Here is a story from a child of divorce. I found it here. Because of it, I think I may have discovered another buttress to telling the truth: the desire for happy endings.
I am going to try something new. I’ll bold certain parts, and add my own commentary in red.
What I am about to say is a critique of the culture surrounding divorce, and not of the individual who wrote this story.
One summer afternoon, my mom called me to tell me that she and my dad were getting a divorce. I was blindsided. I knew that they had had their fair share of problems in the past, but I thought that they had worked it out. (Unlike what a lot of people seem to believe, kids don’t always know what’s coming.)
The change that followed brought the most gut-wrenching pain that I have ever experienced. I felt really angry (very common), but more surprising was how completely un-moored I felt, like someone had just ripped the safety net out of my life. I couldn’t really express how I felt with a “feeling” word, just pictures—like being completely adrift at sea. (Evidence of the liminal space and ontological wound that was created; there is no accurate theoretical framework to express the feelings.)
I had been married for one year, and I lived far away. I resented that my kids would never get to experience Christmas morning at their grandparents’ house, or know my parents like I did growing up. (Grandparents don’t realize that divorce impacts several generations.) I resented them for making me look bad to my husband’s family. And I didn’t want people’s pity. I needed my friends to help me, but none of them knew what to say, and none of them called to check on me after the initial “hey, my parents are getting divorced” conversation. (My guess is that since she was grown, everybody assumed it would be no big deal.)
The only person who I could talk to and would call to check on me was my mother-in-law. She prayed through it with me six months later when I was ready to forgive. She prayed for me in person and on the phone, gave me advice, told me that I had to keep forgiving over and over when I felt the pain, and that part of forgiveness is accepting the consequences of other people’s choices. So I forgave, and I had to keep forgiving. (Forgiveness is good and necessary, and it’s an ongoing choice we must make.)
After my dad remarried and I was going to meet his new wife for the first time, I thought I would vomit in the car in front of their house. On the way there, I called my best friend, and she said that I didn’t have to pretend that everything was fine, but the truth was that I did have to. (Yes, we must pretend in order to keep the peace.) What was I going to do? Cause a scene with sobbing and barfing? (Why not? Because people would have thought she was crazy. But she wasn’t crazy, her situation was crazy.) No. I faced it with my siblings and my husband, and that made it easier. Forgive. Accept the consequences.
Time has passed, and it’s easier to accept now, but I still think about the past, especially when I’m home and things aren’t the same. There are two Christmases and Thanksgivings. I worry about hurting people’s feelings by not spending enough time with them because I have to be somewhere else. I feel the responsibility to take care of my mom, and sometimes to take care of everyone. (“Divorce is when the parents cast off their crosses, and hand them to the children.”)
What changed for the better in the midst of pain?
I got closer to my siblings through processing with them. (That’s great.) I love my mother-in-law for supporting me during the most difficult time of my life, and I will always be grateful to her for being God’s instrument of love and grace to me. (I’m mixed on this being “for the better.” Yes, it’s great that she did this, but it was also her duty as a Christian and as the mother-in-law.) My home is now with my husband and our family together instead of the home where I grew up. (?) My relationship with my dad is restored, and we are friends again. And we even go on vacation together. (I wouldn’t classify this as “for the better.” Imagine a number line. This is just going from something like negative ten to zero. The relationship is now what it should have always been.)
If things are really better, as she indicates at the end, how do we account for the person’s desire for anonymity? After all, if the divorce made things better, she would be thanking her parents for it and not at all afraid to have those other thoughts and feelings associated with her name, right?
I don’t believe things are better. In fact, they are worse. That’s why she remains anonymous. She cannot allow her true feelings and thoughts be revealed, cannot take a chance that her parents will read that post. It would further strain her now permanently strained relationship with them.
Notice that I am also anonymous. I mentioned at the outset, I am not criticizing this particular person or the choices she has made. She is doing the best she can in a culture that refuses to see our pain and has failed to provide an accurate framework for us to understand our issues.