Thursday, February 26, 2009

No, You Don't Have to Choose

I've mentioned before the fact that I know far too many women who are in the process of horrible divorces. [For the record, I don't believe any divorce is magnificent, but I have heard of some amicable ones.] I can't speak to being the spouse going through a horrible divorce. I can speak to being the child of spouses going through such a thing.

It sucked. The only saving grace for me was that, at its worst, I was old enough to escape some of the madness swirling around me by being in the company of friends. I was 15 when it started. The intensity lasted from April of my sophomore year until September of my junior year. There were additional high level tightrope walks of tension for the next few years, but the ultimate worst of it was right then.

These women I know in the midst of it now have children no older than Eldest, who is 12 and in sixth grade, and some have kids as young as preschool age. There is no escape for those kids. None. And I ache for them. And I especially ache for them hearing the accusations being flung, sometimes casually, within their earshot.

Shut the frickin' hell up about the horrible things that bastard has done, is doing and will be doing to you. That bastard is that little boy's father, that little girl's father, that tween's daddy, that emerging teen boy's dad. And they love him. And they love you.

This isn't Diet Coke vs. Diet Pepsi. This isn't chunky vs. smooth. There is no choice to be made. Quit making them feel like there is. Because that's what you're doing, whether or not you say aloud, "Who do you love more?"

I've said as much to them. Albeit, not quite so melodiously. And I'll keep saying it so I can fall asleep at night not recalling all the stuff I shouldn't have heard or known at 15.

10 comments:

Caloden said...

Divorce sucks. There is no eloquent way to put it. Even the amicable ones hurt. I don't know the story behind this post, but it still smarts any way you add it up.

Jeni said...

You're probably cringing now, seeing a comment from me. I'm trying to reform myself and write short comments.
I wholeheartedly agree with your take about what NOT to say/do to kids, regardless of the offensive stuff the ex or soon-to-be-ex did or is perceived to have done, etc., around the kids. I was guilty of doing that from time to time as I bitched about my ex during the divorce and after. But I tried to temper it with the kids when the civilized side of me would wake up. One rule was that because I was the one angry with Dad, and had no one to really talk to frequently back then, I was allowed to grump, growl, call him names because that was actually directed at him -not anything the kids had a hand in there. But they, no way, were they allowed to talk down, to even think less of him, regardless of my anger. They were expected to show respect -and love -to him at all times. As they became adults, they were allowed then to voice their own issues pertaining to him. The result -today, all three of them have pretty decent relationships with him although they are long-distance since he is in Nevada and the kids all live here in PA, with or fairly near to me. They also learned early on that a lot of the issues with Dad stemmed from the fact he was sick because of his drinking so when he finally sobered up, a little over 15 years ago, they were able to accept him without question. They knew then, understand better now, what a toll the drinking, the womanizing, emotional/verbal abuse can take on family members. Rough road to hoe though for all concerned when a family becomes embroiled in a divorce as the only recourse. Even was I was totally jacked with their Dad, I never wanted them to come away hating him. Lucky for him, things worked the way they did with the kids. (Maybe next time I comment I can do the "short and sweet?"

Beck said...

There's an incredibly acrimonious divorce going on in my town right now and both parents are putting their wee little kids RIGHT in the middle. NICELY DONE, PEOPLE.

Giggles said...

I'm so proud of you for speaking out for the children! I've walked the path of a horrific divorce, my child suffered. Now as an adult, she touts that I didn't defame him in any way. She did however experience his bad behavior. As an adult she's been able to conclude the truth. She has issues with him, but when I see photos of them together I see the love ...every child needs both parents. Just recently her dads brother informed her of some very negative threats he expressed during divorce... Things I'd hoped she'd never know....Even though she always suspected I never wanted it affirmed. Thanks for sharing a perspective I've never experienced.

Hugs Giggles

vincent said...

Thank you so much for this blog... I just came across it and it meant a lot to me. I was 17 when my parents divorced and as "easy" as it went, the pain was still beyond comprehension. I also divorced my 17 year old father when she was around 1 1/2, and have made it a point to NEVER say anything bad about him, because it is bad enough he never comes around and is a jerk in and of himself. She tries to act like it is okay, but I know that this crap kills her inside with her asking what is wrong with her that her own dad doesn't care enough to keep in touch. Anyhow, thank you, this was nice...

Janet said...

I was fairly lucky - my stepfather just left. (My own father died when I was 3.) No fighting, no nothing. One day he was there, and the next he wasn't. It was difficult at school because NO ONE else had divorced parents. And the lovely so-called Christians at church completely turned their collective backs on my mother. Because divorce is a sin don't you know, and I guess they thought it would rub off or something. Fortunately, I did not have kids with my first husband. It was not pretty. He told many lies about me (which caught up with him when people started comparing notes). I just kept my head down and didn't say anything.
You are so good to speak up for the kids. It's hard enough when you're a grownup. Kids shouldn't have to choose. Actually my grandparents tried to keep my brother and me from accepting our stepfather after our father died. I suspect that was a large part of why he eventually left.

Tumblewords: said...

It should be about the kids - disgusting to see that immature parents still play the old 'house' game of young children and fail to recognize the role of mature parents. Sad. Good post!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

So very well said. Everyone comes out so much better in the end of parents treat each other like human beings through the worst of it.

Poor kids.

josie2shoes said...

I would like to see a copy of this post handed to every parent involved in divorce proceedings. Divorce is so devastating for children to begin with, and the nastiness flung back and forth is cruel and unfair. Thanks for speaking out on their behalf!

D... said...

Gosh, this speaks to me. You are absolutely right. Keep the children out of it. Do not speak of it around the children. Dare I say, even when the children are in the same location because their little ears hear a lot.

I was much younger than you. I was 8. I remember all too well how my dad's mom would talk horribly about my mom. Until she decided his 2nd wife was worse and then my mom was an angel. To this day, I don't have strong loving feelings towards my own grandmother. I remember my mom being mad about child support so I mentioned something to my dad. And he hands me a wad of money to give to my "greedy" mom. I remember my dad taking me to get my ears pierced and my mom jerking them out of my ears because she wanted to take me.

Oh. Divorce sucks. But it's hell for the kids involved.

Keep saying it to the parents.

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