MY EXPERIENCE AS A CHILD OF DIVORCED PARENTS
I remember when my parents lived together. It was a hostile environment that I can only compare to a war zone, even though I have never been in a real war. There was never a day without yelling, screaming, and fighting. The worst part was that my mother would always let out her frustration and anger on me and my little sister. When I turned 15, they decided that my dad should leave the house and then come back to try to work things out, which made matters even worse than before.
They never told me what was going on between them, I only got second-hand information when my mom spoke on the phone, but she never sat down with me and my sister to calmly explain what was going on and what to expect next. But that’s not what really bothered me.
My mom always blamed the whole situation on me, and that really bothered me and that’s the reason I really hoped they split forever since I was very young.
I would have liked for them not to be so incredibly selfish. instead of making our lives so miserable, have clear communication with us. We knew their marriage was not working and we felt that their divorce was the best thing for all of us, but it took them 15 long years to finally make the decision.
Their personalities made the process painful and exhausting, with no visibility for me and my sister about anything that was going on, while blaming us for everything, which left us feeling unsafe and undervalued, among many other things.
When they finally divorced, my dad left the house, and I was left alone to pick up the pieces because my mom was severely depressed with suicidal ideation and became even more aggressive towards me and my sister was too young to help in any way. I was emotionally alone.
At some point, I shared my situation with “friends” that turned their backs on me. They badmouthed me and my family behind my back and were unable to understand how difficult my life was.
To add insult to injury, when I was invited to my few friends’ houses, I saw families that treated each other with love and respect. That hurt so deeply, to know that my house was nothing like that.
I grew up with a violent mother and a passive-aggressive father, where neither I nor my sister were ever respected. We were just pawns on a chessboard of a game only they had the chance to ever win, if at all.
If I could change anything, that would be for them not to use me and my sister at their convenience. They badmouthed each other, they poisoned our minds against each other, and they made us hate the other one. I would have appreciated them toning down their arguments, or maybe finding a private place to tell each other the hurtful things I heard them telling each other since I can remember.
To the parents going through a divorce, please do not forget that children should not be forced to pick a side because we love you both equally. We are not your currency that can be exchanged or negotiated in a selfish process, it is really hard to let go of one of you just because you don’t get along with each other.
Please keep your children informed on what is going on, do not underestimate us. We can and we will understand the situation. if you can provide counseling, that really helps.
Remember that we are going through the divorce process at the same pace as you are, but we have no control over that situation. Depending on our age and emotional stage we may hurt you as well, but we really don’t know how to express ourselves because we are children.
To the kids going through a parent’s divorce: even though it is frightening to see your family crumbling before your very eyes, please understand that no matter what they tell you, it is not your fault.
Even if you are openly blamed by a parent or a relative, it is not your fault. I heard multiple “if you hadn’t said/done such and such, your dad would still be here” but there was nothing I was doing wrong nor was it my responsibility to keep my family together. I was a child.
It is a self-defense mechanism, that people under so much stress as a divorcing couple will try to blame it on anyone before admitting they made a mistake.
Look for support, find a trusted adult, and ideally a therapist to make you emotionally strong to go through what is going on and what will come after.
My aunts and uncles were my biggest support. They told me that I should never let anyone disrespect me. My aunts and grandma were the warm hugs I never had at home, and that kept me strong throughout the painful process.
I found refuge at school, with my teachers. In my grandma’s arms, and in the love from my aunts and uncles. My after-school dancing lessons really helped me because I was looking forward to something as an outlet for my whole situation.
Over the last few years, as divorces are becoming more common, receiving therapy is becoming a common practice. My sister and I are trying to heal our emotional wounds and break the negative patterns we grew up with. It is really comforting to see young adults understand and help me heal.
Now, after all these years, my life is much better. Little by little I have accepted that my family is different, and I have learned not to judge my parents because I understand they did the best they could. I accept the cards I was dealt, and I have learned that sometimes it is best to keep your distance from your family and to pay no attention to other people’s opinions.
I am strong, but I didn’t need to go through all that pain to know that. Still, I am grateful for who I am, and I will keep moving forward.
By Anonymous Writer for Mistake Club