The Garcia Gene
By an Anonymous Survivor in Denver
There was always a saying in my family; “You’re a Garcia you have the Garcia temper!” If someone managed to cause a scene, like always, I would simply hear; “It’s that Garcia gene you have.” All the misery we all seemed to live in was caused by the same thing, “All the Garcias are exactly the same.” This is how I grew up; believing there was something inherently wrong with me. I would look at my family and see for myself that we were not “normal.” I saw the men in my family drink almost daily. I saw how the women and children had to endure constant yelling and live under such suffocating and controlling households. Yet, no one ever named things or why they happened, it was just how things were and it was our fault for being Garcias.
As I began to grow up, I began to exhibit the symptoms of the predicted curse; I was always angry, I began to drink at an early age, and I began to have seasons of depression and sadness. Overall, I felt like I was an okay person, but this was at the forefront of my life, as if I had a ball and chain always slowing me down and haunting me everywhere I went. Then I began to learn from the world around me that indeed we were not normal and most importantly I realized that I did not want to live that way. I realized that there were names to all these symptoms like alcoholism, verbal and physical abuse, domestic violence and the one I found at the pit of darkness: incest and sexual abuse.
I had a slow and painful awakening when I decided that I had to face the fact that I had been incredibly mistreated, and worst of all, I had been sexually abused as a child. I decided to get help and found that being a Garcia was not a curse. I saw that I was not doomed to become an aggressive and abusive person. One day a couple weeks ago as I sat in my women’s therapy group I had a sudden and life changing realization: being a Garcia didn’t mean we were bad people. It meant we were full of pain, we had trauma passed down from generation to generation and there had been immense suffering. That day I went home and I cried and cried, because I felt sad for the things I had to endure. I also cried for them, because it made me sad that they were and are still suffering. I decided begin a healing journey, because I knew that I could not continue to carry all this pain with me.
I began to untangle the messy web of suffering from all its complex angles. There was so much abuse and trauma brought on by so many things like migration, poverty, racism, isolation, violence and the generational trauma of the ones before us. My eyes and heart slowly became aware of some of the reasons why people do some of the horrible things they do. Of course becoming aware of other people’s suffering did not excuse the abuse they made me endure. It did not take away the pain of losing my innocence and childhood and I know that some of the anger will always be there.
I can say that in this part of my healing journey I do not feel rage against my family and the people that sexually abused me. Part of me feels a heavy sadness, because I know that someone or something caused them so much pain that in return they transferred that pain on to me. I feel sadness, because I don’t believe that my parents held me as a new born baby and thought they would inflict me so much pain. I don’t believe people are born monsters. There is hope for healing, and I see that in the transformation I see in myself. As I began to take care of myself and go to therapy, the ball and chain that had haunted me the first 22 years of my life began to feel lighter and lighter. I see that I was given the opportunity and privilege to learn to heal and to find the peace in my life. My heart understands that this healing journey may take all my life, and I have accepted that. One day I hope to reach out to my family and show them that things are not just the way things are and that being a Garcia is not a curse but may be an opportunity to grow and heal. That is why on my path to healing I decided to not carry that ball and chain of abuse of trauma, but instead carry with me the generations that have passed and never had the chance to heal. I carry with me future generations so that they can see that being a Garcia can be a beautiful thing; that our name can stand for healing, strength and love.