The story below is from an anonymous author that we’ll call Mary, written at 54 years old. She gave permission for this story to be told.
My parents fought all through my childhood. Alcohol was always the spark that started the fire. If my dad wasn't home by 7pm, we knew he wouldn't be home until well after midnight, and that he'd be drunk. My mom would wait for him, drinking wine and trying to figure out how to get back at him. Sometimes she'd make me call the bar, ask for him, and ask when he's coming home. I hated that.
Other times she'd take us to a motel to make him think we were leaving him. And then some nights her blind rage came out as soon as he got home. Very physical and horrible fights. I was so scared they were going to kill each other and called the police on several occasions. I was told if I kept doing that, we'd end up in foster homes.
One night as I was hiding in my bedroom, I heard a huge crash. She had ripped the new chandelier they had just bought out of the ceiling. It was in a million pieces on the dining room floor. Another time, my mother had a black eye and made me take a picture of her. I was so scared my dad was going to go to jail. Who would provide for us? Why couldn't they just stop fighting?
After I turned 17, my mom talked to me and asked me how I would feel if she divorced my dad. I told her I just wanted the fighting to stop. She took that as a green light, told my dad she wanted a divorce, and that the kids support her. It was horrible.
I felt completely stuck in the middle and felt I had betrayed my father. The worst day of my life was when I visited my dad in his new apartment. I cried for days. He did not want the divorce, but also, he did nothing to save their marriage or to address his alcohol issues. I loved both my parents, I just wanted them to love each other. I wanted us to be a loving family.
How the divorce made her feel
I felt incredibly lonely. I went off to a college where I didn't know anyone, and now I had no home to come back to since they sold our family home. I was truly on my own and had no idea how to handle that.
I never drank in high school because I didn't want to be like my parents. I started drinking in college to numb the pain. After college, I moved to another state, and so did my brother. Watching our parents marry different people was incredibly painful, and we didn't want to be around their "new lives" that didn't involve us. My mom actually wanted me to be her "maid of honor" during her wedding to her new husband, which was two years after the divorce. When I said "No, I can't do that to my dad," she was furious at me.
My dad also later re-married, and twenty-three years later, during his battle with terminal cancer, my stepmother tried to prevent me from seeing him, and insisted he leave his money equally to her and her three children and hated the fact my father was leaving anything to my brother and me. It made a horrible event even more horrible. I fell into deep depression and have never really gotten over it. It still haunts me.
HOW HER PARENTS' DIVORCE HAS IMPACTED HER
I have made terrible choices in people I have dated, and the man I married and eventually divorced, an alcoholic and drug addict. It seems I have a need to "fix" people, to no avail. Fortunately, we didn't have children.
I have trust issues, fear of abandonment, terrible self-loathing, depression, and no sense of purpose. No self-confidence at all. I had an abortion, thinking this child is better off not living with me as a mom. I struggled with alcohol issues, and a lack of loyalty to family and friends. I tend to sabotage relationships as protection. I assume they will eventually leave me, so I leave first. It is a terrible pattern.
ADVICE TO SOMEONE WHOSE PARENTS HAVE divorced
Find someone to talk to, who has gone through it as well. Someone you can trust.
Your parents will tell you this is not your fault, and it isn't. When you think you can't be loved, because you are the combination of two people who can't stand each other, know that it was God who created you. They were only the physical vessels in His plan, and their sin does not define God's love for you. His love is real and will never leave you nor forsake you.
Unite your loneliness with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and cling to the Cross! Know you are loved deeply by your Creator, the Creator of the Universe, as best you can. It is the only true, real kind of love that is understandable.
HOW TO HELP YOUNG PEOPLE FROM DIVORCED AND SEPARATED FAMILIES
Form a fellowship for them. A support group. Knowing others are going through the same emotions and experiences helps us feel less crazy, less lonely. Fellowship is key. Just for the children of divorce. The parents can't be involved at all. The children need a safe environment where they can open up with each other. The real problem is they feel they can't speak to anyone, that no one understands nor cares. An older adult child of divorce as a moderator would be a great start. Ask them to write down their stories, share them, and discuss how they can heal and move forward.
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