There is no house which is not haunted


We like to talk about one day getting out. My mom has stammered through her mental health all her life, but still, she reads volumes of self-help books hoping for an easy way out. She tries to separate herself from her condition, and it seems the thing that mostly gets separated is money from her pocket. Her eternal search for healing cemented in me this idea that the top of the hill may be unreachable, but still, we climb because its all we've known. It is a troublesome task thumbing through what might be true recovery from crowd-pleasing explorations of the self that are amusing or attractive but lead away from some form of convincing transformation. Before I used to speak about healing in any old way. Like speaking it into existence was enough or attaching it as a tail to anything I did outside of rolling around in the emotional muck like a pig in slop; Which I have to say is addicting. How do you quantify healing? At what point does that halo make its way onto my mothers head? What is the standard to measure yourself against? The world suspends individuals up against an arbitrary set of rules with little to no knowledge of the person they are magnifying. When I look down at my hands I see that they mirror my fathers, in the way the veins bulge and wire over my bones giving my hands small valleys. The knuckles are scarred with valuable lessons, and each awkward bend lures the breath of unchangeable histories. Real emotional change is an alluring idea, but one that shifts seemingly unnoticed between the syncopated beating heart of life. And as I look at my hands following the wrinkles down, I know I will always follow my father in some ways. Two drops of water will not always follow the same path as they roll away, though they look the same. I know this, and even then, logic often takes a backseat to emotion. Over the years what I can be sure of is that if I look back on things I said on the internet I am embarrassed. I know this to be a good signifier that shit has undoubtedly changed, that I have changed. We will do that whether it's intentional or not, looking back helps us see. In photos of my mother hugging my head as a child, I understand that her future holds no memory of this moment, her suspended between broken and unbroken, just like a bug resting god-like between the pulling and pushing points of a small pond of honey.

Speaking the word, "Healing" into things I did was sort of delusional fantasy. As a young ideological 'the heart is the size of a fist' ass person who held phantom pains that could not be named, I looked at myself as someone or something to be changed, transformed into something better than what I was, as if being yourself is inherently wrong. I howled Healing into anything I could, believing that the words held more weight than the emotions attached to them. We are all so ashamed of our ignorance, conscience-stricken we stumble around mumbling meaningful quotes from the books 'we absolutely should read'. Last week I watched as my aunt and my mother argued in the kitchen over money and feelings, as the tears inevitably leaked and fell my deaf grandmother stood frozen between the tension. She could not know what was being said, but she felt visceral pain as the emotions passed through her like a filter. Days went past, and I thought of all the times I stood ignorant, like a sheet on the line being violently whipped by emotional hurricanes. You never really know what is happening around you, but you feel it deep in your heart you feel the squeeze like a breath left unsung. Flipping through the files of my life, at my most "I'm healing" phase I had not even begun to name these things I hoped to heal from and how could I? Healing implied that something was broken, that I was broken. This aided in demonizing my family and myself thinking we were wrong and to reach this mystical summit of self-actualized emotional excellence where you hurt no one and are hurt by no one. I found myself just tossing in the emotional muck more often than not because when you hunt for bigfoot, you will come home empty handed every time.

Separating the hurt from the hurting has always been a mountainous task I left to the wills of the day. Looking up at the angry and crooked palms looming over the light rails on the margins of downtown San Jose I found similarities in how they bend and sag towards the sun, living their lives bounded to the will of the seasons. The season is to the tree; what the day is to us. Bending and sagging toward wherever the light is. The spatial relationship of these bending palms to the neighborhoods where I grew leaning in towards the light put an interesting perspective on things. As we look for our healed selves in these haunted houses we realize at some point we gotta stand somewhere to have a point of view and that stance may be wrong to others. Que sera, sera, the hurting will be; pain surrounds us always no use hiding from it. Later in life, most of us find that childproofing our conversations or trigger warning our true selves is the social equivalent of holding the door for someone. It's just a gesture that you can choose to do and feel good about it, a moral booster shot; Or if you are running out the door just shout back sorry and get to where you are going. To truly heal we might need to first separate the hurt from the hurting. Realizing ourselves failable and in that navigate the cycles as best we can, focusing less on the changing and more on the building. The human failure is not learning fast enough or early enough and for that, we are doomed to reinvent the wheel a million times over. You better grab a seat and a sandwich because if you choose to, you are going to be here for a while.

I am healing in this cyclical reinvention of myself dragging along all that made me. Things can change and they will, but I guess I am in less of a rush and more hopeful that I will accept myself as someone who is not broken. Using empathy as a light to grow towards I know healing can be a cure, but someone can heal without being cured. When we talk about getting out someday, it helps to know you can't eliminate everything from the haunted house, but you can become whole.

Richard Gutierrez