Since I was a little kid, I knew my parents weren't right for each other. I remember the endless nights of arguments full of screaming, and I would stay in my room and wait for silence before I would come out to see my mom crying every time.
It seemed like these nights would never end, and I felt helpless as I saw my mom suffering. I would keep her company after the fights, usually sitting on the floor of her room as she laid in her bed, tears sliding slowly down her cheek and falling off her face.
My dad wasn't physically threatening, but his words hurt, and I saw just how powerful they could be. My mom worked endless hours to provide for our family, and to come home late at night to an argument every day was not something she deserved.
Years later, when I was in college, my parents finally divorced. When it happened, I wasn’t surprised, and I thought it would be an easy process for them to recover from.
Little did I know, it was only the beginning of a harsh reality, and I would have to find the strength to grow up and help my parents overcome their battles.
Not all divorces are alike because no two marriages are exactly the same. Each divorce brings its own struggles and obstacles that can seem impossible to overcome. The worst part is that you don’t know when it’s going to happen, how long it will last or the rippling effects that will occur.
I have heard of horrible divorces, and I consider myself lucky to have not gone through those experiences. I never had to pick sides or be involved in any legal battles. Even so, I hope my story can help those who are experiencing or have gone through their parents divorcing.
When my parents divorced, I thought they would finally be happy, but I couldn't have been more wrong. I didn’t understand why they were both so depressed, and the only reason I could think of was that they didn’t have anyone to immediately move on to.
But that wasn't it. My parents had been married 23 years, and that's a huge amount of time spent getting used to someone, only to have to completely give up on the relationship.
Thinking of my past relationships, whenever I broke up with a girlfriend, it was incredibly hard, even if it was mutual. Whether I had been with that girl for a year or six months, getting my life together afterwards was always difficult.
When I thought more about my relationships, I realized they weren't much different from my parents'. They were once deeply in love and completely invested in each other, but much more than I have ever experienced.
It was difficult to witness the pain I saw them going through after 23 years of routine and investment of having each other there, even if they weren’t in love towards the end.
I understood I could never comprehend what they were going through, but I could be there and encourage them that life still had amazing opportunities for them to experience and grow as people.
Divorce is not just a period of moving forward; it's asking two people who had been so deeply in love with each other for years to find another identity.
When I realized this, I understood what I had to do. I had to not only be there for my parents, but I had to help them find who they are, find habits and routines they could incorporate in their lives to give them purpose.
No longer was my mom a wife or my dad a husband, and they struggled to reconcile that notion. Adding insult to injury, they would also have to face the social stigma of divorce.
They had lost their sense of identity and I had to be the rock that they could lean on until they found it. Now the question was, how was I to be said rock?
I was just a college kid trying to find myself, and now I had to help my parents do the same? No one else was going to be there for them, so I gave up on finding myself to help my parents move on with their lives. I learned to sacrifice my interests, routine and friendships to help them create their own.
I could never be 100 percent happy knowing that my parents weren't.
It was hard choosing to be around people who were so down on themselves and being the one they could always count on until they found themselves again. I didn't see my friends as much and I lost much of my social circle.
How do you explain to your friends that you're too busy helping your parents through their divorce to hang out with them? I was so used to my parents taking care of me, and for the first time in my life, I had to take care of them.
Years later, I realized it was the best decision I have ever made. I became such a strong support system for them that when I was finally able to focus on myself, I had an incredible ability to motivate myself and others and a new level of emotional strength.
I had become a man.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It