If my life were to have a theme, it’d be of restraint. Deprivation. The things I didn’t do.
That time when I didn’t say anything when the 9th grade health teacher assumed I’d plagiarized a research paper.
The time when the coworker said she didn’t see me as a person of color.
When my voice teacher said she didn’t see race and didn’t think my being Latina was important.
When my dental hygienist said she wasn’t OK with immigrants who just sat around and did nothing.
I’ve held my tongue many times. I guess it usually happens when the ground is uneven—it’s a teacher, a superior, or someone with metal tools inside my mouth. But holding my tongue isn’t the only way I’ve practiced restraint.
One of the biggest ways is my decision to not date when I was younger. A decision that lasted into adulthood.
I was raised very Christian and the way it was presented to me—filled with rules and requirements—worked. I love rules. I followed them to a T. After all, when we do certain things for God, He replies with good things back, right?
I was taught that if I served in church for long enough and avoided guys and “set myself apart” and “dated Jesus” and bettered myself enough, I would get married at like the latest 24. Hence my only ever having one boyfriend.
I said no to dates. I avoided romance. I admit I even went so far as using my weight-gain as a way to avoid attraction from any guy. I did it because I thought it was what God wanted, you know?
And I’m at a point now where I’m realizing that the purity culture I was brought up in was all a sham. (I’m embarrassed it took me so long to see it.) It was the way the Church knew to control us and keep us from admitting our sexuality. The worst part? Though guys like Josh Harris have admitted their mistake, the Church has yet to admit to it.
But what do I expect? A collective apology?
Well, yeah. That’d be great. But these are people who don’t even admit to their involvement in the oppression of black people. So I won’t hold my breath.
Meanwhile, I’m only responsible for myself. And I’m a rigid, awkward, scared-of-men, self-aware, overthinking woman with father abandonment issues. Who barely knows how to talk to single men. Who wonders if I’ll ever be able to find someone who shares my same core values and is also Christian. (I admit I feel more at home with people who share my political beliefs than my faith. I’d rather be in a room of people who wouldn’t call me “an illegal.”)
And I’m someone who is tired of having my life themes be restraint and deprivation. I want to be known for things I have done, not things I haven’t.
But what does that even look like? Where do I start?
I don’t know. And this is where I end this. If I figure it out, I’ll let you know.