My folks have been divorced for nearly 2 decades. That is a long time, long enough, presumably, that it would be over and done with, ancient history, something long past that is seen from a great distance and with little clarity.
That presumption would be wrong.
Today was the day that my dad decided he would rather go live with the Other One than continue his life and relationship with his wife and children.
I remember that night with perfect Technocolor clarity.
Since that time, I have read little bit about what being a child of divorce looks like. One thing that I have read is that children often view their lives in two seperate worlds: pre-divorce and post-divorce. I would say that is true for me.
I was a teenager when my folks divorced, in my last few years of high school. Old enough to call a spade a spade. Old enough to not have any of the false guilt they talk about, how kids blame themselves for the destruction of their family, but also old enough to know what was going on.
Not that my parents’ marriage was perfect. My folks were two very, very different people from two very, very different backgrounds. My dad also had a wicked temper and a long-running memory of old slights and grudges. There was not any physical violence but whoever said that sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me was on crack and I know my mom took the verbal heat for us kids quite often.
But that’s neither here nor there.
Pre-divorce / post-divorce.
In some cases, divorce is completely justified…and yet still there is an impact on the kids. in the extreme cases, it is a positive impact but in your ordinary, run-of-the-mill dysfunction, i would say it was negative.
Everything changes. The things, the physical things, that we grew up surrounded by our whole entire lives, books, furniture, some little knick-knack or other, pets, even, suddenly it is borne in upon us that those are no longer “family” items, as they are parceled up, divided into “his” and “hers”, which they may have been all along, but not in our world.
There’s a lot of crying, a lot of anger, a lot of confusion, no matter why it is happening.
And blame. Why couldn’t he keep his shit together? How can he dick with MY life like this, how can he just up and decide to completely fracture MY life? After 19 years, you would think that this would be a non-issue but still, at times, it is. No one can completely understand what it feels like to be child of divorce unless they have actually been a child of divorce.
It’s a thing that for me has taken a long time to process and that I am still processing. Probably for some people, it’s not like that. I’m not saying this to invoke a pity party nor am I bidding for sympathy or pointing fingers. It is what it is. The basics don’t change: my world completely fractured then and while that often happens under other life circumstances, this is the one that it happened for me in and there is still that teenage girl inside me who at times still wrestles with trying to make sense of it, remote as it is now in my adult life.
(P.S. Love you, mom. Your strength is one of my rocks.)