I hardly remember any part of my childhood where my parents were still happily married. And, I say “happily” because I’m not fully certain that they ever were. Maybe things like marriage and starting a family were considered ‘happy times’ because they were new and fun but beneath the excitement, I don’t know if they were ever truly happy together. I mean who am I to really say? I was just a child.
This most highlighted moment for me personally, was the day I heard my parents talk about divorce for the first time…at least the first time that my ears picked up on it. I was young, maybe 8 years of age and half asleep, uncomfortably sprawled across the back seats of my dad’s truck. We were on our way home from one of my all star cheerleading competitions (hence why I was tired & half asleep) and I was jolted awake every now and then by potholes in the road. After a bit, I stayed awake but continued to lay down. I heard my parents slightly hot in rallying conversation, talk about separation, “the kids”, “the house”, and all the other things they shared together in their life as a married couple. Due to my naivety, I wasn’t completely clear on what the context of this conversation meant for me, my brother, my parents or my reality as I knew it but I figured it was not going to be favorable.
Fast forward a bit, my Aunt Ashley flew from Dallas, Texas to visit us in THE California. She was young and had a lot going on herself, so coming here was an adventure, a way to explore, put her life on hold for a bit, and to simply visit me; her favorite niece. She loved it here and eventually her vacation turned into a permanent residency. She quickly & very conveniently became my best friend; we shared a room, we shared clothes (mostly me stealing from her side of the closet, sorry Auntie) and most importantly, she protected and shielded me from what potentially could have been the messiest part of my existence to date. I like to think that she taught me how to be good. How to just be a good person. How to be understanding and loyal. How to forgive. How to laugh at life, and never to take it too seriously. She covered my eyes and distracted me, led me to an even fuller heart than I had before, while in the whole process of my parents divorce, it could have been destroyed. I could never thank her enough for being there for me, whether by design or fate, during that time of our lives. After a few years, she unfortunately fell very very ill and had to move back to Texas, but we continue to be best friends.
Luckily, my brother and I were very fortunate. Our parents divorce was far from sloppy. It wasn’t drawn out like I had witnessed from my aunts & uncles; a scene that very carelessly damaged the majority of my cousins to this very day. It wasn’t dramatic and they were, responsively, very aware that this divorce would affect us more than it would them. I don’t think that I have ever audibly thanked my parents enough for making that whole process as painless as possible for us. But, I am so so so grateful. There were no money hungry brawls and there were no tug-of-war’s with houses, cars or belongings. It was a highly responsible recognition of differences, a realization that; for everyone involved, the separation would be necessary.
To this day, my parents get along fine and for that, I feel extremely blessed. I can’t imagine how my life would be if my parents hated each other. I can’t imagine being stuck in the middle of my two roots and being forced to choose a side. I cannot even begin to imagine that. But deeper than any of that, I really cannot imagine my parents even being together! I can’t speak too confidently because I wasn’t around for the beginning of their story; I don’t know who they were before me but I can only assume they were different versions of themselves. Maybe divorce changed them too, I’m sure having children did. But in realtime, today they are sooo different. Like, very very very different. They are almost exact opposites, like…..on complete other sides of the coin. (Can you tell I can’t stress it enough? Lol.) But, I love them for that, because as a product of their contrast, my brother and I are just like them in every single way.
Thank you Mom + Dad.
If you or someone you know is going through or has gone through divorce, or is just emotionally invested on the ride of one, the Samaritans have a confidential 24/7 hotline for emotional support. You can talk to them at any time by calling this number; (212) 673-3000