Halle Berry is in the news again and in some ways it is the same old story--a relationship gone bad. But there is something new this time: the fight for sole custody of her young daughter Nahla. The Academy Award winner recently split with her boyfriend model Gabriel Aubry, who is Nahla's father. Initially the break-up seemed amicable enough, but now she has made public accusations toward Gabriel of possible neglect and the fear that he would provide an unsafe environment for their daughter.
There are so many questions--many that we simply can't know the answers to. But my big question is if she--or anyone who has found themselves in the same tough situation more than once-- will ever be able to change things or finally break the pattern, especially now that she is not the only one affected by her choices and her actions?
Troubled childhoods and a history of unhappiness seem to be ever-present for Halle. She has spoken publicly about her estranged relationship with a father who left her family when she was a young child after numerous episodes of violence against her mother. As an adult she went on to have abusive relationships with the men closest to her. After Halle divorced her first husband, baseball player David Justice, she spoke openly about his physical and verbal abuse toward her. Halle's second marriage, to singer Eric Bonet, led to a separation after an alleged marital infidelity by Bonet.
Gabriel himself did not have a stable childhood. It has been reported that he is one of eight children and lived in five different foster homes. That is going to put anyone at an emotional disadvantage. It is likely that Gabriel is dealing with whatever he might have missed or lost when he was young as is Halle herself.
I don't know how Gabriel behaves toward Nahla, but I can speculate that he and Halle are both trying to right the wrongs of the past in their own ways. He by fighting to hold onto his daughter to perhaps redeem what he missed out on when he was a child; she by taking control and attempting to undo yet another bad choice in a partner. Her sole purpose now is to take protective measures on behalf of her daughter. This may be the starting point of her being able to move on to protect herself by being aware of what she might be getting into before she jumps into her next relationship, thereby avoiding men whose behavior is untrustworthy and destructive.
The risk, however, is that she might be inadvertently replicating her own single parent childhood with an absentee father, because one of the fallouts of animosity between the parents can be to alienate the father from being involved in their child's life. If that happens with Gabriel, she would then be depriving Nahla of one of the very important things Halle herself didn't have.
So how can Halle, and anyone else, not keep striking out? While there is no simple answer, gaining some understanding and insight into your Achilles heel through support and therapy is a place to begin, because if you have a history of neglect and abuse you are much more vulnerable to bond with someone who has had a similar experience. Although Halle hasn't yet been able to spot potential difficulties before they occur, hopefully now she is getting it right.
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