Separation’s Gift

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It was November 6, 1990 in the small town of Clinton, South Carolina where my parents, Sherri Johnson and Ricky Johnson Sr. , separated from their eight-year marriage. There are numerous explanations for their separation. The main reason my parents separated was due to the obsessive drinking problem my father had. I grew up in a house with a father who was an alcoholic. I knew what alcoholism looked like, and believe me, it was not attractive. My father’s disease (alcoholism) had wrecked havoc in our family, causing much pain, chaos and financial insecurity.

I can remember my mother giving us explicit instructions never to give out any information to anyone who called such as creditors, or my dad’s boss and co-workers. My sister and I both knew, without being told, that we were not to talk about my father’s problem outside the house, no matter how bad it got. Most people assume separation among parents to always have gruesome effects, such as the children getting caught up in an emotional whirlpool or separation creating greater hostility between the couple. However, separation can have positive effects on one’s life.

A recent article in Divorce Magazine suggests that most, if not all, divorces end up in a financial slump. However, in my family’s case, the total opposite occurred. My parent’s separation proved to be a benefit to their annual incomes. Subsequent to my mother and father’s separation, their incomes started to increase tenfold compared to what it was. My dad got a great job at Torrington, a bearings company in Clinton, making an average amount of money. He saved some money and bought a trailer of his own. He has been working there for over ten years now.

Now that he has a stable job, he can provide my sister and I we things we need, such as clothes and school supplies. My mother kept the same job. She no longer went into work stressed out, so she had greater job performances. One year and four days to the date of my parent’s separation, my mother got promoted to C. E. O. She had more time to focus on her job and not on wondering if she was going to be able to make next month’s rent. These outcomes go to show that separation is not always bad; it can change one’s life for the best. After the marriage came to an end, my sister and I only spent a couple of days with my father every other week.

When my sister and I were with my father, it seemed as if he valued the time he had with us so much more than he did when he and my mother where married. I remember the first weekend my sister and I went to stay at my father’s new trailer. He came to my little league game, something he had never done before. We also sat down as a family and ate dinner. I felt as if I were in the wrong house. Our relationship had an entirely new atmosphere. It felt really good there. In these occurrences particularly, it was an advantage that my mother and father separated because it made my father cherish the time he had with us.

It made him realize his children were more important than alcohol. As a result of my parent’s separation, I have had the chance to view the world. The past two summers, I traveled to Australia, and the year before that, I traveled to Paris. If my parents were still together, I do not think I would have had these opportunities to travel across the world. My father would have been to drunk to care that I did well in school, and if he did not care, I would have most likely not cared, which would have possibly led to me dropping out of school like he did.

My mother would not have had the time that she has today to help me with my homework and come to school activities because she would have been at work all day. I traveled to Australia to compete in the International Cross-Country Championships and to Paris with my French class. Both trips involved school. To go on the French trip, first, you had to have an A in the class and second, you had to show the teacher that you were active in class activities. To compete in the International Cross-Country Championships, you had to run really fast and you had to have really good grades.

I believe I started trying really hard in school when my mother remarried. Unlike my father, my stepfather really enforced doing well and getting involved in school. Because he did not have a good education, he really pushed my sister and me to do our very best. He made me work harder and harder, which kind of shaped the person that I am today. I am glad my mother remarried because it gave me more opportunities to do things I really enjoy. I can honestly say that the separation saved my father’s and mother’s life. After the disjointing, my father went into a rehabilitation center to try to stop his alcohol problems.

I can blissfully report that he no longer drinks alcohol, nor is he ever aggressive in any way. In fact, he attains Lydia Mill Presbyterian Church every Sunday and Wednesday. As for my mother, she re-married a guy by the name of Donnie, who is now, as I call him, my second daddy. He took our family in as if we were his own. My mother started feeling good about herself again, and my sister and I were not exposed to any more violence in the household. Now that my parents are separated, they get along so well. They always work together when it comes to doing something for my sister and me.

One major assumption is that the children always suffer in a separation, but I believe if a mother and father both agrees to spend an equal amount of time with the child, the child has a greater chance at becoming a normal functioning kid. In fact, if the parents both decide to re-marry, the child not only has two functioning parents but four. There are many wonderful effects as a result of a separation among parents and I have encountered a large amount of them. It has reshaped my family’s lives. It has made my parents realize reality, that they were not meant to be together, and it has all been in a magnificent way.

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