I am in therapy. Even looking at that sentence used to give me the perennial willies. People who need to talk to professionals about their “problems” were just little mommy’s boys or girls who have daddy issues. That’s truly how I thought and boy I couldn’t have been more wrong. But I grew up in a traditional Latino household where your “issues” were either handled through sport, discussion or just plain ol’ keeping it inside.
Dad and mom were too busy working to sit down and just talk about my problems. And my brothers were nine and six years older than me; too busy to hear me out. Growing up, I always felt either too Mexican, and not enough like a Jew or sometimes the exact opposite (especially on the High Holy Days where I think we’re all too Jewish). A little background into my history: my father was a successful salesperson, selling small appliances to heavy Mexican merchants like Dorian’s and Sanborns (the Mexican version of WalMart and CVS…sorta). Yet in 1994, the Mexican President, Carlos Salinas de Gortari decided to leave his six years in office with a little more than just stationary and pens. He went on a shopping spree with the Mexican treasury. Now I’m not a Mexican history expert so some of my facts might be askew but this is what I recall from being a 14 year old kid.
The Devaluation, as it’s called in Mexico hit the border region hard. The Mexican peso dropped from approximately 3:1 (pesos to US dollars) to 7:1 and has reached as far as 12:1. Hitting puberty at this time was challenging. Seeing my father lose everything he had worked so hard to get was even harder. We went from owning a house with a Jacuzzi and lawn in Chula Vista to briefly living with my aunt and uncle then renting a small town house in the newer part of Eastlake.
I shared a room with my oldest brother, and never had privacy (again I was 14 he in his early 20’s). It was hell. When my brothers used to come into the bathroom while I was showering I would hide in the shower behind a towel. We laugh about it now, but back then, I was just terrified. Terrified of them seeing me; of anyone really seeing me to be honest. We lived in that little rented townhome for over 10 years and I truly never left it. The feeling of not wanting to be seen, of wanting to hide when someone entered a room. Of people truly seeing the real me. I’m in my mid-thirties now, married and hoping soon to start a family. I never want my child to feel like I felt.
So I’m doing something that I thought I’d never do. I’m going to therapy. Now I know it’s not the smartest thing to openly write about this, but I want to do this. I want to bare my soul to the people who read my article. For if you’re one of those lucky few, you’ll take this trip with me. I want to reach that one person, that one guy who’s having issues in life or that one girl who wakes up with questions. I’m one of you. You’re not alone. And I’m taking the first step in becoming a better husband, a better future father, a better man. I’ll let you know how my first couple sessions go. Here goes nothing.