Divorce is hard on everyone, especially children. After the initial shock of the announcement, the anger came. Sadly my marriage had ended due to infidelity and my very nosey teenager quickly learned the truth. While her dad was off traveling the planet with his new “love”, I was the recipient of extreme outbursts of anger. These included my clothes ending up in the alley and many things being burned and destroyed. I walked on eggshells those first few months, never knowing what I’d come home to or how quickly the mood would swing and how far. At times I wanted to get in my car and drive far far away, never to be seen or heard from again. But being the mother that I am, as well as a child of my own parent’s divorce, I was all too familiar with the pain my daughter was dealing with. I knew those outbursts weren’t necessarily aimed at me, but she felt safe with me and safe isn’t always pretty. We’ve all heard the phrase, “you always hurt the ones you love”.
I would confide her behavior to well-meaning people, yes she was in counseling, yes I had considered medication, yes at times we had very wonderful heartfelt conversations, but other times her rage took over and I truly believe she had no control over it. I would hear many times how “resilient” kids are. I was never quite sure what people meant and I’m not even sure now.
According the dictionary, resilient means “Able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions”. Hmmmm withstand? Well yes, I suppose they withstood the stress of it all. As hard as it all was, they are still standing. Recover? Is there really any recovering from divorce? Transforming, growing, changing, yes, but recovering? It’s not like getting the flu where you eventually “feel back to normal”. Normal is something different after divorce, it’s the “new normal”. Sure it’s altered and in so many ways even BETTER than my old normal but it’s not a recovery. And “quickly”? Now that one makes me laugh. As humans we are so fast to want to assign time limits to things. Everyone processes things at their own pace and we need to understand and respect that process. Sure I’ve been divorced two years now, but does that mean there’s some magical removal procedure of 18 years of memories with someone I loved? No. I still get sad. I may even get a tinge of sadness here and there for the rest of my life. Who knows? Divorce recovery isn’t quick or easy.
The divorce changed all of us forever. My kids are not the same as they were before nor will they ever be again. They didn’t “bounce back”, they simply moved forward in the ways they knew how. They have grown and learned and transformed like I have. We have our “new normal” and I am proud every day of the astonishing humans they are. They are strong and loving and brave and amazing, but resilient? That’s not the word I would use.
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