Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Think I Hate My Mother...Yes I'm Serious Part Two

I wrote part one of this blog well over a year ago. I never got around to writing part two because this is probably the most personal post (series) on this blog. I don't talk about my family very much and I suppose there is a reason for that. It is a part of me that I hold dear and it's also the part that troubles me the most.

It is hard to talk about. One of the reasons I found myself writing part one of this particular post is because my mother made so unbelievably angry the day I wrote it. I needed to vent. My emotions were in pissed off mode. I wasn't fair or objective. I don't hate my mother...but I don't think I really like her either. It is complicated. One of the reasons I find it so hard to watch the film, Precious, is because I see a lot of my mother in the character played by Monique. There are times I wish I had a closer relationship with my mother, but then there are times I'm glad we're not close. There are times she surprises me but then most of the time she lives up to whatever disappointment I might feel (and honestly I don't feel much of it for her at this point). Our relationship went from good to bad to unhealthy to non-existent in the 26 (almost 27) years I've been on this earth. Like I have always said, my grandmother has been more of a mother to me than my mom. It's amazing that I even call her mama.

Anyway, as requested I'll finish what I started...

After my mother lost her job at the textile company things pretty much went down hill for my nuclear family. My father, for a number of self-inflicted reasons, could never successfully hold a job and as long as I could remember my mother was always addicted to work and hungry for money...even if it meant sacrificing her family. For example, when I recently found I have Acid Reflux Disease and needed to undergo a test to determine the damage to my body (the name of the test eludes me right now) one of the first people I called was my mother.

My parents live about 130 miles south of me. The doctor told me I needed to have someone (preferably a family member) at the hospital with me because they were going to put me asleep and I needed someone to drive me home afterwards (despite the fact that I literally live right up the street from the hospital). This is how my conversation with my mother went....

Me: Yeah ma they said I need a member of my family to be with me. It's probably smart to have one of my parents there just in case something happens and someone needs to make some decisions. And I really need to have this test done because my stomach is killing me. I think I might have a ulcer or something.

My mother: Well, I gotta work that day. I can't do it.

When I need my mother she has rarely been there for me. I don't even know why I bothered to call her.

Anyway, after mama lost her job shit went down hell for my family. She was already a different woman from the playful/friendly woman I knew as a child. When she lost her job and financial stability became a thing of the past shit really hit the fan. Two things made it worse: 1). My older brother, who was my father's step-son began to rebel and disrespect my father and 2). My mother found out daddy and my friend's mother (the one who lived a few doors down from us in our apartment complex) were getting a little too friendly.

Because my mother was working all the time my brothers and I were either at home alone or at home with my dad. Once my older brother became a teenage the hatred he'd held for my father began pouring out. And to be honest it was completely justified. My father never treated by older brother right. He physically abused him (and he verbally abused him too). I always thought he was hard on both me and him, but the ass whippings he gave me were nothing compared to those he gave my older brother (he never hit my younger brother...who I believe is his favorite between the two of us). I witnessed it with my own two eyes many times. Those whippings were so bad I would start crying and it wasn't even me getting beat. 

My older brother shared a room with my younger brother and whenever something popped off between the two of them my dad always took my younger brother's side. I watched my younger brother, who was well aware of my dad's biased attitude, take advantage of the situation. It pissed me off so much that I would personally serve my younger brother the ass whipping I felt he deserved. I mean I would beat the hell out of the little annoying bastard. I think I took my personal rage about the situation out on my younger brother (I can remember throwing a battery--one of those big heavy batteries--and hitting him hard in the back).

I'm not sure if my mom knew about the abuse or not, but I'm positive she suspected it. I think she just ignored it for a long time. I don't know why. She probably had her reasons (the main one being she had two kids with my dad and being a single mother with three kids would make any woman nervous about entering the world alone). But there came a point when she couldn't ignore it.

There were times I had to pick up the phone and call the police on my father because the fights were so bad and out of control. The cops would show up, arrest him and later he would convince my mother to convince my older brother to lie in court. That is how my dad beat the charges of abuse each and every time. At one point my dad tried to get me and little brother to lie for him in court, but I flat out refused and my younger brother was just too much of a punk to do it. I think that was the one and only time my father received any type of punishment for his behavior (he got a misdemeanor).

I think I found out the name and location of my older brother's father before he did. I was twelve years old when my dad told me, my little brother, and probably anyone that would listen. He told us to get back at my mother, who was leaving him at that point. My older brother's parentage is a sad and frightening story in itself (one that I will NOT share on this blog). It is something I wish I didn't know. It is something a 12 year old shouldn't have been told. It is something so bad my mother didn't tell my brother until he was 22 years old and she only told him then because she couldn't realistically put it off any longer.

Anyway, after mama found out dad was kicking it with my friend's mother she packed us up in her car and decided to leave my dad. This was the first time she made any attempt to leave him. I remember it vividly. The whole apartment complex must have been watching as mama was driving off with daddy on the car (he literally jumped on the car to stop her from leaving). I was shocked by the whole thing. She took us to her friend's house where we spent the night only to return back home to my dad the next day. 

Financial problems, issues with my older brother, possible infidelity tore my family apart, but none of it made my mother permanently leave my dad. The thing that finally put the nail in the coffin was when she learned he was stealing money from her checking account to pay a monthly gym membership. That sent my mother out the door!

I remember she and her uncle moved all our stuff out of the apartment one day while we were at school. I discovered this when me and my younger brother arrived home from school. My dad, mom and my older brother (along with his friends who jumped into the mix) were involved in a physical altercation before we left. It wouldn't be their last physical fight.

My father moved in with his mother, my grandmother.

Our new apartment was small, and not as well maintained physically as our old place. However, it had one advantage: My mother's sister (and my favorite aunt) lived a few apartments down from us. She took us to school everyday and did as much as she could for us.

My mother had another job at this point, but it was shitty. It didn't pay much and her mother ended up having to help us survive. My mother and her mother aren't close so it shocked everyone that she even bothered to help my mother out. I think she mainly did it because she hated my father (the two of them have a twisted history in the court system too...though I will admit it was grandma's fault and not my dad's fault). She wanted my mother to leave him. At the time she thought my dad was solely the problem (funny enough she would later regret having judged him so harshly...which is another long story).

I hated life in our new apartment. I was 13 years old, just starting middle school, and my body was going through changes. I was depressed all the damn time. I never left my room and stopped talking to my brothers and my mother. The only thing that brought me any type of comfort was books, soap operas and spending time with my grandmother on my father's side. Visits with her served as visits with my dad too because he was living there.

I became obsessed with the character,  Lucky Santangelo from the Jackie Collins series. Looking back now I think my obsession with the fictional character was unhealthy...or maybe it was a coping mechanism. I don't know.The character and her attitude became a role model of sorts to me. I wanted to be just like her. I admired her attitude. My obsession with that character was so deep that I took a liking to many of the things she liked in the book. I lost a lot of weight (I was a plump awkward teenager at this point). I changed my hair (with the help of my daddy's sister). Before I was slapping gel all over my head just like all by BALD-HEADED black friends. My aunt taught me how to wrap my hair. She taught me what to put on my hair. She taught me how to care for my hair...things my mother should have taught me, but failed to do. In one year I went from having hair that barely went pass my ears (and usually I wore it in a donut roll like my friends) to having hair well down my back. I developed a "fuck you" type attitude...just like the character. I guess I basically came into my own and my self-esteem went through the roof. I had swaggar. I looked in the mirror and I liked what I did the kids at school. I became very popular in school. This is also around the time I accepted (key word) what I already knew (and have known probably since age 5): I knew I was gay.

The thing I remember most about this period in my life other than the depression was feeling hungry all the time. We never had any food in the house. My father, who again couldn't keep a job, didn't pay my mother any child support and my mother, who I think had too much pride to apply for foodstamps, wasn't bringing in enough money to keep us happily feed. She didn't cook a lot at this point and because she stayed pissed off/stressed all the time I think my brothers and I tried to avoid her as much as possible. She had a nack for taking her anger out of us both verbally and physically. I remember she beat me so bad with a broom that I couldn't get up and go to school the next day. At that age I was incapable of understanding her issues. All I knew was that I was hungry as hell all the time and she was responsible for breaking up the stability of my family (or at least that's the way I viewed it at the time...I never went hungry when she was with my dad).

The hunger is something I pray I never feel again. I used to be so hungry I would cry myself to sleep. I used to be so hungry I would consciously think about stealing food and money. The more I heard my stomach growling from hunger pains the more my hatred/resentment of my mother grew. It was a deep hot hatred that grew in me. I became hard and unsympathetic to her issues/plight. In my mind this shit, my hunger/sorrow, was all her doing. Words cannot express the resentment I felt coming home from school, opening the refrigerator and finding nothing but water and old potatoes (which my brothers and I did cook). I don't care what anyone says...hunger and poverty can drive a person mad. I have experienced it...I know it well. The only times I ever got a decent meal is when I went to school, dad brought us some groceries or I went to stay with my dad and grandmother.

Sometimes my younger brother and I would get on the phone and beg our dad to bring us some food. I think my grandmother (ever mindful of the situation) would give him some money and he would bring us a car full of groceries, which we shared with my mother and older brother. Still it was never sufficient. I stayed hungry, mad as hell and resentful.

If I needed my hair done my father made sure I had the money to get it done. If I needed money for school my father made sure I had money. If I called my daddy for anything (and still do today) he always made sure I had it...or at least he made an effort to get it. At some point, I think around age 15 I began to openly favor my father over my mother...

To be continued...
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