By Bunmi Sofola
When Joshua’s marriage crashed after 22 years, she was so wrapped up in the aftermath of her divorce she paid little attention to her first daughter.
Benny, then 21, was so hard-hit by the separation her life took a downward turn.
“It was several years later that the details of her debauchery hit me – there was binge drinking, several one-night stands, a disastrous affair with a married man who used his contact with the family to seduce her, and drugs. Lots of drugs”, said Tina, almost in tears.
“I wouldn’t have guessed all my daughter went through if it hadn’t happened on her no-holds-barred diary. I guess she thought I would find it one day.
It was there I read details of how my ex-husband’s friend had treated her to a trip abroad on her 25th birthday, lodged her in a posh hotel and encouraged her to let him snort cocaine off her naked breasts.
This, according to her diary”… involves him instructing me to lie down as if I were a sleeping mat while he indulged his fantasy before we had ‘uncomfortable, brief sex on the floor!’
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I wished he was right there in the room, for me to throttle him. The spineless, rotund ugly man, defiling my daughter because of the wads of ready cash he always carried?
“You can’t imagine the depth of shame and guilt I felt.
“I mean, what kind of a mother could be unaware that her daughter’s lack of self-confidence had led her to believe ‘the more lovers I have, the more attractive I must be’?
Or that the reason she was so broke – and begging for money from the bank of Mum and Dad on a weekly basis – was her growing dependence on drugs?
According to her diary: “For coke, I can do anything from a one-night stand to having a threesome with a couple I have just met at a party’. A threesome? My own daughter?
How had my responsible academic, kind little girl turned into this cheap slut? At what point in her life had I lost sight of what she was doing and who she had now become? Where had I gone wrong?
“Though she wrote: ‘I don’t ever blame my parents’ divorce on what happened to me for over a decade”, I disagree.
I believe the break-up of our long marriage when she was 21 was a major cause of her ensuing ‘decade of chaos’.
Divorce, we are told, is most damaging to young children, but I believe – after reading my daughter’s diary – it has far-reaching effects on young adults too.
Benny didn’t just lose the security of having two parents, she also lost the family home which was sold after the divorce.
Even after she had moved out to share a flat with a friend, the family house had been her refuge and her place of safety. Now it was gone.
The break-up shocked and upset her more than I had expected and I feel certain it undermined her sense of identity and had a disastrous effect on her self-esteem.
“Before the divorce, Benny and I had the kind of intense mother-daughter relationship in which nothing was out of bounds.
As a teenager, what she didn’t tell me (and she told me a lot) I would secretly and shamefully find out by reading her diaries – which were always open and honest. Far from being a slut, she didn’t have her first proper boyfriend until she was 20 and she was disapproving of friends who indulge in casual sex.
But I now realise that the divorce changed her views on men and morality. It also changed her relationship with me and we became more distant with each other.
This wasn’t just because she was grown-up, madly busy establishing a successful career and living away from home.
But because a year after my split with her father, I fell in love and eventually moved in with the man who would be my partner for the next ten years.
I didn’t just find a new partner, I acquired two delightful step-children. I established what must have seemed to Benny to be a ‘new family’ that excluded her and her two siblings.
This must have added to the feelings of loss and betrayal she experienced during and after the divorce.
“Looking back on that time in Benny’s life, one of my greatest regrets is the fact she felt she could no longer confide in me in the way she had in her teenage years.
We talked on the phone every day and once a week, she would come to my new home to spend the night.
But I was too distracted and busy with my ‘new family’ and a full-time job to pick up on signs of her discontent.
Had I still been married to her father and living in our old family home, I’m sure I would have recognised the signs.
“But, to be honest, she did give me occasional flashes of what was happening in her life. I just failed to do anything about it.
There were times, often at night, when I would receive distressing phone calls in which she would tell me about some men she liked or another who had let her down.
I worried endlessly that there was no one significant in her life because however much she claimed she loved her single life, I knew that secretly she longed to have a stable relationship.
Had I known at the time, what was really going on – the casual sex – binge-drinking and drugs – I might have been able to give her the support and help she needed. But was too caught up in my new life and I totally failed her.
Perhaps the most distressing entry in her diary comes towards the end, when in her late 20s, disillusioned by men of her age, she embarked on an affair with a married man.
Clever, powerful and a dozen years her senior, he took her on a few outings and, against all her principles, she fell in love. As the affair progresses, he is less attentive – usually only bothering to see her for lunch time trysts in her flat – but she didn’t object and was overjoyed when he took her on a business trip abroad.
Alone in the hotel room, she quickly got into her sexy negligee but he didn’t turn up until late into the night – insisting he must listen to the news. Which they both did as he had sex with her.
“When she later suggested a few months later that they had a weekend away for her 30th, he advised it wouldn’t be proper for her to spend such a big occasion with him asking her: ‘You know what we have is just sex, don’t you?’ My blood boils at the way some of the men treated Benny that I feel tempted to name and shame them. But my daughter has moved on, thank goodness.
“A couple of years ago, she finally found what she most wanted in life – the true love of the man she’s currently married to. They have a cute son and another child is on the way. She finally found her light at the end of a very long dark tunnel!”
All Round Winner (Humour)
A man is out practising golf when he hits his ball into a wooded area at the side of the fair way. Muttering to himself, he goes looking for it and stumbles across a funny little gnome sitting cross-legged on the ground “Good day to you”, says the man, politely. The little gnome nods his head, then says, “I see you’re not having a good day. I bet you wish you could be the world’s greatest golf player?” “If only”. Replies the man wistfully. “Well, perhaps, I could help you. I have magic powers. But it will mean your sex life will become virtually non-existent. A champion golfer, instead of a champion lover”. “Yes, please,” says the man. Suddenly, a terrific wind swirls through the trees and the next moment, the man is back on the fairway as if nothing had happened. Over the next year, his game goes from strength to strength and he becomes one of the leading golfers in the world.
One day, as he walks the old familiar fairway where his success first began, he steps off into the woods to see if the gnome is still there. Sure enough, he’s sitting cross-legged on the ground. “Ah, ha, I hear you’re the best in the country”, says the gnome. “But how’s your sex life?” he smirks. “Not so bad”, exclaims the gnome? “What do you mean? How many times did you have sex last year?” “Oh, I think it was five times”. “And you call that not bad?” Sneers the gnome. “Well, it’s not bad for a Catholic priest with a small congregation!”
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