What I Learned from My Parents' Divorce

For those of you who have gone through or are going through divorce, you know how awful divorce can be. For those of you who are thinking about divorce, let me be the first to tell you how hard it is. Divorce is messy, stressful, and soul-crushingly agonizing. It is a wood chipper that is fed one version of a human being in one end, rips it apart and spits out something that could either be very useful to society or a splintery lump of mess that doesn’t even come close to the glorious tree that it used to be. Divorce will strain every relationship you have with absolutely everybody involved. The same goes for any children you have together. Your children will go through the same wood chipper you are and can either come out emotionally scarred for life or come out to be better people than they were before. My parents divorced when I was in 6th grade. My older and younger sister went through the years long struggle that was my parents’ divorce with me and we all handled it differently. Personally, I learned so much about life from the divorce and I came out of it a better person than I was before. One of the first things I learned was…

It can happen to you.

I used to think my family was perfect and nothing bad would ever happen to us. I heard a lot about other kids’ parents getting divorced and I always assured myself that it would never happen to me. My mom even told us that her and my dad loved each other too much to get a divorce. That all changed in seemingly a blink of an eye. My dad wasn’t happy in the marriage anymore and wanted a divorce. I was shocked. I kept thinking about all the times I assured myself it would never happen and there I was, witnessing what I thought was my family falling apart.

I quickly learned to never, ever assume it couldn’t happen to me. Which was a great lesson to learn before I went to middle and high school. I can’t count how many of my friends either have babies or diseases from not using condoms, have DUI’s and arrest records from drinking, drugs, and shoplifting, or are dead from reckless driving or overdoses all because they assumed bad things wouldn’t happen to them. I never let myself take a stupid risk because I thought it couldn’t happen and now I’m happily alive, childless, and going to college with not even a traffic ticket to my name. Of course, nobody can avoid being hurt or getting in to trouble forever. That’s when I learned…

When you have a problem, you can only rely on yourself.

Like I said, divorce is a messy, painful thing. When you are younger and you get hurt, you run to mom and dad. When your parents are getting divorced, all of a sudden mom and dad are the ones causing you to hurt more than you ever have before. At the same time as you are getting chopped up by the divorce-chipper, so are your superhero parents, and your partner-in-crime siblings. They are hurting emotionally just as badly as you are and are too busy trying to put themselves back together to be any help to you. You have to make the decision to be happier and get better.

The same goes for everything in life. If the toilet breaks in your home, you can’t just stand there and hope the water stops spilling all over the place. You have to make the decision to go to the hardware store and fix your toilet or call a plumber. If you are unhappy with your job, you have to make the decision to find a new one instead of waiting around for a job to fall in your lap. Your family cannot do anything to help you solve any problems unless you are trying to solve it yourself. That being said…

Just because they can’t do anything to help, it doesn’t mean your family won’t try.

My parents’ divorce was very brutal. My parents, sisters and myself were emotional wrecks for many years after. Just because we were all trying to put ourselves back together, that doesn’t mean we abandoned each other. My sisters and parents were, and still are, the only people that see me at my absolute worst. I screamed at them, fought with them, and said very hurtful things, but every single time I felt like I couldn’t pick myself up again, they were all right there grabbing my arms and lifting as hard as they could.

The most recent example of this was when I broke up with my long-time boyfriend while I was also suffering from depression. He was my first love and I was devastated. I don’t think I would have made it if my family wasn’t constantly trying to pick me up. My mom helped me get on my own feet after the break-up, an area she gained experience in from getting divorced. My dad did the research and figured out the source of my depression was my birth control pills. My sisters were the first people to make me laugh with a hilarious rendition of Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You”. Because my family tried their hardest to help me, I eventually decided to start making myself happier and move on. One lesson I learned from the divorce that helped me move on was…

Life goes on and you can’t predict what happens.

When you’re 12, and everything you remember from your life before a divorce is all sunshine and roses, and then you go through a divorce and your life is surrounded by arguments and depression, you think life is going to be this hard forever and you will never be as happy as you once were. You don’t realize that it gets better. Then slowly you start to notice your parents aren’t fighting anymore. They start to get themselves back together and start being parents again. Not just parents but better parents than they were before. Then you start to feel happier and you start putting yourself back together. Having divorced parents doesn’t seem so bad anymore, you even prefer it. Then you look back at yourself and you wonder why you ever thought things would be so bad forever, and then you move on with your life just as happy as you can be.

This is one lesson I wish I learned sooner. I never thought my parents would ever get along again and they would constantly fight over every little thing forever. Then once they started healing from the divorce, they stopped fighting and actually got along. Sometimes they would sit even sit together at our school events. This lesson really came in handy when I broke up with my boyfriend. I was already so depressed from my birth control and then to have to go through heartbreak on top of it, I thought I would never get better or ever see him again. Once I stopped taking the pills and with a lot of laughter with my family, I realized I would be just fine with out him. I loved him very much and we had a great time together, but my life would continue. Sure enough, we reconnected and are now working on getting back together. Which brings me to my next lesson…

All relationships require work.

My parents’ divorce taught me that there is no such thing as an effortless relationship with anybody. Everybody involved has to try and has to want to work for the relationship. Every relationship from married for 60+ years to friendships to coworkers. My dad wasn’t happy anymore and didn’t want to work at a marriage with my mom, which hurt her very badly. They still had to work together to be parents to my sisters and me. Sometimes they are really good at it and sometimes they aren’t, but they still have to try. I think they are even better parents to us separately than they were when they were together.

I have seen how this lesson affects my personal life the most. I have very strong friendships with my friends and great work relationships with my coworkers. I’m currently working on rebuilding my friendship with my ex-boyfriend and possibly rebuild a romantic relationship with him with both of us expecting to work at the relationship.

Divorce is a very difficult process for any family and I know a lot of kids don’t have the same experience I did. I do know that the divorce taught me a lot of life lessons and made my “broken home” stronger than it was before. Sometimes I do miss seeing my dad everyday and all of us going on vacation together, but I wouldn’t trade one day of divorced-parent’s family for one day of married-parents family. I know the divorce made my parents, sisters, and myself better people.

I m a student at Robert Morris University studying history.  View profile

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