1/2 I was on radio recently to talk about the effect of divorce on kids. I was back to being the little boy I have ignored for 30 years. I’ve been mean to him. Left him alone. So now, I reach out to him…..for my own good.
My parents’ divorce meant I spent weekends with one parent and weekdays with another. On a few occasions, I was sent away in the middle of the night, on a weekend. One time I had just N1.50K. I took a Molue from Lawanson to Race Course. The 50 Kobo I had left couldn’t get me farther than Bonny Camp and so, at just before 1am this 12 year old boy walked to 1004. I locked myself in my room for 2 days and in her attempt not to cause me more pain, my mum let me be.
On my 18th birthday, there was a huge party thrown and a cow killed. The truth was that the celebration of my 18th was the fact that at that age, I was a full fledged adult who needed no support or alimony payment. At 18, I was legally, no one’s responsibility. At 18, the “consequence” of a failed marriage had been neutralized.
Did that affect my self confidence? In school and 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? Yes. For example, until I got married, I couldn’t stand to look into a full length mirror, but that’s a story for another time.
I wrote memoirs once. I was 19 or 20 and I hid them for years but one day my mother found them. I’ve never felt so guilty. For me, the pain of growing up with divorced parents was mine alone to bear and I bore it gladly. Well, 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. 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. 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.