11 Oct Laura speaks in her mother Ofelia’s voice
It was the year 1950 in a town located in the West Center of Mexico. It was a small city in a semi dessert area that was a rich place because in its valleys there were tin and copper mines. Here, French and Spanish immigrant found their new home after exiled from Europe in eighteenth century. I was born as a second child of a wealthy family, and I carried with me their traditions and heritage.
Both my paternal and maternal family were part of high class society in western Mexico where religion and morality marked the rhythm of life of people. My father spent his early childhood in a boarding school in Mexico City and even though his family owned the most productive ranch in this part of the country they lacked love. My mother was born into a family of landowners who raised cattle. When they got married, they followed the same family system that they received.
Under a strict surveillance of both, my childhood was restricted and limited of love. Our family follows a strict schedule and routine and I was not allowed to do anything out of the box.
The richness of the buildings in the town showed how powerful it had been during Independence and Civil wars. Our house was located in the main street in front of the plaza and was one of the oldest buildings in town. There was a kiosk in the middle of the plaza and I loved to play there. I ran in circles around the kiosk under the watchful eye of the maid, but I enjoyed those moments at the kiosk even more than when I had to go with my family to see art presentations. Then I had to remain seated without moving an eyelash, eyes straight ahead, surviving being bullied by my brother.
The smell of homemade butter and fresh bread wake me up and opened my appettite . The maid helped me to bath and dress before breakfast and I run to the big kitchen to wait until the whole family was there. My mother was always eating with a child in arms and my father would sit and observe all of us making sure that we be were behaving correctly.
One morning I saw my mother and maids packing our clothes and households. Shortly after, a large truck parked in front of our house and my father, followed by some men began to pack our furniture on the truck. Nobody told me we were moving to our ranch, out of town.
I had been there few times before and I only could remember pigs and chickens and lots of fruit trees. I never knew why my parent decided to move but I didn’t like our new home. I missed our old house, the kiosk and the church. Our parish was an eighteenth century building decorated with European saints and colorful stained glasses. I loved going to the church and see sun light traveling trough the windows and drawing figures in the white floors.
In the church I felt more peace that anywhere else, despite the threats of a God that was always watching all my actions and always ready to punish me. Here the music of the choir mixed with organ sounds raised my spirit into another dimensions and made to run my tears. In my prayers I asked I could feel my mother’s love, the same way Jesus felt Maria’s love.
When I was six years old my life in the ranch was quiet, with no more responsibility to obey my parents. One night my mother announced next morning will be my first day of school. My first day in Miss Lupe’s private school was tragic. I had the idea that school would be a place full of books and friends to play with. Instead of this, the classroom was separated by a screen: boys one side, girls another. Miss Lupe was a strict and demanding teacher that didn’t miss any opportunity to punish someone.
Smiles were scarce during recess. Was forbidden to talk with boys or even look at them. The only games allowed were walking around the patio and whispering some secret with a girlfriend. One day I was working so hard, embroidering distractly lilies in a white cloth when I felt the gaze of Miss Lupe on me. She scream at me. Without realizing, I had embroided the cloth in my skirt. She hit me ten times with a wooden ruler, five hits in each hand. When I felt the first hit I scream but then, I had to bit my lips to keep silence. My father came to pick us up and I showed him the marks on my hands but he didn’t say anything. We drove home in silence, no one said any word. When I get home I told my mother what had happened. She look at me and said: “You probably deserve it.” At that moment inside my heart I felt I was completely alone, and unworthy of being loved.
I spent my teen years in a boarding school in Guanajuato City. Catholic nuns ruled the place and I continued with my education in a rigid and religious ambiance.
In the summer of 1965, I visited my father’s family in Mexico City. There my cousins gave me two invaluable gifts: rock music and a visit to the National Museum of Antrophology. While I was walking amazed by prehistoric sculptures I dreamed about becoming an antrophologist. But unfortunately my dreams shattered and I had to accept my fate. As a woman I didn’t have any chance to go to university and I had to accept my destiny following my father’s instructions and getting trained to be a secretary.
But the time I turned 19 my mother had already given birth to 15 children and we were living back in our house at the town. Even though I didn’t have all the freedom I wanted I was enjoying my life. I had a few friends and a boyfriend whom I loved very much. I had to sneak around to see him but I didn’t care. I love him. We dreamed about getting married and having children. And, once again, my father decided to move, now to Guadalajara without give me any notice.
Once there and thanks to the recommendation of my old boss I got a high position as a manager assistant in a big bank. My boyfriend and I exchanged love letters and we continued our relationship from a distance. I missed his laugh more than ever. I started to receive good money from my job and I dreamed about leaving my family. I was urged to move out of my parent’s house but I needed to be married if I wanted to leave them free of sin.
In one of this letters, my boyfriend asked me to married him. With a scented letter I answered him yes. We were planning his visit to my house, to talk with my parents. A few weeks later I ended our relationship. I found out that he had been cheating on me. And thirty years later, I found that it was just a rumor.
As if he had been waiting for the right moment, a handsome green-eyed cashier that worked at my bank ask me out. He had a good sense of humor and big perseverance. After three years of dating, with poor communication and big dreams, we married. In our honeymoon I wanted to dance in a romantic restaurant and he took me to the Mexican jungle. I asked myself: “Why did you marry him?”. We had different needs. I loved to dance and I dreamed about having fun dancing with my hubby, but for him, fun was baseball games.
When it was the time to talk about kids I said “Six”, and he said “One”. And when our first child arrived, he expected a boy, but was a girl.
I focused on being a perfect wife so I quit my job. Suddenly my spouse became jealous of our baby girl and I never could look at him the same. I felt betrayed.
I got pregnant with my other children without his approval. After each birth our relationship tore apart. Our constant fights scared our children. We were an immature couple trying to have a normal family life, but not because we love each other, but only because we were trying to save our lives.
With four children to feed and dress and only one salary, our marriage struggled with poverty and I knitted sweaters to bring more money to the table. Therefore, after years of lack of love I started to feel frustration and angry.
I knitted at night, when my kids were gone to bed and my house was spotlessly clean. I followed loyally the values given by my father and I made religion and neatness our family values. My children were born with their own personalities but I treated them all equally, without recognition of their own needs of love.
Our house was ruled by order and cleanness. We follow a rigid schedule and in our daily life, God played an important role. For me, religion was my lifeline and I tried to save my marriage with faith and prayers. Every single day we had a violent incident in our family. And as expected, the children paid the price of our mistakes.
My oldest daughter broke communication with me at the age of eight. She left home as soon as she could. For me, she was a mirror of her father and secretly, I didn’t like her. She had strong character so I assumed that she didn’t need me at all so I trained her to be my assistant, either preparing dinner or taking care of her sibling. She was a great support to me, even though I didn’t recognize her.
My second child, also a girl, was born with a broken hip, and she needed special treatment almost for two years. Her life was marked with suffering. Although she recovered bravely and developed a strong personality, she grew up frightened and scared. Following her old sister’s steps, she left home before marriage.
In my thirties, I got pregnant again and I prayed so much asking for a boy, but I gave birth to my third girl. She was fragile and sickly and at night her desperate cry ran my husband out of our room. This is when our marriage was broken forever. However, men have needs and as a devoted wife I was there to satisfy my partner. As a result, I became pregnant again, this time a boy.
Just like volcanoes exploded, our marriage exploded. With an overprotective attitude, I spoiled my son, and after years of a manipulative relationship, my boy started to use drugs. For me these were five years of hell. I didn’t realize that the problem was also mine, not only my child’s.
At this moment, we as a family were struggling against addiction, and only those who had been through this could understand how much pain and suffering addiction brings to a family.
Finally my prays were answered when we discovered an amazing group of people that gave us support and shared their experiences about addiction with us. Right there, we learned about self -love.
Suddenly I recovered lost time and I started to dream again. I returned to school and finished college. Even though I was living my fifth decade I still dreaming. I felt free because my kids were following their own lives in a positive direction so I started caring about myself. I had the chance to heal the relationship with my parents and then I could love more my child and enjoy my grandchildren.
Finally, I am ready to be myself and help others through the humanitarian path I choose to live.