I am a child of divorce. Yup. It happened, and I just learned that it was published in my hometown's local newspaper on Sunday. 2nd set of names on the list. Making the title of this post appropriate. You have to understand, my father left my mother 2 years ago. The fact that I missed the announcement - does anyone else find it a little bizarre that it's announced in the paper like a wedding, anniversary or birth?? - just solidifies the gold seal on the whole thing.
I'm ok. Really, I am! This has been a whole 2 years 20+ years in the making. The fact that my folks were together for nearly 35 years always boggled my mind. They were so different. My dad rarely raised his voice or stood up for himself, my mom always tried to dominate & control every situation. My dad has changed, my mom really hasn't. This makes me feel happy for my dad's newfound confidence. But I mainly feel frustrated with my mother. My mother's been in denial for the last 2 years. I think she's starting to come around now that it's final, but I'm honestly afraid to even get into the big d with her. I've really been doing what I can to keep my distance from my mother since she blew up at me in December. We needed space, and I'm a much happier & stable person these days because of it.
I know I'm not the first or last child of divorce. I know I'm not the oldest person to see her parents split. The challenges for someone in their thirties witnessing their parents separate & divorce include, but may not be limited to:
- Feeling stuck in the middle so often. Their children are grown, and hell, I was the only married one when they initially split! My dad was honest and answered any questions I had and we basically listened to each other. That was nice. We grew closer. My mom cried, leaned on me, but, but generally took out a lot of her anger on me, and on my children a couple times. Oh yeah, you do NOT screw with my kids. See why I need my space from her?
- Explaining the whole situation to my children. My youngest will never know her grandparents together; they split days after her 1st birthday. My inquisitive oldest has had a few more questions, but we've dealt with them they've come up. The trick here is to only give them as much information as they can handle. The more questions they ask, the more we give, open & honestly.
- Figuring out holidays, birthdays, visits to the home town, etc. My family of 4 lives a 2 hour drive away from our hometown, where many relatives still live. Therefore, when we have the need or urge to celebrate something with our family, we have to deal with transportation issues as well as accommodation issues. We already felt like we were being pulled in 2 different directions after we got married. Now, we get to be pulled apart like silly putty... and usually feel awesomely awkward when we all get together.
- Dealing with the loss of a safety-net. We never relied too heavily on my parents, but it was nice to know they were there if we needed them. There have been some desperate moments where we've had to leave our children with my unstable mother over the last 2 years... then spent the next week deprogramming them, wondering if it was really worth it. I realize my mother needs to feel wanted & needed now, but I've learned that small doses may have to be the limit until complete acceptance is reached by my mother. Which may never happen.
- Knowing too much. As a married adult, not to mention the oldest of their 4 daughters... my parents may have given me more information than I needed to hear. I had an Aunt who said this often: You know too much, you are still their children! They need to respect that!
I don't believe any one of these challenges were tougher than others. They all held an equal amount of weight... which I held on my body as my parents' issues literally weighed me down. It wasn't until I got mono that I started to realize it didn't matter and I had to let bullshit like that go, and whaddya know, the weight melted off with it. Even though I may have related to my father in this situation, having practically ran all the way to Arizona to get away from her controlling clutches at age 21. best decision of my life. I did understand how my mom felt totally blindsided, since my dad so rarely stood up for himself, let alone called my mom out on her shit until 2 years ago.
Yes, this affected me. It helped me to want to hold my husband closer, my daughters tighter, seek out relationships that were worth hanging on to, and letting go of the relationships that weren't. Gotta love it when something that once felt like a ginormous wrench jacked into your life turns out to be just what you needed to sort out some of your own shit.
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