Divorce Through the Eyes of a Child
This is a guest post from a 17 year old that has been writing a book about her life and the feelings she experienced as her parent’s divorced. I asked her if she would write an “article” for us and she graciously agreed. Lizz and her family are dear friends of ours and I’m so blessed to see the beautiful young woman she is becoming.
Here is part of Lizz’s story:
Since the very beginning of time, God said that “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18) yet all around us couples are divorcing. So many people think that when they divorce the only people they’re affecting is each other but in reality the situation is so much greater. Husbands and wives are forced to face losing a spouse and children are forced to face losing a parent.
When I was four-years-old my father cheated on my mother and I. He chose to be with “the other woman” over us. After my parents were split up for three years, he divorced us. I say that he cheated and divorced both of us because that’s what it felt like. He may have only violated he and my mother’s vows, but he wasn’t leaving just her.
Like my mother, I felt hurt and betrayed. I couldn’t understand why we weren’t enough for him. What did this other woman have that we didn’t? Was there anything that we could have done better? Did he even love us anymore?
Very soon after my parents split up, I came to the conclusion that my father didn’t want me anymore. He wouldn’t have left my mother if he still really loved and cared about me. He would’ve stuck it out, for me. So I decided that if Dad didn’t even want me, who ever would? And from that moment on, I no longer cared. I wasn’t going to even try to make people like me because I thought no one ever would. I became somewhat of a “lone wolf” (just like my dad), I put up walls to protect myself and keep everyone out so not to get hurt again, and my natural instinct became pushing people away and sabotaging every good relationship I had, for the most part. Overtime I became so used to “not being wanted” that eventually I no longer wanted to be wanted. I became the strong person. I was the rock that no one could shake. No one, especially Dad, would ever know that deep down my heart was deeply wounded from just the one “small” decision of whether or not to split up and eventually divorce.
Unfortunately in our house we didn’t talk much about Dad and him possibly divorcing my mother. I still believed in all my heart and soul that my parents were going to get back together. And when my mother was suddenly marrying a different man, I knew that at some point the divorce had been finalized. But no one had given me any warning. I wasn’t ready to move on but I was being forced to against my will. I had no choice but to move on with Mom.
A little over a year after the wedding, Mom gave birth to another child. She had two children from her first marriage (my younger brother and I), had gained a stepdaughter through the second marriage, and was now having a third of her own. I was crushed. Even though Mom was once again married, I was still hanging on to a final shred of hope that she would get back with my father. I’d seen how quick and easy a divorce could be, so why couldn’t she divorce again? But I knew now that she was having a child with her new husband that she would never walk out. My parents would never, ever get back together. And that’s a hard concept to accept.
Obviously divorce is tough on all of the parties involved. But unfortunately the one who is filing for the divorce is usually only focusing on getting out of the marriage. In these situations you have to think about more than just that. You have to think about how the decision is going to affect your children. When I was younger I spent a lot, a lot of years hating my father and saying that he ruined my life because he didn’t think about me when he finalized the divorce. It took me about eleven years to stop thinking that way.
Divorce is something that the child has to carry with them for the rest of their life. Where the parent can move on and marry someone else, a child can’t change who they share half of their DNA with or who they lived with and were partially raised by as a child. Someone else may step in and be a father/mother figure in their life, but there will always be something missing: their other biological parent, even if they do spend every-other weekend with them.
It is especially hard on the child when they still have memories of having a family that consisted of both of their parents. For example, I was four when I moved away from Dad with Mom; my younger brother on the other hand was only four-months-old. I’ve had to deal with problem after problem that was linked to the divorce. He hasn’t had to deal with much of anything. All he knows as a father figure is our stepfather. I can still remember back to the days when it was just Dad, Mom, and I spending time together as a family of three. My younger brother will probably deal with more issues once he’s older and understands the situation better, but he hasn’t so far.
Even though my parents haven’t been together in thirteen years, it’s still hard on me. I know they can and never will be together again but that doesn’t stop that want or desire for them to be together to go away. I had such a hard time dealing with them splitting up that I became an insomniac. I have abandonment issues which were only made worse when my father was deployed overseas due to The War on Terror. For many, many years I dealt with depression and suicide. Because of the depression I have suffered from memory loss. I felt like I lost my entire childhood and had to grow up overnight because I had to act like a grown up and understand everything that was going on in my life. And the list goes on and on. I’m one of the lucky teens to have begun to deal with these issues so early on in my life. Just because I turned out okay, doesn’t mean that every other divorced kid will.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t meant to criticize divorced couples/families. This is only meant to shed some light on the other people involved when making such a huge decision about whether or not to divorce. I’ve been through it and it’s not fun so I don’t take divorce lightly. No one else should either.