The closer I get to delivering my baby, the more irrational, the more spiteful, the meaner my mother has been getting.
Yesterday, after yet again asking her why she feels it’s okay to wave and say hello and speak nicely with a man she knows molested me when I was 13 (he happens to be her next door neighbour), she replied and said she didn’t have to because when I was 15 my brother and I ran away from home (because the man she was living with at the time who used to beat me, beat me up that afternoon with her help) and we got picked up by the police and the Child Welfare services got involved.
After which, she accuses the mother of my best friend of calling her job and reporting her behaviour, thereby ruining her chances of promotion and very nearly costing her her job. Also, that my friend’s mother called the newspaper and put the story in the paper for all to see. Therefore, because I remained friends with this girl, who by the way was Keffi, until she died six years ago, I was disloyal to her my mother… (Of course this is not true. This is just something my mother tells herself, because she doesn’t want to admit that what she did then was wrong and someone else HAS to take the blame, because her actions were wholly correct.)
She is saying, that my friend’s mother abused her, so she doesn’t see why she should stop speaking to the man who abused me. She further went on to say, that I never told her that this man abused me. This is an actual lie. The first time he molested me, I was so shocked I didn’t know what to do. The second time I was confused. The third time, I left the scene of the abuse (the beach) and walked all the way home dripping wet from the sea and told my mother there and then. After feigning some anger, she told me, “Better not say anything to anyone, because they will say you tried to seduce him.” I was thirteen years old. She claims I made that up. It never happened.
Yesterday, after another futile conversation with her about this, I asked her how is it that she cannot forgive me for something I didn’t do 17 years ago, when I’ve forgiven her for so many awful things she has actually done, and that I have witnesses to. She says she doesn’t have to forgive me for anything.
She had agreed since Friday afternoon, to take me to the Western Union counter at Super Centre, so I could collect some money a client sent me from England. I am eight and half months pregnant now. It’s getting harder and harder to get around. So I was grateful for the lift.
Driving to the supermarket, she asks me if I had any money. I told her I had about $20. She then tells me I can no longer live in her house for free. I HAVE to pay her $200 a month. Mind you, my mother knows I am not working full time. She knows that the money I make through freelance work, all of it is going to pay for the doctor, the birth fees at the hospital and scrambling to use whatever is left to get the things I need to get for the baby. She has refused to help me financially in terms of medical expenses, this is why I had to give up on the idea of a midwife assisted water birth, and go to the grungy public hospital with the scary nurses, because it’s a fraction of the cost.
She also told me, when I was still in England, that she didn’t have a problem supporting me until I could get on my feet.
If I give her $200, it means I won’t have money for my doctor’s appointment next week… I won’t be able to pay my hospital fees on time. I will likely end up having to borrow money to do this.
I said nothing.
On the way, we stopped so she could put gas in the car. She made this whole production of it, making a point of commenting on how much the gas cost. It was a pointed display, to add to her many pointed displays in the last six months.
We got to the supermarket, I got out and go in. The girl who does the Western Union payouts, was not there, so I line up quietly and wait. My mother appeared at my right arm, and came and stood up right in my breathing space. She put one arm on the aisle barrier, one arm on the counter literally crowding up against me, but stopping shy of actually touching me.
The girl who works at the cash register that operates as a “10 items or less” line, is not the person responsible for the Western Union desk. I asked her quietly if the Western Union person was coming back soon. The girl assured me that she had only gone upstairs to come back.
My mother, in her typical nasty manner, said to the girl, “Is she going to long, because we are on a schedule.”
I looked at my mother, and said under my breath, “Mummy! There’s no need for that.”
A minute or two later, with my mother continuing to crowd me at the counter where we were the only people in line, I began to feel claustrophobic. What’s more, I didn’t think she needed to be standing over me while I conducted my business. Fucking hell, I am 32, not 12.
I said to her, in a light hearted way, almost jokingly, “You know you don’t need to guard me Mummy.”
She looks at me, and just below a shout, says, “So I am just the fucking chauffeur right?”
I looked at her for a second and said, “Mummy…”
“My generosity towards you is going to run out soon!” she cut me off.
I turned my head away. Said nothing in response. I was mortified, because people all around us had stopped to look. I looked back a second or two later, and she had vanished.
Eventually, the Western Union girl came back. She took my ID, checked for my transfer and told me that there was nothing come for me. I was disappointed, and I went to find my mother’s car. Once I did, she was not there. I waited for about 15 or 20 minutes, until she finally showed up. When she opened the car, I got in on the passenger side.
She says to me, “I am surprised that you are getting in my car.”
I looked at her, said nothing.
“Because obviously you are too good to get into my car,” she continued.
“Mummy, you’re taking my comment way too personally.”
“So you can fucking say anything you like to me, and I am not allowed to respond,” she shouted at me.
I said nothing.
“I don’t think that you can get in my car,” she said.
I got up, and got out. Closed the door. I wasn’t even angry, just incredulous.
She started the engine, drove off and left me in the car park.
Now, that whole scene was not because what I said was offensive. It was left over because I dared to question her earlier about why she still feels the need to fraternise with a man who molested me.
What’s more, she wanted to see how much money I was getting from England, so she could guilt trip me out of some of it. Fuck whether or not I could afford the medical care I need. Her indignation boils down to my not wanting her to know my business.
I had to walk through the rain, to go to the bank down the street. Only to discover that the bank was closed and I couldn’t do what I wanted to do anyway, because the damn Central Bank has foreign exchange in this country in a choke hold. So the whole needing a lift was wasted and I had to endure yet another of my mother’s crazy episodes.
I got on a bus, and drove along the coast passing a friend’s flat and seeing his car. I stopped the bus, got out and walked back to his place. Woke him from sleeping, unintentionally mind you, and he let me in. There, I felt safe to cry for the first time in about two weeks.
My mother has, for the last two weeks insulted me constantly, been nasty to me, cursed me out for the slightest reason. And I’ve not been responding. I’ve not allowed myself to get angry, although it’s hard to swallow my disgust at her behaviour.
On Wednesday last week, my mother and brother got into a huge shouting match. He, as usual, cursed her out. Me, I closed my bedroom door and stayed out of it. I found it ironic, because after my brother had assaulted me, he continued to manipulate and work my mother up into her current state of vituperative invective, and as long as it was directed at me he was happy to allow it to continue. Yet, when she turned it briefly on him, he reacted just a notch below he behaved with me when he assaulted me.
Since I’ve gotten here from England, she and my brother will cook beef or pork about two or three times a week. I don’t eat red meat or pork. Neither one of them ever considers that I might be hungry. On those days, I have to scramble together whatever I can find to eat. Because I cannot stand the smell of food cooking, I don’t go and cook much of anything. More than once I’ve tried, and I just end up hunched over the toilet bowl heaving out my guts.
As the months have progressed, it’s become harder and harder to eat solid food anyway. I’m to the point where I’ve been mostly drinking nutritional supplements to get the fuel I need. Although I suspect in recent weeks alot of that has to do with the stress my family has been putting me through.
Last Wednesday, the day in question, when things had died down, and no more shouting could be heard from either my mother or my brother, I came out of my room from working hungry and wanting chew something.
I went into the kitchen and pulled out a box of chicken chunks from the fridge. Now my mother has made this whole point of reminding me as often as possible that she buys these chicken chunks for me to eat. I maybe eat them once in two weeks if they are there. My mother or brother eat the rest, but my mother is the culprit mostly.
This particular box of chicken chunks, was bought on Monday or Tuesday last week. In a box of 32 originally, there were maybe 12 left this Wednesday afternoon. I took out about six of them, and fried them. I took out a can of corn from the larder and microwaved that.
I sat in a chair in the living room, next to my mother, and she asks me for one. I gave it to her.
She gets up and goes into the kitchen, then comes back to stand over me and say, “I find it hard to believe that you went into the kitchen and fixed yourself something to eat and didn’t offer me any.”
“Mummy, allyuh cook in here all the time and never even ask me if I’m hungry, or offer me food,” I said perplexed. “The box of chicken chunks was nearly finished. Where was I when they were being cooked? Did someone come and offer me any?”
My mother goes off in a whole rant… then she comes and sits back down next to where I was and turns to me and says, “I wish you would just die and leave me alone. Because 32 years of torture is enough. Tell all your friends I said it. Let me repeat it: I wish you would die and leave me alone.”
I said nothing throughout all of this.
In fact, for the most part, when my mother goes into these nasty, evil modes (which in the last two weeks has been almost continuous) I say nothing. I make no response. I just let her disgorge her bitterness and heap it on my head and make no response.
At night, I pray and ask Oludumare, Yemoja, Osun, Ogun and Sango to help me. I pray for somewhere else to live, and the means to sustain myself and the baby. I pray for the means to get out of Barbados where I hate living. I pray for a permanent escape… to never have to return into this madness. I am determined. I am committed.
I go through my old journals, dating back to the late 80s when I started keeping them, and I read all these anguished entries about all the awful shit my mother has done to me over the years. I read about what she said and what she did, and you know, there’s been little difference in 17 years.
I’ve come to realise it’s not really about me. It’s all about my mother. Whatever abuse she suffered as a child, and while married to my father, has warped her life. I am just tired of making excuses for her, as I’ve done for the last ten years. When I was a child and a teenager, I accused her a lot, and called her on all of her bullshit. But since she told me about her abuse, it changed the way I saw her, and I began to understand WHY she was the way she was.
So I spent a decade being a supportive daughter, and trying to help her, and forgiving her for the shit she had done in the past. Except, she has not reciprocated. As much as I have been trying to understand, and I’ve changed my way of dealing with her, I’ve also consistently put distance between us.
Even as a teenager, I put distances between us. I haven’t lived in a house with my mother for longer than five months since I was fourteen years old. In fact, the time I have spent here this year, has been the longest period of cohabitation I have experienced since 1988.
I have steadfastly and studiously avoided any longer periods and this time, it’s been even clearer that I can never allow this kind of situation to occur again. I will not; I simply will not.
I have come to the realisation that while I love my mother, I dislike her. I think she is weak. I think she and my father are two of the weakest human beings I have ever met. Yet, in their weakness, they’ve made me strong in depths that never cease to amaze me. They’ve made me into a survivor, and more to the point, they’ve shown me that unconditional love is something that wells from the spirit. I love my mother unconditionally, and it’s the main reason why I don’t allow my anger over her behaviour of late to overwhelm my senses.
I don’t want to cuss her ass the way my brother does. I don’t want to disrespect her. My spiritual beliefs just won’t allow me to do it.
Yet, I cannot deny that I do not like her. I find her small minded, mean spirited, jealous, grudge obsessed, unkind, lacking in compassion and not more than a little crazy. I think the scariest part is that she is both devious and deceitful.
I realise I do not have to take this. I don’t have to keep subjecting myself to the abuse my family has lived under, out of some sense of familial loyalty. You know, you can do that only so long before self preservation kicks in and you have to say that your sanity, your life, your dreams and health are more important than this bullshit. So I am there now.
This year, has been coloured by my experiences. I suppose no less so than any other year, but where last year was about INDEPENDENCE, this year has been about breaking the cycle of DEPENDENCE. I want to say that my pregnancy brought the best out of everyone, but it didn’t. It’s brought out the best in friends, in strangers who have been kind to me, helpful and loving.
Everyone else, the baby’s father, my mother, my brother…. they all copped out as far as I am concerned. That’s fine. More than anything, it’s shown me you can’t depend on people, you can only depend on yourself, but that support, love and kindness cannot be predicted from any one direction. It comes from the Universe! It comes from God’s infinite love.
So that’s what I am determined to do. To stand up on my own two feet, and take control of this situation. Only I can make myself safe. Only I can make the baby safe. Fuck all these selfish ass people who can’t seem to face their own crap. I’m no one’s whipping boy. I’ve been facing my own shit long enough to know I’m richer for the experience.
Coming back to Barbados was a mistake, but I don’t regret it. Without it, I would’ve continued to be guilt tripped into sending money back for my mother, and she would have continued to manipulate me in one way or another. This way, I know more clearly than ever that I cannot depend on my family for love and support. It’s never come, never existed and will never come.
I have been very lucky in my friends, but very unlucky in my family. I can tell you now that I don’t feel bad when I say I don’t want to break away and this time cut off contact for a while. To just concentrate of raising my son free from the poison and venom of generations.
To me that is what it means to be a better mother than my mother. What it means to show my child what unconditional love really is, free from this rubbish. I don’t want him to have to suffer not ONE DAY of this.
It hurts me that he is feeling all I’ve been going through, and because of my situation I cannot protect him from this until I leave.
When I got my One Hand of Ifa, the odu that came up was Ofun Konran. Here’s some wisdom from that odu:
You farted on me
I licked my mouth
You glanced backward
I prostrated for you
You then entered into the bush
And went to fetch a switch
It appears you intend to punish me beforehand
Olodumare will ask you
What I had done wrong to you
An aggresive leopard is it that walks the main road
These were the proclamation of IFA to Elereko
When coming from Heaven to Earth
They said he would not enjoy his life for long on Earth
He was however advised to offer sacrifice
He said that daily will you see me
Daily do people see Elereko
If the moon appears in the sky
It will be brighter than the stars
Daily do people see Elereko
Daily will people see an IFA follower, whether they are pleased to see him or not. As long as an IFA follower gives them their due respect, the rest is left in the hands of Olodumare.
I don’t think I truly understood that verse until this year. Me, I am putting my faith in God and not worrying about people too much anymore. I know I keep saying it, but it’s to reinforce what I’ve come to accept.