If you’re new to my blog, “Dangers of Liberation” is a seven-part series that I began several Thursdays ago. The previous posts are on consecutive Thursdays, with a one week break after Part Four.
The extent to which my mother symbolized the Mainstream cannot be underestimated. In fact, the only way I was ever able to achieve independence from the Mainstream was to achieve independence from my mother. I did not do so until long after she died.
A mother’s love is not always unconditional. My mother loved me to the extreme, under one condition: that I remain emotionally and psychologically dependent upon her. She gave me everything a mother could possibly have given me, except for the one thing I eventually needed most — my independence.
As the first-born son of her four children, I was never able to come into my true identity as long as my mother was alive. I was always her “little boy.” Though she loved all her children immensely, she favored me among the four. This favoring became more noticeable as she approached her death at the age of 89. At family gatherings, she practically forgot that any of her other children were there.
After she died, my oldest sister and a close friend informed me that Mom had been “manipulating” me. Throughout my life, she affected my decision-making in such a way that was designed to keep me out of trouble. In so doing, she kept me locked into the box of the Mainstream. I stayed out of trouble, but I lacked personal freedom.
It was almost like an indoctrination, the way my decisions were manipulated by her will. My own will became a passive extension of hers. Though I thought I was making my own choices, they were always the choices that Mom would have approved of. I never realized that she had been doing the deciding for me.
This dependency grew worse and worse as I began to become more successful. Though I hadn’t actually lived with her since my thirties, I relied on her well into my late forties. I called her five times a day, sometimes only to ask: “What do I do now?” At that, she would laugh and make a suggestion. Without questioning it, I would unhesitantly follow her suggestion. It was as though I didn’t have a mind of my own — only somehow, I did not know it.
My mother died when I was fifty. By that time, I had ascended to heights of success in the form of society that I call the Mainstream. I was renting a luxurious room in a large mansion owned by one of many wealthy people for whom I was working. Though I rarely had to work more than twenty hours a week, I was nonetheless making $50,000 a year as a church musician, a music teacher at a private school, and a personal piano and voice teacher.
From the moment she died on October 9, 2003, till the moment I first became homeless on May 17, 2004, it was a downward plunge. As I mentioned in the previous post, my psychiatrist had changed my anti-anxiety medication from Gabapentin to Klonopin on the morning of the day she was to die. She then died in the afternoon, and I proceeded to have a first-time manic episode. In a little over seven months, I lost all my jobs, my car, my living situation, and every penny of the $13,000 I had in the bank.
The moment she died, aided by the suppressive power of 6mg of Klonopin, I instantly blocked out every mental image of my mother. I also immediately forgot every conversation she and I had ever had. No longer able to call her five times a day, nor able to imagine how she might have directed me, I dispersed my many questions among my various associates. I began to ask just about everybody, including total strangers, what I should do next. Then, unquestioningly, I did what they suggested. It is no wonder I lost my jobs!
My ability to perform in the Mainstream was entirely dependent upon my ability to interact with my mother. The extent to which she valued personal security over personal freedom had left its mark. But by the time I became homeless, I was thrust into a kind of liberation from all the icons of stability that the Mainstream had displayed. But my liberation was tainted, because it lacked an internal association with my true identity. My identity instead became further squashed and suppressed during twelve years of undignifying, degrading, demeaning homelessness.
So when was I actually liberated from the Mainstream? It happened the moment I rose up from the prayer that I quoted in the previous entry. At approximately midnight of an unknown date in July 2016, I fervently appealed to the Universe to put an end to twelve years of homelessness. I made that appeal in the name of Jesus Christ. When I rose up from my knees, I sensed something was very different. I didn’t know it yet — but I was free at last.
Exactly how free, I will divulge in the seventh and final post of this series.
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4 thoughts on “Dangers of Liberation (Part Six)”
Fascinating. I wonder how you lost your jobs and all material stability as well as your memory of your mother. Was the medication so strong that you just couldn’t show up for work? Did you have such an extreme swing in personality that rendered you unable to be understood by your students/landlord? If you don’t mind me asking, of course.
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I’ll be glad to clarify as best I can, Amaya.
A first-time major manic episode is a serious mental health breakdown. One of its features was that I started acting very strangely, but I thought that everything was fine. I wasn’t able to keep it together in the workplace, and I was always giddy, despite the many mistakes I was making. The Klonopin resulted in severe short-term memory loss. (At the highest legal dosage, and me being over 50, this is a known side-effect.) I forgot all my students’ names and couldn’t keep track of my lesson plans. It would often take me over an hour to make the 5 mile drive back home from the school. because I couldn’t keep track of where I was going, and continually made wrong turns.
Due to the nature of mania, however, I continued to be in high spirits, imagining that everything was fine. This made things even worse for me, because I showed no awareness that I had a problem, nor any willingness to work on my behavior. Everyone was freaked out by me, and one by one, I lost all my accounts. So your second question is closer to the mark. I had “such an extreme swing in personality” that it “rendered [me] unable to be understood by [my] students/landlord.
The landlord incidentally was able to evict me on a California Owner Move-In, claiming that his niece needed to take over the room. She never did take the room, however. It was only his way of getting rid of me.
This is so raw, honest, sad and courageous. Your insights as always broaden ones understanding both of homelessness and human relationships.
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Thanks, Starr. I’ll qualify however that it may only seem “courageous” because I’m hiding behind a computer screen. If you heard me speak such words behind a podium, you’d probably see courage transformed to fear. But I do greatly appreciate your support and understanding.