Monday, May 9, 2011

Divorce damages

I recently tried to explain, to my youngest daughter, what getting a divorce meant. I said, “It’s when a mom and dad can’t get along and they decide not to be married anymore, so they don’t live together.” I thought it was a simple explanation for a five-year-old, so I was caught off guard when her eyes suddenly filled with tears and she started sobbing. She then said, “Are you and dad going to get divorced?” I tried to reassure her that we hoped never to get divorced, and she soon calmed down.

This brief, innocent conversation made me realize something I had kept buried for many years: divorce damages! I remember the day my mom told us she was getting divorced from my father. She did all the right things: she sat us down and talked to us about it, telling us she loved us and that it was not our fault. Lastly, she said, “It’s going to be really hard for the next few years.”

I appreciate her telling us this, but for some reason it did not prepare me for the future. “It’s going to be really hard” was actually an understatement. I was twelve at the time, in sixth grade. I looked forward to school as an escape. My little sister, on the other hand, was five, and just starting kindergarten. She would cry every morning when my mom dropped her off at school. The tears lasted all day long, for most of the school year. Some days I would have to go to her classroom to try and comfort her, but to no avail. She was damaged. Seeing my own five-year-old sobbing brought back the sadness I had seen in my little sister’s eyes. A sadness that we will both carry for the rest of our lives.

I once read a quote that struck me: “As a child I grew up without any visible scars. But inside I battled monsters of rage, depression and insecurity with out knowing why … my parents’ divorce took away from me every child’s birthright—the feeling of being secure and protected.” It was if I had written that statement. A few days later, I was talking to my husband, who is also from a broken family. When I mentioned this quote, he said, “That is exactly how I feel.” We have both been robbed of our birthright; we are both children of divorce. Our scars are invisible, and our wounds are internal. They will never heal, and we will carry them for the rest of our lives, because divorce damages.

Are you a child of divorce? How has it impacted your life?

1 comment:

Patricia said...

A couple of divorces I have weathered. Even though it was my parents shipwrecked marriage, I feel like the exhausted swimmer lying on the beach in the surf, even after all these years later. The impact is very long lasting and difficult to explain to anyone needing the comfort divorce requires when you have had your life shattered by it. The insecurities it breeds in it's children is deep & lifelong. When you don't have your absent parent's shoulder to lay your wet, upset cheek on to find that comfort, how can you put into words how irrevocable this pain goes? Not one parent can replace the other, each parent is as necessary to the well being and mental regulation of each child. Just because the words are easier to grasp for an "older" child, doesn't mean that we "get it" better than our younger brothers & sisters-EVER!