Their divorce nearly killed me
Growing up in suburban Philadelphia, the daughter of two yuppies, it seemed like I had everything. I was pretty sheltered, a shy child by nature and nurture. The later cause of my introverted nature was the fact that my parents avoided verbal communication with each other. The only time I remember them directly talking to each other was a rather loud fight.
Instead of providing a good relationship model and any hint of social skills for me, my parents’ example made me evade meaningful social interactions with my peers. I found refuge in school, dance, and music. Unfortunately, my older sister discovered escape through drinking, drugs, and sex.
Fast-forward to late 2003. I was in 8th grade, in the middle of the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad stage of puberty. My parents announce that they are getting a divorce. Although they had been practically divorced during my entire life, this announcement turned my world upside down. My life-long depression spun out of control. I started experiencing suicidal thoughts. The climax of my depression was when I held a knife to my wrist. I wanted to kill myself, but I was afraid of the physical pain I would feel. I ended up putting the knife down. The next day, I went to see my guidance counselor at school. I told her what happened, and long story short, I was sent to the mental hospital. After my hospital visit, I continued therapy and medication.
While I no longer experienced suicidal thoughts, I still had much healing to accomplish. I learned that both my mother and my father had been in long-term relationships with other people (their current spouses). I also learned that my mother had been married before she met my dad. I was disgusted with the deceit and lies my parents had been feeding me. I was stronger than they thought, so why didn't they tell me the truth? I was so irate that they would blatantly lie to me!
In high school, I was still very shy and hesitant to develop real relationships. Subconsciously, I think that I was afraid of being hurt by others. My parents “relationship” consisted of mostly silent treatment, with occasional incidents of passive-aggressive behavior. In my mind, that was the pattern that all relationships followed. Throughout high school and the first year or two of college, I thought that in the rare chance that I became married, I would eventually get divorced.
Both my mother and father remarried, the former in January 2009 and the later in December 2011. My sister was in a serious relationship with a great guy. In my own family, I constantly felt like a third wheel in my family. I only started dating in college, but was consistently disappointed by the lack of authentic men on campus. Fortunately, I became more involved in my church community and learned about self-less, sacrificing, true relationships through academic study and personal witness of couples committed to each other, through good and bad times.
I will always carry some scars from my parents’ divorce. I share my story with you to show you that divorce is a horrible experience for children. If you come from a faith background, the following quote best sums up divorce:
"Divorce is when parents cast of their cross and give it to their children."
My story is just a small example of how deeply wounded our culture is by our destruction of marriage. We must work diligently to restore the true meaning of marriage as a sacrificial, life and love-giving union that produces children and furthers the good of all society. Marriage is a beautiful, life-long commitment and must be carefully entered into and protected and nourished by every one of us.