A few years ago, after my father came back from Portugal, there was a period when my mother’s jaw was broken. I mean, it made a strange cracking sound every time she opened her mouth.
My father’s return from Portugal is a milestone in my life. It is the beginning of a new era in our common struggle. My mother’s jaw clasping is another one.
I don’t know her very well even if we lived in the same house since my day one to age 18 when I left. I loved her so much. I love her now. The road to this now was marked by ups and downs. There was a time when I hated. I hated the pain inside of her. That dark place that she kept hidden asking still to be loved, so as she was. If someone dared to say, I am so done with this, I am tired, she would take it personally, as a war declaration as I don’t love you. But we are beings looking for meaning.We want to know what we are getting into. I also wanted to understand her because only in this way I could understanding my pain. Never will be able to do that if she does’t let it go.
Her emotional pain made her veins, on the neck, puff up whenever she spoke. She is a natural story teller and word inventor. She is funny and finds a kind word for you if you are in distress. If she does’t know what to call a thing or an emotion she will invent a word for it. The whole hospital collective loves her for being so funny and invincible. At home, among us, we used these words and we laughed so much about their silliness.
I woke up a few days ago with this strange feeling in my heart. My mother’s life, as much as I could experience, flashed before my eyes. Somehow I sill feel outside of it even if she is my mother. As if am a spectator. I feel this because she chose to keep her disturbing emotions and experiences inside. Oh yes, at times they would explode and it would not be a pleasant experience. The explosion would be triggered by little, mundane facts. The world would be rarely as perfect as it should be. Even during peaceful periods I could sense the tension, the fear, the struggle. Just like I can feel my head vibrate when I am in the same room with a TV. At home in Hancesti, we still had a TV with a lamp behind, one of those old types of TV. I can feel when the TV is on- this is something I never told anyone. I feel the vibration in the head.
Just like I feel my mother. In my heart.In my head.
Sharp or calm, tired or ready for a battle. My mother is a worrier. She is in war with those untouched feelings inside and also with the injustice of the world.
We never spoke about her being young without bumping into a wall. When I got my menstruation, I wrote the date on a piece of paper but never told her. These were things that we never spoke about. I remember the awkwardness and the shame of having a bleeding body. My sister somehow found that piece of paper and I felt even more shame and dirty. Not being able to share my feelings with my mother nor with my sister made things even more confusing. When my mother realized that I got my menstruation she cried hot tears, I became a woman and she the mother of two little women. Did she know how to deal with it? No, she was born out of an ocean of sorrow.
Then, she invented her world. Her new words would do that, they would help her express something which was not existent before. And we would laugh and forget for a moment the pain. And I would tremble when she would get angry again, because the reality, with it’s unpredictable ways, would get in her way. I would talk to her, trying to explain. My heart would vibrate at the same wavelength as hers.
Returning home from the night shifts at the hospital she would tell us different stories about the patients who came in that day, how she talked to them, how she tried to help. I would be watching her veins. Even when talking calmly they would swallow. Just like the water gets angry when there is something in the way, and it get’s larger.
Sometimes I would put my hand on her throat. To calm it.
My mother’s unspoken sorrow tough me to walk on mined territory. The friction between her inner, painful, self and the outer reality, created this sharp tension. I feel, hidden emotions and not only, because of this particular way of growing up. I wanted to love her, I needed a mother to love, but that unreleased pain was between us. After years of listening, proving that I was present, that I could take whatever she had to say and hold her tight, waiting for her to open up and share the sorrow, addressing it directly, my life pushed me on my own path.
My mother gave me her saved money to pay the travel expenses when I left home, two years ago, heading to a new chapter, the Italian one. That money was full of hope. Somehow she managed to put them together. I understood the message, I could not came back home this time, as I did from Germany.
I have to go on. I have to break the wall of sorrow and stand tall in the middle of nowhere. I have to own my fear and take care of my mother’s hope. Own my physical presence and live the life of a human being.
I wanted to be spirit all my life. I still want this.
Until my departure I was emotionally coupled to her even if we did not speak very often. She doesn’t have an email address, only the phone. I am not a phone fan and I was trying to stay afloat the whole time when working in that office in Chisinau. But that coupling was a one way street. I felt that she lived though me. I was a cushion for her to fall on, anytime she would get angry again. I wanted to help and I listened. That would make her came down and we would continue life until the next bump in the road without getting to the root cause of her anger. That would make me vacillate between sorrow, anger and confusion.
The jaw is clasping clap, clap clap. We are all sitting around the table eating. My mother pretends that everything is fine. She is looking outside the window. She already asked the doctor what could that be, he didn’t know. I hate that sound. It means that something is wrong. It means that my mother is feeling bad but she does’t want to talk about it. I hate the mother who is not functioning anymore. I hate her for not having the courage to speak out her feelings, the real, raw pain and sit here instead, asking us to love her broken jaw, her belly, her naked body walking around the house, her broken heart, her swollen neck, the pumping veins under the reddening skin. How can she do that to me when she did not teach me how to own a body?
I hated the broken the jaw, the violence of the nakedness. Even now, I can’t even wear a skirt without feeling distress.
I hated her hate and myself for hating.
Now, distance and years between us, I am returning back to that dark place because my choice is love. I am inviting the darkness to come and face me. I am going to amuse it, entertain it, make it laugh, until it shakes off the black cloth of the shoulders.
I know that underneath, there is nothing else than a frightened child.