Divorce seems to be the foundation of the generation before my own. It’s something spoken by many, but the most complicated to wrap your head around. When I was growing up, some of my friend’s parents had already been divorced or separated, but now that I’m older, almost all of them are. I guess you can say it’s the age of dying love, or maybe the age of shedding love that no longer belongs. But the truth of divorce did not set in until it happened to my parents. And I was, without warning, shoved into the whirlwind of it.
In 2013, my parents decided they were going to part ways after 22 years of marriage. I vividly remember my mother calling me into the newly renovated kitchen of our three story, Victorian home. She and my father were standing beside the kitchen island, gazing at me. I had a feeling long before she uttered the words, “Your father and I are getting a divorce.”. Slightly shocked- the only word I could come up with at that time was “okay”. And before I could turn around, she asked me if I had any questions about what it meant, to which I replied “no” and kept moving- I didn’t have anything else to say. I just thought it would be neat to get double the presents on holidays and have two separate houses.
Suddenly, my father was moving out of our home. And my mother was preparing to sell it, the home I grew up in. Time to move away, approximately 140 miles away from my father and brother.
For the first month, things were exciting and I didn’t ponder the distance. But the allure started fading away and reality sat itself on my shoulders. I started blaming my father for the separation, although I missed the man who was excited to see me when he came home from work each day. I came after him over whatever I felt like and denied weekly visits- I can’t imagine what that must’ve felt like. And a lot of the time I was arguing with my mother over trivial things. She had a partner that I very much disliked, which allowed for space to grow between us. And soon tension filled that space. It was hard to adjust myself. I wanted home. I yearned for the happy life it seemed like we had; family breakfasts, vacations, simply being able to lay in bed and talk with everyone. I was lonely. It was a void occasional phone calls couldn’t fill. And I don’t ever remember once discussing the split with my brother. Instead of leaning on each other, we were both equally lost- I still don’t know exactly how he feels.
I accused my parents of being the reason I was ‘messed’ up and not being able to succeed to my fullest potential. I was angry at them for what they had chosen. I wanted to see things as complete, instead of broken. I doubted the existence of true love because they couldn’t ‘make it work’. But I regretted to take the time to realize how hard it must’ve been for them, single, working divorcees, raising a teenager. And how the question, ‘what about the kids?’, must’ve crossed their minds dozens of times.
Although I feel differently about the situation than I once did, I am still plagued by waves of absence. I am constantly missing someone. If I’m not with one, I’m with the other, but it’s never the same. I’m always hearing family members make comments like, ‘When you have a husband you’re supposed to stick by him for life, no matter what’ or ‘They could’ve made it work’ or ‘Don’t ever get married’. I hear comments about my mother and I struggle to defend her. But frankly, I shouldn’t have to deal with the bullsh*t remarks because what I’ve learned is; parents are learning and growing too. They make mistakes and sometimes they stumble- that’s okay. Life happens.
I have been fortunate enough to not have parents who put me in the middle of their choice, but I know many children of divorce who have been made the adult. And that is never okay. It is not your job to make decisions or patch things up or pick sides! And you’re allowed to let them know so.
My biggest struggle on this journey was realizing that what was happening had nothing to do with me. I wasn’t the cause of it and their love for me did not fade in the process. I won’t let my parent’s shattered love story define my own. I shouldn’t have to question everything because of it. And I won’t try to make people connect if they aren’t meant to. I will just cherish the time, separately.