I have often wondered if it is easier for a child or an adult to go through the divorce of his or her parents. While at first glance it would seem that it’s a simple answer, I went through it as an adult, so I have no point of reference for a child going through it. While I do know some children that are affected by it, I have no way of knowing what it is that they are truly feeling.
The biggest issue I had stemming from my parents divorce was that I lost my sense of family. I had moved to a whole new country, and the family structure I had come to know growing up -grandma, grandpa, cousins and aunts- had been removed from my life due to geographical distance. Then when my parents divorced I lost the only sense of family I had left. I guess what I rationalize about divorce is how used you are to something, and then not having it… I had a family my whole life and it was gone in just one day.
What was worse is that, even though I was an adult and I should have never felt rejected because of the situation, that is exactly what happened. Rejection, which had been one of the biggest demons in my life, became the biggest one of them all, destroying in its path my sense of self and my personal desires. In the coming years it became stronger and stronger to the point it got a hold of me, and it was close to suffocating me.
Children will often blame themselves for their parents’ leaving, and while the movies always show the parent saying “It’s not your fault,” I am not sure that is enough to convince a child in real life.
The divorce of my parents truly shaped some of the future to come for me, even more than I could have expected. I was so desperate to regain the sense of family, that I did everything I could to recapture it, often participating in relationships that were destructive simply in order not to feel rejected again. While my first marriage did not feel solely because of this, I do think I entered that and other relationships simply because I wanted to have a family again. I was desperate to feel that way, I was desperate to be home again.
My parents have not acted like adults during the whole process. Even now, they both keep their aggressive and passive-aggressive personalities that ultimately torn them apart. Having to choose who you spend Christmas or birthdays with has been a nightmare. While the grown ups in the situation have been able to rationalize the situation, I know that my niece has had a hard time reconciling why grandpa and grandma don’t speak to each other.
I wish I had the answer to this situation, and while it seems than an “amicable” divorce is the answer, pain is sometimes so deep that not even the love for a child can mend those wounds as it should. It is easy for people to say, “put your child before you,” or in this case your grandkids, but we do not know what it is like to be in the situation. Can you imagine what it is like to be in the same room with a person that causes pain so emotional that you feel it physically?
I believe that one of the causes for divorce is unrealistic expectations. We enter relationships not seeing the person in front of us, but rather what we want to see. Many times we are surprised when this person “changes” who they are. Maybe they were that person to begin with but we failed to see it, or we chose to ignore it. Marriage requires love and the ability to accept people for who they are, not who we expect them to be.
They say time heals all wounds; I wish this was true for everyone. Some people choose to leave their wounds open as reminders of their pain. Letting wounds heal on their own at times does not work either. I think we all need to be proactive at healing wounds and accepting everything that we cannot change about our lives.
I had an epiphany the day I realized that I was living for other’s happiness instead of my own. It was hard to swallow since it was a piece of advice I always liked to trow around, “if you are not happy yourself, you can never make someone else happy.” I had chosen to do all I could to regain the sense of family I had lost with disastrous results to both my self esteem and well being.
I started to heal, little by little and then I met the woman of my life. I finally met someone that not only makes me happy, but likes me exactly how I am. Our goal is to support each other in any endeavor and make sure that we are both our own person and our relationship is the point of compromise, not who we are as people.
This principle can be applied to any relationship, even that of two people that are divorced but still share kids. Civility and courtesy while in the presence of their kids should be something that can be accomplished for their children’s sake. However hard that is to accomplish, I think that should be the responsibility of parents that once called each other husband and wife.