My Friend Ronaldo-An Amateur's Analysis
Being of the analytic kind I take great interest in analyzing my not so close friends' problems. This article accompanies the developement of my friendship between Ronaldo, a Portuguese, and me, a German. Ronaldo is having a troublesome life right know and I am standing by where possible. This is about my understanding of his sorrows in an analytic way.
An old Student of Mine
Today I‘ve met my old student and friend in spe Ronaldo in a cheap and ugly Café. We are both more than broke so we held on to our one Euro coffees for about an hour while talking mostly about Ronaldo's latest concern. I do not remember, when he exactly arrived in Berlin but he said today that he spend a while in Austria before coming here and half a year in Portugal, where he grew up. He must be around 30 by now and is a studied sports teacher. He even managed to get his diploma acknowledged by the Berlin schoolboard and if about to apply for a so called Referendariat, a two year training on the job to become a sports and geography teacher. So he needed some help with his application which at first seemed to be his main concern for meeting me. But when he arrived he looked so sad that there was no way I could have ignored that. So we sat down with our two cups filled with what must have been the worst coffee in town and looked at each other with sympathy. I liked him for his softness and goodness that almost came pouring out of him and I guess I was offering him a place where he could feel safe and accepted.
A bit of the Background Story
In out last meeting he had told me about his trouble with his wife‘s family. They seemed to be overboarding by asking him out about almost anything. That wasn‘t something he was used to and seemed to scratch a bit on his male role model. His wife is very very close to her family. Spending some time chatting with her sister didn‘t seem to be the problem. It was rather the fact that whenever there was something more serious, maybe emotional, happening to her, she would first seek her sister‘s advice instead of Ronaldo's. He felt jealous, I could see that very clearly, as I had gone through some jealousy trouble myself lately. But that‘s another story.
Besides asking myself, what his jealousy was based upon, I thought that his wife was having a bit too tight connection to her family indicating some elemental fear of the outside world. Family is safe, secure and often accepts you the way you are. With Ronaldo himself being freightful and sensitive that might not seem to be the most stable and trusting relationship as both partners didn‘t seem to trust eachother at all, her clinging to family and him, not being able to talk to her about his feelings.
Yeah, leave him alone, he‘s a man from Portugal, I can hear some say out there. But I do not consider following that century-old male/female role model without modification being one of the better options when all you want is having a working and supporting relationship. There are no children yet and will not be until in 2 to 3 years time and the mere thought of having one with that voyeur family of his wife crossing the limits of his privacy scared him.
That was all I knew about him till today. But it all became clearer today, made more sense as he told me what was really troubling him all this time. It turned out that he had found an old affair of his on the internet. There was no contact so far, he just wanted to see it with his own eyes, as he had heard from a common friend that she had a child. And he found what he was looking for, leaving him troubled and torn between his present and his past. The background was this: Almost six years ago he had an affair with this beautiful portuguese lady. He claimed it was merely sexual but I have my reasons to doubt that but I might err here. I guess my point of view will change over reflecting this whole conversation. Nevertheless, they parted after half a year but as they hadn‘t done too well on the use of condoms or other anti-conceptional means, there was the slight possibility of her being pregnant when he left. I didn‘t ask, whether he or she broke up or whether they came to some sort of agreement that it would be better to separate for both. He opened up to her about his concern and she negated his question, if she was pregnant. So he let it go for years until that aforementioned common friend let him know that she had a child of about six years. Once again I was sloppy on the details here as I haven‘t taken any effort to find out when he was informed of her having the boy. I should become more attentive, if I want to continue to claim that I own good analytical skills. Again, there hasn‘t been any contact whatsoever between the two for more than six to seven years. And yet, the thought occured in him, that this boy he saw on the picture from the internet could be his own. Responsibility was written all over his face -actually he used it quite a lot but it just writes more nicely like this.
"You are not the Father"
Reviewing his case it acutally brings back the memory of the beginning of our appointment today. Before we sat down he asked me if a child could grow up properly without his biological father. I have to admit that this question triggered certain thoughts that all led in the wrong direction as you will undertand now having read the above. At first I thought, that his wife got pregnant and he wanted to run away. That would have surprised me, knowing him yet little but not ever would it have occured to me that he could be able to leave someone like this. Not that I would judge this kind of behaviour as it always happens out of fear and might sometimes even be better for the child-to-be, no, but rather he seemed a bit naive, good-hearted with no trace of anger or harmful thoughts and intentions. Then I thought that his wife might have had an affair that resulted in an unwanted but still unabortionable child and that Ronaldo was worried about having to raise a milkman‘s child and not being able to live up to his expectations of being a good father. I know that rather tells more about myself than it adds anything to the story. But as I took an active part in this it might be useful for the further analysis. So the first thing I told him after I was informed about the rough details was, that I didn‘t think that he was the father. Who knows how many she had had affairs with right after or even during their short mostly physical relationship. I also simply doubted that a mother would lie that bluntly to her child‘s potential biological father unless she had some very good reason to do so. Not that that doesn‘t happen, don‘t hold me naive, but the mere thought of letting someone like Ronaldo off the hook of responsability as a father wouldn‘t make much sense as he comes across as the kind of father you would want for your child. Even if she didn‘t want him as a spouse, she would have kept him as the father.
„You are not the father. And if, you wouldn‘t have any responsability toward this child as she decided to let you unaware of it.“ I told him, watching his body calming down. The question for me wasn‘t whether or not he was the father of a child that hasn‘t existed until a few days or weeks ago, but rather why he was so upset about it. His fear was solely based upon his speculations. „The child looks like it‘s six years old.“, he said „and that would fit with the end of my relationship with her.“ „Come on, Ronaldo, who would be able to define the exact age of a child by seeing a picture that has been taken no one knows when?“ I asked back. He nodded. And then also telling him about the possible other lovers of that woman, he seemed to relax even more. It wasn‘t gone yet, that bad consciousness and it shouldn‘t have been the end of the analysis yet.
I tried to listen more thoroughly now as I was thinking, what he really was talking about. That woman, that he couldn‘t really have had a close relationship with at that time and her child couldn‘t be the real reason for his concerns. And then it occurred to me that he was worried about being judged as a bad father. That these should be his mother‘s thoughts, I only found out at the very end when we were saying good-bye. But let me describe the path a bit more thoroughly as it all contributes to the understanding something pretty classic.
His own Family Didn't Trust Him
I asked him if he had told his wife about his worries and his fear came back. He was afraid to create a problem where there was none. As I couldn‘t see how this could have been a problem I asked him if that affair had taken place while he already was engaged into his relationship with his wife, but he denied. He did nothing wrong morally and yet he felt guilty. Towards his wife. It turned out that she didn‘t trust him and unfortunately also told him that she doesn‘t. Of course he ensured her that he was faithful to her but as one cannot proof faithfulness, her doubts are not taken away easily. Actually I doubt that he could do anything to make her suspicions go away and that she would finally have to undergo some sort of therapy. Considering the close relationship with her family it made even more sense now.
Once his brother even spied on him. Ronaldo was back in Portugal for half a year, leaving his wife behind for some reason. He went to visit a good friend when suddenly his brother stormed into the flat taking a quick look around, expecting to find another woman. That must have been a strictly moral family, I said to myself. And thinking about it now it happens to him again with his wife‘s family. He must have been under control for all his life and even with his very steps being watched they didn‘t trust him. I felt sad. Such a beautiful man hurt with mistrust for all his life.
It became clear that we had to go back to his family‘s history to get light into the dark and that‘s when he told me that at the age of 20 he saw his family breaking apart. „I smoked a lot of weed at that time and my mother thought I wasn‘t a good role-model for my younger siblings and that‘s why she left me with my father for half a year, telling everyone that she had to take care of my grandfather. But she never got there“, he explained. He claimed to know this from another family member that lived in the grandfathers city. The time with his strict father, a former military servant and then sports teacher, has been the worst of his life. And in addition to that he felt guilty for his mother‘s departure. That grew even worse when she returned just to find out that her husband had found someone else and planned to spend the rest of his time with this new woman. That‘s when they separated, because of Ronaldo.
"It's not your Fault"
He must have felt an unimaginable guilt for being the reason of thriving his mother away causing his parent‘s divorce. And yet it wasn‘t his fault at all. Although it might sound cheesy and remind one of Good Will Hunting, I told him that no mother would have left her child because it smoked too much weed, no matter how bad a role model it would be. A healthy mother would have kicked the smoker out instead of breaking the whole family apart. And why didn‘t the father kick his ass? It became obvious that his parent‘s relationship wasn‘t what it seemed. The mother must have looked for a viable reason to leave the utterly strict father but couldn‘t just go. That‘s why she said she would take care of her father for a while and was taking the younglings with her, for emotional support and to get them out of reach of the father. The old one was lost to her or she thought of him being strong enough to deal with the situation, so she didn‘t bother to take him, too.
While I still thought that this can not be the sole reason for Ronaldo pattern to feel guilty although he isn‘t, I realized we wouldn‘t have the time to go back deeper into his past and made a cut at this point. I advised him to look for a therapy because this is something that simple talks, no matter how clarifying they might be, cannot handle. „I always wanted to do Hypnosis to go back into the very past of my childhood.“ he said, „Hypnosis cannot be the sole method in a therapy and is for people who do not want to feel pain.“ it came to my head. „You might stirr things up pretty fast that usually would have taken much more time and then you will have to deal with it. That can become quite overwhelming!“
With that we Parted
There was more about his fear of telling his wife and about other people thinking that Portuguese people cannot be faithful to their wives but I convinced him that if that wasn‘t so in his case, he wouldn‘t bother. Looking back to the beginning of our conversation it became clear that this fear and guilt derived from his childhood and that it was totally irrational.
We will meet again. This weekend I will prepare his letter of motivation, so he can establish himself in Berlin and we can continue our fresh friendship.