I once told the story of my life and my strained relationship with my father… Of how things were good until I came of age and realized that things were not always rosy. Of my parents’ strained marriage and eventual divorce and how it affected my life thereafter. Of the struggles I still live with to date. The fears I live with, now as a parent.
When I look around in my circles, I realize that the story is pretty much the same. The story of pained parents and their angry adult kids. Parents who feel that they were short-changed by their ex who got to keep the kids and turn them against them. Kids who are angry because they felt abandoned. Kids who are angry because they were forced to make it on their own because shit hit the fan. Kids who are angry because they became parents to kids they never sired or intended to adopt. Parents who have to live with the guilt and shame of abandoning their children. Parents who live with the pain of having to face old age alone, possibly miserable. Parents who realize too late, the consequences of their choices.
One wonders, “How did we get here? How did it come to this?”
For a very long time I was an angry adult kid of pained parents. I was angry at my father for many things, I would need a whole day to list them down. I needed someone to blame, so I blamed everything on him. I felt that his drinking led to his anger and a chain of a thousand more unfortunate events that left every member of my family in misery and shame.
Now that I am older, I know that I knew nothing. I find myself with the same frustrations he probably faced. I have made the bottle my friend at some point. The same bottle I loathed when in the hands of my sire. I worry. I break down. I constantly battle temptations of transferring my anger to others around me. Just like he did.
Now that I am older, I realize that no-one in particular was to blame. Everyone simply lacked a support system. My father comes from the generation of men who were supposed to man-up. Men who should never risk showing their tears. Tears are a sign of weakness, after all, aren’t they? On the other hand, my mother comes from the last generation of women who were supposed to be home-makers. Who had only two choices once they got into marriages—to stay or stay. In my community, a woman is referred to as ‘mutumia’, which roughly translates to ‘the silent one’, because she is meant to remain silent, persevere, make her husband happy and give her children a place to call home.
Time changes, as it always does. A million words are left unspoken. A thousand battles are left unresolved. All hell breaks loose. Shit hits the fan. Anger is transferred. Misery is converted into violence. Old wounds are reopened for the umpteenth time. Families are broken. Lives are ruined. A new generation of angry, confused adults is born.
We can change this.
Let’s talk mental health.
Originally published at www.robertkamaru.com