Experiencing the Effects of a Divorce
“All those bad kids, they all have divorced parents”. I remember once hearing my mother say this when I was in 3rd grade. I didn’t understand why she would say something like that. After hearing my mom’s statement, I grew up thinking that if a kid had divorced parents, he would be bad. And she thought no “normal” families had divorced parents.
When I was about fifteen my parents started to act really strange. My father would come home from work and sit on his blue recliner chair in the living room. He would sit there for hours and not speak to anyone in the house. Just sit there and stare and drink his coffee, smoke his cigarettes and stare some more. It was the strangest thing. My mom and sisters would live their lives as if nothing were wrong. We continued to argue over who was going do the dishes, who was stealing each others clothes, the use of the phone, and what we were going to watch on TV. Our lives continued the way it had always been, except that my dad was not involved. I could not figure out why this was happening and neither could my sisters. We never questioned it. It was almost like it was an every day thing or it was expected. This went on for weeks.
Every night before I went to bed I would go give my dad a hug and tell him good night. I still remember his arms would shake and he would hug me back like he was never going to let go. I now realize, that is because I was the only one who would come to give him a hug or even talk to him.
As all of this was going on I noticed that my mom began to act a bit strange too. After dinner was made she would leave us to eat alone. Instead of eating with us, she would go down to the basement and talk on the phone. I was not sure whom she was talking too, but I knew she didn’t want anyone to know.
I do not remember exactly how I found out my parents were getting divorced. I remember saying “but I’m not a bad kid…this cant happen, my family is normal”. I just couldn’t understand why this would happen. Even though I was fifteen years old, this thought of bad kids, divorced parents, and abnormal families remained in my head. Later, we found out that when my mom talked on the phone during dinner, she was talking to her boyfriend. This made me extremely angry. I wondered how could she have done this.
My dad decided to move out of the house and into an apartment. So, during the separation, I was my dad’s only friend. All of my sisters were just angry that my dad excluded himself the last few months that our parents were together. They saw that to be the reason for my mom cheating. My sisters felt that my dad was abandoning us. I felt bad for him, and blamed my mom for what she had done. I helped him out.
My dad and I went and picked out the apartment together. We decided to choose an apartment that was close to my high school. Another reason why we choose that particular apartment complex was because I had a few friends that lived there. This was important to my dad. He wanted me to be happy. Since my dad had no sense of decoration, the two of us also went shopping together to pick out curtains, bed sheets, dishes and accessories. The day that he moved out I took off school to help. Besides the mood that was already set because of the situation, it was rainy and gloomy outside. I was there with him through it all. It seemed as if I was the only one who cared.
After a couple of weeks, I started to get used to my new room at dads house and I liked it. My mom noticed that I was spending more time with my father than her. Although she tried to make it look like she wasn’t upset, I knew she was. I didn’t feel bad, after all she was responsible for this unfortunate event. We had a couple of talks about the time that I spent at my dad’s house. She would get mad and say that he was the one who left us and that it was “appauling that a man would leave his wife and four children”. I didn’t want to hear this so I didn’t listen. I would get up and walk out of the room. This upset my mom.
One day, during one of our talks, she had asked if I had met my dad’s girlfriend, Jeanne yet. My dad never mentioned a woman named Jeanne so, I wondered who she was. Then that’s when my mom told me. “Jeanne is your fathers girlfriend”. Automatically I thought “dad has a girlfriend, already?”. My mom saw the look on my face and began to further explain “your father and his girlfriend have been seeing each other for quite some time now”. I thought to myself “it couldn’t be that long, they’ve only been separated for 3 ½ months”. So, I asked her how long. Sometimes I wish I had never asked. But now, I am glad I did. When I was fifteen, my father and his girlfriend have been dating for fourteen years. Which means, my dad was cheating on my mom almost my whole life. This was hard to comprehend. How does your own father keep a secret like this for so long his family? Although there is no way that this was an excuse my mother for cheating, it did give me a better understanding for the reasons why my mom did cheat. At this point I did not know how to think or act. I realized that it was pointless to be mad at both of my parents. This was their fight and as far as I was concerned, it did not involve me.
This changed my whole perspective on my parents divorce. I kept telling myself that things happen for a reason and that this was for the best. It was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I can say that after my dad moved out, everyone seemed to be so much happier. I lived near all of my friends. I had friends at my moms and dads house. My mom started to allow my sisters and I to have our friends over all the time and my dad allowed me to stay out as late as I wanted, so it was always fun. I thought it was cool that I had two houses with two totally different sets of rules. Since my dad was not there to pay bills any more, my mom asked me to get a job for my spending money. At first I was mad that I needed a job but on the other hand I started to feel more independent. I started my first job at Oak Crest Village retirement community and I always had money. I loved not having to bug my mom and dad for money anymore. Before my parents divorce, I had everything done for me. Because of this job, I became a much more responsible person. I learned not only how to take of myself but other people as well.
I think that this event in my life changed the way I see other people. I no longer put people in a stereotype because of their parent’s marriage status. I also realized that no families are normal. The ones that look the most normal are probably the ones with the most problems. I think that my mothers opinion on divorced parents and bad kids were her reasons for staying with my dad. Perhaps, she was concerned about what her friends or parents would have said. To me, this does not matter. Because of this, I would never deal with something that will cause pain to other people eventually for the pure sake of my reputation or what people will think.
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