Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adrift in an Angry Sea

I did not discover until I was 28 years old that I was angry with my mother.

That suppressed anger would play a crucial role in the self-destructive course I would take during my adolescence.

It had taken a series of penetrating questions from a young female psychologist in the county jail to wrench the truth from the jawbone of denial. Like a stubborn, decayed molar it had resisted all efforts of extraction until that point in my life.

Later that day, after the lights were turned off, I lay on the thin, lumpy mattress. Oddly comforted by the darkness I further explored those bitter feelings. I was surprised and perturbed by how palpable the anger felt.

I felt disloyal. I loved my mother. She was always warm, generous, loving and attentive to us--even to to the point of being over-protective--so how could I harbor such seething, writhing anger towards her? It just seemed so wrong.

As I stared at the bars on the front of my cell, memories flickered across them bringing reluctant clarity.

I thought about the good homes mama had abandoned for reasons which even to my young mind seemed downright silly. There was the time when she moved out of the three bedroom duplex house Grandpa had purchased for her and himself a year earlier rather than battle Grandpa's new wife over ownership when he died (and the will disappeared). Mama even refused the wife's offer to let mama stay in the duplex for as long as she wished.

The next thing I knew we were living in a worn-down, one room apartment in a slum building that had no hot water and a communal toilet outside in the hallway.

Then there was the issue of severing all ties with my father and his relatives when he supposedly 'kidnapped' my brother and myself when their marriage fell apart. Including making sure she did not know where she resided; a story I accepted as gospel until the age of ten when her second two year marriage went belly up. Shortly thereafter she moved back to California (from Missouri) and left no forwarding address or phone number to my newly born sister's father. And he was a damn good man. Worked two jobs, didn't drink, curse or use drugs...just had that good ol' problem dating back to Biblical times...couldn't keep the ol' penis confined to the marital bed.

After that repeat performance with sis' father I began to suspect something similar had happened with my father before the 'kidnapping'.

It was her mental breakdowns, though, that turned my world upside down. The first one I knew about plowed through our little family when I was a teen. Mama had found out her husband Kennion had impregnated a seventeen year old girl so she kicked him out.

My brother, sister and I were shuffled off to foster shelters until my mother was released from the mental hospital several weeks later.

The second breakdown occurred two years later and was especially torturous for me and left me with a permanent sense of being adrift in a boat with no sail and no oars.

To be continued.

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