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This is a moderated blog is a project of the Ruth Institute. Have a story to share? We're listening.
Posted on: Monday, November 09, 2020
An Australian shares some heart-wrenching stories about the effects
of divorce on children's mental health from cases he has seen first-hand:
Our son has a nine-year-old friend, who also has an 11-year-old brother. Their parents are no longer together. On weekends, the nine-year-old goes to his
father's, who has a new love interest. She has two children from a previous marriage. My son's friend cries at school and particularly on Fridays when
he knows he must go to his father's house. The 11-year-old brother does not go because he yells and flat-out refuses. Our son's friend is often upset,
shy, and becomes very reactive to many things.
Posted on: Friday, July 27, 2018
I have been healing from the effects of the sexual revolution for about 30 years now. If you had told me as a 24-year-old that my life would be marked by emotional and spiritual wholeness, that I’d one day celebrate 28 years of marriage and three beautiful daughters, I would have thought you cruel for holding out that kind of promise.
My life up to that point had been overwhelmed by the choices my parents made, which wounded me (divorce, father’s addictions and abandonment, mother’s horrible live-in boyfriend), as well as the destructive choices I started making for myself as a teenager (sexual promiscuity and regular drug/alcohol use). The more I engaged in these behaviors, the worse I felt, and the guilt drove me into evermore destructive choices. My broken family had no religious, moral, or parental guidelines to put limits on my behavior. My mom was completely wrecked by a horrible relationship with a man who I would later find out was a predator. At the tender age of 18 he proposed to me one day during a lunch, complete with a ring and his plan that I would have his babies, but my mom would raise them. This was the man who I had lived in the same house with since 5th grade, and tried to see as a father figure, even though he was never interested in being a father to either my brother or me. It was just one more big crack in my already terribly damaged self-image as a young woman.
I would go on to have lots more hook-ups and drunken, drug filled nights as I moved into my 20’s. But I was getting desperate to understand why I was even on the earth. What purpose could my crappy life even have, and how could I ever hope to be different? I read self-help books thinking that was my answer. It didn’t take long to understand that reading about what was wrong was much easier than fixing it. Those books became a trap for me because I could understand the problems, but knew I was powerless, no matter how many times I determined to start fresh, to get out of the pit I was in.
I was only sure of a few things at that point. I wanted more than anything just to have a family of my own, but I was also committed to never doing to my children what was done to me. It felt like a no-win trap, because I knew in my morally bankrupt lifestyle I would never be a good wife or mother, nor would I ever find a spouse the way I was living. By my early twenties I had become convinced nothing about my life would ever be different, and I would be stuck and alone.
But a kind Christian man would come along in my mother’s life and fall in love with her, though she wasn’t a believer. My brother and I thought she was so desperate for a man that she was willing to settle for a “Bible thumper”! It soon became obvious that he wasn’t like anyone we’d met before. He shared his faith with me, and told me for the very first time in my life that I had a Father in heaven who knew me, loved me, and had a plan for my life. As I listened I was undone. Was it true that the God of the universe really knew me, and not just knew me, but loved me, even the way I was? The offer of salvation, the need to repent of my sins, being washed clean from the stain of sin, and knowing Jesus would be with me always was an offer I could not refuse. (My mom accepted Jesus as well.)
Healing came slowly but steadily as I pressed into living life with Jesus, taking in His Word, surrounding myself with healthy Christian community in a church committed to making mature disciples of Christ. Learning to practice healing prayer where I brought the pain of the past to the cross and Jesus exchanged it for truth and wholeness was, and still is, how I live free in Christ Jesus. The Lord has given me so much more than I could have ever hoped or imagined in this life, the most precious being a deep knowing that I belong to Him.
Submitted by S.
Posted on: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
We were the happy couple, married in our parish almost 30 years ago. After the marriage, my spouse apologized for pressuring before marriage to unchastity.
That had been my first mistake--believing the lie that in a serious relationship (we were nearly engaged after all) having sex occasionally was ok.
It wasn't. It bothered my conscience deeply and I felt used.
Once married we used Natural Family Planning. In the first year, we conceived. With bills to pay, crying every day, I left my child to go to work. Eventually my husband did quite well financially, so I quit to raise our children. My youngest was born in a traumatic delivery, which led me to fear having more children. I then made mistake number two--taking the pill. I knew it was wrong, but I justified it in "my case." God would understand, but I'm ashamed that I didn't confess it. I didn't understand the WHY of what the church taught. My mother had worked full time, and the message growing up was to put career and financial security as the top priority. Having a large family was seen as irresponsible.
After a decade of marriage, one day I walked in and caught my husband masturbating. Was he watching porn on his computer? He said that every man does it. It hurt deeply. He met someone, a porn model. He told me that he didn't want to be married to me anymore. He claimed that he had never loved me and we were not compatible.
We saw a priest who failed us. He told my husband that since he wasn't happy he could leave. I felt so abandoned. I considered leaving the church. My husband continued to be distant, cold towards me. I considered suicide.
Alone one night, I heard a quiet voice telling me that I was not alone--God was there. During this time our oldest, who was in high school, became involved in a same sex relationship. I cried all the time. No one could tell me how to deal with this. The ministry in my archdiocese turned out to be gay-affirming. I left the first meeting in tears. Their message, to affirm, I couldn't do. At my new parish the priest told me about Courage.
I couldn't in good conscience start dating, as I was still a married woman, regardless of what my husband chose to do. He had broken his promise; I didn't want to give my children that example. I focused on my two teenagers. They needed a responsible parent. I was forced to go back to work. I remember crying on Christmas Eve as the utility man came to shut off our utilities again. That same Christmas my estranged husband bought our daughters designer handbags. I felt ashamed that I had failed my children. One day I came home and caught my youngest daughter, 18, with her boyfriend. I yelled at him and asked him point blank if he was prepared to support a child.
Soon it will be 10 years since that day when my husband shattered our family. Along the path of tears I gained a deeper faith. I learned to trust God in ways I never had. I discovered how very much He had always been there with me, protected, and guided me. I am a different person than I was on that first day when I thought my heart would explode from pain. I left my old parish because the memories hurt too much and because the failure of the pastor left me feeling abandoned. I found a new parish where they actually preach the true Catholic faith. I became involved in parish life and began formation as a secular Carmelite. I began to educate myself through the Courage apostolate. I began an EnCourage chapter in my area, providing hope and truth for parents.
Three years ago my husband filed for divorce. I miss the man he used to be. I now see a man without inner peace, and my heart hurts for him. He is
cohabiting with a woman 10 years younger than I. My oldest is cohabiting in a same sex relationship. I understand now about redemptive suffering. God
really is close to the broken-hearted, abandoned spouse. He always provided for me. And I really feel that I have been blessed with the better part.
I am His, and that is where I want to stay.
Submitted by M. M.
Posted on: Thursday, June 22, 2017
At the age of 52, I recently found myself sitting in my mother's psychologist's office. She went to him most of her adult life, though she died six years ago. I knew her psychologist well since, at the age of 14, I was the one who had sought him out in hopes of acquiring help for my family. My dad attended family therapy once, at which time he stood in frustration, faced his broken family, and proclaimed, "I am an alcoholic and have no intention of changing anything."
After my third divorce, I returned home to the Catholic Church. Then, following a year of devotion to praying my mom's rosary, I felt compelled to approach my parish priest about starting the annulment process. The time had come to confront my painful past, and the healing process was subsequently set in motion. It has not been easy, but necessary.
After Mom passed away, I discovered her own annulment documents. They revealed that my father was a sex addict and described in detail the abuse she had suffered in her marriage. It was overwhelming to realize the puzzle of my past consisted of a myriad of pieces. I think it would have been a relief the day dad chose to walk out of our family had it not been Christmas Eve. He was donning a new shirt and void of regret as he walked right past his wife's brokenness and his children's joyful anticipation of the arrival of Santa Claus.
After two years of therapy, I found myself still staring at a mound of puzzle pieces--very few connected. In my desperation, I thought mom's psychologist could help trigger some memories. Within the first ten minutes of our visit, I regretted this decision as he hastily concluded I had "hang ups" about sex since I was in a chaste relationship. He suggested that if we liked each other, we should live together. I remember staring at his degree hanging appropriately lopsided on the wall when it felt as if a bolt of lightning shot through my body, which appeared to have traveled upwards from hell, as I realized this man had influenced my mom. She sought help to better her life, and this is what she got. I was now guilt-ridden, knowing I had brought them together.
This sparked an unwelcome memory of my mom asking me to purchase her a condom. I vividly recollected struggling to process the metamorphosis I was witnessing--she was planning a one night stand. At the time I was married with two small children. Possessing only the life skills acquired on my own, I desperately tried to persuade her to reconsider. What was most upsetting was that she seemed so happy, even giddy, at the prospect. I wondered what had happened to my mom, the one who attended mass and confession and was quite devoted to praying the rosary. Now I knew.
I listened to the psychologist as he recalled this very encounter as my mom had described it to him. "It was liberating," he proclaimed, for her to express herself in this manner after being abused by my dad for so long. She now had control over her sexual being and was free to express her sexuality with confidence and without fear. He assured me it was quite pleasurable for her. I felt sick and was rendered speechless for a moment as I absorbed the shock waves of this most recent traumatic event. I responded to him by leaning inward and looking directly into his eyes with a resounding, "Seemingly!"
It was time to leave. As I walked out the door, I muttered "hippie" and felt somewhat vindicated.
Submitted by D.W.
Posted on: Saturday, September 24, 2016
I am a survivor of the sexual revolution. I wasted my entire child bearing years on sex. It started in the early 70’s when I was 16 and lost my virginity to a 22-year-old. I got high and gave away my heart and wept. It started a whirlwind of relationships. Sex was powerful! I was exposed to porn. I was literally looking for love in all the wrong places and lost count of the bodies. I got pregnant at 18. We lived together to my angst. I wanted to be married, but he said it was just a piece of paper. I felt that he was rejecting me and our son and had a shameful whirlwind affair with a married man who divorced his wife to be with me.
I ran away within weeks of the whole mess. My son's father came back, but still no marriage commitment, no trust, but why should there be? I had another sexual relationship. My son's father’s last word to me was “Whore!” as he threw all of my son’s belongings on the front porch of my mother’s house and his stroller through the front door.
Sometime during then, my early 20’s, I realized that my body was beautifully and wonderfully made. I heard the Lord call me. I was a beautiful creation, but to my great sorrow, knew in my heart that I had aborted my future children with birth control. My mother backed me up when I was pregnant. She wouldn’t let me be shamed like she was when she had me out of wedlock. I cherished the life within me more than myself. My mother had a very unfulfilled marriage, but was open to having a grandchild, but we had fights. When I tried to voice my feelings, she said “you just need to get laid!”
I wanted to give him up for adoption to a man/woman who could get him what he needed to get to heaven. She thought I was trying to keep him away from her. I just wanted him to get to heaven. Someone showed me a picture of Jesus of Divine Mercy. I called on the Lord to forgive me and He did. I could see the Father and his love for me, the prodigal child, but it was just starting. The war raged on. I ended up in a psych ward and suicidal. It was hell on everyone around me. I was back living with my parents and son. I had terrible shouting matches with my mother. I had no control over anything and was in a corner alone. I just kept crying “I have no control over him!”
I was back to zero self-worth and had other affairs. I was worthless now. What difference could it make? My life was shattered all around me. I had been sexually “off the rails” since I was a teen and it spiraled to the destruction of me. My son was cutting himself and using drugs/drinking, and I lost my 1st grandchild to abortion when he was 16. He was so confused and angry and had no compass, no male figure to guide him, except for my dad, who became his surrogate. I will always blame myself for his eternal welfare. He was never baptized, but I gave him to God in my heart. I ask for mercy all the time and pray for him/us. I don’t know what else to do. I have two beautiful grandchildren now. Maybe God works with crooked lines and it will be okay.
Women’s lib is a lie. You can’t have it all. We are sold lies, and I devoured them. I was so angry once I knew the truth, but learning/hoping/asking/wanting mercy. It’s all any of us have. Thank you.
Submitted by C.L.
Posted on: Thursday, March 24, 2016
by Meredith H. (South Jordan)
It started when I was 5. I remember hearing them fight scream while I cried trying to go to sleep. One night as I was asleep I heard some yelling outside my door. Then I heard my mom singing though my dad was still trying to argue with her. As weeks passed the police came to my house so often it scared me. When I turned 6 I went to my aunts house with my sister and three brothers. Only to cry even more finding out they were at court. When we returned home I had found out that my mom had been sent to jail. She got out but shes not doing well. 2 years later we moved. It was the worst I was depressed. But I just smiled hoping everything will be alright. But it never was. I missed my mom so much it hurt to know I didn't have anyone to do my hair. I bubbles my feelings so much that I suddenly burst. I CUT. Voices in my head told it would help but it didn't. My dad started yelling more it was bad. I cried for my mom for help for anyone to save me! I went to a counselor for help she helped me so much she understood me her parents too got in a divorce. It helped but sometimes at night when everyone is asleep i cried and wished for a mommy. I even drew my own mommy. To this day I hate that we moved. I am still depressed and still have feelings i want to spill. My family could have worked. Its been 7 years and I still cry is there anyone out there who just wishes they could have one phone call to heaven.
Posted on: Wednesday, March 23, 2016
When I was 13, my mom began an affair with an old boyfriend, who she ran into at a reunion. She eventually divorced my dad, and married him. My father was devastated. My mom justified her actions by telling everyone their marriage had been miserable and my dad treated her poorly. This was a huge source of gossip in the mid 80's in our small town, and I felt like everyone was talking about my family behind my back. Both my parents were too busy trashing each other to notice what their divorce had done to me. My mom felt she was entitled to be happy with her new husband, and people get divorced all the time, and so it was all really no big deal and I would get over it. Karma did get her though--her amazing old boyfriend turned out to have a big drinking problem, and her new marriage spiraled downhill fast. She eventually divorced him too. Like so many people, she discovered the grass really wasn't greener with someone else. If only more people understood this.
I was, and remain, 100% committed to never putting my children through anything like what I went through. I married a wonderful man and we recently celebrated our 15th anniversary. It shocks me when I realize that we are approaching the length of time my parents were married when my mom's affair began. We have two children who are our entire world, and when I look at them I can't fathom for one minute putting them through anything like that. To this day, I still feel pain over the fact that my mom didn't feel the same way. It's been over 25 years and that pain is still there.
Posted on: Friday, February 19, 2016
My mother left when I was six. My sister and I went to a beautiful old house we called “the home” - a group home for girls whose families were under stress.
We were fed and dressed well, had lots of play time but, even with my sister there, I was scared. I saw Matron rub a twelve year old girl’s nose into
her urine-soaked sheets, and I had seen her pull down underpants in public, in order to spank other girls. That was when I began to live on the margins
and keep watch. Like the kid in the movie 'The Blind Side’, I became "99% self-protective”.
At age eight I went back to live with Daddy. I hardly can recall my mother but Dad remains my hero. He and I shared long evenings reading or listening
to the radio and talking about plays, music and politics. With him, I participated in anti-apartheid marches. My love of history came from trips
we took to ancient places like the Roman ruins at St. Albans and, every year, we went by ferry to his Irish homeland. I loved sitting on deck at
night, singing old Irish songs.
By my early teens I began getting in trouble and ended up in boarding school. The school was in a 19th Century mansion, its grounds filled with exotic
plants, lakes, a swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts. A tolerant staff kept watch over us. We danced to juke-box music every weekend. Boys
and girls found all kinds of secret places to meet - in fireplaces, by laundry baskets, in the woods and at the trout stream. And we knew not to
go “all the way”.
By 1965, the naive little boarding school girl, heavily influenced by an atheist/socialist Dad, went to nursing school and became a bleeding heart.
Assisting with abortions was part of the surgical rotation. I never thought to question the morality of it and none of my peers did either. There
was no public discussion about it, no talk about women’s rights. It was a scandal for a young woman to be pregnant outside of marriage. They were
my peers, and I wanted to shield them.
When Evangelical friends put a Bible in my hands, my life changed radically. By the time I read the Gospels the third time, I was sensing a protective
and tolerant Presence, yet I struggled with accepting Christianity. Then came terrible nightmares about dead babies. I felt prompted to read my
Bible and start writing. I realized I was dreaming about the abortions I’d participated in and which, for fifteen years, I never had a second thought
about. In nursing school, I had believed as I was taught, that the baby was a “blob of tissue”.
The words of Deuteronomy 30:19 jumped out - “I put before you Life and Death, choose…” I saw two armies, one standing behind Jesus and one behind
Satan, and my inner ears heard, “there is no gray area”. It was a mandate. My choice had to be an eternal one. After 29 years I went back to the
Church, and I was (flinchingly) in the pro-life camp.
However, I continued, as a Public Health nurse, thinking that birth control was a lesser evil than abortion and that the Church’s teachings were wrong,
until I learned about the beautiful spirituality of natural family planning. I began to remember women who had strokes as a result of birth control
- and malignant hypertension and pancreatitis. Could my sister’s death, from pancreatic cancer have been avoided if she had not taken birth control
for thirty years?
Following a hunch, I discovered many horrid complications of artificial contraception besides abortifacient properties - cardiovascular disease, cancers of breast, liver and cervix, egg-producing male fish, personality changes, sterility, miscarriages and STDs.
I know now, as my 69th birthday approaches, that the Church had wisdom about the terrible consequences the sexual revolution would bring - long before science began to identify them.
Submitted by L. P. February 2016.
Posted on: Tuesday, October 20, 2015
by s.f. (ny, ny)
When parents don't love each other, they don't love each others family. when they don't love each other's family, they don't love the family of their child. the child feels alone and can't show too much love or devotion to either side.
when the parents remarry and have children, they love that new spouse, and that new spouses family. the first child has to watch while the parent loves and gives preference to that new child's whole family.
this state can continue for the first child's entire life. watching the parents ignore 1/2 of the first child's family, and giving preference and love to the latter child's entire family.
i have lived this as the first child. the anger at the callousness and unfairness never really subsides. And then they wonder why you're angry and why you never really seem to "get over it."
when the parents don't love each other, they should just give the child up for adoption rather than making the child live like that.
Posted on: Saturday, February 14, 2015
Life growing up was never easy for me. Maybe it was my sensitive temperament. I was shy, and a bit of a tomboy. Consequently, I was never popular in school. It was hard, but at least I had my family to turn to, right? I always had my brother to play with, and on occasion, my cousins too. But eventually things turned sour.
Occasional arguments between my parents turned into late night screaming matches. And I cried at night, trying hard to pretend I was asleep.
My father was not the perfect husband. He was often harsh and critical of my mother. She would say it was verbal abuse. Perhaps it was. But my mother was not perfect either. She responded to my fathers criticism by seeking comfort in another man. While I was too young to know about sex and affairs, I knew something felt wrong when he was around. My mom claims to this day that he was just a friend back then. But do you really need to kiss or have sex to have a emotional affair?
My parents separated on my 9th birthday. I'm not sure it really sank in right away. My dad offered to go to counseling, but my mom felt it was useless or too late. They fought like cats and dogs every time they see each other. They would constantly bad mouth each other in front of me and my brother. Finally a couple years passed and the divorce was finalized. My mother was free to marry the man she had befriended. On the surface I tried to be happy for her. I longed to live in a house again and have some stability.
But deep down inside, I hurt, and I hurt badly. But I was good at hiding the hurt. I was secretly depressed. Now, things were not good at school or at home. I tried to stay positive, but quite frequently I wished I'd die. My step father was no parent. He would occasionally make sexual innuendos at me. I was scared to shower when it was just me and him in the house. I would often hide in my bedroom, the basement, or ride my bike for hours. My brother had moved back with my father. We would see each other on the weekly visits, but things began to change with us as well.
I felt like a only child. I would get offended when people mistakenly or purposely called me by my step father's last name. You see, my maiden name was the only thing left I had to cling to of my parents marriage, and I wasn't giving it up for THAT last name.
I prayed and prayed that the Lord would save me from this pain. He did answer my prayer, but the healing took a long long time. I am grown up now, married with a family. I still get occasional boughts of depression, due largely from the insecurities I developed growing up.
My mother is divorced again, my father eventually remarried. My parents "get along" now when they see each other at family functions. But still, I admit, I sometimes resent the fact that, while both sets of my grandparents had been married for 50+ years, neither sets of my kids' grandparents are still together. My husband's parents are divorced too. Its definitely a game changer. I looked up to my grandparents marriages. Who will my kids look up to? Yes the sun has set on my parent's marriage, and I have accepted that it will never be repaired. And while the wounds of my past are not fresh, I know the scars are still there. They will always be there. Kids may move "past it", but they do not get "over it". It molds us to who we are, and its not always for the better.
Remember this when you choose divorce over reconciliation.