Sunday, May 29, 2016

A note on Amber Heard

I don't think it's any secret that I have some very intense and personal feelings towards the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp story that's been going around. The actual story itself is so sad and truly a horrifying experience to go through. What I find even worse is the reaction coming from the media and even some of my friends as this story develops. I am sickened to see people dismissing Amber’s story because of a narrative they've created of her being a “gold digging whore.” I am sickened by the immediate response to defend Johnny Depp, reminiscing in the gold old days of his relationship with Winona or director Paul Bettany feeling the need to remind his followers on Twitter that he's  “known Johnny Depp for years and through several relationships. He's the sweetest, kindest, gentlest  man that I've ever known. Just saying.”  I am sickened that people are so quick to say “look at this picture of her out the next day with her friends! She looks like she's having a great time and not like she was abused at all. “
Well let me tell you a quick story. The first time my ex put his hands on me was when he became irrationally furious after I made a comment about not liking a girl he knew. I told him I knew he didn't cheat on me and I wanted to move on but he berated me with nasty words and tried to throw me out of the apartment until it escalated and ended with on his knees straddling me while his hand gripped my throat and I fought to breathe. The next day, a friend asked me to tell him everything that happened. I was so ashamed and scared so I kept it simple. “We just got into a big argument. I was being stupid. It's not big deal.” Half a day after that, my ex and I went to the plaza hotel for one of my best friend's birthday. Surrounded by friends and photographers, we put on happy faces and enjoyed the night. My ex was a little off, unsure of who I told and who might know his terrible secret. I went into overdrive to make sure I told him I loved him and that everything was just the way it had been before the incident. “It won't happen again” I remember thinking to myself “if we just forget it ever happened we’ll be normal again.”(Spoiler: it was never normal again and it did happen again.) I asked a friend of ours to take a few photos of us on the beautiful porcelain claw foot bathtub. Two days after I was terrified for my life I was photographed with this man with nothing but smiles, love and praised him on social media, assuring myself and everyone who follows me on Instagram that we were great and stronger than ever. No one knowing that his hands were around my throat two days before. Later on he would deny it, telling everyone I lied while friends rallied around him echoing Paul Bettany’s sentiments. “***** is one of the sweetest, kindest most gentle guys I know. There's no way he could do this.” Or “Emma's got a little crazy in her and ***** is like the most grounded dude I know. She's making it up, he said he didn't do it and I believe him.”
Later, a friend came forward and sent me a message with a screenshot of him admitting what he had done. In his own words, via Facebook message, he admitted to choking me. That screenshot gave me the courage to post A Letter to a Girl That I Once Knew”

I don't know, I've been surprisingly triggered by watching this Amber Heard story unfold and it has brought back intense nightmares that I haven't had all year. I found myself doing dishes a the other day and breaking down for no reason in particular except it popped into my head and my body reacted as it had in the past, panicking. This whole situation shows how truly terrifying it is for a woman to come forward and say “that person that you all know and love, that person I thought I knew and loved, hurt me. And I need to stand up for myself and say something.” I applaud every woman who has come out, spoken out,  and been able to do so regardless of what everyone else says. I applaud future women who will unfortunately go through this and at some point, find the courage to get out of the relationship and speak out against their abusers. I use to feel really sorry for myself, constantly guilt tripping myself for my part in what made him hit me. Wrong. Some people pleaded with me to take my blogpost down because I should think about how it would effect him, his relationships and how saying something like that could damage his reputation. Wrong. I took back my life. I spoke what I know to be the truth and fuck everything else. I am one woman who is proud of Amber Heard for speaking her truth and not being afraid to speak up about a man that everyone loves hurting her. I am proud of every woman that gets the courage to speak up and as cliche as it may seem to say, it does get better. It really does. Take back your power, take back your life. Know that there are people and groups to help you make it to the other side. I know it's hard but it is possible. It is very possible.

This may seem like a long rant and I guess it is but it's hard to watch someone go through something you went through. Even harder to watch that person be scrutinized even more and on a much broader field because they're a celebrity. This is something that stays with you no matter how great your job is, how wonderful your friends are or even how happily married you may end up. It is a trauma. Anyway, I don't really know how to end this except to just say I stand with Amber.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My mother is...

My mother is…
It's 5am on Saturday May 21st, 2016 and I just sat here for the past 15 minutes watching the cursor blink. My mind get noisey, trying to describe the best way to complete this sentence. I picture and endless list of words going down a page but I can pinpoint the one I want to start this story. My mother is…my mother is….my mother, Lucy Narvaez, is….

My mother is beautiful. Her smile taught me what the phrase “her smile lit up the room.” Truly meant. Her dark brown rarely got down to her shoulders as I grew up with her and always stayed perfectly tucked behind her ears. Her hair became straighter as she got older. In the pictures I found of my mother in her 20’s she had curly light brown hair that most people kill to have. The same curly, light brown hair that covered my head when I was a little girl. My mother has the big brown eyes that have a light blue ring around them. Through the years I've seen those eyes filled with love, anger, sadness and happiness and I could spot those eyes anywhere in the room. They're the eyes that lit up when I told my mom that I had been published in a major magazine. They are the eyes that stayed stern as I tried to challenge my mother when I was younger. They are the eyes that filled with tears and then flashed with anger as I told my mother and told her that I had been beaten by a man I loved. Seconds later, they were the eyes that filled with love, empathy and warmth. They were the big, beautiful brown eyes that let me know they everything was going to be ok.

My mother is patient and wise. When I was a teenager I moped around the apartment wrapped in my angst and questioned why my life filled with the crazy drama of boys, friends and other 16 year old woes that seem like the end of the world. When I wasn't sad I was adventurous to a fault, constantly challenging the rules my mother set. At the time, I truly felt my mother was just trying to ruin my fun. When I look back now I look at my mother in awe and wonder. This woman did not turn her back on me when I was cruel and rebellious. When I gave her reasons to hate me, she loved me. When I pushed her away, told her I hated her, screamed at her and fought her on everything, she stayed calm, held me close and gave me advice that I didn't understand as a teenager but I use today. I admire her patience with me and consider her a modern day Saint for it.

My mother is intelligent. The kind of intelligent that doesn't threaten you, but encourages you to learn more. The first in her family to go to college, my mother worked in the education system for 31 years and even now, in her “retirement”, she continues to teach a bilingual education program for future generations to use and flourish with. She encouraged me to write and express myself in ways that spoken words could not convey. She brought out my passion to be curious and to ask questions. Some of my best memories with her are of staying up late night with almost all lights off in the apartment watching the lunar eclipses. Each hour she would have me draw what the moon looked like until eventually it was completely black. The next day my mother would treat me to a day at the planetarium, where we would soak up as much information we could about the moon and discuss it over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in Central Park. I know it's impossible to say someone knows it all but I feel like my mother knows it all and if there is something she's unsure of, she'll make it her job to change that uncertainty to certainty.

My mother is loving. She not only raised my sister and I (9 years apart, a feat I still commend her for) but she watched over my half brother and cousins as well. She brought in her niece as her other daughter raised her as she would one of her own. My mother is a lifeline, a rock, to each of us in such different ways. She's the woman we all know and love but who she is for each of us is different. She has welcomed each of our husband’s to the family and has been excited for three new sons to love and cherish.  She has loved her husband, my father, for 34 years now (this is where my father would chime in “34 LOOOONNNNNNNGGGGG years.”) she has been a loving daughter even when the going, like right now, gets tough. She is a loving sister, keeping her brother’s memory alive even after they have passed.

It truly amazes me that so much love can fit into this petite Puerto Rican woman. This stylish woman, who will dance to Outkast’s “Hey Ya” or Pink’s “Get The Party Started” at any chance she gets. Who spends her Monday night's with milanos, milk and RuPaul's Drag race. The woman who showed me how overcome a phobia and went from shaking from fear anytime she saw a dog to becoming almost as big of a puppy lover as me. I'm honored and humbled to be the daughter of someone so incredible, who brightens the day of every single person she meets. A lot of times, when I'm introduced to people as Lucy’s daughter, I get a reaction somewhere along the lines of “look at little Lucy! Your mother is one of the best people I've ever met, do you know that?” I use to get embarrassed and shy away. Now I just confidently look the person in the eye and say “I do. She's incredible.”

My mother can't just fit into one word, I don't even know why I tried. She's just one of the most wonderful people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. I am blessed to be able to have this magical woman as my role model, my confidant and above all else, my mother. I have big shoes to fill as a woman and mother in my own life but I'm lucky to have had such a good example for all of these years.

Happy birthday mom, you're truly one of a kind.