Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Finding a New Identity

"In divorce, the beginning is the end--the last act in the theatrics of family, one final scene that steals away any reason for celebration."

"We are creatures of habit who rarely welcome change into our lives. Divorce thrusts change upon us, turning relationships we often consider the most stable upside down. It is a good-bye to the most familiar of things, including our own sense of self and the identities we have created for ourselves."

"Because our parents stayed together, happily or unhappily, for more than twenty years, many adult children of divorce believed that their families would continue to outlast others."

-The Way They Were, Brooke Lea Foster

I can definitely relate to the quotes above. That's why I recommend this book to anyone whose parents have gone through or are currently going through a divorce. It's the only book I've found that really focuses on adult children of divorce and the unique emotions we experience. I felt like the book was written especially for me and that gave me comfort. This book showed me that I'm not alone.

How many of us ACOD's can relate to the quote that talks about identity? For 20+ years our identity has been in our family. Now, that family is breaking up. Suddenly, you're left to piece together a new identity outside of your family. And that can be the hardest part.

I've really struggled to not find my identity in my parents' divorce. For the past two years, their problems have been my problems. And I've been miserable because of it. I've been trying to fix things for so long, that it's incredibly frusterating to realize they can't be fixed. My parents' marriage and what they choose to do with it is outside of my control, even though it impacts my life significantly.

So how do you form a new identity? First, by breaking away from your parents' situation. Most of us have been asked to get involved in some way--whether verball;y or nonverbally. Our parents will drag us into the mess by badmouthing one another or by telling you their side of the story just one last time for the hundreth time. Parents tend to confide in adult children when they're in the process of getting divorced, which makes it ten times harder for us. We discover things we never wanted to know. Details that shock us about our parents and their marriage. It's no wonder we can't keep ourselves from getting involved. When your world is being shattered, you at least want to do something.

But you can't. And learning to let go is the first step to forming your new identity.

As always, email me at acod16@gmail.com if you want to talk further.

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