NORMAN — I don’t think people really understand the devastation and pressure that a child is faced with when their parents are having problems. The pain and cries of the children are manifested in many ways both mentally and spiritually.
Divorce is not a kind word. Divorce is in many ways brutal. I do not say this lightly or with malicious intent to miss-characterize people who have been divorced and have moved on. I speak from reality and one that has experienced the effects of divorce as a child.
A child cannot grasp the full meaning of divorce however they do understand when something is broken or better yet when those they love are hurting. Anxiety reaches a boiling point and because we (the children) have no idea what to do or how to fix the problem, we live vicariously on a threshold between a world that will either crush us or lift us to a better place. No one is immune from a broken home especially an innocent child. A child depends on you, whoever is closest to them. The burdens of the sometimes forgotten children are unimaginable and in those difficult life-situations one essential act is what they need to survive.
There was no way I could have verbalized what I knew in my heart and soul at age 5, that my mom and dad were not well. Something was not quite right. No one seemed to know what I knew and who would listen to a 5 year old anyway?
Nighttime was always the worse. This had less to do with how my parents acted but more to do with the fact that the night or the darkness seemed to come alive taunting or reveling in the trouble devastating our family. Lying in bed eventually I would feel a great presence lurking from some point in my bedroom. Strange shadowy shapes would form within my peripheral vision but when I would attempt to look directly at them they would furtively scatter away. Utter blackness as dark as caverns winding deep in the earth would stare back at me with soulless hungry eyes and would seem so sinister and menacing that I would shout out. Many folks would call these night-terrors. I would just call them the cries of children from broken homes.
One particularly hard night I remember I was allowed to sleep in my parent’s room. Here of all places I thought the darkness could not penetrate. Surely this would be a safe refuge from the forces I sensed troubling all of us. Yet, once the light was turned off, the silence and darkness came alive. I had my answer. Soon, I realized that tonight would be different.
Something stirred in the shadows then suddenly a dark figure materialized out of the darkness. Walking slowly and with purposeful menacing intent the dark figure headed straight for me. I was paralyzed with fear unable to move or shout out for help. Within seconds of reaching the far end of the bed the dark figure was grabbed by my dad. I watched through breathless tears as my dad fought valiantly with this fiend. They struggled mightily then down they fell in the pit of darkness. I couldn’t see and everything was deadly silent. Oh, I prayed so.
After what seemed like an eternity, dad walked up to my bed. He wore a smile and gave me a hug that spoke more to my heart than any words. He then simply raised his fingers to his lips and said, “Shish, all is well, you can sleep now.” This would be the affirmation of love that I sorely and desperately needed for in the days to come my parents would be divorced. I really cannot say or tell you if the shadowy figure was real, all I know is the real substance from my father was love, the constant affirmation of being loved, and the sacrifices he made demonstrating that love.
Children from broken homes have lost something they can never regain — their family, their father and mother, their home. This lost-ness is a gut-wrenching experience.
Some will forever be in search of that allusive family spirit that was cruelly taken away. Their cries along with other children of broken homes echo yearningly late at night. Can you hear them? Pray for them. There is a dark force that seeks to destroy their lives as well. The only way out of this darkness is the light of love, the affirmation of love, and loves great selfless sacrifice.
Fathers and mothers, friends and family, act on that healing love today before time runs out. Every child needs to know they are loved, that “all is well, you can sleep now.”