Monday, February 6, 2012
A Different Kind of Self-Evaluation
I've talked a lot about how my life has changed since my parents' divorce. But one thing I haven't really discussed is how I've changed as a person since all of this happened. There have been a lot of changes in my personality, both good and bad. I lead a completely different life and I'm a completely different person. Sometimes I wish I weren't, but there's really no avoiding it. And in many ways I am stronger now than I ever was before.
I used to look at life as black vs. white. I thought I knew what was right and what was wrong and didn't understand the complexity behind human situations and emotions. I judged others who may have had less than desirable family lives and never thought anything truly bad could happen to me. Sounds annoying already, right? There were good points, too. I was a cheerful person with a zest and passion for life. I was always very positive and felt like my life was truly on track. I had my ideas about what I envisioned for my future and for the most part, felt positive that they would come true. I laughed a lot...the kind of laughter where you throw your head back and truly laugh from the inside of your stomach, until it hurts. I enjoyed spending time with friends and generally enjoyed my life.
A lot of that has changed now. To be completely honest, I don't laugh as much as I used to. I have difficulty having fun and truly enjoying myself. I view life in a more negative light and live each day with an underlying sadness. I'm more stressed than I ever was before.
Let me stop before I depress everyone. This is me being honest. It doesn't mean that good things haven't happened to me since my parents' divorce. It doesn't mean I don't enjoy my time with my husband or with my amazing friends. But as all of us ACOD's know, when something awful happens to your family's foundation, it's hard to be happy the way you used to. You've seen the breaking apart of a marriage, of a lifetime commitment. You've watched as your family battles one another like enemies at war and hurts one another with every word that's uttered. You've watched your family disintegrate -- how can you not live with sadness? Anyone who tells you to just "suck it up and be happy" knows nothing about the pain and the horrible things you've witnessed.
But let me tell you this: I am stronger now than I ever have been before in my life. I know what happens when life takes a different, more difficult path than you could ever have expected. I know what it means to feel hardened by pain and question whether you will ever feel like yourself again. I know what it means to explore God and His purpose, which I think is a good thing. And I know what the true hardships in life are, as opposed to stressing out over the tiny things in life that really don't matter in the long run. Have I completely risen above everything that's happened with my family? Definitely not. I'll spend the rest of my life rising above it. But I know I can do it. I've been able to build a marriage while watching a 25+ year marriage breaking apart. I've been able to succeed at work and become passionate about my career. I've fostered some amazing friendships with people who have been there for me in more ways than I can describe. And I may not laugh as much as I used to, but I still laugh. That's important.
Life is shitty sometimes. Everyone has their own difficulties to deal with. And while we can't change the circumstances around us, we can draw upon our own inner strength to help us keep plodding along, one day after another. We can use that strength to remember that there are still some things we can control, namely, ourselves. We can adapt to our new lives and even though they're not what we envisioned or hoped for, we can still make something of them.
Have you felt changed as a result of your parents' divorce? In what ways? Feel free to leave an anonymous comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to talk.