Growing up in a household where love felt like it was scarce, romantic love felt like something I would never attain. My mum and dad met each other while they were in secondary school in Ghana and have been married for over 30 years. Whenever I tell people this fact, their instant reaction is to tell me how lucky I am to have parents who are still together. They are in awe of their perception of what a long-standing relationship means. I smile slightly then sigh before I have to burst their bubble. “To be honest with you” I start. “If it were up to me, they would have broken up decades ago.” I share this uncomfortable truth when I have the emotional capacity to tackle the slightly awkward conversation that always follows.
Despite my parents being married for over 30 years I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen them happy together. I was nine the first time that I told my mum to get a divorce. She told me that being Ghanaian and Christian were the key reasons why she wouldn’t get a divorce.
“But what would people think? What would they say? We don’t do that where we’re from.”
My mum would not leave my dad because of the pressures of keeping up appearances. This line of thinking always felt ridiculous to me. It felt like they were living a lie. My parents were the barometer for the love I never wanted to receive. Pondering on that fact over the years has been a difficult one. It was hard to think of the love I did want because I was so consumed by the love I didn’t want.