Lessons from our Past, a True Story - 14 April 2014

For years I had raged and the constant arguments I put my family through was, in my mind, a normal part and parcel of a marriage.

I was a hardworking man who loved his kids immensely, but in my own way. I also adored my wife, again in my own way, whom I married in my 20th year.

I married her while my dad was off the island on one of his many trips away from homeland. We had three kids, all boys under the age of 10, before my wife decided that a shift to NZ would improve our lot. It was for the best, and the best decision she ever made.

Unfortunately, moving away to NZ didn't exactly mean the troubled past would be left behind in the island.

While I stayed behind in the island and work with occasional visits to NZ during the holidays to see my family, my wife endured some difficulties raising our three kids while staying with her family, not exactly the life she was contemplating to live when she shifted to NZ.

After years of flying in and out of NZ to see my family, in which we added two more siblings to the brood, I was given an ultimatum on my last visit in the 1990s to either return home to the island and say good-bye to the marriage, or stay in NZ and have a go at being a family man again instead of being an absentee or even part-time dad.

The decision to stay was easy enough for me, but the thought of being with my family sort of made me feel all caged in. I missed the riding of my motorbike and feeling of the wind blowing through my hair, and the drinking sessions with my friends without the responsibility of having to go home and tend to my family.

For me, it was a case of having my cake and eat it too.

Although I loved and enjoyed having to be around my wife and kids again, the thought of being caged in didn't really appeal to me.

So the cycle of arguments and disagreements started again, most of it I instigated just to let off some steam.

But little did I know that letting off some steam for me was the beginning of the reason why my wife and the kids moved away from the island in the first place — to escape the hardships of constant disagreements and arguing. And my love for the alcohol didn't help matters much.

It got worse and worse, all the while kids were growing up and going through their primary, intermediate and college years, and sometimes the older kids got the sharp end of the arguments.

Then it all came to a head one Sunday morning — it wasn't a bad disagreement like the other times, but it had dire consequences and the boys in blue were called. I was arrested and spent the rest of the weekend in a cell at the Central Police Station awaiting court appearance on Monday.

This was after I threatened to put a hole in my wife with a knife and when the eldest boy of the family intervened, his mother rang the cops.

The judge ordered me to 20 weeks intensive anger management therapy, which I attended with apprehension till the third week.

This was also where I ran into Vic Tamati, by now a strong advocate for the It's not OK family violence campaign.

Listening to Vic's reminiscing of his past deeds was living through the past again — only this time, under different circumstances. He is amongst a group of men sent there to rehabilitate and be taught that violence is not OK under any circumstances, anywhere.

To hear Mr Tamati speak so openly about what is deemed sacred in the Pacific way, was the trigger that set the ball rolling, it added to the purpose of having anger management therapy, and set me towards becoming a more open-mined individual who at last can appreciate, and own up, that I do have a problem.

I spent some time away from home staying with a loving family where I never heard a word spoken in anger by the father of the house.

I worked on my relationship with my wife. (Thank God she took me back).

I mended my relationship with my son, talked to the reverend of the local church in seeking some divine help — actually I was doing just about anything and everything to win my family back. I even surprised myself by doing it.

Now in my 50s, I've found happiness from within myself to handle any obstacles with confidence that I can overcome them without world war three, or four, or even five.

I still have moments of fighting my own demons but the amazing thing is, I can hold them off without any fear of exploding. I may forever have to fight them but the very thing I have now that I never had before is the knowledge that domestic violence is never ok, and I now know how to handle my demons.

My wife says it was a miracle she got through the dramas and the kids are now all adults with their own lives — and the constant advice I give them, sometimes a bit over the top, was just my way of making sure they don't grow up to be like me.

If I could re-live my younger life again I would but in a different way. I cannot change the past but I sure can make certain that my kids cannot and will not be like me.

The prognosis in that regard is all good, my kids love me and constantly tell me that, my wife now has got her confidence back, to a point that she now can tell me when I'm about to blow my top to go away and cool off.

Doing that anger management therapy, attending church and seeking help through on my own volition were the best things that ever happened to me.

Domestic violence is never ok anywhere under any circumstances.

I'm now happy and grateful for the love my wife and kids continue to give me, and quietly hoping that after half a century on planet earth, now it is smooth sailing for the rest of my years on earth with my loving family and grandkids.

And of course, the endless love of God Almighty.

I talked to my wife to get the OK for me to publish this story of mine, which I felt at the time of writing contributed to my rehabilitation and that part of my past life.

By T.T.T.T

 

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