A problem is a problem half solved – I’m listening
Last night, I tried to test the temperature of the water with my little toe, but I slipped and fell into the pool, and I don’t really know how to swim…so this is me trying.
Recently, I was on a show talking about the effect of divorce on kids and I couldn’t believe the amount of energy, mantras, mind games and distraction techniques I needed to carry the conversation through. In all honesty, I had called to cancel but a very good friend of mine managed to convince me to do it. The show that night brought me in direct confrontation with the little boy I’ve ignored for 30yrs. I’ve been mean to him – left him alone. So now, I reach out to him…for my own good.
Their divorce meant I spent weekends with one parent and weekdays with another, and I remember going to spend the weekend on a few occasions but being sent away in the middle of the night. There was one time I was sent and wasn’t given “vex money” so that I’d have no choice but to stay. On that occasion, I was sent away and, with the N1.50 I had, I took a molue from Lawanson to Race Course. The 50kobo I had left couldn’t get me farther than Bonny Camp and so, at just before 1AM, this 12yr old boy walked to 1004. I probably got home at 2am and, obviously, my mum knew right away what happened.
I locked myself in my room for two days and in her attempt not to cause me more pain, she let me be. She pleaded (instead of forcing me as she could have) for me to open the door, but I didn’t. Should she have? I don’t know, but she often tried really hard and would end up overcompensating.
For my 18th birthday, there was a huge party thrown and a cow killed. I was on top of the world. But for those of you who believe in “blunt honesty”, this was one time ignorance was certainly bliss. The apparent truth was that the celebration of my 18th surrounded the fact that, at 18, I was a full fledged adult who needed no support nor alimony payment. At 18 I was, legally, no one’s responsibility. At 18, the “consequence” of a failed marriage had been neutralized. You see, for a long time, I was reminded that I was just a consequence – a reminder of memories that shouldn’t exist.
Did that affect my self confidence? In school, in relationships…did that knowledge mould me? Did it make me suspicious of anyone trying to get close? Did it make me walk away when I shouldn’t? Did it make me struggle more than necessary not to be totally dysfunctional? You’d know the answers if you’ve ever seen yourself as a “consequence” and didn’t want that image repeated. For example, until I got married, I couldn’t stand to look into a full length mirror, but that’s story for another time.
As close as we are, I’ve been unable to share any details with my mum because she tried so hard for me not to lack anything emotionally and that broke her both financially and psychologically. Therefore, even when we had random discussions, I couldn’t share anything that will give the slightest hint that I was in pain because it would only increase hers.
I wrote my memoirs once, I was 19 or 20, and I hid it for years until one day my mother found it. I had never felt so guilty. For me, my pain was/is mine to bear and I bore it gladly. At least until I realized that the more I bear it, the more accustomed to it I become, and the more accustomed I become, the more it becomes a habit. From being a habit, it becomes me. I am familiar with pain. I am comfortable with pain. I am pain. And somewhere inside me, there’s this longing for familiar territory and when I give, I can so easily give pain. It’s natural. It’s not meant to hurt; it’s just what I knew. Thank God I now know better.
I never shared this part of me because when I couldn’t handle the burden anymore and tried to confide in someone really close to me, all that came out of it was accusations of me being a liar with too much imagination. That was it. I just shut down. No need for drama.
But that night on the show, I realized that I’ve been selfish. People need to know. Not because of me but because there are people that need healing, and perhaps from me they can know that they can get healed and turn out okay. Married people need to know that they cannot act without their kids feeling the consequences. Single people should not let themselves be pressured into marriage without understanding that if it doesn’t work, the consequences are far beyond an “inconvenience”.
The night of the show, I slept and had a dream that a kind shrink was talking to me and trying to get me to articulate what was going on. He never asked me for details, just asked me to explain how I felt. I did. I struggled, but I did and it’s all much clearer to me now. I don’t like it, but it’s clearer.
How does this affect my ability to be a father? Well, for one, I too overcompensate. I remember once when my son was naughty and I smacked him. He was shocked because I rarely do so but, beyond the shock, the smack hurt him quite a bit and I saw the pain in his eyes. It was a familiar look that I couldn’t bear. I’ve not been able to smack him again because the look of pain in his eyes reminded me of me. And I just can’t imagine causing anyone the pain I endured. Does this mean I am now overcompensating? Absolutely!!! Can I do otherwise? I don’t know. I try. I pray. Besides that, my dad was a disciplinarian and for a child, especially one from a broken home, it’s a thin line between discipline and wickedness. And it’s only now that I can see it as discipline. Can I discipline my kids? It’s hard – I don’t want to be seen as wicked but I must discipline them. Can I but overcompensate? I don’t know.
It’s been over thirty years since my parents got separated and, as much as I understand I was never the target for their pain, anguish, hate, trauma and tears, it didn’t stop me from being the victim. Or perhaps I should say co-victim. As the only child of the marriage, I was the “consequence” without which they probably would have healed faster. We are all built differently and have different thresholds for pain. Mine isn’t very high but it’s just as high as I need it to be.
Once in a while, I felt guilty for existing. Did suicide ever cross my mind? Yes. But I didn’t go through with it because the “law” of God has its uses for moulding the little children in Christ.
Was there an option to my parent’s separation? I doubt it and I remember thinking, when I was younger, that they even stayed too long together.
So folks, please don’t marry for the wrong reasons. If you know you can’t, don’t. There is and always will be pressure from society but, trust me, society won’t be there after your wedding day except to put even more pressure on you. Society didn’t help my parents stay together. Society didn’t help them heal. Society wasn’t there while my mind was being battered in confusion. Society didn’t come to bail me when I was truant. Society didn’t offer me any succor. Society still isn’t there.
Our society doesn’t support people like me. Yet, I am multiplying rapidly. Soon, we will be in the majority and we will have a nation of broken people doing nothing but raising broken people who will break those that aren’t broken.
Does all this make me less Christian? Less a lover of God? Does being a child of God “automatically” heal me? For some, yes…for me, no. Being a child of God gives me strength such that you’d read this and say “wow, I never knew”. Being a child of God gives me peace such that you will never believe that I have dealt with so much pain.
Being a child of God means I can look beyond my pain and help your bear yours…if I can…and if you’d let me. Being a child of God allows me to free my parents. Allows me to free society. Allows me to free the child in me so that he can rest. So he can heal. So he can grow. So that I too can be free.
As written by someone who interacted with OLCA in the past week. Problems are real but solutions are available… Let your healing begin.
Please register to join us at the next Mind The Gap X www.mindthegapx.com/registaration where we will be discussing Reasons Why Marriages Fail in The 21st Century. For more information, call 08077077000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.