As part of my series, United by Pain, I have a few people who have agreed to share their pain stories. You can’t have healing without the pain. We must experience it fully in order for the healing to be effective.
First in my guest blog series is Kim S. You can read more about her and her adventures here.
When I heard the news of my parents divorce, I yearned to have someone to talk to who knew what it was like. That is hard to find as a 28 year old. Though Kim and I have many things in common, our struggle with out parents’ divorce is a uniting factor and I am blessed to have an understanding ear. She said it best when she said, “I am sorry you had to go through all of that, but I am really had I have someone to talk to, someone who understands.”
These conversations are for you if you want to know that someone somewhere understand how you feel.
Here are Kim’s answers to questions I asked her.
How old were you when your parents divorced?
They started seeing lawyers (which I didn’t know about) when I was 15. I found out they were getting divorced the weekend of my 16th birthday, and my dad moved out the first day of my junior year.
What was your initial reaction to Mom and Dad’s divorce?
I actually had to ask my father what was going on. My sister and I knew they weren’t happy, and we figured that they were going to counseling. I assumed that would be his response. When he told me they were getting a divorce, I lost it. I cried with him for a while, and then, honestly, I called my then-boyfriend and told him to pick me up. We went back to his family’s house (my second home at the time), and I cried a lot more.
How did it make you feel & why did it make you feel that way?
I was torn to pieces, but I also was confused about it all. Growing up, I didn’t have many friends with divorced parents, and out of those friends, their parents had been divorced since before I knew them. So I didn’t really see the process of a divorce and what it can do to kids/teens/adults who are self aware. It’s not as simple as “mom/dad doesn’t live here anymore.” There are layers upon layers of hurt and anger that seem to bubble to the surface for months and years after it happens.
I also got two versions of the “we’re getting a divorce” speech. My dad shared his feelings with me when he told me, and though we were both sad, I took comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only person hurting. My mom, on the other hand, was more stoic about it. I don’t know if she was pissed that I found out before it was “time” or she thought she had to be strong for me, but I felt really disconnected from her. From that moment on, I felt like I became two people: Kim with her Dad, and Kim with her Mom.
What was your relationship with your parents like before your parent’s divorced?
Before “the day,” I think I was closer with my mom. I think she understood what it was like to be a young woman and a teen, and she was more okay with letting my first “real” boyfriend spend time with me. Plus, she drove me to all my theatre stuff, so that was nice.
My dad and I were butting heads. Looking back, I realize that he and I had no idea how alike we were, and he was coping with his marriage falling apart as well as job stress, so maybe he and I yelled at each other a lot because, on some level, he didn’t want me to grow out of being the little girl I had been for so many years. I also spent, like, every weekend with my then-boyfriend. For me, it was an escape from the deteriorating home situation, but I’m sure on some level it stung for him to see.
How did things change after they separated?
My mom told me the day I found out about the divorce that she “never loved my father.” And I thought that was total horseshit. Because if you didn’t love him, then why would you have two children with him? Why would you stay with him for this long? This fueled years of anger toward my mother, and it didn’t really subside until I left for college. Don’t get me wrong, it still turns my stomach to think about that moment, and I still don’t have answers to any of those questions. But it’s been a while, so it’s easier to allow myself to feel those emotions and move on.
I had a large yelling match with my dad right before I moved to college for my freshman year. I was so angry that he moved so far away, and I felt neglected because my mom worked four nights a week at the hospital. I spent many nights as the parent to my sister, and I felt like he was part of the reason why I was so lonely. I also missed him all the time. And it killed me. So I finally told him how I felt, likely laced with profanity, and from then on, we’ve been close.
How has your parent’s divorce shaped your romantic relationships?
Oh boy. This one’s a doozy. Within a month after my parents news, my then-boyfriend broke up with me. And it was messy. So I was perpetually afraid of being hurt. But I wanted to be in control of the relationship, so I dated men who weren’t super motivated, were super clingy, or were romantically inexperienced. But I also wanted a ridiculous level of commitment, so now I have a strange collection of promise/pseudo engagement rings that never really counted because they were secret.
Once I stopped pushing for dominance and commitment and marriage and babies so hard, I started to find peace within myself, and that’s when I began to (in my opinion) have real, loving relationships.
Do you have advice for others in your situation?
Well, I’m not going to sugar coat it: You will hurt. You will cry. You will get super pissed. And you will feel this way off and on for years.
But there will come a time, not right away, where you will feel okay for five minutes. Then 10. Then an hour. And you learn to live in this new normal that the world has offered you. And that doesn’t mean that you’ve quit caring and the divorce has won. It means that you’re finding peace. And hope. And light. So allow yourself to feel hurt because I believe you have to feel it to get through it, but also allow that glimmer of hope to guide you through it. Because it will get better. And you’ll grow into a much stronger and more beautiful person because of it.