I had a class cancel today, so I took a seat at the table in the commons area to do some work. A young lady approached the young man that had been sitting there and struck up a conversation regarding his girlfriend, “Hey there. What’s going on, girlfriend problems?” she asked. He told her that ‘technically’ she wasn’t his girlfriend as he had just asked her if they could take a break. He talked about how she’s just so hard to be in a relationship with. His words seemed shaky. He appeared to be genuinely upset and uneasy. My peripheral vision caught a glance, as I never lifted my head from my laptop.
He then went onto to tell the young lady, that he just found out that his mom and dad were getting a divorce. The girl replies, “Yeah, my mom called me the other night to tell me that she and dad were getting a divorce. They worked it out but still that really freaked me out. That’s a call I just don’t want to get.” He replied, “Yeah, it really, really sucks.” This time I really wanted to see his face. As I glanced up from my laptop – appearing as if I was checking on the weather by glancing in that direction – I could see the despair on his face was deeper than what I had heard in his voice.
He was trying to study for a test that would be taking place in just a few minutes but was obviously too distracted by his emotions to do so. It was time for him to head to class so as he put his pen down, he says out loud, “Relationships suck.” He looked up to see if I was looking at him.
I was. I gave him a simple compassionate smile of affirmation.
He went on to say, “I mean, they’re just so hard.” I took that as a request to respond so I did. As he shoved his notebook into his backpack I told him, “I agree 100%. They ARE extremely hard.” I waited for him to look at me again and said, “but the things that require hard work are most often the BEST things.” He smiled and continued to pack up.
Shoving his books in his backpack he said to me, “I thought we’d be one happy family forever unlike most of my friends.”
I went on to tell him, “If it’s any consolation, my husband and I were divorced for 4 years and then remarried. So it is possible.”
“Really?” he asked. I nodded and said, “Yes. Really.”
He left for class. “Thanks for your kind words,” he said.
“Any time. Keep the faith and good luck on your test,” I replied.
I sat there a bit numb. This is the second time this week I’m witnessing a child’s hurt due to divorce.
Earlier in the week I was reading a paper that our daughter had written for her composition class. She wrote about the impact her parent’s – her dad and I – divorce had on her upbringing.
“I was a very confused child as I was growing up. In the years that I truly developed into who I am today, those were the years that I feel like I had little guidance. My parents, whom I depended on the most then, weren’t always around as much as they are now. In my early years, I became extremely independent.”
She was one month shy of turning 4 when her dad and I divorced.
“The four years that they were divorced were the years that I really developed as an independent individual; I loved being on my own, and I still do. I think that my parent’s divorce ultimately shaped who I am.”
Reading her paper, I found myself with tears in my eyes as the shame and regret backed up in my throat. And then just a few days later as I witnessed this young man and his pain, the tears and emotions returned. I felt it all over again.
Even though my daughter got her parents back as one, I still remember and can feel the hurt that our divorce had caused.
Whether you’re 4, or 18, or 35, it truly doesn’t matter what the age, divorce hurts children. And impacts them for life. And while that hurt is so very real, so is the hope that reconciliation can and does happen.
I will continue to use these experiences to remind me of my path and purpose, and that’s to share the hope of reconciliation and commitment – and with a vengeance!
This is BETTER NOW. This blog, this purpose. To invoke a desire to break cycles.
To become… BETTER NOW.