Dealing with Divorce

December 2, 2008
When I was about seven, life dealt me a tough hand: my parents got a divorce. I was coming home from a friend’s house at about dinner time. My dad and mom were sitting outside; dad looked like he was guarding the garage door, ready to fight off trespassers. My magenta Huffy bike and I rolled to a stop when I heard, “Now, you look her in the eyes, and you tell her what’s going on.”
I got worried and gripped the pink handlebars for dear life. My mom then dropped the bomb; thankfully not as sternly as my father had wanted. They were getting a divorce. Four little words and the world that I had known for seven years had shattered.

Then came the water works. The next thing I knew I was on the couch crying. I cried for two days constantly. It was tough for me to imagine myself with divorced parents after seven years of what I thought was happiness. I cried on the couch, under the table, in my room, everywhere imaginable. I was so upset I didn’t know what to do with myself as I watched my father’s and mother’s belongings get split up and packed away into cardboard boxes. As quickly as a piece of mailing tape could be ripped off the roll, my life was changing.

The part that really got to me wasn’t actually what my mother had said. Well, it was the news, but there was another part. Just that very morning, I remember sitting on the counter, exactly as I was told not to do, looking at their wedding picture thinking, Wow, I can’t ever see these people getting a divorce, they look so happy. I definitely didn’t see this one coming. I had never seen them fight, or yell at each other. My brother and I were in shock. I went into denial. As much as it was true, I didn’t want to accept it. This unwelcome news hit me like a falling piano in a colorful two-dimensional cartoon.

My dad moved out and across town, into an apartment that was opposite of a home. There were no feminine touches, no family photos on the wall, and no calendars with family birthdays on it. The doors wouldn’t shut all the way, light switches were painted over, and there was no shortage of toe stubbing opportunities. This apartment was a far cry from the homey abode that I grew up in. Every other weekend, Tuesdays and Thursdays, were spent at dad’s apartment, where the only thing holding the place up was the walls.
The hardest part for me about the experience, for me, was adjusting. It was such a change going from my wonderful home to an apartment that fell short of pleasant, when I had spent the previous seven years staying at my comfortable home. For the next six years, I spent a majority of my Friday nights packing up my clothes and belongings into a duffle bag and driving across town, saying goodbye to my mother, and going to dad’s As soon as I opened the broken storm door for the first time, my whole world changed.
After a little while, I was the only one going back and forth, my brother, Matt, was a legal adult and capable of making his own decisions. Meanwhile, I was stuck in the whirlwind of two households, and two separate families alone, at age ten. When there were arguments, I was stuck alone without my big brother to back me up. I just had to get used to it; it took some time, like many other adjustments I have had to make.
To help myself cope with the situation, I began to focus on other things. I tried to be involved in simple things, things I could control. I immersed myself in my school work. I had always been a studious person, as studious as a kid in elementary school could be. I gained a new zest for learning; nobody could take away what I had learned. It felt good to have something that couldn’t be meddled with. Knowledge can’t be broken, taken, split, or packed away with a box in mailing tape.
I also began to explore and try some new sports. I had been in gymnastics since age four, but I began to try other options. I started playing basketball and soccer. I remember when I was especially frustrated with my situation, I usually would go out kick the soccer ball around for a little while. I could take my aggression out on the shiny, blue ball. I would kick it as far across the lawn as I could, and then proceed to chase after it like a dog with a bone. Occasionally I would go out and shoot hoops, but, for me, nothing beat the felling of seeing a ball fly across the yard because of my power. It was something I could control, unlike my parent’s relationship; or lack of.
I have heard the snide remarks, heard the awkward silences, witnessed both sides frustration with each other, seen a therapist or two, and cried my fair share of tears. From all this negativity, a few good things came. I am a more flexible person; I take things as they come. I have also become a more studious person, one of the things that I focused my efforts on. From all this, I have learned many ways to deal with anger, sadness, and frustration. I may not be able to control the cards life throws at me, but I am capable of controlling what I do with those cards.

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