I always thought that seeing your parents getting a divorce would be easier when the children were older, more accomplished, and on their own.
At least, that’s what I had hoped for last year when my mom and dad decided to split up after almost 33 years together.
It’s true that our home was not always a happy home; at least within the last 10 years. Growing up, things seemed to be perfect. We took family vacations, we had family dinners, our parents encouraged my two sisters, brother, and I to be outgoing, independent, and intelligent. Then, somehow, things turned around.
And without going into detail, our life started taking a turn for the worse. The arguing between my parents became unbearable, but my siblings and I threw ourselves into work and school. Sometimes things would be great; months would go by without incident. Then the fighting would start again, and throw us all into a whirlwind of emotions.
For the last ten months, I have experienced every emotion possible.
I’ve felt pity for my parents, both having to deal with this crisis after a lifetime together- one that included a family business, four kids, a trans-Atlantic move, and countless medical scares. I’ve felt pain at the memories so devastatingly clear in my mind; memories of just a year ago, living together as a family, laughing around the dinner table. Or remembering our family picture taken at my sister’s wedding in August of 2013, all of us so regal and smiling at the camera.
And I’ve felt shame; shame that I, a 32-year-old woman, now have parents who are divorced.
Oh, I know that many people divorce. Yet there is still a taboo about this subject, and I see it in people’s eyes when we meet for the first time. I hear it over the phone when friends I’ve known for a while find out for the first time.
The shame is so heavy, I feel suffocated by it some days.
I know it’s silly to care what others think. I know that my mom will be happier in the long run, even though she is miserable right now. But I never counted on retaliation from my father towards us all. And I think that is what hurts the most.
For 32 years, I had a father. Yet as of late, he has disconnected himself from my siblings and me, claiming he never had kids. And no matter what anyone tells you, a child needs their father at any age. I can’t imagine living the rest of my life without a connection with him. He has done things that any person would see as unforgivable, but deep down inside, I cannot hate him.
I sit at night and cry over the fact that no matter how awful he has been to me, I cannot let him go. And I know I should because he has done so with me.
I just can’t.
Would it have been easier had this happened when I was a child? Would all those years without him have been unnoticeable if he had left us as young children? Or does it just seem harder now because it is happening right now- in this moment?
Maybe things could have been easier had my parents split up when we were younger, but it also could have been harder since my mom would have had to support four young children on her own. Knowing the sacrifices she has made over the years only makes me admire her more. Her strength served us well through that tough time.
It’s never easy when you see your parents divorce.
A lot of times, even if it is mutual, just the shift in family structure is enough to create a challenge. And when the divorce is anything but amicable, it creates an even bigger challenge.
Even without knowing it, the children are sometimes pulled in the middle, used as pawns to hurt the spouse. So while I know it is definitely not easier to experience divorce as an adult, I am more equipped emotionally to deal with it.
At this point, that’s the only shred of positivity from this experience.