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 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.
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.