Whenever I mention that my parents are divorced to people with non-divorced parents they always give me a sad, pitying look and tell me they’re sorry as if I’ve just said that someone had died. “It’s fine” I tell them, qualifying it by telling them that they divorced a decade ago. The time passed is irrelevant because really, it is fine. I’m fine, my younger sister is fine, my mum is fine and my dad is fine. IT IS FINE.
Don’t get me wrong: it isn’t a walk in the park. Having to split my time between two parents, sucks. Feeling guilty for seeing one more than the other or wanting to see my friends instead, sucks. Having my mum revert to her maiden name again, sucks. Watching my friend’s awkward faces when I talk about divorce, sucks. Coordinating life events with both parents (graduation, marriage, funerals etc) sucks. Watching as your parents downsize their marital home for two bachelor-esque pads, sucks. Seeing your parents’ mutual friends take sides, sucks. A lot of things about divorce, really really suck. I won’t glamourise it.
Having twice as many presents? Having two homes? Two parents that love you (and will even fight for custody over you)? Two parents that are
happy happier? Having a new start? Gaining new relatives (step parents/step siblings)? This stuff is pretty cool.
It always amazes me when I hear that divorce is compared to other life “tragedies” such as death and debt, because it isn’t the same. Death is awful, death-if you will- is in and of itself a problem. Debt is a problem. Divorce? Divorce is a solution. It’s steps-painful steps– forward. It’s putting two fingers up to an unhappy marriage, to two people fighting 24/7, to a married couple sleeping in separate beds, to two humans stuck in a dreadful relationship. It’s a solution. It’s moving forward- it’s freedom, it’s a fresh start, it’s an opportunity.
I don’t have rose tinted glasses.
I remember crawling into my mum’s bed with tears streaming down my face as I clutched onto her body and begged her not to divorce my father. I remember “the conversation” when my parents sat me down and diplomatically emphasised how they loved my sister and I, but no longer loved one another. I remember that time my sister referred to her life and our family as “broken.” I remember the pain of seeing my dad walk out of our family home that last time. I remember the first, awkward night that I spent at his “post-marriage” much smaller home.
But I also remember my dad’s happiness at being able to buy the huge TV instead of the top of the range washing machine. I remember my mums happiness at being freed from an unhappy marriage. I remember going to bed and being able to fall asleep straight away without having to endure an hour long screaming match. I remember nice family meals spent without any tension at the kitchen table. I remember falling out with one parent and knowing I had the safe haven of another home to go to. I remember meeting my dad’s lovely girlfriend and her great family.
I remember it getting better.
I remember me becoming stronger- learning not to put up with crap (something I know will be of use in my relationships), learning the value of achieving in my own right, appreciating that nothing should be taken for granted. Maybe I did learn the hard way? But I learnt it and I am the stronger, better person as a result.
I would love for my parents to adore one another still, to enjoy one another’s company and to grow gracefully to old age together. That wasn’t to be. Once I accepted that, the rest was clear- divorce isn’t the only option but it’s the best option. My parents could have stuck it out in an empty, unhappy marriage but who is that good for? Not me, not them. My parents could have turned a blind eye and feigned happiness but who is that good for? Not me, not them. Divorce might be bad for children but having to endure your parents never ending fights, having to see that your parents no longer love one another and having to feign happiness as a family is so much worse for children.
The truth hurts… that is the true pain in a divorce. Looking at two people who have been married for thirteen years, holding your hands up and saying they don’t love each other anymore. It’s not easy, it’s crappy and it hurts. Learning of one person’s infidelity, domestic violence, wrongdoing- that hurts also. But once you decide to end it, to resolve it and to move on- it hurts less (maybe you don’t believe me, but it does.) Taking steps in the right direction- it isn’t easy, in some ways it’s more painful, but over time it hurts less.
Then one day: a month down the line; maybe a year; perhaps a decade, one day it won’t hurt any more and instead you will feel better, you will be happy. Happy that you moved on, happy in your new life, new relationships, new freedom.
To anyone reading this and considering a divorce or fearful of an impending breakup- it sucks, it really does. But it gets better better for the couple separating and better for the children caught in the middle. Divorce isn’t a problem, it’s a solution. Only people who have been through it can tell you that with any honesty. People will tell you that “it will all be fine” perhaps you don’t believe them, maybe they don’t even believe themselves- but believe me as someone who has been through it and-shock horror- survived!
I wish to this day, that I hadn’t clung onto my mother that evening and begged her to stay with my father- I can’t begin to imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for such a strong woman. Had my parents stayed together: my father continued with his affairs, my mother continued in her sadness and both continued with their arguing- I know that now I would be clinging onto my mum begging for her to divorce my dad. I would be a shadow of who I am today without realising my own worth. My parents would be unhappy in their increasingly emptier marriage. Nobody would have gained.
I promise, divorce isn’t so bad.