy, since it would be impossible to miss one if he never knew what it was to have a mom. In my book, my mom mainly provided love, and I have love to provide. Now. She is a female… well, I never loved my mom for her gender, I love her for the love she gave me. But could I provide that quality of love? That infinite unconditional love I felt from her? Am I even able to provide any kind of love? I was ready to accept the proposition but there were something missing. I wanted to be sure I was equipped with good knowledge and the right values to form my future son into an emotionally balanced, happy person.

In one of my meditations I had this very loud image. Do you really think human kind depends on their parents’ abilities only? Do you really think kids are the takers and fathers are the givers? Well, think again. Yes, you have to physically protect and feed those children but during the process of raising them, who teaches more? Who provides more in the feeling department?

I had an aha moment.

For the first time I have considered that children are not only here to receive, they are here also to help us to grow and to provide us with a new set of feelings and strengths we would never have without them.

Then I was ready to be a father.

Those old wrong ideas, and lies about myself were gone after I discovered how much passion I had for my children and family. All those sleepless nights and hard work with my partner had endure our relationship. I remained teachable and open to receive what today are the greatest loves of my life. They teach me I am a strong person, I am nurturing and unconditionally loving.

When I talked to my mother about how wonderful was to be a father she said, in a very calm manner: Everybody deserve to feel what it is to be a parent.


The irony.

A few months ago I received a message from my cousin’s sister, asking me about how we had our children, because his brother, my cousin, the guy that was supposed to be forever happy, and his wife of 16 years are still unsuccessfully trying to be parents. I thought how ironic.

I found so much gratitude from the end of this story. I smiled to myself knowing that the lies about me and the agreement was finally buried forever.

Friday, September 20, 2013

No Hope

A raw personal story about addiction, recovery and surrogacy. 

My entire body is in pain, I am barely walking by the side of the road, and I can feel every single piece of gravel imbedded in my feet, and it hurts. I’m thirsty, tired, confused and awfully lost. I want to get rid of all of these feelings, yet I don’t have any energy left, except for one last impulsive idea; a black, shiny and heavy semi-truck heading my way and nobody watching. For a fraction of a second I think, if I jump now it will stop, all this pain and misery will stop. That was my only solution at the moment, but for some unknown reason I didn’t obey my thoughts. Instead I walked slowly, picked up a half of a cigarette that somebody threw on the ground, lit it up and kept walking. I didn’t feel any relief for not killing myself that night because I knew sooner or later an overdose or an angry drug dealer would do the job. I was hopeless and I was convinced that for me, at 40 years old, my life was over.

I couldn’t understand how I got there. Only a few months ago I was drinking champagne with a friend on top of Montjuic Hill, in the Palau Nacional, in Barcelona, while listening to an impeccable orchestra and thinking, there is nothing better than this! I felt like I was at the pinnacle of the world and nothing would bring me down. But this night, I was walking at the side of the road, lost.

A few days later, after my miserable attempt to finish my life, I was done. I was ready to ask for help and to accept I would never be able to stop using drugs by myself. All I wanted at that point was not to die. I didn’t want my career back. I didn’t want my house back or my belongings back. I was desperate and I didn’t want to die. I went to my first Narcotics Anonymous meeting, and from there everything traveled uphill. This time it wasn’t a materialistic hill, like I had always thought was the solution to any problem. This time it was a journey of self-discovery, and the beginning of a connection with a power bigger than myself.

This time the growing was from the inside out. Something I never felt before.

After two years in recovery, free of Alcohol and Drugs, I met my partner, Patrick. We met like most guys met these days, online. I didn’t have any expectations of finding a partner, and all I wanted was a distraction for the night. In fact, I was praying a few days before, asking God to help me not to get into another relationship. At this time I wanted to take a nice break and enjoy my “solo” time.

Well, once again, things didn’t go my way.

Patrick and I dated for about a year, following the suggestion of my NA sponsor. After a year of getting to know each other, we were ready to commit, and we moved in together. My partner, which is the opposite of me, had a very organized and stable life. One day, he told me he had always wanted to be a father. I heard that like somebody was telling me, one day, I would like to be a Hollywood star.

Three months later, I was helping him paint the new house which he had just purchased, and I found him painting one of the guest bedrooms in a pale green color. It wasn’t a lime-green or rich kelly green, but one of those soft watercolor greens that makes you grit your teeth. I asked him why he was using that color, and he responded softly and quietly. “Oh, because this is the baby’s room. This is the nursery.”

The room spun. I felt like he was pushing me away. I had never considered a situation like this, in any relationship. I was in love with him, and I was hoping for our relationship to last. He was determined to have children. He had a visual board with pictures of pregnant women tacked to it. Rickey Martin and his children smiled back at me, among others.

After meditating, praying, and talking to my close friends, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t be just a witness of how he would create his progeny. I needed a clear position on the family situation. There were two possibilities:
To leave. To refuse to have a relationship with someone determined to have children by himself.
To stay and to be involved 100% of the way.

My decision was to stay. He is the love of my life, and I am in all the way. He was generous enough to let me into his life, and to share his dreams with me. A few days later we both were learning about surrogacy, egg donors, and adoptions laws. What amazed me the most was as soon as I accepted the possibility of becoming a parent, something clicked in my brain. I started to fantasize about having a son. I thought about teaching him to build tree houses and cardboard houses, (I’m an architect) and it felt good. I was excited!

We both become the sperm donors and we purchased eggs from an anonymous donor, (they should not be called donors since they charge a lot of money) we flew to L.A. and started our surrogacy journey.

A year later, after a series of trips, and a lot of baby gear shopping, I flew to San Diego, and waited until our surrogate called us. Our baby was coming! We rushed to the hospital, excited, scared, and overwhelmed. We waited for hours in the delivery room. It was awkward because by the end of the pregnancy, we were having a complicated relationship with our surrogate. All of us were ready to finish the deal and run away from each other. However, we remained polite and grateful. A group of nurses and doctors entered the room and while they were preparing her for delivery, they asked me if I wanted to receive the baby. I wasn’t sure what they meant, but I say yes. I thought they would hand me the baby, all clean and dressed, and I would smile for the picture. Well… no, I was wrong in the second part, because they handed me the baby but just straight from the womb, a baby still connected to her body by the umbilical cord, a baby time with all sort of fluids and textures.

I almost passed out. As soon as I looked at my son, I cried. I sobbed. I can’t explain my emotions. His birth was a symbolic and emotional rebirth for me. After my partner cut the umbilical cord, they moved our baby to a table where they cleaned him and checked him to make sure he was healthy. From the table he wailed, and I knew it was a good sign for a newborn. He looked so vulnerable. He was alive, yet fragile, and I couldn’t avoid feeling his pain as my own. I put one of my fingers close to his hand, instinctively, to help him and he grabbed it, he grabbed my finger very hard. In that moment I felt a strong connection, an unbreakable connection. I also felt how that little hole I had left in my soul was closing forever. I felt strong and ready to dedicate the rest of my life to the well-being of this child, my child.

Today I believe something bigger than me stop me from jumping into that truck, something bigger than me took me from my path of auto-destruction and place me into a path of recovery and decided that my purpose in life was to rise 4 beautiful children of my own and to have a full life.

Today I have hope.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I am getting published by other than myself

I am a bit nervous, tomorrow is a big day to me. I'm going to be published in English language for the first time. For this immigrant, who learned to speak the language only a few years ago, to become a writer is a very big deal.  I've always loved to write in my native language and I’ve always dreamed with writing a book; today I can feel that moment is getting closer. I am fortunate to have a couple of wonderful people who encourage me and tell me what I write matters, and grammar? Oh that is something anybody can fix for you... 

It has been a while since I wrote anything in the blog. I get so busy building our FaceBook Page, it takes a lot of effort to get some 600 followers. The results are overwhelming to me. I just discovered people really love baby stuff. 70% of my audience are females which tell me about women preferences and it build in my a new kind of respect for the opposite sex. 

I have people visiting the page from all over the world with an specific predominance of English speakers, Spanish goes second and some french got lost online and found my page too! 

Social Media is exciting, doing the right things and following a few rules you can get immediate results. Lots of instant gratification I must have to say. What can be better for this addict. However keeping an audience is a lot of work. Specially when the only subject is your own. 

These are exciting times!