The story below is from an anonymous author, written at 22 years old. She gave permission for this story to be told.
I had a great childhood, very happy! When I was about 10, my dad got an apartment for work, or that’s what they told us kids. They separated for a brief period of time and got back together and had my little sister in the process. After that, to me, their relationship was never quite the same.
As I got into high school, I battled heavily with depression and loneliness my first year. It got so bad that I had to switch high schools midway through my sophomore year. My Sweet Sixteen was about two months after I switched. It was anything but sweet. My mom was the only one who celebrated it with me saying my dad was at “work”. That next week, I came home from Youth Group and almost instinctively knew what was going to happen.
Usually, I’d get home and my parents would be fighting, instead there was silence. They asked me if we could talk in their room. This wasn’t a good sign because they were together, not fighting for the first time in weeks. That’s how I knew. They told me how much they loved me and that they were getting a divorce. I broke down, my dad already was living in an apartment and I didn’t even pick up on it. I was the oldest of the four of us so they told me first and then my siblings after me. I walked out of the room crying and then my brother knew what was coming too. My life was impacted in every way from that point on.
HOW THE DIVORCE MADE HER FEEL
The divorce made me feel unlovable because if my parents weren’t willing to fight for each other, they definitely weren’t willing to fight for me. There was so much extra drama that was happening around it as well that I just felt drained. I remember asking my mom what happened and she said, “We just fell out of love” and I remember thinking “You don’t fall out of true, authentic love so it must not have been love to being with” which I later translated as one or both of them made the CHOICE not to love anymore.
The day after they told us, there was a Reconciliation service at my high school and I went to Confession with one of my great Priest friends. I broke down in front of him, like ugly crying! It was such a release! The bad part is they spread the priest out around the gym since they didn’t have room, so people saw me, but I finally got to tell someone who wouldn’t feel sorry for me. Once I started telling friends, they all just said: “I’m sorry, I understand”. I wanted to stop feeling like the victim and I wanted it to stop being the sole topic of conversation!
HOW HER PARENTS' DIVORCE HAS IMPACTED HER
As an adult now, SO much healing has taken place! Our Lord is so good and so loving and He met me in my mess!
About a year ago, I was talking to my mom about how I was discerning my vocation. You don’t know your vocation until you’re at the altar, but at this point in my life, I believe I’m called to marriage. Anyway, I was talking to my mom and I said, “I’m so scared to get married because I can’t go through divorce again.” There was a brief pause in the phone and she said something that will impact me the rest of my life: “Maybe that’s why God called you to marriage, because you’re scared, because it will make you holy. Marriage may be the very thing that makes you a saint!” Mind. Blown.
Ever since that moment, a lot of healing has taken place and, even though both of my parents are dating now, both of them (my dad did not regularly attend) are now attending Mass regularly which wasn’t a thing that was happening even a year ago. I really want my parents to get an annulment because, in the eyes of the Church, they are still married and should not be receiving Communion since they are both in relationships, but I’m taking baby steps to get to that point. My parents divorce will always impact me, but it’s something where God took ashes of my life and made them into diamonds.
ADVICE TO SOMEONE WHOSE PARENTS HAVE DIVORCEd OR SEPARATED
Here’s the very first thing you need to know: It’s NOT your fault, no matter how many times your tell yourself it is, it’s not! Satan, the Father of Lies, will work as hard as he can to make you believe that it is.
Secondly, YOU are loved, you are SO loved, it is unbelievable how loved you are! There’s gonna be people that tell you things like “I’m sorry” or “I understand.” Honestly, that was the thing I hated the most because they actually don’t unless their own parents got divorced.
I would say just find a community, like this one to talk about it. It is such a release to just get all of your feelings out. I wrote letters and burned them as well and that helped, but I think the thing that helped the most was spending time with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration as much as I could. I would go everyday between the time I got dropped off for school and the time that the bus came since my bus stop was at my siblings school/church. It gave me such healing because I could rest in the Arms of a Father who would never leave me. I started praying a daily Rosary and also rested in the Heart of my Heavenly Mother. It helped so much to know that I was more than my pain, more than my cross, more than my sin because I was His daughter! Know that you are infinitely loved by our father in Heaven!
HOW TO HELP YOUNG PEOPLE FROM DIVORCED AND SEPARATED FAMILIES
Well, first off, I think that this community is a GREAT start. If I had known about it, I would definitely have utilized it at the time. I think that kids need to not be made to feel like victims. Kids need to know that they have peers their own age who actually DO understand. Also, I think that there needs to be an understanding that parents are not going to put their kids in the middle because that makes it worse. I think that talking with a priest needs to be immediately available because they can help so much just to make sense of all of it. My priest friend had parents who divorced when he was a teen as well and it was so nice to have someone who understood where I was coming from!
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