By the time my mother finally entered her home again I had the child fed and comforted. I sat in the almost darkened living room trying to read by the dim light coming through the window louvres when, without any regard for the wellfare of the baby, she, as always, burst into a shrieking fit of power and rage and loudly said, “Who do you think you are?” In recalling her usual fits of rage, she always acted like the Alfa female in a wolf pack.
This time, as loud as her lungs could project, she managed to let all the neighbors hear and feel her power. It was as if she was making the whole neighborhood know how she could stop even the likes of me from controlling her. “Who do you think you are?” she snarled again, now in the heat of her tantrum. “I can’t even have friends? ” she asked and then responded to her own question. “This man with whom I was speaking said to me, ‘Look Rosa, your son, he seems not to be liking this at all!’ So, who do you think you are? ” She then ended her frenzy with the loudest of warnings. “You do not pay rent here! So do not come putting on airs and wanting to control me…You hear me?”
I didn’t anwer her because this old hysterical way of solving any kind of problem; just another of her signature methods of dealing with me, even when she knew that she was totally wrong. She then started to act as if she had super powers and it seemed to me that she was not my mother at all but someone else making her act out. I knew her intention was to blame me for her past “unpardonable sin,” the sin that had landed me in court with my father and his lawyer. This was her opportunity to get back at me and she sent me the message loud and clear but it only proved to me that I had more sanity and morals than she did.
Here I was once again, caught as a young man now- and not as a child- fielding her verbal onslaught that surely made all the mothers in the building with girls my age tell their daughters, “You had better stay away from that boy for his mother is crazy!” The whole scene simply brought back my early childhood’s worst memory of her abandoning us as small children. It was evident to me that she had never once inquired of her soul how we as her children had felt at being abandoned and being placed in the hands of her avowed enemies. She had falling so deeply into the deep trap of her mind that she had convinced herself of her own rights and that she didn’t d care if she commited adultery again. But, this scene came as an omen of things to come in my life, especially when I would need her support the most.
My old impulse to flee and look for some safe place to be again started coming back but surprisingly something within me said, “Stay and seek refuge where I lead you.” It was such a clear message and, by now, so familiar, that I could dare say it was one of my guardian angels comforting me. In my grief my eyes were opened and I saw my mother as she really was, a pathetic woman trapped in her own emotions without a clue as to how to control them. I didn’t pay her any attention even then. I treated the whole incident as onc more opportunity to see the same devil in her, the same demon that should have frightened me into feeling trapped- unable to defend myself. However, I didn’t feel that either. After all, I thought, we were all trapped in some kind of vice which was always closing in around us.
At the time, mental illness was apparent to me on both sides of my family as they all seemed to use the same methods of solving their immediate problems. Something that I had seen up close that spelled a sence of block out and a void of all sanity including moral fortitude. All I could see was in this behavior was a phantom which hindered them from acknowleging the truth in any aspect of their lives.
By then she must have felt my silent scrutiny and she struck back at any attempt to get her locked up in some mental facility for treatment.
At the time I knew nothing about psychology or psychiatry or that these sciences were even used to study mental health problems. I had seen my mother tied down in her bed on a visit we had made with my father to see her in the Gorgas Hospital’s Silver mental ward. We were young children and she had been hospitalized right after the birth of my younger brother. But, seeing her now at this time in my life, using loud profanity and violent gesticulations at people who offended her in any way, I figured that it was her way of defending herself- something that I had observed many women of color using.
But, her behavior was something more than just the lack of moral principles. It did affect my growth in many ways and molded me into constantly seeking somewhere to find shelter and security.
This story continues.