Tell Ruth the Truth

This is a moderated blog is a project of the Ruth Institute. Have a story to share? We're listening.


The grass isn't always greener

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.


I never thought to question the morality of abortion.

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.



A Prodigal Son's Tale

The uproar over the Obergefell decision by the Supreme Court, as well as over the Planned Parenthood videos of aborted infants, has brought to light in my heart the brutal, circular journey I myself have made from devout Catholic school boy of the 50s to passive, liberal “hippie” of the 60s and 70s, and back to recommitted catholic – a gradual process that started in the 80s and continues to this day.

Specifically here I feel called to reveal the mindset that allowed me to rationalize my participation in two abortions of my own children with two separate women during my 20’s – not in the form of a confession, but to illuminate how pernicious this type of thinking has become in our culture, and how difficult it can be to overcome without a foundation in faith.

I was in the mid 70’s a young man attempting to make a living as a songwriter and musician in Los Angeles. I met a young Hispanic woman who was bright, articulate and as totally engaged in the whole drug culture and sexual revolution as I was. We began an intimate relationship that resulted in the conception of a child. When she gently notified me of this event I did the typical male prevarication thing and we ended up deciding to seek an abortion. I say “we”, although I’m pretty sure in retrospect that was not the solution she was hoping for. So I gave her the money, she had the abortion and our relationship ended rather abruptly.


I eventually met my future first wife around 1977, a woman who had grown up in an abusive family environment as the only daughter of a pedophile father and violent mother. We moved in together and in a very short time she became pregnant. I remember the look of disappointment in her eyes as we discussed the inconvenience this child would place on our lives. This time I was an active participant in the murder. I clearly remember sitting outside the door and hearing the whirring and sucking sounds of the machinery as our child was removed from her womb and disposed of like so much trash – or possibly, as we now know, sold off in pieces to some research lab. I saw the raw effects on the mother immediately as she came out of the recovery room to be driven home by me, her accomplice. She was absolutely devastated by the experience and for several days nothing I could say or do was any comfort to her.

Eventually we moved on, got married and had two beautiful boys, although the marriage was very stormy and ended several years later in a bitter divorce. As I began to recover from my profligate life and tried to guide my children through the treacherous rapids of the post-divorce world, I started to feel the tug at my heart every time I became intimate with a new woman. But I eventually realized that my behavior was inconsistent with my beliefs, and I struggled with celibacy, slipping many times before falling in love with a woman who understood my dilemma and was willing to support a Christian courtship.

I am now over 30 years clean and sober and married to that same wonderful, faithful woman, who is a Catholic convert. We are active in our church and community and have started a very successful bible study in our parish. I have at long last accepted that human sexuality is not the ultimate physical/spiritual experience I formerly thought it to be, but only a dim reflection of man’s participation in God’s unending creative glory. Used morally, a very great good – used immorally, a very great evil. But the tale bears telling if for no other reason than perhaps the chance to stir the consciences of other folks like me who were led astray and now find their lives empty of meaning as they pursue the gods of mammon – yet may still hope to find the one God of the universe ready and waiting to love and forgive them.

My constant prayers go with them.

Submitted October 2015 by J. L.

When parents don't love each other

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.


Hidden Pain

by c.a.w.

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.

 


Parental Alienation Syndrome

by Heather B. (Maryland)

My Experiences with Parental Alienation Syndrome

I still remember standing at the top of a sloping gravel driveway. My sister stood beside me; I was uncertain of the words we were trained to speak. As the black pick-up truck made its final ascent to our front door, I look at my sister. I look at my mother who is wearing an expression on her face, which I now identify as smug. Her eyes prod me and I fear not having the courage to say what I know in my heart is wrong, because the emotions I am feeling are hurt and fear.

As my father pulls his truck to a stop and peers out the window at us, my sister and I say simultaneously, “We don’t want to see you!” My father glares at my mother. He speaks no words. He stares at us. Does he see the fear in our eyes? What is he thinking? Tears well up in his eyes. He backs down the drive-way. I watch until his truck is gone and then I listen until I can hear his engine no more. I cry. I am seven-years-old.


It is May 2011, the month of Mother’s Day. It is the last time I will see my daughters for a while for they are moving with their father to another state—I sent them to him, because he has more money than I do; he can give them a better life. My ex-husband assures me that our pick-up spot is the same time and same place. It is the day of our rendezvous. I call. My ex-husband tells me that my daughters—who are age 7 and 9—do not want to see me. I am speechless with disbelieve. Our mother-daughter relationship is stable. Our visits have been joyful. I find my voice. I don’t believe you. It is your duty as their father to be supportive. How can you allow our children to decide our visitation arrangement? Oh, I see, you talked to your mother and she approved this message. I’m angry. I want to talk to my daughters. Their small voices carry across the air waves to my ear. Their voices communicate fear. I try to keep the steel from my voice. Pack your bags. I am coming to get you. It’s our last weekend together. And then I hear the words just as my sister and I said them so many years before, “We don’t want to see you!” The pain rises with the tears. I force my voice to remain calm. I now know what I have done. I will do no more damage. It’s okay. Mom loves you. Good bye.

I would not talk to my daughters for four months. I decided to stay out of their lives until they were old enough to make the decision to be in my life, until he could not use them as a weapon and damage them further. I don’t know if it was the right decision, but I was poor—as I am now—and I could afford no one to advocate my right in this joint custody arrangement. I had to trust that time would heal the wound. I didn’t know what my ex-husband and his wife said about me during that time of silence. I didn’t know if my daughters would ever want me in their lives again.

The Devastating Effects of Feuding Parents

At the time of this incident, I was studying Parental Alienation Syndrome in a graduate course. I had never heard the term. It was fascinating and terrifying to see the dynamics of my estranged relationships in the text I read. I believe this new knowledge kept me from destroying my relationship with my children. I believe it allowed me to do my part in maintaining their innocence even though there is inevitably a loss of innocence when facing the reality that:

1. Your life will never be the same and…
2. Safety is not guaranteed or given, but a quality to be sought

That is what divorce teaches children. I want you to know that poor parenting hurts children and causes so many mental health issues. Poor parenting is the reason our society has distorted moral values. Please heed what I am telling you. Examine your parenting methods. Research proper parenting techniques. Find your weaknesses. Don’t deny that you have them. Do it for your children. Put your children before yourself…before they grow into a distorted version of who they were meant to be.

To read my chapter on Parental Alienation Syndrome, visit: analyticalperspective.wordpress.com

 


Lifelong Grief

by Alysse E. (Raleigh, NC)

My divorce story begins with an image of my father, curled up underneath my baby bed while I slept, whispering a tearful goodbye. Later that night, he would beg my mother, “Please, don’t take her away.” Because I was only two when my parents divorced, I have no actual memory of this moment. But my mother has shared it with me enough times that it feels like a real memory. I clung to this image as a child, and in some ways it fed my fantasy that my parents might have stayed married, if only she had allowed him to stay.

Whenever I heard this story, it always struck me that my father did not say, “Don’t leave me,” but only, “Don’t take her away.” My Lebanese father viewed their troubled marriage through the eyes of a culture where family ties are strong and divorce is rare. He believed they could find a way to work things out so that I could stay in his home, even if the marriage was bad. But that was not enough for my American mother, who had grown up in a turbulent home where her own mother had stayed too long in an unhealthy marriage “for the children.” After all, it was 1976, and the culture was shouting that getting out was the best thing to do—that she deserved better. What my parents did not realize at the time is that divorce never works out for the better—especially not for the children.


 

Nearly 38 years later, I am still grieving the loss of my parents’ marriage. The divorce left me fragmented, vulnerable, angry, and, in some ways, homeless. I am always half empty—longing for the family I will never have. When they divorced, my mother and father broke up our little family, but what neither of them realized at that time is that they also broke me in two.

Tug of War. Both my parents love me dearly. Even after the divorce, I never doubted their love for me, not even for a moment. But that love was a double edged sword in some ways because they were always competing for me. For most of my childhood, I felt torn between my them, and their two worlds.

Because my mother had primary custody, I saw my father on weekends and holidays. I always felt guilty when I spent time with one, or like I had to hide my feelings of love for the other. I would miss my mother when I was at my father’s house, and when my father would drop me off after a visit, I would feel like my heart was being torn from my chest every time we said goodbye (I still feel that way to this day!). At a school event, I would be so happy to see my father in the audience, but when he came backstage to give me a hug, if my mother and her new husband were nearby, I would hang back, fearful of showing too much emotion, and perhaps hurting my mother’s feelings. That tug of war feeling has never gone away.

My parents’ divorce also robbed me of precious time with my father that I will never get back. Growing up, my father always tried to squeeze as much time as he could into our summer visits, and the every other weekend I saw him during the year. Once he had a new family, our time together was more limited. Nearly every visit, we would have one “date night,” where we could just be by ourselves. As much as I treasured these moments, they were never enough.

In addition to lost time with my father, I lost someone to protect me from the men my mother mistakenly brought into our lives in her (understandable) search for love; I lost someone to affirm me as a woman during the awkward and painful pre-teen years; I lost someone to greet and grill my potential boyfriends; I lost someone to comfort me when my heart was broken; and I lost strong arms to hold me when I fell and to encourage me to try again. Today, when I see my little girl run to greet my husband at the door, when I see her smile as he picks her up and twirls her around, I grieve for all the moments I lost with my father that I can never get back.

Homeless. The divorce of my parents also robbed me of a real home. Sure, I have my mother’s house or my father’s house. But I mean “home” as that one place where you feel safe and you truly belong.

Growing up with my single mother and two siblings, life was chaotic most of the time. There always seemed to be some kind of traumatic event happening, either with us or other family members. My mother did her best to provide a safe and stable home for us, but on and off throughout my life, there was a man in the house who was not my father. Some of these men were married to my mother and others were not. A few were decent guys, but at least one—the one who stayed the longest—left me fearful and distrustful of any other man who walked through our door. During these years, I experienced a lack of control over my world that left me always anxious and eventually bitter. That changed my perception of home, and limited my ability to feel safe (and relaxed) there.

In some ways, my father’s home was different—more stable. Although I never felt unsafe, I always felt like an outsider. While he and my siblings from his second marriage always welcomed me with open hearts, it was my stepmother’s domain, where I was reminded that I was “the other child,” the outsider from his first marriage, not really part of his new and forever family. This feeling was reinforced for me a few Christmases ago, when my stepmother asked everyone to gather for a family picture. When my father beckoned us over to get in the shot, she said quickly, “Not them!” I remember my father’s face turning red with rage, as he hissed, “What is wrong with you!” On one hand, I can’t really blame my stepmother for wanting to have one picture of just their family. But where does that leave me? It is impossible to forget these moments, which happened throughout my childhood, but this one stung even more because it involved my children.

Broken Family Ties. Divorce also means that my two children will never experience my mother and father as Grandpa and Grandma. Nearly nine years after the birth of my first child, my parents have never been in the same room together with my children. My kids will never know what it is like to have their real grandparents, enjoying them, as a couple. And I will never be able to witness even a moment of them doting on my children as only biological grandparents can. Instead, I get broken bits and pieces—my dad with the kids, my dad and my stepmom with kids, or my mom by herself.

The reality of this loss hit me like a brick one Christmas, when we were driving home from staying at my father and stepmother’s home. I was on the phone with mom, sobbing about the emptiness I felt from the visit. It reminded me of the way I often felt as a child during summers with my dad—half empty, jealous, unsatisfied, and longing for more. As I talked with my mother, I looked over at my daughter sitting beside me in the backseat, and it dawned on me how much I desired something I would never have—to spend a holiday with just my parents and their grandchildren. “It breaks my heart,” I told her through tears, “that our children will never have you and Baba (my father) together—they will never know what that feels like!”

Longing. When I was about four years old, my father and mother briefly considered getting back together, mainly because I was having a “hard time” with the divorce. During this period, we spent one glorious day together at a local park—just the three of us. I can still see my parents smiling and holding hands. That was probably the happiest day of my life. They eventually decided against reconciling, and my father married my stepmother shortly thereafter. I was not invited to the wedding, and I later learned that it was because she did not want him to be reminded of his “old life.”

Today, I still treasure that brief moment of family togetherness. My parents’ divorce left me with an unresolved longing for their reconciliation, even though as an adult I understand what drove them apart. Their marriage was probably doomed from the start, mainly due to cultural differences, unfaithfulness, neglect, and traumatic circumstances (the first six months of my life, we were trapped in Lebanon during the beginning of the civil war). Even though I cannot imagine them still married, I will never get over my natural longing for them to have stayed together.

Lifelong Grief. Once, when I was complaining about my parents’ divorce to a friend (who comes from an intact family), she responded, “You are always talking about your mom and dad getting a divorce!” Maybe it was the way she said it, but it was like she was saying, “Why don’t you just get over it?” At the time, I was too stung by her words to answer, but if I could go back, I would tell her that my parents’ divorce is the worst thing that ever happened to me.

Divorce is the end of a child’s family. My family—the biological mother-father family that God used to make me—ended the day my parents said, “I don’t.” Yes, I have a family, and new and lasting relationships with my siblings from my parents’ second (or third) marriages, and for these things I am thankful.

But I do not have the two people who created me. No alternative or additional family, no matter how loving, will ever replace what I lost. Nothing will repair the broken cord that was my parents’ marriage and now is not, and nothing can change the fact that my children will never know their grandparents as a married couple. I am all that is left of their marriage, and like their marriage, I am broken.

For me, the legacy of divorce for children is lifelong grief. It comes back in waves throughout your life, and it impacts your own children in ways you do not expect. And no, you never get over it.


3rd times a charm

by Ashtin (Iowa)

My dad

My dad

My biological mother and father had only known each other 6 months when they had their shotgun wedding, which my mother was 5 months pregnant at. They were young, even though my mom had Curtis(6)( my brother from a previous marriage) already, Logan was born, then myself.

But at the age of 2 my parents got a divorce I assume for the same reason any Hail Mary marriage doesn't work out. And by the time the final court date my mother was 3 months pregnant with my little brother keeton (the product of Darren and my mom). They end up getting married, and my mom got custody of Logan and I, so under one roof there was 7 people (Darren had two kids from a previous marriage)and two dogs. We saw our dad and Jenn (my moms ex BFF and my dad's new girlfriend/assistant) on weekends, but Darren hit mom a lot and spanked Logan with the metal part of the belt, and me... I don't talk about it, but he was always nice to me calling me sweetie and daughter.


So after mom finally had enough of the beating she left, swearing off men forever but there were still problems and mom signed over custody to my dad and jenn, and then my dad quit his high paying job and laid around all day but my step mom jenn took us to day care because she didn't feel dad was in the right state of mind (drugs) to care for us. So we moved back to Iowa to live with our grandparents till dad got enough money to move into a house of our own. Jenn didn't come with. :(.

Grandma and grandpa are fantastic people!! Hands down the only example if a real relationship I ever have seen. But my mom lost contact with us, we didn't hear from her for 6 months, jenn had come to Iowa after 2 months apart. We got a house and I was doing well in school, and even though I called jenn "mom" there was always an emptiness I felt. My older brother Logan idolized my mom, me on the other hand wanted answers, why doesn't she want me, I am her only baby girl. What possibly could I have don't wrong to make her give me up! But she and Gary (her boyfriend) and keeton showed up on our door step. Shocked and already had come to terms I'd never seen them again. I was hesitant to trust again. But Logan he was head over heels joyed at this.

So we went and had lunch and they left back to Kanas city. We didn't talk for 6 months after that, but when we finally did, we saw her every summer and Christmas break, she would call logan all. The time and I was lucky to speak with her once a month. Logan was always the problem child so I was always put on the back burner. Well my mom moved to Texas with Gary (now husband, really nice guy) and we continued seeing them. But in the summer of 2012 we got back to Iowa and Jen and dad had gotten a divorce. I was crushed! Jenn was my best friend. My brother logan who had always had a problem with authority ran off and started doing heavier drug and left me with just the depressed sobbing angry mess that I called "Dad." I was often put in the middle and heard horror stories about the both of them! And to top it off my mom called and said she couldn't afford to have us done for Christmas. I am 17 now and haven't seen her since that summer. We talk sometimes. I still see jenn regularly.

My life is gravely impacted by divorce. I have never been in a real relationship. I go for guys that treat me like dirt because honestly I've never known anything else. I go into deep depressions, and sometimes I'm perfectly normal. I don't want love to destroy me like it has done my family. So yes I'm terrified of marriage and love, and growing up because what I've seen is only hurt and hell comes out of it all. Life isn't suppose to be lived like this but I keep myself from getting hurt. I just wish someone understood.


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.

 


Too Bad They Didn't Realize This 40 Years Ago...

by CTW (Illinois)

1973 - two years before the divorce

1973 - two years before the divorce

My parents divorced when I was 9 years old. I've written 2 brief reflections on my experiences and contributed them to this site:

http://www.marriage-ecosystem.org/the-myth-of-divorce-as-the-way-to-solve-all-your-problems.html

http://www.marriage-ecosystem.org/turned-out-all-right.html

And now I have an addendum. My dad's third wife passed away a few months ago (in early 2014). In the aftermath of the third wife's death, my dad sold their house in Florida and prepared to move back up the Chicago area to be nearer to the children from his first two marriages. To everyone's surprise, my mom drove down to Florida with him to help him pack up the house, take things to Goodwill, deliver other items to the deceased wife's relatives, and so on. And then they drove up here to Illinois and now live in my mom's house together.


They seem to get along. They call each other "sweetie" and "love." They go shopping together. They have bought some new furniture. They are preparing a trip overseas to visit relatives. They behave like any retired couple.

All of this has taken place with no explanation, no announcement, no acknowledgement that this might be a little strange or even painful for their adult children. Every time I see them together, I think to myself, as I watch them fixing each other tea and sandwiches or whatever, "How come you didn't realize 40 years ago that you could actually get along? Don't you realize that your reconciliation is 40 years too late? At least two generations -- your offspring and their offspring -- are negatively impacted by your selfish choice of 40 years ago and now you waltz around acting like nothing happened, and we're all supposed to be so happy for you."

I am old enough and jaded enough to know not to bother saying any of the above to either of them (especially my mother -- she's the one who denies that the divorce had any serious impact on my brothers and I, since "we turned out all right") but I cannot help feeling bitter about this latest development.