Child of Divorce


My whole life my parents fought a lot.  All the time, they would scream and yell at each other.  Mainly I just played by myself.  They both drank too much.  Most night they would go out and I was at my grandmothers, which was fine by me, since I was young and I thought this was how life was.  Other nights we would go to the horse races until very late at night.  I would fall asleep on the seats or just sit and color pictures of horses.  This was my fathers “job” and as far as I could tell he never really won.  I knew the phone numbers of all the town bars by heart because I would call and look for my parents if they were supposed to show up and were running late.  I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that my parents thought a child might help the relationship, I think it just added more strain.  My father had a normal childhood.  My grandparents were very loving.  My grandmother came from an abusive home with and alcoholic father and so they didn’t drink in my grandparents house and it hurt my grandmother to see my father drink like he did.  My dad has PTSD because he was shot at 18 and almost died, except back then they didn’t have PTSD as a diagnoses and so dad went untreated.  My mother lost her mother at a very early age and is very shy and I don’t think ever really knew how to make a mother/daughter bond.  I think she felt bad and over indulged me.  She had 3 jobs since my dad didn’t work and bought me the best clothes and every toy you could imagine.  But that doesn’t make up for disapointment or longing to have both parents.  I used to wish my dad would come home when we went to bed at night and of course he never did.  Last year my dad had to stay at my house for about a week and I slept peacefully because for the first time in my life my dad was home at bedtime.  You never outgrow being a child of divorce.  Your emotional needs aren’t met and I think it alters your development and relationships as an adult.  For one thing once I was a teen and living with my grandparents, I always found myself being friends with people who came from a large family and most likely the parents were still married.  It wasn’t until I was working after college, that I had friends whose parents were divorced.  I also have a very hard time trusting people enough to be friends.  All of my close friends I have known for over 10 or 20 years.  I always have this feeling that people will disappoint or abandon me, like my parents did.  It took me until last year to realize that my husband and I are a team and he supports me and will be there for me, and that I don’t have to do this all on my own.  Which is another set back of being an only child of divorced parents.  I am always the responsible one.  Back in college I was always the DD.  I am the one who plans things and keeps track of things.  I am the one who worries at night about everyone I know and prays for everyone.  I am the one who feels guilty if I forget to pay a bill on time.  I am never in relax mode.  I am the one who cares for my grandparents when their own children don’t, I remember my in laws birthdays when my husband doesn’t.  I have never in my life let someone else have to worry about me.  Even as a small child, I took charge of school assignments.  I don’t rely on people, I let them rely on me, because as a child my dad slept all day when I still lived at home and I took care of things myself- food and playing and getting dressed.  So I’ve just become self sufficent and sometimes it is annoying.  I remember being the only person at a party just sipping a soda and knowing I would be cleaning up after everyone and making sure everyone was ok and no one was driving home who shouldn’t be.  I am also super organized and totally clutter free.  My parents home was awful.  They never cleaned, never threw things out and so like our lives our apartment was a disaster area.  You also don’t think when you are an adult in your own home that these things effect you, but then one day some of them hit you.  I was cleaning my house and I was thinking why do I hate clutter so much and why am I so certain to keep the kids toys organized and then I remembered how awful my home was growing up and I realized that is where my drive for an orderly home comes from.  It is amazing how many things are ingrained in a child at such a young age.  That is why I am working on changing the patterns and trying to give my kids a nice normal childhood.

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