FAMILY FUSION: From broken to beautiful ‘vessels’
“Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world. – SUSAN LIEBERMAN
“AS A YOUNG WOMAN, still in my teens at school, I began to feel worthless, dirty, rejected and believed I was not loved by those who were placed there by God to lay a secure and serene foundation in my life.
“I hated myself and thoughts of suicide began to grip me from time to time. My fractured home where I initially grew up discarded me at an early age and I was placed in the hands of a relative who I believed saw me as less than a human being.” These are the sad words of Gertrude (not her real name) who gave me permission to tell her story today.
During this month which is designated as Family Month with special emphasis on the children I want to sensitise adults and especially parents to the tremendous responsibility that rests on their shoulders to plant positive “seeds” in the soil of their children’s lives from birth.
The story of Gertrude is an example of the height of emotional and other damage that can occur in the lives of children who may not be given proper parental nurturing by significant others. As a consequence, these fragile lives may lose their way in a world where kindness toward vulnerable children is not always the order of the day, but one that often seeks to frustrate the healthy growth of their God-given potential.
The words of eminent psychologist Dr James Dobson should therefore be indelibly stamped in the psyche of all parents and potential parents to place a high premium on these tender little gems, our children. He said: “Children are not casual guests in our home. They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built.”
Gertrude said she has little recollection of some of her early years as she grew up in one of the beautiful islands of the Caribbean. She believed that some of her negative childhood experiences may have been submerged deeply in her subconscious.
It is not uncommon for some children with painful childhood encounters to bury them alive in an effort to conceal the emotional pain of the past.
One thing that she never forgot in her preteens was her being exposed to pornography.
“At first it (pornography) was fun, then the feelings felt great; but then it became a habit and turned into experiments; then into a way of life, love and feeling appreciated.” Coming into her teens Gertrude said that there were some vivid memories that stuck with her.
She spoke candidly of having to move from house to house several times and the relative of whom I spoke earlier was extremely abusive toward her.
“The derogatory name-calling which was a constant feature within that adopted home environment plus my pornographic appetite, drove me as a teenager into the arms of several males who used me sexually and made me feel like trash. Yet in my search for love I continued to desire male companionship some of whom impregnated me and then demanded that I abort the children. The loss of those children still haunts me and the weight of guilt and shame still depresses me from time to time.”
She recalled that the relative with whom she lived encouraged her to “shack-up” with her male companion while she was still at school.
“After getting frustrated with males who also abused me physically and emotionally, I decided to finish with male relationships and I turned to females for love. I got involved in lesbian affairs and they too turned out to be a dead-end street for me. Such relationships stripped me of my self-worth (if I had any) and dignity and made me feel so sick. Nothing or no one satisfied me. I hit rock bottom. One of my goals was to hurt men, one by one.”
Then as if something lit up inside of her, Gertrude’s tone of voice changed and she said: “But I am a changed woman today. Many years ago a friend invited me to church and I asked God to change my awful life. He did. He poured His amazing love into my life. That superior love that He placed inside of me removed the desires for the counterfeit love that never worked for me over my many years of frustration. Because of my faithfulness to God, He later gave me a wonderful, caring, committed Christian husband and some extremely wonderful children who I love, cherish and continue to guide in the path of my Heavenly Father’s purpose for their lives. My earthly father abandoned me at an early age but my Heavenly Father continues to take excellent care of me and my family.”
Since her transformation many years ago, this remarkable Caribbean female is doing very well in her profession and has been able to impact the lives of people throughout the Caribbean in a variety of ways.
It is vitally important that as parents, long before you decide to bring children into this world, that you plan to do so not first to make you feel good or as a result of submitting to pressure from others.
Let your objective be to fashion and shape these little lives so they can develop their inborn God-given capabilities in a safe and wholesome home environment. It becomes necessary therefore for you as parents and prospective parents to prepare yourselves as holistically as possible so that you will be equipped to train your children to become productive and progressive citizens.
• Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org