For most of my life, my parents have been separated. As a little girl, I remember often moving from one place to another, living with different people and changing from one elementary school to another.
When I wasn’t with either of my parents, I lived with relatives – uncles, aunties, grandparents (maternal and paternal) in different locations within the country. So I had the privilege of attending and experiencing life at both public and private schools in Nigeria. You could say I had quite the adventure growing up.
In primary one, I remember being called “fatherless” by a fellow pupil when I was in public school. My guess is that he assumed I was fatherless because he had never seen my dad at the school, and the only person he knew me with was my grandma who worked at the school at the time. The incident made me so sad and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The next time my father visited me at my gran’s, I reported the boy to him and daddy gave me his pictures to take to school and show to the boy that “that’s my father right there”. And oh, I did! I took the pictures to school the next school day and I rubbed it in his face. With that, the boy never had the gut to call me fatherless again.
Years later, while studying and living in a boarding secondary school, I often wondered why kids whose parents were divorced or separated cried and went about with sad faces. That is because I never considered my parents’ separation a thing to cry about.
Majority of my peers and friends at the time spoke a lot about their parents. How their mum and dad did this, how they did that, how they went to this place and that place together. They had lots of pleasant things to talk about and for me to listen to. I remember being internally ashamed a lot because I didn’t have that. So for a very long time, I kept it to myself. I mean, I couldn’t contemplate being the “Doyin” kids talked about in class, hostel and dining hall when the gist of “did you know that Doyin’s parents are “divorced?” came up.
But as I grew, something in me longed for depth. For more. To live. To accept what I have been given, who I am and where I came from. So, I gradually started being open about my parents not being together.
With time, I soon noticed majority of these people began to pity me. Sometimes, I’d meet older people and when the topic of parents came up and I say “No, my parents aren’t together”. Some of them with similar backgrounds will have this really sad look on their face and then go, “I’m also from a broken home so I understand what you’re going through and how you must be feeling. Just stay strong”. But I’m always left wondering what is going on. I mean, “what’s with the talk of ‘broken home’? Can you please not be like this? Nothing is wrong with me. I’m perfectly fine. This right here, what you’re doing now, is what will make me feel bad.”
But then, I realized that the reason some of those people with similar background give pitiful looks while saying things like that is because:
They lack understanding
Some assume that since your parents aren’t together, then automatically you must be a sad person.
Truth be told, the separation of two people who once loved/professed love to each other is a sad thing and it often has an effect on the children. However, the kids don’t remain kids forever. They eventually grow up, realize and come to an understanding of why their parents are not together and they move on with their lives.
A habit of self-pity
For some of these people, they react that way because of a personal habit of self-pity. They could be the type that sit and feel sorry for themselves for a very long time because of unpleasant happenings in their lives.
I believe that as humans, it’s okay to be sad when you go through terrible experiences or witness unpleasant things. What’s not okay is staying in that state forever. You may be tempted to get into the self-pity mode, but don’t fall for it. Don’t accept it. Realize that you’re better off without self-pity.
More importantly, it is better to not give people the chance to plunge you into self-pity by highlighting your deficiencies and rubbing it in your face.
However, if you’re already there, it’s time to get up, take charge of your life and move. I challenge you to leave the self-pity zone and go make beautiful things happen.