This post will be a little more serious than usual.
Childhood is THE foundation for a person’s mental development. Everything is built on top of that foundation, like a house.
I have a younger adoptive brother named Jonathan. He and his biological brother Robbie temporarily came to stay with us many years ago, when I was still a teen, but then for some reason my adoptive parents decided to adopt Jonathan, but not Robbie.
Jonathan has been a mess since day one. I remember his brother was no different. While he was growing up, Jonathan was destructive, a nuisance, loud, and impulsive. None of that ever changed. His behavior prompted our adoptive parents to threaten to kick him out when he turned 18, just like they did with me, only in his case, everyone agreed (including me) that he deserved to get kicked out. (Later, our parents would admit to me that they were too hard on me, after seeing how bad Jonathan was, though without admitting anything specific.)
Recently, Jonathan called our parents and just started crying – literally crying – about how he has no job, no place to live, no friends, and “no family.” He gave a long list of excuses for why he doesn’t have a job – the easiest of his problems to fix. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s always blamed others for every one of his problems, and this incident was no different. I have attempted to talk to him once, about 6 years ago, but having an honest talk changed nothing. Because there comes a point when too much damage has already been done.
When I heard all that Jonathan was whining about, I couldn’t help but think, “He’d be nothing like this if anyone pushed him to be a man.” The reason Jonathan has never been mature, and probably never will be, is because he grew up in a society that demonizes masculinity, and the man who adopted him is spineless and pussywhipped. I don’t think anything could save him at this point.
Jonathan was shaped by his upbringing. Brokenness is all he’s ever understood. He wasn’t raised by his parents, his parents didn’t stay together anyway, his adoptive parents didn’t know what they were doing and still don’t, and he grew up without even hearing about the importance of masculinity. All of this shaped who he is, most likely permanently.
I was never as much of a mess as Jonathan, but I used to be quite fragile. My skin used to be paper thin, figuratively speaking. That used to be who I am, for about the first 24 years of my life, even though it’s become quite obvious that that’s not who I am at my core. I’m strong at my core, but even still, I was weak for most of my life.
I was a very happy child, though. Look at these pictures…
My daughter and I have a lot in common from when I was her current age. I was a happy child – very happy, like she is now. I was a momma’s boy, she’s a momma’s girl. A lot of the fear I have of how she will grow up stems from the fact that she and I are almost no different at the same age. Who she is now – that’s exactly how I was at that age.
I’ve never once – literally not once – seen a child come from a broken childhood who doesn’t carry some kind of permanent damage from it. This includes having stepparents. Kids are resilient for a while, but their childhood damage always catches up to them. Always!
It is a miracle – a fucking MIRACLE – that I don’t have a single instance of being arrested, or thrown in jail, or doing drugs, or committing violence against any person, in my past. Kids, of either sex, who grow up in broken homes are almost guaranteed to make extremely poor decisions. That’s not even mentioning their likelihood of committing suicide. The emotional damage IS guaranteed, and the poor decisions are almost just as likely.
Is it really worth damaging your child’s entire future all because you don’t want to take the time to swallow your ego and do what’s best for them? Or is your ego so massive that you think your selfish behavior actually is what’s best for them, somehow?
And idiots think I despise my ex-wife simply because she’s my ex… No, we have a daughter – a daughter who will most certainly go back and forth between us for nearly the first 20 years of her life – and that will damage her. THAT is the source of my hatred. It’s all thanks to her mother’s immaturity and self-absorption. My daughter’s mother would rather damage her daughter, for life, before trying to fix anything she’s done.
It took me so many years to overcome the countless problems my upbringing created. I had to overcome attachment issues, feeling chronically unloved and unwanted, and worst of all, not having a good example raising me as role models. The closest I ever got to good role models were Lana and Larry, but I didn’t live with them for the majority of my childhood, and I sometimes went whole years without seeing them when I was growing up. But even despite all of my self-teaching, I still have damage to live with, forever.
My ex-wife herself is no different. She doesn’t want to admit that her parents’ separation affected her immensely. Not to mention, she would have never even met her abusive stepfather if her parents chose to work things out. She admits she was a sad child, but she doesn’t want to admit all the reasons why. She doesn’t believe parents need to stay together.
Yes, I am predicting, without a doubt in my mind, that our daughter will grow up with damage, and yes, I am saying her mother is to blame for literally all of it. I am more than willing to admit my part in what was wrong with our marriage, but all of those things were fixable, and they would have been fixed if she truly wanted to fix them. But she didn’t want to, and here we are.
The damage from a broken childhood never goes away. I repeat: Never.
And it’s all because my ex-wife was too good to communicate, too good to ask questions in order to understand me better, too good to tell me how she felt (until she felt like ending the marriage), and too good to show a little humility once in a while. She thinks admitting fault is being weak, she thinks apologizing is being weak, she thinks changing her mind is being weak … even though all of those things are actually signs of strength.
My invitation to speak with her while her mother is present (or any other family member she wants) is still on the table. Will she ever accept that invitation? Of course not. She’s too good for that, too.
I came from a broken family, and I grew up being surrounded by kids who came from broken families. It’s not that I assume where it always goes, I fucking KNOW where it goes. Every. Single. Time. That’s why I take this subject so damn seriously. My ex-wife doesn’t understand this subject like I do. I would think she’d understand it a tiny bit better than she does, considering she came from a broken family as well, but no, she learned nothing.
If my ex-wife was a real woman, and not mentally stuck as a little girl, and she chose to undo the damage she unnecessarily is causing, I would forgive her without a problem. I’ll say it again: I would forgive without a problem. Because at least I would know this shit isn’t going to cause permanent emotional damage to our daughter anymore. If my ex-wife grew up and undid what she’s done, I would remember all my own mistakes and I’d know damn well how NOT to repeat my mistakes again. But I know that will never happen, because she’s got herself a boy (emphasis on the word ‘boy’) who tells her everything she wants to hear. She’ll never be a real woman, or a real mother, because no one in her life truly challenges her to do better. She’ll always need to be babied, and she’ll always have people to baby her. A child raising a child.
She hides behind the words “I can’t” when the truth is that she just doesn’t want to. Period.
Jonathan, myself, my siblings, my foster siblings growing up, and my ex-wife herself…….. I have so many examples to show me exactly where this path of damage leads. Too many examples.
A child’s childhood absolutely fucking matters. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a damned fool.