The obstacle was my mother.
Ferreting out her reasons for selecting me as the enemy is a never-ending pursuit. Logic is useless. Writing, however, yields a cornucopia of scenes from my childhood. Many of them involve my mother, even when they don't start off that way. They're like dreams with disconnected images, time jumps and odd characters whom you know even though they don't look like themselves. Upon awakening the symbolism, the metaphors, and the archetypes are plainly visible. Other times, I have to go through the editing process for the revelation to seep through, for me to peel back the layers.
I posted a short piece on FB about my 8th grade English teacher, focusing initially on how she titillated the class. She was hot and she knew it, but there was something else bubbling beneath the surface of that offbeat memory:
To my mother, I represented all those females who were Have's: those she served. I'll never minimize the hard life my mother led, the male harassment she endured, and the loss of hope that she'd find a new husband who'd solve all her problems. "No one wants a woman with children," she said.
My education made her feel uncomfortable, but instead of being shy or reticent, she became angry if she didn't understand the conversation around her. This practice extended to other female friendships. She got involved with senior women's groups but after one trip with them she refused to participate. Instead of trying to broaden her scope, she preferred to remain alone rather than feel dumb or less than.
Mom bonded with my younger brother and sister. My brother is mechanically brilliant and a good writer; my sister is smart and articulate. Mom lost me to education; I went off to college and escaped Santa Fe. She wasn't about to lose her other two children. Rather than use me as a successful role model, she preferred that they remain close to home. There, she could organize their focus on a common enemy: me. Neither of my siblings finished college.
She'd already brainwashed my brother and sister about me, and then she started in on my children, telling them negative stories about me. Rather than call her on it, I wrote a humorous piece about her (The Tattoo Lady, Mother and Me.) I still hadn't admitted to myself that she was the DNA-connected Maleficent in my life.
The secrets crept out anyway.