When “Perfect” Falls Apart

Recently, there’s been a Thought Catalog post circulating Facebook entitled “When Your Parents Divorce When You’re Just A Kid.” It’s a heartbreaking narrative that describes the ways the author’s life was forever altered because of her parents’ divorce. If your parents are no longer together, I’m sure many points of the article resonate with you. Divorce is never easy, and though I consider myself to be well adjusted, the word itself still shakes me to my very core—the same way it did when it was first spoken in my household. While my parents’ divorce completely changed my life, and I would definitely consider it a defining facet of who I am, I am convinced that I came out of it better than I was before.

Step-parents, shared custody, multiple holidays—these were all things that eluded me for 17 years. I watched as one by one, my friends’ families fell apart. I listened as they told stories, using “mom’s house” or “dad’s house” instead of just “my house.” I counted my blessings and wrongfully assumed it was a world I would never be a part of. Divorce was not something that could happen to me. My family was happy. My parents had been married for 20 years. Surely, they had already weathered any storm that could leave our family in shambles. Surely, we were safe.

Wrong.

I cannot explain the crippling sadness that befell me when my mom explained to me that my dad and her were separating. I cannot explain the way it felt like I was drowning while standing on solid ground. I cannot explain the way I could taste my heart breaking—sorrow indeed has a flavor. And I cried. I cried for the weekends I would not see my father. I cried for the anniversaries that would never come. I cried for the perfect family I no longer had.

The first few months were almost unbearable. I could not figure out how to live life without both of my parents in my house. As I attempted to focus on my daily routine, I could not escape the gaping hole that was my father’s absence from my home. My dad would call often, and the phone calls were the hardest. My parents were good at acting like nothing happened, but I was not. I did not know how to make small talk with my dad. How were we supposed to talk about my weekend when my entire world had crumbled beneath me weeks prior? How was I supposed to act like nothing was wrong? How was I supposed to pretend that it was perfectly normal that I could no longer kiss him goodnight?

We had taken a family picture two days before my parents announced their separation. If pictures were worth a thousand words, surely this one had a story to tell. I cannot tell you how many nights I spent staring at that photograph, searching for signs I may have missed about the catastrophic storm that would hit us two days later. I stared at the four of us for hours on end, a normal family. How could I not have known?

I never knew what to say to either parent. I loved them both with every ounce of my heart, but I was so angry. I didn’t understand how they could ever think this was a solution. I was going to college next year. I was supposed to be enjoying what I had left of high school. How dare they take that away from me?

My relationship with both parents at that point could be described as dysfunctional at best. Because I was hurt and resentful, I decided that if I wasn’t happy, no one would be. Because I was miserable, my mission in life was to make my parents miserable as well. I became increasingly difficult and at times, downright hateful. My parents did nothing but love me through it all. They did everything in their power to try to make things okay for me, to make sure I was adjusting well, to make me happy. And I, stubborn and contrary, wanted no part of it. I was determined to wallow in my self-pity.

If there was one thing I hated more than the thought of the divorce itself, it was the thought of seeing my parents with other people. I avoided the topic altogether. When my dad met a woman, I simply pretended that she didn’t exist. When my mom met a man, I acted as though I was completely unaware. It was not that I disliked them—it was just that if they were around, I had to face the reality that my family as I once knew it was over. As long as my parents were single, I could perpetuate the idea that one day, they would realize this was all a big mistake. I still clung to the hope that my parents were going to live happily ever after with one another. My prayers however, were never answered.

As the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months, I watched my parents fall in love with other people. I experienced a side of them that I had not known in a long time—pure and utter happiness. I watched my mom laugh louder and my dad speak with delight that he could not contain. Somewhere along the way, I understood that this was God’s greater plan. I have never been more thankful for unanswered prayers. I cannot explain the joy my heart feels for all of us. I love these two people more than they will ever know for loving my parents so much.

Sure, my family was divided, but I am convinced that the love was multiplied. I now have four wonderful people that love me, care about me, and would go to the ends of the Earth to make sure that I succeed. I have four people who are proud when I ace a test. Four people who call me on my birthday. Four people who love me when I don’t deserve it and welcome me with open arms when I need a place to come home. My family is not broken, but finally whole.

This is never how I expected my life to turn out. This was not in my plan. I did not choose my parents’ significant others, but I am eternally grateful that they chose us. If life has a happy ending, this is ours.

The original Thought Catalog post can be found at http://thoughtcatalog.com/jamie-varon/2015/02/just-a-kid/.

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