A Luta Continua

Last night, the phone rang & I saw my mother's number in the caller ID. As usual, I tensed up because usually when she calls me, I have to armor up for some sort of attack. And she did not disappoint.

She started talking about how she talked to my brother today, the first time in a long time & made a big deal about giving me his number. Usually, out of politeness, I would have written it down but something about how she was talking made me more defensive than usual & I made no attempt to find a pen. She started talking about how he is going to some sort of seventh-day church (which I already knew because my sister & I have talked about it). Then she asked me what I thought about it. BINGO!!! That's the sign that the attack is starting. (Always, she is very predictable.)

I dodged until she started asking me about my religious beliefs, in that sweet, innocent wheedling voice she uses when she's fishing for information. Then I said, "Mom, we've already talked about this." And we have, way back when I first got my ilekes (I think that was 2003), I called her & told her I was no longer a Christian & she didn't want to hear about it or accept it. In the years since then, she has alternately ignored that fact & tried to pretend it didn't exist or tried to guilt me into coming back to Jesus. So when she said, "I had no idea you were no longer a Christian! We've never talked about this!" I no longer had any patience for the conversation. With any one else, I would have said "I'm not talking about this with you" and hung up. But since this was my mother, I told I needed to wash my hair (which was true, I was about to step into the shower when she called) & that's what I wanted to do right now. She told me to call back when I wasn't busy.

For some reason during the past week, I've been thinking about the crazy things my mother did & said that I accepted as a kid because I didn't know better. I guess it's because they spent almost a week in cold darkness because an ice storm came through when they didn't have to. I remembered how we spent those two weeks in darkness & with busted pipes when we first moved to Arkansas. And how I would never allow my child to go through that now when relatives who are willing to help are close at hand. And then it snowballed.

I have wanted to have an open, honest conversation with my mother about my conversion. I still do. But now more than ever, I know it will not happen. I hate that. But what I worry about more & what I take away from my ruminations & last night's conversation, is that I fear I will never be able to be fully open in any relationship.

I know that keeping certain aspects of my life closed to my mother's probing is a useful, protective coping mechanism when it comes to her & other people whose only way of loving is to manipulate the vulnerabilities of those close to them. And I guess it's a good thing that I'm becoming more & more aware of exactly what I'm closing off & why whereas before it was largely a self-protective reflex. But I worry because I continue to attract that kind of relationship over & over again. I'm real good at surviving in those types of relationships. After all, Ray Brown was constantly trying to exploit my vulnerabilities & he only partially succeeded.

That's not good enough. How do I get beyond this? I've been aware of my relationship patterns for a long time. But it hasn't been enough to get me beyond it.

I don't know.

And furthermore, before I close this, I felt bad about having to shut my mother out like that. Not guilty, because I am totally of what I'm doing & why. I want to preserve my relationship with my mother & this is the only way. I cannot allow her to use my most dearly held beliefs as a tool to hurt me. Because that's what will happen. That's why all of her children keep their distance from her. I want to maintain a tie with my mother & opening my soul to her will only give her the ammunition she needs to blow our relationship to bits. She can't help herself, she gets some sort of satisfaction out of humiliating others. Of course, it leaves her cold in the end. But she can't help herself. And I wasn't disrespectful, just firm & clearly angry.

Afterward, it took a long time for me to go to sleep. I thought about all the times in the past when I had to defend myself against the attacks of people who wanted to manipulate me, particularly my mother & the Rays. But during the night, I had a dream. My dreams are always long & detailed but the most important part of the dream was when I was in a store. I had been in the store for a while trying to find some particular items which are hard to describe now because I've never seen anything like them in the material world. The best I could say is that it was some of shell with little shelves in them where I would put round coin-like thingies in them. Anyway, it made sense in the dream world. It was some sort of representation of Oshun. So when I went to check out, the bearded guy behind the counter was very disapproving of Oshun & anyone who belives in her. Well, I couldn't let that slide! So I asked him did he expect me to ignore a way of thinking that accepted me fully as I was & gave me a sense of self that nothing else does? And it was unquestionably an African way of thinking? Should I just continue to try to fit myself into a mold that obviously doesn't fit me when this one does? And, I told him that I him that we all should try this because the old ways of thinking are not doing us any good. I cannot continue in the old way which is causing our families to fall apart & our children to die. The dream continued but this was the most important part.

So I woke up feeling vindicated. Feeling as if the powers that be know exactly where I'm coming from & have also given me an argument to use.

Thank you, Oshun!! Ase-O!!!


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