My state of mind as i think using my mind - Mzansi Stories

Tuesday, April 5


My state of mind as i think using my mind


My state of mind......
The 1st of April is the date when Marvin Gaye was fatally shot by his father. It is also the date when I was shot by my aunt who I was made to believe was my mother for a little over two decades. Now, it is also the date when my aunt left prison having served her time for attempted murder. Years were chopped off her sentence for good behaviour.
I normally don’t post as much each week because I genuinely do not have time to juggle all my business interests, the extensive travelling, the twins, the husband, the little miracle, etc. Last week I just put all the balls down to think about what the woman I refer to as my mom aunt being out there means for me.
She has served her time. The parole board think that she is reformed. Justice was served. Does that mean that I must let it go and reconcile with her? Am I entitled to shut her out forever because what she did is ‘unforgivable’? She has written so many letters begging, pleading for forgiveness and a chance ‘to talk’.
I don’t know hey.
The more I thought about it I just found myself drifting off and walking in Thando's shoes for a little while. At some point drifting has to stop and decisions have to be made. It is easier to hate than it is to let go and love again.
I also found myself reading bits and pieces of Love, Sex and Money where I took the time to document bits and pieces of my life. In this moment these are the bits and pieces that I documented and are now jumping out at me……
……She would tell me I was nothing but a guttersnipe and I recalled having my head held down the loo and her flushing toilet water in my face as punishment for not wiping the dust off the TV while cleaning. Msizi (my older brother) heard my screams, came running to the bathroom and pulled my face out of the toilet bowl. He was so angry he actually lost control, punched her and slit her lip in the process. I don’t think he has ever forgiven himself for hitting his mom.
I hate mornings because they were always unpredictable when I was growing up. They wavered between my mom aunt refusing to get out of bed in the morning whenever my dad was away and waking me up with slaps and violent shaking. She once yanked me out of bed so hard by my legs that I slammed down to the floor with a force that knocked the air out of my chest. I would then follow her into the kitchen while she banged the kitchen cabinets.
“I suppose you want breakfast, you little cock sucker,” she’d snap, while I stood still, my hands balled into tiny fists by my sides. At 8, I had no idea what a cock sucker was. I thought it was a reference to roosters. So I’d give a stiff little nod, and in response she’d grab a plastic bowl from a shelf and hurl it in my general direction.
After ducking out of its way, I’d pick up the bowl from the floor and proceed to the refrigerator for milk. My silence enraged her more (but then again, so did my words or tears, so I opted for silence in the hopes of being as inconspicuous as possible). Often, she’d grab me by my hair or neck, and pull me back toward her as I walked by. “When I was your age, I could scramble eggs, but you can only make yourself cereal. You’re useless,” she’d say as she let go of me.
Another of my failures was an inability to properly braid my shoulder length natural hair when I was that age, which my mom aunt would gripe about as she attacked my scalp with the plastic teeth of her comb. On the occasions when I squirmed too much or she was confronted with an especially stubborn knot, she would drag me across the tile floor by my mane while she wildly waved a pair of scissors in the other hand, threatening to cut off the only part of me I knew to be pretty.
When she tired of the burden of my weight, she’d let me go and order me to braid my hair or she’d get rid of it for good. I’d stand there sobbing, my fingers shakily trying to thread three thick strands together while her scissors pointed tauntingly at my head. Eventually she’d give up on the threat and settle for a swift kick to my midsection or some more expletives whose meaning I didn’t know, but whose tone I couldn’t help but understand. Menzi (the first born) learnt how to straighten my hair, tie a bun and braid hair so that he could do it for me. He would sneak into my room early in the morning to do my hair then I would lie to my mom aunt and say that I did it myself.
My mom aunt’s state veered dramatically between catatonic and so vicious that, the church schoolgirl that I was, I suspected demonic possession at times. After many years of torment and my frantic pleas to be placed in a hostel falling on my fathers’ deaf ears, I just couldn’t do it anymore. So in a desperate attempt to escape it all I ran off, to live with a boyfriend that I barely even knew, a person that turned out to be a male version of the person I was running away from.
……I would love to hate them forever but whether I like it or not I have to forgive them or I will burn in hell. What choice do I have when the Lord ’s Prayer that we were taught says ‘forgive my trespasses as I forgive those that trespass against me…’ I must forgive so that God can forgive me of my sins and scribble my name in the book of life, I have no choice as there are no exceptions.
how i think
I remember this part where I spoke of the day it happened.
It was a Friday so I made my way to church for my standing appointment with the pastor after I played with my nephew and helped where I could, I must admit I was pretty useless when it came to taking care of babies. I thought the pastor was going to ask me about my vow of celibacy and I was ready to proudly declare that I stuck to it but the question never came.
Instead, it was all about my mother and letting go of the hurt and resentment. Right after the session with the pastor I drove straight to my mother’s workplace with a sense of purpose, determined to make peace with her and forgive her for all the things that she had done. I was ready to be like Jesus and forgive her without her asking for my forgiveness.
I waited at reception contemplating what I was going to say to her. ‘I will tell her that she has a grandson, everyone loves babies,’ I thought then I quickly changed my mind. ‘No I will tell her that I am doing my masters in construction law. She was in the field so she would be proud of me.’ I hated construction law with a passion but I secretly settled on the topic because it was my way of getting to know my mother better, it was at the very least going to give me an insight into what she had to do at the office on a daily basis. Before I settled on what I would say I heard her shoes clicking against the marble floor. She grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the building. ‘What the fuck do you want?’ she sneered.
Me: Mthoko (the last born) has a baby boy. Thought you should know.
I could see the disgust and hate on her face and I knew at that moment that there was a reason why the voice within warned me against talking about the baby. ‘Good to see you again mom,’ I said to cut the tension or, or… I don’t know what I was trying to do with that statement.
She rummaged through her bag, took out a small semiautomatic weapon and placed it on my forehead. ‘Stay the fuck away from me,’ her voice was stern and piercing. I could see the anger and resentment in her eyes but I did not know the source. I backed off, raising my hands in surrender. ‘Please don’t shoot me,’ I cried out in a whisper. She put the gun down and I swallowed the lump that formed in my throat. ‘For what it’s worth, I forgive you for everything that you have done.’ I probably shouldn’t have said that because I heard a clicking sound before she fired a shot.
My body torqued into the air horizontally, like I’d been blindsided by a line-backer, and I fell to the ground. I’d never been shot before. The gun fell down from her hand with a distinct thud. Everything was a blur and I was unsure about how to react - whether to laugh or shed a tear at the irony of it all. Suddenly I remembered her telling me that she brought me into this world and she could take me out of it.
The complex web of life that I had been spun into... It just wasn't my fault or that’s what I kept telling myself. Opposing thoughts kept tugging at my mind. I wished my life was simpler but evidently, the higher powers had willed it otherwise. Lying there within the pool of blood, I had been waiting for the never ending sleep to come for what felt like a couple hours. But it never came. I felt as if I was wearing a crown of bewildered thorns and my soul had been pinned down upon a cross by my wretched fate. But I had to face the harsh and naked reality - I was not Jesus and if I died I wouldn’t be coming back to life.
I had no control over what had happened that afternoon. I suddenly felt incomplete. I could see blood still oozing out, but I felt numb. I never knew being shot could cause that much pain. How could I? I had never been shot before.
I saw a vague outline of a male. He picked me up and carried me down the parking lot. He tried to put me in his car and I struggled, as anyone would if they were in my situation. Not the being shot situation but rather the getting in the car with a stranger situation. I wasn’t strong enough to overpower him and eventually I blacked out.
I woke up in the back seat of a moving car. Nothing registered but the sharp pain in my abdomen made me register, I tried to move and get out of a stranger’s car. My adrenaline-fueled defiance gave way to the gory injury staring me in the face, and some important things dawned on me: I’d been shot by my very own mother for no apparent reason.
I couldn’t think anymore. Couldn’t breathe very well either. That was the moment I realized I’d suffered more than just a flesh wound. I slumped down against the seat, in pain, but mainly just winded and growing sleepy. No good. Desperation clawed at me. I noticed a model on the cover of a magazine on the floor and forced myself to focus on her. Stay awake, I told myself.
I must have blacked out again because when I woke up I was on a bed. Like any normal person I started to panic, I tried to open my eyes but I couldn’t. I felt hands on me, needles poking me. People were talking but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I no longer felt like I was on the verge of unconsciousness, but for the first time I could feel the full extent of the pain wracking my upper body. To say that it hurt wouldn’t even begin to describe the anguish I was in.
They wheeled me into the operating room, and administered anaesthesia. The last thing I remember before I finally lost consciousness was a nurse or doctor saying, ‘The surgeon is not ready for her.’
I woke up a few hours later in recovery. My father was there. Mzamo (my husband, boyfriend at the time) was also there. Portia (my bestfriend) was somewhere, avoiding Mzamo I suppose. Seeing Mzamo and my father burst out crying when they noticed me opening my eyes was weird. I was groggy and wearing an oxygen mask, but I knew where I was and why. I wiggled my body. ‘Feels fine,’ I thought to myself, surprised. I even wondered for a minute if I’d be released in time to report to work that Monday, where I’d planned to get my legal career started. That all changed when I scratched my stomach and nearly ripped out a staple. Below it there was another. I traced a line of them. ‘Oh crap, scars.’ I thought to myself.
I later found out that it was actually 2 days later, not hours later. The doctors had to remove three bullets, including the one in my stomach, and the injuries were pretty severe. Punctured lung, punctured diaphragm, punctured stomach, ruptured spleen, broken ribs, a hematoma on my kidney. One bullet tunnelled harmlessly around the bones and muscles in my shoulder and remained lodged in a back rib on the upper-left side of my body. Doctors removed another with my spleen. The third missed both my aorta and my spine by an inch or less, exited my back and landed on the parking lot. A little this way and I’d be paralyzed. A little that way and I’d have bled out and died on the spot.
I lost plenty of blood, probably over six units. The doctors put a tube in my chest to drain my lung, and two in my abdomen to drain my peritoneal cavity.
The mysterious man was my mother’s colleague who saw everything. He asked Human Resources to look through her documents and contact her next of kin. Luckily they had my father’s number. He also called the police and she was arrested. She had her first court appearance the next day and apparently she blurted out, ‘I shot that stupid bitch.’ Everyone in court gasped and the magistrate threw her in a mental institution for observation, she was due back in court in 30 days.
Me: What is the date?
Dad: 27 March, why?
Me: I just wanted to know the date my mother died.
My father was puzzled. ‘She is not dead, like we said she is in a mental institution.’
‘I know but in my mind she is dead now.’ My voice was barely a whisper. The room went silent. I closed my eyes and went back to a place where I was somewhere between alive and dead.
I woke up later when I felt lips against mine. It was Mzamo saying goodnight. His face lit up when he saw my eyes open. ‘How do you manage to look so beautiful all the time, even with all these tubes coming out of you.’ I tried to smile but it just did not come out right. ‘Yep, you are definitely trying to get into my pants and it won’t work,’ I responded with a groggy voice, I did not even recognise it. He giggled. I tried to say something else with so much difficulty he just told me to rest because we had the rest of our lives to talk.
I spent another week and a half in the hospital, but never without company. Mzamo basically moved into the hospital with his laptop and his files. He was sweet but I was worried about the scars. I did not want scars. I wanted my normal body that he liked and was accustomed to, not a bruised and battered one. He always said that I was perfect, I wanted to remain perfect for him.
When the hospital released me I was still in bad shape, mentally and physically. I sunk into depression. Being rejected by my own mother was a bitter pill to swallow. It was hard to ignore it and focus on the other good things in my life. Sometimes the glass is just half empty no matter how many times you tell yourself that it is half full. It would have been better if she was an alcoholic or a drug addict because I would blame it on that. There was nothing to blame, I was the problem. It was me that she hated.
I recall this conversation with Mzamo while in the process of trying to forgive him after he cheated. Perhaps the answer to my questions now lies in the words I spoke many years ago.
……I learnt not to shut out my feelings or drown them in too many glasses of wine. And I fought not to let them dictate my next action. I just witnessed them. Felt them. Believed that, they would be gone at some point and I can honestly say that I no longer feel that way. I entered a new era in my life when I considered forgiveness, an era that had everything to do with my humanity.
In this sense, I had to become a warrior. I witnessed a battle and I was wounded, but I was valiant in my resilience. You taught me a very important lesson - forgiveness is love and love has no equal in power.
To say that we must forget what happened and go back to the very beginning is tantamount to requesting me to forget. I most likely won’t. But something else has happened to this memory as it became anchored in my history like a scar or a tattoo. As days, weeks and years pass, I am working towards redefining the memory as something else. You have become an unintentional teacher, not because your actions were noble, but because the grand design of life that allowed for these actions to occur is.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean I have to stay.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean I have to leave.
Forgiveness is about me, setting myself free. Holding resentment like a clenched fist inside my very being takes much more effort. Forgiveness is the simple act of letting go. An unclenching of the fist to allow an opening. A sigh of relief.
I have learnt that learning how to forgive is probably the most important lesson I need to learn in this life. I was able to do it with you, the person I love most on this earth. I need to learn how to do that with people I love a little less. I simply carry too much pain around and I often feel battered and broken in its wake.
I have been presented with plenty of opportunities to harbour, fest and clench on to the pain that I feel I am entitled to have or let go. This has happened time and time again. My life is full of repetition, and the lessons deemed most important for my soul have come to me, whether I willed them or not. I know that it is always my choice to move forward or stay fixed.
I hope with time I will know what to do and have the strength to do it. Out of curiosity, what would you do?

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