In the movie The Truman Show, there is a point where Truman realizes that all around him has been staged. He realizes that he has not been allowed to truly be himself. Society has been controlling his life. With all the flair of the movies, Truman Burbank punches through the side of his fake world and finds a set of stairs with an exit door to the outside world. He must decide, does he move forward or stay put? No matter what he decides, from this point forward, life for all who crossed his life path will change... forever.
*****Relationships end, and unfortunately that is part of life. With a divorce, the collateral damage is more than one would expect.
I was not an idiot in raising my children. I realized that many more people get divorced now, as compared to when I was a youngster. I raised my children in an induced Utopian world: to only have friends who were in solid families. The old me defined "solid families" to mean their friends had two parents, who were together for the long haul. My thought process was, if I could give my children a good example with my marriage, and fill their lives with other positive role models, they could potentially escape the realities of the really world. Consequently, my children knew other kids whose parents were divorced, but they didn't grow up with those kids as close companions. Off the top of my head, I can think of only two of my son's friends whose parents were divorced by the time my kiddos were in high school. Mostly, my kids had friends who had intact families with parents who were always active in their lives. Unconsciously I sought out friendships with others who were married only. I did try to make a point of surrounding my own children with what I considered to be positive role models, as any caring parent might do. Right or wrong, I grew up in an intact family, and I wanted the same for my children and the future generations of my family who might follow.
Enter the Big D.
FACT: Divorce hurts all who were brought together by the bond of marriage.
Collateral Damage in my divorce: Two young adult children. My definition of a young adult (YA) is someone who is over the age of 18. There was also my ex's mom (my MIL), various siblings, and extended family. I'm only focusing on my young adults, as they are connected by blood and I have personal experience with them.
Studies have shown, when children are YAs, and their parents divorce, the YAs are more devastated than had the parents divorced when the children were younger. I firmly believe this to be true. As I have struggled with my own grief, my children have had their own problems to solve. I have been unable to focus on them. I do think about my children and what they might be experiencing, but I cannot help them work through what they need to work through.
I speculate, these might be a sampling of questions my YAs have asked themselves since May of 2013:
Are their memories real?
Was their youth all a farce?
Were they the reason that an unhappy person stayed?
As adults, can they trust someone now to stay with them, should they find a soulmate?
What do they need to do to have a healthy relationship?
What does a healthy relationship look like?
How do holidays work?
Where is home?
How can they stay out of the emotional battlefield?
I know I haven't made it easy on my YAs. Try as I might to keep my opinions bottled up inside of me, I exploded now and again. Less now then in the past, but I did unload from time to time. To my children, I truly am sorry. Please remember, I am human. I am not perfect. But I DO love you with my whole heart.
I hope my children never have to know hurt as I have. My children deserve to have their own relationships with their father, just as they are forming their own relationships with me. I have never wanted, or expected them to pick sides. That's not right, nor is it fair. As I raised my children, I never imagined they'd even think there would be a side to pick.
It's been 31 years since my father died...June 20, 1985. THAT was a devastating time in my life. I remember emotionally breaking with his death, and wondering if I would ever heal. I realized he was my father, and not my soul mate. My parents were married for 23 years when he died. I watched my mom, one incredibly strong woman, crumble to her knees but eventually rise again. After dad died, my brother and I were there for one another, and for our mom. I often discount my sister, but I don't mean to do that. She was five when our dad died. I know that she, along with therapy, were the reasons mom was able to go on living. Individually, and together, the four of us did heal. It took a long time, and a lot of outside support, but we did work through that loss. What helped me the most was that we were able to talk about missing dad, about the life we knew, and about what we had experienced together.
With a death, the good memories are shared over, and over, and over. That is not how it is with a divorce. My children and I do not talk about what happened. We cannot. Honestly, the good memories that I have from my 28 year marriage, I question. How can I not?...I didn't see our end coming initially.
Life has a way of happening the way it needs to though. A close friend recently told me, as she listened to me spill my thoughts, that surely I knew what I did during my married years was really, really good. She reminded me of my visible accomplishments...my children, and the adults they have become. She commented on how much I was able to give them over the years. She went on to say, something that I really all ready know, my ex wasn't growing with me, and he can't give me what I now need.
Truman Burbank stepped through the door, putting his feet into an unknown world and said, "In case I don't see you...good afternoon, good evening and good night." I imagine he had a lot of self discovery to do.
Unlike Truman, I do not feel society was controlling my life before I stepped through my exit door and entered this new stage. I know I am in a time of self discovery. I am continuing to learn who I am, what I enjoy, what I need, and what I want in life.
~Lisa Kroll, student of life, who is starting to possibly enjoy the ride.