It is amazing how fast your life can change. I’ve watched people come and go in the blink of an eye. Monday someone can be the person crossing the world to help you and by Friday you are breaking in half because of the words and actions of the same person.
No one ever envisions his or her life with the heartache and the pain that comes with it. When someone asks you what your five-year plan is, you don’t include thoughts of breakups, deaths, depression, addiction, job loss. You envision all the great things that are coming your way, the family you wish to start, the new job you plan to chase, the new city you will move to and adventure or the degree you are working to complete.
Hindsight is 20/20. But if I look back 5 years, there is little that was included in the five-year plan. Heck, if I look back just over the last 16-months here in Korea, it amazes me how much everything changed – in my family, in myself, in my job. A year ago I would not have believed you if you had told me everything that was about to happen. In some ways, this last year has brought so much good – but in so many more ways it has brought so much pain.
As I prepare to spend five days at home for the first time since my parents finalized their divorce, I find a lot of emotion surfacing I did not know I had bottled up. The last time I was home, both parents were under the same roof. And while I knew the divorce was happening, the finality of it – two homes, two schedules, two separate lives – had not yet happened. Having to coordinate which days I get to see my mom and which days I get to see my dad, makes me sick to my stomach.
Wondering if everyone can come see me off the airport together was never a question I had to ask. Now I don’t even know how to coordinate a ride to the airport from a parent for fear of making one feel more special than the other.
And yet, as I think of the 5 days ahead, I find heartache in knowing my sister has to make the decision each and every day. The choice to sleep at dad’s over mom’s and will that impact their relationship down the road. What they don’t tell you about being an adult child of divorce (ACOD) is that the decisions most children have made for them (i.e. which house you stay at on which days) are the hardest, most heart wrenching ones you make daily. A child does not have to feel responsible for hurt or jealousy that may come with their choices. An ACOD does.
Being a world a way makes all of this that much harder. While some days I am grateful I have not had to face the changes head on, and can continue to live in my bubble away from it all, most days I am pained by not being able to help my family find its new normal. Because for each person, our reality has changed. Each one of us has to redefine what normal is in our family. But nothing, none of this, is normal.
The house that was my home has been remodeled. I am being asked if I want old wedding photos and family portraits…because that is not my parents’ life anymore, but somehow that is still mine. Old furniture that carries memories of a different time.
I am so excited for the new opportunities my parents are chasing. My dad is pursuing his Masters, he joined a running club, even applied for a cool job. My mom has an awesome new home on the water, with views of rolling hills, and she is off conquering her career and traveling the country meeting so many new people. I am incredibly grateful that in raising my sister and I, somehow my parents managed to raise not only daughters, but also best friends. I have my sister to lean on and she has me. We are not alone.
But to any other ACOD, who may feel they are facing change alone – you aren’t. We are here. To those who have more than a few months experience with this, I’d appreciate knowing how you pushed through after watching your world change without any control.
In discussing a book with a friend yesterday, he mentioned how the book explained that those who feel less control in the workplace are more stressed. I think the same stands true in life. Feeling like you have no control, like everything is changing around you, is stressful.
How did we get here? I really don’t know. Where will we go from here? I don’t know that either. But, in time, we will find our way. Hindsight is 20/20 right?