Yesterday my 21 year old son, headed back to Pine Bluff following a fun-filled holiday break. He will start junior year classes and there will never be enough words for me describe how proud I am of him. He’s a good man. He’s the product of a very dysfunctional, broken home, but what he’s become is a testament to the fact that you don’t have to become what you see. My child, like many others, lived through his parent’s divorce and witnessed my eventual breakdown as a result of many, many years of mental and emotional abuse.
He witnessed some of the most absurd fighting between his father and me, and he was scarred. He remembers so much – even the things I don’t. Unfortunately, I do remember some of that mess and I’m embarrassed. Once, after his dad had been out the entire night snorting up anything that resembled coke, we had a vicious blowout. He was coming off a major high and I was mad because he had been out drinking and drugging again. My temper and everything about it was horrible.
That Saturday morning after my ex had been out running all over Dallas/Ft. Worth partying, he had quietly walked in, but I was ready for war. He reeked of alcohol. He looked like he’d been reheated five or six times in one of those old-school microwaves that would pop a weenie open after 10 seconds. Looking at him made me sick. I started yelling about what a bum he was and how stupid he was. That was one of those mornings when he was only half interested in arguing, but as always, he was extremely verbally abusive.
So that our son couldn’t hear him, he quietly said, “I have to get drunk and high to deal with you.” I chose not to respond quietly. I yelled, “I should cut your head off and put it in a shoe box!” Will heard that. He’s never forgotten it. I allowed my anger to blind me to the fact that my child was just upstairs and could hear everything that was being said.
He had been on the receiving end of his father’s inability to interact with other adults as a whole and he suffered. It didn’t matter if he had a near-perfect basketball game with one missed free throw – he never heard about the good things he did. The focus from his father would be on that one missed free throw. Some of the things he said to Will over the years were so cruel I won’t repeat them here.
Despite all that, my son is amazing. He has definitely come into his own, but he did hit a bump. After he graduated in June 2013, he went to my alma mater, Grambling State University. I was so proud, but I was newly divorced. My ex-husband had left me to pack a 3500 sq. ft. home. I was so consumed with fear, pain, and confusion that I couldn’t even remember the basic stuff my child needed for his first semester in college. Thank God for my sister and nephew who took him shopping for the things he needed.
My child didn’t leave for college under normal circumstances. He left shortly after the divorce. He left a house filled with boxes that contained his childhood. Good times or bad, his entire life was taped down in boxes. I sat among those boxes, lost and hurt. The nest was empty save for a million boxes, four pets who could feel the tension, and a mind that wandered and wondered. For the first time in 19 years, I was alone. The nest wasn’t just empty, it was barren. I sat in the middle of the giant great room and just cried. I felt that I was stranded in the desert and no one knew I was there. It took deep self-reflection, counseling, and good old time, but I’m good now. I’m at peace. I love who I am as a woman. I love the woman who was molded from the fire of abuse.
Wounds heal and so do hearts. Let no one rush you to that heavenly place of peace.