But what in the HELL does it look like when your parents split as you're getting married? Or birthing their first grandchild? I've seen enough examples at this point to say for sure that if there's a point in your adult life when you're more at risk of becoming an Adult Child of Divorce, you're either engaged, newlywed, or expecting a baby.
We're not supposed to take that personally? It doesn't have anything to do with us? Care to explain that to me?
I'm angry. Frankly I've been stuffing my anger all this time, and it's a major reason why despite being over 5 years in now I'm still so consumed by my parents' split. Nearly every time I write here I fear that anyone reading who's new to their own ACOD journey will find my current position and lack of progress either pathetic or terrifying. I often feel I should be more "healed" than I am. That's the truth, but this is where I am.
I've mentioned it in passing I think, but I was knocked up when I discovered my dad's affair with the woman he would eventually marry.
And when I say "knocked up," I mean it: new relationship, unplanned pregnancy. I was also living at home after coming home from college, and I had just been laid off. I moved into my boyfriend's house when I was 7 months pregnant, and he was abruptly thrust into a breadwinner position, carrying the mortgage and all the bills without the help of roommates for the first time. Neither of us had been married or even lived with a significant other before, and we had two months until our baby came. All around tough situation, right? Right.
So how my dad - how any parent - could look at birth as a finish line is beyond me. But he must have, because our son was about 10 days old when my dad told my mom their marriage was over. Could have done it the year before, could have done it anytime in the 9 months leading up to his grandson's birth, but no: he basically chose the moment I became a mother. Gee, Dad, thanks for linking these two events together. Thanks for the support, how thoughtful.
I thought I knew what grief was when my grandmother died when I was 16.
Then I thought I knew what it was when I lost a love.
Now I pray that this is it, that this is as hardcore as grieving can get. Because the idea of losing more than this to grief completely overwhelms me.
I didn't really realize it until our daughter was born three and a half years later, but I remember almost nothing of our son's first year. That hurts. That is unbearably precious time with your child. And I don't even remember it slipping through my fingers. I wasn't even watching for that; I was eaten up by grief.
It was time that would have already been very challenging for my boyfriend and I. Looking back, I feel like the added difficulty of my parents' divorce could have knit us together in a very intimate way. But it didn't; it just compounded everything. As I wrote yesterday, watching someone grieve takes superhuman compassion. I'm guilty of impatience with my mother's sadness. It's a discipline that might come naturally to a few - I don't know - but for me it is hard earned and faltering in its acquisition.
To say that my grief placed a major burden on my new commitment to my son's father is an understatement of epic proportions. Six years later, I am still shocked that we didn't break up, particularly during that first year. I hurt to an extreme. And it came out of me in indirect, careless fits and spasms, multiplied by the exponential cofactor of baby-induced sleep deprivation. I was eradic and vengeful and lonely and wounded and hormonal and guilty and sad and disoriented. I was selfish. I was mean.
And I knew it.
But things just kept on collapsing anyway.
And I swore up and down that wasn't who I was, but he didn't know me well enough to know for himself for sure. Every time I hurt he got more and more scared of who I might be instead, and I got more and more angry at his lack of support. And in that way, we entered a kind of vortex, and we have yet to climb out of it. I think we have made it farther than most would given the situation. The terror of someday doing to our children what my parents did to me is heavy, but so far we have survived.
Our relationship would be infinitely easier if I could just get over the divorce, honestly. Here's to that.