A MEASURE OF SEPARATION
(…the impact of separation in an individual’s life)
Text: All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
I have found that there are some things in life, regardless of how much an individual prepares themselves for, they will never be fully ready to face it. Separation. To move away from someone or something, forcefully or by choice, is never easy. It feels as if a bond is being broken. More importantly, it is not the act of separation- that takes place in a snap- which leaves an individual stupefied, it is the aftermath. The impact of separation on an individual’s life is that it leaves them in a state of loneliness, it makes them feel as if a piece of them is missing and the gaping hole left behind never truly heals. Before separation, an individual is in a state of safety, pure love and tenderness like that of a child. When they are faced with separation, they have been thrown into a state of violence and agony which leaves them restless and yearning for a decision is to be made. A solution to the separation must be found, the separation must end so that life may revert to tenderness and contentment; however, if separation is not resolved then the individual must face their reality and continue to stay in a state of pain and tragedy to the very end.
I was first met with separation when I was only 6 years old and my parents sat me down and told me that they were going away, without me. My mother had received an opportunity to go to Australia so she could build a better future for me than she could in India. At the time, six year old me had no understanding what the term ‘better future’ implied, let alone believing that it was something actual and attainable. Therefore, this made me think that my parents had lied to me and left me all alone with only my grandparents. I was also told that they didn’t know how long they would be away, or when they would come back, which only solidified the idea of my parents separating from me and stranding me in a world I had only just begun to explore. I was dropped off at my grandparent’s house and soon after that, they left for the airport. I thought that I was prepared for their departure, I had been preparing myself for weeks, but it was only when they were too far away did I realize that I wasn’t. Before I didn’t even know a thing such as separation existed, I truly was in a state of safety and tenderness as my parents had provided me with a safety cocoon, but as soon as they left, it felt as though they had left me to die alone, I felt as if I had nothing but my body anymore.
Although, I didn’t fully comprehend the notion of my parents being kilometers away in Australia or why they would even separate from me, I dealt with its repercussions. I understood and felt the impact of something I hadn’t known even existed. The time I spent with separation didn’t impact me in any positive manner whatsoever. I was constantly at war with myself. Two very distinct and contradictory voices argued in my head: one that said that ‘my parents will be back soon because they love me very much and they cannot bear the fact that we are separated,’ whereas the other said ‘they separated themselves from me because they never loved me and will never return’. These thoughts plagued my mind and I couldn’t seem to find an escape. My predicament was in desperate need of a solution and there were two possible paths: for my parents to end this separation and come back to me so I could return to the state of tenderness happiness or for them to stay in Australia become settled and take me with them in a few years which would result for me to continue living with the truth and the pain caused by my situation. Due to my age at the time, I, unfortunately, was unable to go on with the truth. I was miserable and needed everything to revert to its original form, but I didn’t have the strength to say it out loud.
There are no words strong enough to express the amount of fear running through my veins during the time I was separated from my parents, it only increased exponentially as I came to the realization that I wanted them to come back, I needed them to come back. I couldn’t express my feelings out loud, however. Everyone would hate me for making my parents come back for my selfish reasons just because I wasn’t strong enough to handle a few months, maybe years away from them. So, separation not succeeded in making me feel like I was alone, but it also succeeded in making me a fearful person. Someone who suppresses emotions, who can’t speak her mind. So, I tried my best to suppress all my thoughts and present an ironed face to my family in India and to my parents over the computer. As fool proof as I might’ve thought this plan would be, it wasn’t, there was a major flaw. I forgot the fact that I was merely 6 years old and hadn’t learned to control my emotions just yet. Nonetheless, it was only my grandmother who saw what I was actually going through. Not only the separation, but also its unwanted consequences of making me feel isolated and fearful, and she was the one who told my parents that their separation from me impacting me in negatively. She was the means by which my separation was resolved and brought an end to my pain and returned me to a state of safety and tenderness once more.