Valeria Velazquez // Columnist
My stomach has been aching for a couple of weeks now. It began the first week I was here, but two weeks after I arrived is when it really started to hurt. At first I thought I was just readjusting to the food here, but now I think it’s something more than that.
I’ve had digestive issues all my life and just recently decided to visit a gastroenterologist. However, I know it’s not only the food I put in my body that is affecting it. It’s also the emotions, the sensations and the traumas stored in it that cause this pain in my gut.
Honestly, I still haven’t found the “at home” feeling I was looking for. Of course, it’s heartwarming to be in my country surrounded by the people and places I missed. It’s also hard—so hard that it’s been less than a month that I’ve been here, and I’ve already started looking for flights back to Vancouver.
I wasn’t expecting my time here to be perfect, but I certainly didn’t think I’d get to this point either. I was one click away from buying the ticket, but I didn’t. Even though I was crying so hard that I could feel the air missing from my lungs, I didn’t.
Since the moment I got here, things started accumulating. Passing comments about my body from friends and family began to take a toll on me: comments about my body hair that “makes me look like a man,” about my colourful hair, or about me not wearing makeup. I started to overthink my appearance and become more and more self-conscious.
It isn’t only my physical appearance they criticize. They also judge my beliefs. Women’s rights, human rights, animal rights, environmental justice, religion, politics and basically every important conversational topic are things that I’ve learned I can’t express my opinion about. Whenever I do, I’m immediately mocked or attacked.
Mexico is a country where abortion isn’t legal because it’s seen as “ending a life,” and a “sin.” It’s a country where people from the LGBTQ+ community are still being sent to conversion therapy because they’re not “normal.” It’s a country where people say “poor people are poor because they want to be.”
When I talk about the women dying because they don’t have access to safe abortions and why it should be legal, I’m told I am a radical. When I talk about the violations and injustices people from the LGBTQ+ community suffer, I’m shamed and devalued. When I cry for the many children I see every day asking for money on the streets, I am told I’m being overly sensitive. I’m being pushed to feel like I am the crazy one.
I was being patient, until the last straw broke. Me, my family, and some family friends had gone on a day trip to a lake outside the city. It was three hours away so we left at 9 am to get there by noon and have lunch. The night before I had barely slept because of my stomach pain, but I still had to go because my parents wanted me to.
The whole time we were there my stomach was hurting, as it had been for the past week. I mentioned it to my parents and asked if we could leave early because I wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t want to bother them so I didn’t keep pushing much.
After about four hours, we were on our way back. About half way, they decided to stop and buy some souvenirs. After my dad came back to the car, he mentioned that we would stop somewhere else afterwards, but by that point I was already feeling bad and I kindly asked if we could just go straight home. He didn’t say anything.
By the time we arrived in the city, my mom called my dad (she was in another car) and told him to go somewhere we could have dinner. This place was about five minutes away from my house. We were literally going to drive past my house to get there so I asked my dad to please drop me off at the house.
This might be TMI, but I really needed to use the washroom. I was feeling nauseous and dizzy and just overall really bad. He asked me why I couldn’t use the washroom at the restaurant. “Dad, please, I feel really sick and I really need to get home,” I said. I could hear the angry tone in his voice as he insisted that I should just go to the restaurant, but I kept saying I needed to get home.
Before I knew it, he was yelling at me. As he kept screaming and driving, I said “Please dad, you don’t understand.” My mistake. After that, it was rage. He turned into that man again. He turned into the man I’ve been scared of since I was a kid. He lifted his hand as if he was about to hit me.
I don’t know what stopped him, but in that moment all I could remember was the promise I’d made to myself before coming here. I swore that I wouldn’t allow him to lay a hand on me ever again, and if he did I would never talk to him again.
I was silently crying as he kept yelling at me. He then dropped me off at the house and drove away. I walked into my house with so many thoughts running through my head and I stopped containing my tears. I cried and cried as my belly ached, remembering the many times something like this happened in the past.
This was when I thought about buying the ticket to go back. I even entered my credit card number and was about to buy it, but I didn’t. If I go back now and leave things with my family as they are, nothing is going to change. My dad’s behaviour and thinking patterns will still be there, the pain will still be there, and I don’t want it to be. That’s why I decided to stay, in hopes that together we can heal.