I don’t think you ever get over having experienced your parent’s divorce. Most of my friends, growing up, had parents who were married, but a few had parents who divorced. My best friend and I shared that experience when we were in 2nd grade. We became friends, in part, due to the fact that our parents had both just gotten divorced. I was six when my parents split up and while my mom did everything she could to help me through it, it’s just something you never get over. Of course, the pain of it all has lessened, but the scars are still there. I have “daddy issues”, also known as the inability to trust people, especially men, very easily. I spent my teen years dating any boy who asked and paying the price for that. I just wanted to feel loved, in the way I hadn’t by my dad. When my parent’s divorced, my dad moved away and I barely saw him. Years of him not calling or sending cards on my birthday and Christmas left me to realize we would most likely never have the relationship I wanted from him. When I was in college and started dating my husband, he had the audacity to call me up drunk and begin to question my choice in dating Glenn. After a few times of that I decided I no longer needed him in my life and asked him to never call me again. A few years later I sent him a wedding invitation but he didn’t respond, it hurt me deeply, but I didn’t expect anything better really. Time had taught me not to trust him. Three years later I found out I was expecting my son, our first child. I decided my dad should know. So, I got my husband to call him and it was at that time I learned that my dad had gone into rehab and finally gotten his life together. Over the next year we called each other on the phone and began to have the relationship I had always wanted. He died suddenly a few months after my son was born. I am grateful for that year that we were able to have at the end, but even that could not undo the damage of my dad’s abandonment when I was young.
I don’t think my story is unique. There are so many people out there who are adults now and had their parents divorce at some point in their life. Having your parents divorce at any age is hard and leaves you with anger and scars you don’t know how to deal with. It leaves you with baggage that you can carry into your relationships. I sure did. The statistics on the divorce rate for people whose parents are divorced is much higher than for those whose parents were not divorced. I was determined when I got married I would not be a statistic. I am committed to do everything in my power to not have my marriage end in divorce. It is something that is on my mind a lot. I am always trying to make sure we do all we can to make sure we are putting time and effort into our marriage. I think so many people just ignore their marriage or take it for granted and that is when things fall apart. I think sometimes I overreact to trying to keep our marriage from any kind of trouble and I know it’s a sensitivity from my experience as a child.
I think society would say that children who are adults and had experienced divorce as a child should be “over it by now”. I know that isn’t true. I have been through counseling twice and while I feel like I have a better handle on it, I am still not “over it”. It is similar to adoption. You don’t ever get over adoption either. Adoption and divorce are not things that God intended to happen in a perfect world. God intended families to have one mom, one dad and kids who were born to that mom and dad. But with divorce and adoption those things don’t happen. I am a huge fan of adoption, being an adoptive momma and adopted myself, but it’s not ideal. It leaves the child with abandonment issues that they don’t ever fully get over. Mine were exacerbated by my parent’s divorce, but they would have still been there otherwise. I wish society would realize what they have done to my generation by divorce being so commonplace. They have downplayed marriage and acted like divorce is no big deal. I am here to tell you they are wrong. It is a big deal. It has had a lasting effect on my life and I am doing everything in my power to make sure my children do not experience it. I wish adults would think about the effect that divorce would have on the kids, before they so flippantly end a marriage. If you are an adult of divorced parents, cut yourself some slack. Realize that you have scars. You have abandonment issues and I would encourage you to get some counseling so you don’t repeat the cycle of divorce in your own marriage. Find some solid older married folks to pattern your marriage after and seek their counsel. I have some of those couples in my life and they have been invaluable to my marriage. Find a way to help others through your pain. I find such healing in writing this blog about all my issues. I used to hide from everyone and was afraid to trust. It seems counterintuitive that I would start a blog and broadcast all my issues for everyone to see. What I realized is that I was not alone in my pain. Everyone has something in their life that has caused them pain. I don’t know what that is for you, but I know you have something. Hiding that something, does not make it go away. It is only in the telling of it that you can find absolution.