Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Cornerstone - Part I

My mother was paranoid schizophrenic. She believed we were both "prophets sent here to save the world from drugs, prostitution, and witchcraft that had been infiltrated here by the Communists" and that "the 'Mafia' was out to kill us." As a consequence, I spent much of the first 17 years of my life behind closed doors. I did not have many opportunities to socialize normally with my peers, nor was I ever given much in the way of practical worldly instruction, say for how to handle money and credit, or how to shop for clothes that fit me properly, or how to wear makeup.

My mother did allow me to go to school. I think she was smart enough to know that not doing so would bring the authorities into our lives and then our "cover would be blown". Furthermore, she had me convinced that if I talked to anyone who was part of the Mafia, they would come find us; and if I talked to anyone who was not a part of the Mafia, then they would be endangered by knowing about us. In this way she was able to keep me emotionally and psychologically cut-off from everyone else but her, even in those rare times when I may not have been cut-off from others physically.

Going to school eventually included college, and that is where I finally began to experience something like "freedom". My mother had qualified for Social Security Disability by then, and she lived in a small duplex close to campus.  She still relied on me for bringing her groceries, but otherwise managed her life and the occasional pet, more or less on her own.  I initially lived in the dorms, but later lived with other students (one of whom was also my cousin) in several different houses in the area.

It was while we were living in one of those houses, late one summer evening, when the police showed up at our door. They were there to inform me that my mother was in the emergency room. The first thought that came to mind was that maybe she had experienced a heart attack, as she had always complained of heart and/or blood related illnesses, though none were ever confirmed by doctors.  However, when I entered the emergency room and saw her lying on the gurney, the first thing she asked was "Who shot me?" It did not appear to me that there were any wounds to warrant her question, although there was a very large bruise on the back of her neck.  She went on to explain that she had heard my voice and the voices of my sisters (twins to each other and eight years older than me), and she thought we were all dead and she just wanted to be dead, too. I assured my mother that I was not dead, and then she continued at length to explain "what had happened to her" with all types of language and symbolism that only someone like me, who had grown up with all of that, could actually make any sense of. 

Later that morning, the minister of the church we had been involved with came to see us, and my mother repeated the story for him, only this time, I listened from his perspective, a "third person's" perspective, not "pre-conditioned" as mine had been. As I listened in this way, all of a sudden it hit me, "This must sound sooo bizzare!"  Furthermore, as the evidence sunk in that my mother actually tried to kill herself, I reasoned "Prophets don't try to kill themselves, and so, therefore, we are probably not prophets", which meant, for all intents and purposes, the rest of my "life story" had also been "One Big Lie". And then, with a crescendo of realization, the voice growing louder in my own head: "That means I have been afraid for all of these years For No Good Reason!!!! What a WASTE!!!!"

Later that day, my mother was transported to one of the State's mental hospitals, to be committed by the authorities as they had the right to do given that she had tried to harm herself. I went there a few days later to take her some of her clothes and other belongings to have with her in the hospital. Although, I still loved my mother, I was also relieved that I no longer had to be burdened with the responsibility of taking care of her, the burden I had actually been carrying for much of my life. Instead, it was now time for others, people trained to care for people like my mother, to take over. From a metaphysical perspective, I felt I must have had some past-life karma to resolve with my mother, but that I had "done my time" and was now released from the "prison" of our relationship... and that it was okay for me to get on with my own life.

Under the circumstances, that meant pretty much "starting over from scratch."  I was 20 at the time, and though of "legal age" I was still about as naive about the world, and how to relate to others, as a 12-year-old, and deep down inside I KNEW IT (as did some of the men who crossed my path).  But I was also determined to do everything I possibly could to figure things out.  There were mentor teachers and counselors around to help me, especially with books like The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck.  After reading that I was absolutely determined to See Reality for What It Was.  Even though my concepts of "God" and "Jesus" had pretty much gone out the window with any of the concepts of my own life as a "prophet," I still prayed to the Universe: "I want to know the Truth, about the world, about others, and about myself.  Just Bring IT ON...because I don't want to end up like my mother!"

Looking back, I actually bless my mother for many reasons:  First of all, by her life example (consciously chosen or not) she demonstrated for me what happens to someone when they are not dealing with reality as it is, and how the effects of that can impact everyone around them. Second, that day in the emergency room, again, more a consequence of her mental illness rather than a conscious choice, still granted me a completely Legitimate Reason to question everything I had ever learned in my life from her up to that point.  I think there are many adults in the world today who still have such emotionally charged illusions of their god-like parents, that they hesitate to ever question what they have learned from them.  That "illusion" was completely shattered for me, that day, and I am actually very grateful for that.

All in all, as I approached this second major stage of my life, I had a lot more freedom than most, to do what I wanted to do and to learn from my experiences. I was also free to think whatever I wanted to think and to explore ideas from all kinds of different sources. I was way beyond being afraid, because I knew how much of my life had already been wasted doing that. So again, I recognized that it was more of a blessing than a curse, this legacy I received from my mother. Nevertheless, I also knew, I had a LOT of "catching-up" to do.

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