Trigger Warning: This story contains mention of abuse, suicide, and eating disorders which may be triggering to some.
“As a Mexican-born native woman raised in Houston, it never came easy to live life freely, especially raised by parents who never left their traditional values behind. I was raised with mostly male family members throughout my childhood years, which naturally shifted my curiosity toward gender cues. All-boy friendships were what I was accustom to, and rebelling against the heteronormative norms became a habit. I had discovered my bisexuality from a very young age, and I never had the chance to officially recognize my relationships with women because of the dreadful religious views my family upheld,
‘¡Y ni pienses de estar con una mujer por qué vas a resultar en el infierno!’ (Don’t even think about being with a woman or you’ll end up in hell!) The constant fear of ending up in hell always encircled my mind, so I kept my only ‘girl on girl’ relationship hush-hush. Friends that were clearly a part of the LGBTQ spectrum were always antagonized, judged, and further secluded by my mother: ‘But mom, can I just have one friend spend the night?’ I remember asking excitingly.
‘¡Qué amiga, ni qué amiga, nunca vas a tener una fiesta de pijamas, así que acostúmbrate a esa idea!’ (A friend, not even a friend, you’ll never have a slumber party, so get used to it!)
My father kept his thoughts well conserved, pero (but) my mom siempre era firme con su actitud (always was firm with her attitude), LOUD and CLEAR about everything on her mind. Growing up in a household centered around Catholicism was a bit controversial, and I knew deep down that it was unhealthy and deceiving to my ideals. As an adolescent, I was continuously battling a multitude of monsters like depression, sexual abuse trauma, self-harming, and bulimia, among the list.
The art of writing has been a part of me since I was able to read. Reading became the escape I needed, a parallel world to any other dimension but this one. In most cases, words would jump off the page and I spent the majority of time taming my curiosity behind an encyclopedia. You could say I was deemed the ‘perfect student’ from early childhood. I upheld an Honor Roll status and later was accepted into magnet schools, such as Bethune, Harris, and Drew Academy. Naturally, I was going to graduate high school a year early. My plans for finishing school and continuing onto a prestigious university were looking high.
Until junior year hit, and HE entered my life…
You could say he was always in my life like unwanted background noise that gets heavier as the shift in focus moves from you to them. Jackson was your typical techy geek — slightly squirrely and craved for the attention of whoever would supply it. To my surprise, our friendship of two years always remained platonic and it wasn’t until my final year of high school, classified as a junior/senior, that my education, my dreams, and ambitions were thrown away, at least for the time being.
He had a way with people, this sense of control and confidence that drove my adoration to the next level, similar to your typical novela. Jackson’s ‘chic style’ for sporting Express apparel, traveling from state to state every other month, and his entrepreneurship status would dazzle your average seventeen-year-old. But no, I was just a naïve teenage girl looking for love in all the wrong places, something that was never ensured by myself or my parents.
Two months into our relationship, he convinced me to run away from home, and before you knew it, posters of my face were plastered around all my favorite shops: Wings N More, Hot Topic, Spencer’s, and let’s not forget America’s largest coffee chain, Starbucks. To this day, the truth has not hit daylight, and my family still thinks I was concealed at my BFF’s home, known as, ‘La china cochina,’ because Mexicans are always brutal of other races but their own. Little do they know.
Jackson had premeditated the entire set-up: he hacked into my database to make sure my ‘location’ on the legendary Myspace appeared along the surrounding area of, ‘La china cochina.’ When the police searched his home, I managed to contort myself into the laundry machine, which he threw clothes on to add to the illusion. The consequences of my actions led to an additional year of school, an F on my first college credit class, and moving in con mi abuela (with my grandma). Spring was amongst us, and the trees and flowers were ravishing as ever, except for me… I was stacking on the pounds and the two broken zippers to my favorite flamboyant colored jeans didn’t seem to shock me too much. In high school, NOBODY liked the cafeteria food, but at those moments, the square pizza with tiny bits of semi-frozen sausage, and smiley face fries were the best entrees of my life, as far as I knew.
‘Girl, I don’t even have a vehicle or money to afford a pregnancy test!? Just help me with this please, I am sure it’s negative either way; I only had sex once, and that was 4 months ago!’ I pleaded to Lucy, my only friend I had since I enrolled in this ghetto lower-end high school. Those prominently pink double tinted lines paralyzed every inch of my body, as adrenaline took charge of my jittery fingers and I rushed to call the 1-800- number listed on the back of the paper-thin ‘First Response’ box, just so I could gain the reassurance I needed. I felt numb from overthinking what exactly would happen once I revealed the news to my family.
Like ‘OH-SO!’ typical Mexican parents, I was kicked out from home, and Jackson was pressured into taking me and our future child in as I further plummeted into the ‘happy wife, happy life’ adulation. It never dawned on me that a child would be the metamorphosis I needed to flip my life to a complete 360. Red flags arose from the beginning of our relationship, but like many, ‘I was wrapped up in the euphoria of love’ — specifically as a teen mother. He pulled the stars and moon down for me, and I was intoxicated by a head infused with oxytocin.
Oftentimes he would blackmail me that if I ever left him, he would kill me or worse: take our daughter away forever.
After that chilling night, I knew the power he had over me. He discovered a pair of gifted Victoria’s Secret underwear from a fellow female coworker. This was the only trigger needed, which resulted in unsolicited sexual advances and Timmy Chan’s takeout thrown all over me as if I was literal trash.
Jackson would often compensate for his ‘crazy’ behavior and would release his hidden anger from past ignored mental disorders and inner homophobia.
This backlash landed me to the point of suicide, once again, which in turn I am thankful for since it brought me to share this testimony. My confidential diary became the only place for my beliefs, ideas, and relinquished fears; it was embedded deep inside my brain, with no lock, no key for anyone to try to crack.
Throughout my life, I was always told, ‘Crystalita, la mujer siempre obedecerá a su esposo, no importa que acciones lleguen de eso…’ That a woman should always obey her man and succumb to his desires and control. Mi propria familia (my own family) never had the slightest idea of the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse he ensued on me from time to time. Amongst our seven years together, Jackson had managed to ‘justify’ his abuse by offering extrinsic rewards like trips around the world and materialistic conformities. What person doesn’t like to be wined and dined? He took me all over the world: Amsterdam, Italy, and California amongst the few. This became habitual comportment on his behalf, so I used it to my advantage and enrolled in school. I had only my high school diploma to fall back on, and a history of only a handful of years mixing up concoctions at your local wing bar.
But Lezbehonest…in the real world, that does not afford you not even half of an apartment in the poverty-stricken end of Greens Road, Houston, Texas. Personally, I knew from the bottom of my heart that I had to work extra hard to be able to escape this relationship, now considered a ‘common-law marriage’ since we were theoretically, ‘viviendo en pecado’; ‘living in sin’ as my mom would mention frequently. Therefore, I decided to make a plan for a plan: my goal was to finish my bachelor’s and finally live on my own and end this nightmare. BUT a twist of events flourished before me. One day, his rage got the best of him, and before I knew it his hands were pressing around my neck. My mother’s estrogen-stricken sixth sense led her to call the police, and I reported the seven years of incidents alongside a mini-collection of screenshots used as proof of his blackmailing schemes to the authorities.
Melancholic memories spurred back into my life, yet I had survived life without Jackson, for a measly two months. My yearning to feel loved landed me pregnant from a failed one-month relationship with an old flame, and my stubbornness to give Jackson one more chance drew me back to square one. Usually, most people always think that others have the capacity to change, but I had to learn the hard way: times 200. Upon learning I was carrying another life, I managed to finish my associate degree, and I worked two jobs from my first trimester until I wound up induced on emergency orders. Jackson was still taking hold of my life, my emotions, and he was endangering not only my life but also the baby.
‘Crystal… You know what you have to do! Stop letting him control you, you are stronger than you know: trust yourself, trust the universe… Everything is going to work out!’ These thoughts were all I clung to as I was giving birth to my second daughter, and instead of aiding me in the childbirth, Jackson was in the corner infuriated that I was giving birth to a daughter that was not his. Due to a lack of mental care, an atrocious case of ‘pregorexia’ contracted from a fear of gaining any weight, Lily was born premature, and I was branded as urgent care, in case I were to catch a case of ‘baby blues.’ Jackson’s double life elicited this domino effect of incidents. Before this turn of events, I happened to come across a few pictures of him and a familiar woman, only to find out he was living with her since he reentered my life, and ironically, life was growing within her also.
Though this information may seem shocking, it brought me to the lowest point in my life, and it followed through with some of the most dreadful moments I ever had to endure, as I grappled to hold my life together. Upon the end of my maternity leave, I was accepted to attend the University of Houston. As I was recovering from a swarm of swallowed trauma, writing gained a new purpose in my life: a therapeutic one.
Poetry became one of my preferred literary mechanisms to echo my drowned-out feelings, and it even became displayed at The Healing Gallery at an exhibition that caters to the voices of artists who have undergone any type of traumatic experience, through the use of writing, painting, dancing, musical composition and even sculpture works.
As I began getting accustomed to university life, it became crystal clear that I wanted to pursue a career along the path of being an educator or writer. Which led me in pursuing my BA with a major in Liberal Studies and three minors in Psychology, Education, and English Literature. Finally, I allowed myself the freedom I was always entitled to. I began volunteering for LGBTQ organizations around the greater Houston area. My love connections with people of non-labeled identities and sexualities arose, hence my changed identity from bisexual to pansexual. My life began to come together in ways I never dreamt of.
‘Separate ways to touch your mind, subconscious arise in time, energy there is no light, synergy, I see the sign…’ — Tash Sultana (Synergy).
She came like lightning, unannounced, a surge so steadfast it could light up the city of angels. She morphed into my friend, a paramour, but most importantly, my muse. As far as my queer identity goes, I have my muse to thank for that, as I am eternally grateful for her entering my life. Although we are not in each other’s lives anymore, she made a massive impact on my journey to find self-love, something I never felt growing up.
Ultimately, I learned never to expect anything from anyone. I learned that in this world, you have to work for everything you ever hope to accomplish and obtain and that I held the upper hand since I had managed to overcome some very challenging hardships in life. Today, my success lives on, not only through my writing but also in the alteration in my perception, which has permitted me never to give up!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Crys Reyes from Houston, Texas. You can follow their journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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