I see Clemencia once every week, 5:00 on Fridays after she is all done teaching her classes or doing whatever odd job she chooses. She’s in her mid 30’s, Mexican American and proud, an artist, and loves her sister Ximena and the little nephews she has. And for two hours a week, she comes into my clinic, sits on the old loveseat in my office and we talk about her childhood, her work, her mother, her lovers, her family, or whatever seems to be pulling her into her psychosis at the moment.
Clemencia also talks about what her mother did to her father, cheating on him while he was on his death-bed. How she began seeing a man named Owen Lambert. This is the start of the men in her life not meeting her expectations. Her father’s death seemed to be the worst blow to her view of men. I ask her of what she remembers of her father, “I imagine my father in his fanfarron clothes, because thats what he was, a fanfarron. That’s what my mother thought the moment she turned around to the voice that was asking her to dance. A big show-off, she’d say years later. Nothing but a big show-off.” (Cisneros 71) I then ask her of what she remembers about her fathers ailment. “What I remember most is the smell, like death was already sitting on his chest. Daddy, don’t. Not yet, not yet, not yet. And how I couldn’t hold myself up, I couldn’t hold myself up.” Her voice is breaking and seems to choke on her breath so we stop. I can see now she is still extremely traumatized by her father’s death. His death was the start of all her disappointment. “That man she met at work, Owen Lambert, the foreman at the photo-finishing plant, who she was seeing even while my father was sick. Even then. That’s what i cant forgive.” (Cisneros 73)
In one of our sessions, she described the way her mother taught her about men. “Never marry a Mexican.” (Cisneros 69), Clemencia had said her own mother would always drill this into her and her sister Ximenas head. This kind of self hate was instilled into Clemencia as a young girl, and she not only believes in it but practices it with the men she sees. Currently, she strictly only considers white men to date but still not even marry. “I’ll never marry.”, She said to me one day. “Borrowed. That’s how I’ve had my men. Just the cream skimmed off the top. Just the sweetest part of the fruit, without the bitter skin that daily living with a spouse can rend. They’ve come to me when they wanted the sweet meat then.”(Cisneros 69) The way she openly admitted to using men shocked me, however i believe Clemencia is afraid of getting hurt, like her fathers pain during his death and having his spouse cheat on him. She has such little faith in men that she said, “Not a man exists who hasn’t disappointed me, whom i can trust to love the way I’ve been loved. It’s because I believe too much in marriage that I don’t. Better not to marry than to live a lie.” (Cisneros 69) She does the hurting and cheating on men before they do it to her. This seemed like something she would hate her mother for doing. Clemencia believes she practicing this against other men, but in reality she’s doing this to herself. Not forming serious relationships because she’s the Mexican her mother warned her about and showed her how to be. But she doesn’t know it yet.
Everything Clemencia does, is an attribute she learned from her mother, in fact, a lot of her actions are paralleled to her mothers. She had such a deep connection to her life in Mexico that when it all suddenly changed she felt too powerless for her liking. Her mother was absolutely no help to her. So Clemencia seeks her power in the men she takes. “After Daddy died, it was like we didn’t matter. Like Ma was so busy feeling sorry for herself, I don’t know.” (Cisneros 73) Clemencia wants to matter so badly to someone, but fears being hurt that she does anything for mad power at this point. She’s unstable at this point, but still manages to hold a job at the San Antonio School District somehow, i can only imagine how she hates that job and if the kids are affected.
She began seeing her previous teacher, only referred to as “Drew” when she was a little less than 19. That’s what i can infer so far. She enjoyed seeing this married man and often talks in her head as if she can imagine he’s there and speaks to him. I asked her to write a theoretical letter to Drew, what would she say to him without fear. In one section she wrote: “You’re nothing without me. I created you from spit and red dust. And i can snuff you between my finger and thumb if i want to. Blow you to kingdom come. You’re just a smudge of paint i chose to birth on a canvas….I paint and repaint you the way i see fit, even now.” (Cisneros 75) Then she begins about her affair with even his 18 year old son. We sat a minute in silence before I asked, “His son?”. She smiled at me and said “That boy. I’ve been waiting as patient as a spider all these years, since i was nineteen and he was just an idea hovering in his mother’s head, and I’m the one that gave him permission and made it happen, see.”(Cisneros 75). I put my hands together and let her continue. She says she was with the man Drew the night he was born, in the same bed he was conceived. Why do you do that Clemencia? “It’s always given me a bit of crazy joy to be able to kill those women like that, without their knowing it. To know I’ve had their husbands when they were anchored in blur hospital rooms, their guts yanked out, the baby sucking their breasts while their husband sucked mine. All this while their ass stitches were still hurting.” (Cisneros 77) She has become to dependent on the power at this point and her cognitive skills are barely there, she has an intense belief of superior authority. She also repeats the topic of marriage, the idea of it has destroyed her. The last time she saw Drew, and she begins speaking to herself again “We had agreed. All for the best. Surely I could see that, couldn’t I?”(Cisneros 80) She’s looking down while wringing her fingers and bouncing her leg. “A good sport. A young girl like me. Hadn’t I understood…responsibilities. Besides, he could never marry me. You didn’t think…?” She’s muttering to herself and repeating “Never marry a Mexican. Never marry a Mexican…no of course not. I see. I see.”(Cisneros 80)
Cisneros, Sandra “Never Marry a Mexican” 1991
“Depressed Woman Talking To Her Therapist On White Background.”. Januray 29th, 2015. Dreamstime. https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-depressed-woman-talking-to-her-therapist-women-white-background-image53072071
Junji Ito “Uzamaki” Viz Media, Vol. 3, 1998-1999.