I was 7 years old.
- Divorce was almost unheard of at the time.
- Des Moines, Iowa Divorce was scandalous
- My parents got divorced
- I came home from school one day and my Mom and 2 (of 3) older brothers had left. They moved 40 minutes away.
The divorce was nasty and the anger and resentment spanned decades; sending ripples of anxiety, stress, depression and anger into all of our lives. Rather than a safe, happy childhood our experience of family looked very different.
- Walking on eggshells all the time
- Needing to keep secrets from each parent about the other
- Mine fields of topics, phrases, and places
- Mental preparation to leave one parent to visit the other
- Mental preparation for holidays, and exhaustion and depression during the holidays
- Mental and physical preparation for milestone celebrations or how to avoid celebrations altogether (all 4 of us choose not to go to our own high school graduation)
- Planning for who would be responsible for which parent to try to ensure minimum fallout for celebrations
- Taking sides – the endless pull to take sides and the resulting guilt for having taken sides
- The fallout after celebrations for whatever was perceived as an issue
- Financial strain: asking for something (Prom Dress, school clothes) and being told the other parent should pay for it, then being told I pay child support…;
- Guilt for not being able to protect/ help siblings
- Stress of having to support an emotionally overwrought parent
I made a decision to dedicate my life to “fixing” divorce. I went to law school, and then spent decades practicing family law in an effort to stop the ripples before they began.
My Wedding – I took a stand. I made a choice. I was done – fed up and exhausted. This was the turning point (at least outwardly) with my parents’ divorce. I would not let their issues affect my children or my marriage. And yet – it still did; because inside I still struggled with all the same emotions.
50 years after my parents’ divorce I decided to go deeper and find out how to leave my parent’s divorce to my parents. I learned to deal with the emotions I had struggled with for decades. I learned how to let go of the remnants and ghosts of the divorce that had permeated my life.