Collins leaned back in his chair in the office. He looked at his in-tray and it was empty. He had no pending work. The office was quiet as everyone had already left at the end of the day. He picked up the daily newspaper and flipped through it. It was as if he was waiting for someone or something. He was taking his time before leaving for home. He walked out of his office slowly. The corridors were deserted as he locked the door behind him. The streets were still busy but the traffic had subsided. As he reversed his metallic grey Subaru Impreza out of the basement parking lot, he was in a pensive mood. Where had he failed on the home front? What had he done wrong?
Collins was in deep thought as he drove from Nairobi Central Business District towards Ngong Road. His mind strayed back to the time he and Sue met at church almost 10 years earlier. A faint smile touched his lips when he remembered how he had noticed her because of her great singing talent. She could really sing like an angel. When she sang, he felt like he was sitting in heavenly places. He was not too much into church affairs himself but he was a faithful church member and did participate in church activities from time to time. He felt really flattered when he asked her out and she accepted, without too much persuasion. Sue is a beautiful lady. She is light skinned and with jet-black silky hair flowing past her shoulders. They courted for a year before they held a church wedding that was well attended. Their union was blessed with two sweet little girls ages 7 and 3. He should have been the happiest man on the planet but he wasn’t.
Married life between Collins and Sue was never rosy, right from the first year. He seemed never to be good enough. They lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Kileleshwa but it was not good enough for his wife. She complained endlessly that children needed to grow up in a home with a compound, where they could have enough space to play. He met her while she had a temporary job in a private school. He opened for her a beauty salon in their neighbourhood. She used to complain that she would have been happier had he paid for her to pursue a degree instead. She would not shout at him or cause any drama. She would just talk in normal tone and praise other people.
“Have you seen the car Mike’s wife is driving? Mike really values his wife.” Mike was the best man at their wedding.
“If I had not rushed to get married, I could have pursued higher education. By now, I could have built for my mother a house she would be proud of.”
“My friend Mary is really lucky. Her family lives in Spring Valley. Her children have all the space to play.”
Collins always felt not good enough no matter what he did for his family. There was always someone who drove a better car than his wife, who lived in a better house than his family, whose children attended a better school than the one his children attended. He found himself dreading any conversation with his wife because she always left him feeling like a deflated tire. He could not remember a time they were really happy as a couple. He worked really hard and had made good progress at his job. He headed the IT department in a commercial bank and was respected by his peers. But Sue seemed not to see anything in him worthy of praise.
Sue was the 3rd born in a family of 5. All her siblings worked and lived in the city. He grew up in Coast and none of his siblings lived in the city. He met his parents and siblings a few times in a year, when he travelled to Coast of they visited them in the city. Sue and her siblings constantly kept in touch. There was something he did not like about the relationship between Sue and her siblings but he could not lay a finger on exactly what it was. It seemed like whenever she and her siblings or her mother either met or talked on phone, she would be really moody and would dwell on self pity, complaining about one thing or another about their marriage. It was like her family members would awaken something depressive in her, which he could not really explain.
Collins did not like the way his wife related with their 2 daughters. They were always crying when she was with them. She would criticize them about everything they did, even when they were really doing their best. They seemed frustrated and aggressive, especially the 7 year old who was in lower primary school. She had confidence issues and did not believe in her abilities even when she was clearly talented.
Staying Away From Toxic Family Environment
The unfriendly atmosphere at home seemed to push Collins to be coming home late after work. Maybe he was seeking peace of mind by avoiding to spend time with his wife. He always gave the excuse that he was busy at work, while in actual sense he kept himself busy long after completing his work for the day. One evening he noticed that he was not alone in the office, long after working hours. He discovered that Ruth – a staff in the accounting department – was also working late. He knocked at her door and asked her if she was leaving already. She said that she was still around. He did not know her that well though their paths had crossed a few times in the course of work. He stood at the door to her office for a few minutes and they did not talk much. There was a sort of awkward tension between them, probably because they were alone in the entire office.
Ruth seemed to be leaving the office late a lot of times. It became normal for Collins to pass time chatting with her as he was usually not in a hurry to go home after work. He got to learn a lot about her. She was a single mother of one 12-year old girl, who was in boarding school. She said that she preferred to do her own stuff in the office. She did not see the logic of wasting time in the heavy Nairobi traffic yet she lived alone. She told Collins that she sold stuff and she took the time after work to post updates about her goods to her Facebook and Twitter pages. Gradually, he got so used to their after work talk that he would find himself looking forward to it. He would send her a Whatsapp message once he got home, asking her if she arrived safely. This graduated to chatting about different things ranging from what was in the news to their hobbies and much more.
One day Sue went through her husband’s phone and saw the chats between him and Ruth. That was when all hell broke lose. She accused him of cheating on her with Ruth and she called him unprintable names. He and Ruth were close and they talked every day but he had never thought of cheating on his wife. Their marriage went downhill very fast after that. Sue would go quiet on him for days on end and when she eventually spoke to him, she would only torment him about how much he had disappointed her. One thing led to another and he ended up in an affair with Ruth. For some reason he did not feel guilty about it because he felt that Sue had pushed him into it. His marriage to Sue eventually broke and he and Ruth got married. Sue left him with their 2 daughters since she had no reliable source of income. The beauty salon Collins had opened for her went down when their marriage failed and she eventually had to close. She moved in with her elder sister and left the girls behind, probably because she could not give her sister too much burden to bear on her behalf.
Ruth was good with the girls even though she was not their biological mother. She helped them with homework after work and played games with them. Collins was nervous when he and Ruth decided to get married. He feared about the relationship between the girls and their step mother, which turned out ok. The girls gradually regained their self confidence since Ruth would encourage them and shower them with praise whenever they did something good.
Sue’s family was dysfunctional and ended up costing her a good marriage. Collins was a good man and he and Sue could have built a successful home but she was sabotaging it herself, eventually pushing him into the arms of another woman.
Generational Dysfunctional Family
Many of the struggles we go through in adulthood have their roots in the families we grew up in. Maybe our parents were violent and we witnessed fights between them from the time we were little kids. Maybe they were abusive to us or they neglected us, failed to play their parenting roles. Maybe one of our parents – or both – was abusing substances such as alcohol and neglecting the family as a result. Very many people struggle with damaged emotions but they do not understand why their lives just never turn out ok.
Could You Be A Victim of Damaged Emotions?
These are some signs that you could be a victim of damaged emotions and could benefit from therapy.
1. Emotional instability: low moods, hot temper, anger issues, easily getting into conflicts with people.
2. Fear and lack of self-confidence
3. Interpersonal relationship issues (easily getting into conflicts with people)
4. Broken relationships: you attract abusive partners or you get into relationships that are characterized by frequent quarrels and disagreements
6. Poor management of resources (time, money, etc.)
7. Cycle of debt; not able to save, always chased by debtors; you continually lose money to debtors
8. Lack of vision and ambition: you seem to have no motivation, no inspiration to make your life better
9. Easily controlled and manipulated: you become a slave to other people and end up not living to your full potential
10. Victim mentality: feeling helpless, that you are not able to change your life
Damaged emotions normally affect many different people in a family because they were all subjected to the same circumstances. Do these signs of damaged emotions affect other people in your family? As we continue with this topic of damaged emotions, we shall explore different ways that you can set yourself free.
This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter, Life Coach, Mentor, Network Marketing Professional and Blogger