When I was 15 years old, my mother drove me to work and told me the news that she and dad were getting divorced. I remember that work shift was the hardest to get through, and tears constantly leaked through my lashes. I am the eldest of 4 children, and my first thought was what this would do to my tender younger siblings.
Now, this didn’t come as a complete surprise. Since I was the oldest, I was privy to much of what was going on at home. I saw and heard my parents do things that I knew they shouldn’t have been doing. But I always had a hope that they would work things out and be affectionate with each other once again. It’s one of those things where I never thought it could happen in my life, even though I knew that 40-50% of married couples in the United States divorce.
Once the divorce was final, it seemed my parents disagreed about everything, even though they insisted they wanted to make things “easy” for us kids. When is divorce ever easy for the kids?
My mother was very young when I was born, and since she had to settle down and begin raising children in her teenage years, she took this opportunity of being newly single to become a bit wild. I often felt like she was the teenager and I was the adult; someone had to be home and take care of the little ones, and that someone was always me.
In those early days, I learned how to cook, take care of the household chores, and once I got my driver’s license I even drove the kids wherever they needed to go. That was a time when a girl really needs her mom, and I never felt like I had her support.
My dad, on the other hand, was always gone working. His music business was going under and that brought a new level of depression on his already morose mood. He offered some encouragement, but at the time, he was under heavy stress and was critical of my efforts. I understood why, and yet I knew I was doing the best I could.
That was 14 years ago, and once I got past trying to understand what happened, I began to recognize the positive parts of the whole ordeal.
- My siblings and I grew extremely close. We developed lasting friendships; as adults we truly are still best friends and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
- I learned many skills that are applicable to being a mother to my own 4 children. I stay home and care for them and find it to be so rewarding and fun. Running a household is challenging, but I gained some experience beforehand.
- My relationship with my husband is strengthened because I depend on him, rather than my parents, for reassurance and stability. That may not be an entirely healthy status, but his steady love and affection have drawn me out of that deep void where I thought I could never trust again. A lot of healing took place when he came into my life; he truly is my miracle.
Even though my parents sometimes continue to be a source of conflict in my life, I love and appreciate them both and it has gotten a little easier since all of us kids have grown up. Once I realized that their struggles and their past don’t have to influence who I am and what I do, it was liberating. I am in charge of my own life and becoming the person that I want to be. Eventually, I came to realize that single, largest-impacting event in my past has shaped me into who I am today.
And you know what?
I am stronger because of it.