Snapshot of Mamí and Me: What I Left and What I am Worth

My mamí always had fragrant cremas on her hands. She would put them on daily, always using them in the morning, before leaving for work. They came in these little round pastel bottles with gold and silver caps. As a girl I would play with the botellitas, stacking them, cutting circles of paper and using the cremas to make paper tortillas. Opening them all, I’d take a fingertip’s worth of each one and create a nauseating concoction. To this day, every time I smell one of these scents, I’m taken back to my mamí’s room. Like a snapshot, I see the crisply pulled linen across the bed. I feel the oscillating fan blowing the humid summer air through the room, and see the crocheted lace on every nightstand.

I miss my mamí. I miss standing in this snapshot.

People often say love your parents because they’re the only ones you have. They won’t be around forever, so hug them while you can. They say, no matter how bad they messed up, they tried their best. Forgive them.

My mamí did the best she could with the resources she had at the time. But I needed more. And I continue to need more.

When I was 5 years old, a married man with two kids began dating my 15 year old sister. My parents allowed him to live with us when he left his family. By the time I was 6, he was molesting me regularly. When I was 14, I disclosed the abuse. To this day, my parents, my sister, and my brother all still support him. My parents still live with him.

For a long time I believed I owed it to my mom to allow her to be in my life. I believed her happiness was worth more than my peace. How could I possibly force her to make a decision between her children? Could I ever say, “it’s me, or my sister and her husband?” Then I realized it isn’t a question. I can take myself out of the equation. I deserve to decide who surrounds me. And I decided to surround myself with people who support me 100 percent. I am worth that much. I don’t need support from people who support my perpetrators too.

I will always miss my mamí. Every now and then I feel the loss. But it’s the loss of knowing we never had the relationship I had always wanted, and the loss of knowing we probably never will. I still have the snapshot though.

This snapshot says nothing of my mom. It says, I was a playful child. It says, I saw the beauty in my surroundings even though they were often bleak and unsafe. It says, I still look for the good in the world even though I’ve had to overcome some of the worse.

I am worth more than that snapshot. I am worth making new snapshots surrounded by people who love and support me. I am worth making snapshots of myself loving and supporting myself in every way that I need.

Janie Contreras Johnson, The Strange is Beautiful’s Staff Community Outreach, is a Mexican-American feminist working constantly to overcome sexual and childhood trauma.

DM her on our Instagram @TheStrangeisBeautiful.
Read her posts here.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email