Deep.

6:00 AM

I've been sitting on this post for awhile.  This topic, though old, is tender.  I think it always will be because part of me may never fully come to terms with what I have lost.  Lately, it has come up in more than one conversation so I thought that I would put it out there.  Because maybe, just maybe, someone is going through it and needs to read it. 

***

I'm the adult child of my parents divorce.

My dad announced his wishes about 6 weeks after I announced my engagement.  The announcement definitely trumped mine of 6 weeks before and was a total moment killer for sure.  I'll never forget the phone call from my mom telling me that my dad had decided to divorce - I wasn't totally shocked considering past episodes, but I was so sad.  I left work that day, called my roommates and asked them to come home, and I cried.  Sobbed really.  Big, fat crocodile tears.  At the time, the only thing that I could think about was the wedding... What did it mean?  Would my parents get along?  How could they do this to me during the most important time in my life?  Would they both still be there?  Could they both be in the same place at the same time?  Who would help me plan?  My fairytale wedding planning turned into a total disaster in six weeks. 

Today divorce is a totally almost-normal occurrence and rarely shocking.  You hear about it nonchalantly via email or text, on Facebook when someone changes their status, or even on the news because everyone seems to be doing it.

"Hey, did you hear that Jane and John are getting a divorce? 
And most people reply, "Wow!  I cannot believe that it lasted that long!"     

Younger children are the ones that you normally hear about during a divorce.  YES-Divorce is scary for them, they don't fully understand what is going on, sometimes they blame themselves, and children can definitely recognize a stressful situation which means that they will probably act out.   Hopefully, when it is all said and done (and I'm staying positive here!) mom and dad are still part of their lives, though their relationships may be redefined.  The children go about their days and years, their parents remarry, life goes on.  My husband is a perfect example of this - his parents divorced at a very young age.  He remembers parts of it, not all of it, and he remembers how sad and confused he was.  He remembers that it was painful.  He also remembers how his life changed after their divorce- both of his parents happily remarried and now he has two sets of wonderful, loving parents, plus two step-brothers (one of which just happened to be his best friend since pre-school!) 


Studies of the impacts of divorce on younger children are everywhere.  But, six years ago, trying to find a study or advice about the effects of divorce on adult children ?  Yeah, good luck.  When it happened to me
there was nothing out there for me to read or reference.  Seriously.  My friends didn't know what to say because, though their parents may have divorced when they were younger, my situation was totally different.  I was just out there alone, treading water, trying to take one day at a time. 

My parents wanted to explain what happened.
I understood what was going on.
They wanted me to know every bit of detail that led to this point.
I understood and definitely didn't want to hear it.
They felt the need to call me every damn day and talk about it.
I hated it.
I was pissed off.
I kicked and screamed and cried and put Cameryn's tantrums to shame.
I was scared.
I felt shattered. 

What did this mean for my family from now on?   I felt that all of my family memories were just frauds.  That all of those happy moments, all of those happy holidays, could never have meaning again.  How could they when they would never be spent together?  And then I realized that my wedding photos would be tainted too.  I was headed for another breakdown for sure.  I wasn't ready for another BIG change in my life.  I had graduated from college 6 months before I was engaged.  I was learning how to be an adult.  Soon, I would learn how to be a wife.  I needed my parents, both of my parents, to teach me.  I wanted both of them to teach me.  Together.


The phone would ring and I would pick it up only to fight with a family member for hours.  We would scream, yell, and cry and eventually it got to the point where I couldn't take anymore calls from them.  My stress level was through the roof and conversations with family would leave me exhausted and totally out of sorts.  Yes, I was an adult, but, more importantly, I was their child.  They were my parents.  They were supposed to protect me from the reasons why.  They weren't supposed to make me feel like I had to choose.  They were supposed to comfort me and let me know that it was going to be okay, that our family, though fragmented, would be a family again, just different.  I couldn't be their sounding board.  I couldn't be their friend.  I couldn't be the one that they could lean on during this time.  I couldn't let them vent to me and say horrible things about the other.   I had to learn to redefine my relationships with my parents.  I had to be the adult.

So I did.

I wrote an email and I told both of them that I would not take any more calls, emails, or texts from them about their divorce.  I, as their child, couldn't listen to the who's and the why's.  I, as their child, couldn't listen to them bad mouthing each other.  Yes, I had questions that I needed answers to, but I would ask them on my own time, when I was ready.  I deserved the right, as their child, to have a healthy relationship with both of my parents and not be asked to take sides.  I had the right, as their adult child, to make up my own mind about the situation, to decide who was at fault, and deal with that parent on my own terms.  I also had a right to not speak or answer questions about the other because it made me feel guilty.  I couldn't say that one parent was doing great because I didn't want to make the other upset.  I couldn't refuse to answer their questions because then I was accused of taking sides.  It was a terrible, terrible feeling for a child to have.  The email ended with me stating that I loved both of them and needed both of them to still be my parents, not my friend, not now.

That email was the most difficult email that I have ever had to write.  Pressing send felt like I could be sending away my entire family for good - and this time because of my own choice.  But it was also a relief knowing that I was taking a stand for my own sanity.  I was acting like an adult and taking control of my life.  I was letting them know that I was a strong woman-child, that I had feelings, and was dealing with them in a healthy way. 

It took four long years for the divorce to be final.  Four long, drawn out, I felt like I was in hell, years.  I saw a therapist a year after their divorce was finalized and she told me that I dealt with the situation with grace (HA!) and that I did exactly what any professional would have suggested.

My wedding came and went (the pictures are fabulous!) 
I had a baby. 
My dad got remarried.
My brother got married and had a baby.
My mom is happy.
My life went on. 
Yes, all of our relationship's were strained for a few years, but we moved on.
I would like to think that some respect was earned. 
I learned that my parents will always be my parents. 
No matter what. 

During my dad's speech at our wedding he told me that no matter what happens in life, no matter what I do or where I go, I can always come home.
Now, should that time ever come, I'm lucky enough to have two loving homes to go to.

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