Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Parents' divorce = tough conversation

Well that's an understatement. I'd say it's hard to have a conversation at all when your parents get divorced. In fact, this is how some of my conversations with my parents went right after their divorce:

Mom: "Hi Honey, how are you?"
Me: "Good."
Mom: "What's new?"
Me: "Nothing."
Mom: "Are you okay?"
Crickets. (Clearly I was SO not okay.)
Mom: "Okay, well, I guess I'll let you go."
Me: "Bye."

I had nothing to say to her. I didn't even know where to start. How do you answer the question, are you okay? That's like asking, "I just hit you in the head with a shovel...oh and kneed you in the groin. How are you feeling?"

How am I feeling? Quite frankly, like shit (excuse the language, but just being as honest as possible.)

I used to wonder if it was just me. Are other ACOD's able to communicate with their parents naturally? Will I ever be able to communicate with them naturally again? Or has that been lost forever?

Luckily, I've begun to discover that the last question is not true. But my parents' divorce has certainly made communication much tougher. It's a struggle to keep my emotions in check when I talk to them. In the days, weeks and even months after their divorce, I just flat out didn't speak to my parents. I tried to forget that they even existed. Clearly, that didn't work. Because the truth is, I still need them in my life.

Things are different now. I have to put more energy and effort into my communication with my parents. Sometimes it's like a minefield, there are so many topics to avoid. But we're talking. And that's a start. It's definitely still a bit one-sided, as much of the conversation is focused on my life. But I'm starting to feel more comfortable asking them how they're doing. And yes, even talking about the divorce. I still tense up and I still get upset (and yes, even cry or yell), but I find that with every conversation, it gets a little bit easier. I've learned that I can have a conversation with my parents and still be in control. We don't have to talk about what I don't want to. If a difficult subject comes up, I can shut it down. I have the power to control how I react to the conversation and the direction I want it to go.

If you're in this situation and feeling like you need a break from talking to your parents, don't feel guilty. I took that break and it was good for me. It helped get me away from a really chaotic situation and sort out how I felt about everything. But a word of caution: don't let too much time go by without speaking to them. It will only allow bitterness to fester and may distance you from them in a really negative way. Only you can decide what kind of a relationship you want with your parents. Just make sure you're aware of the decisions you're making and how they may affect your relationship with them long-term. My advice? Keep the lines of communication open...if they're not operating at the moment. You never know when you may need them.

Need to talk, vent, cry, yell (through the virtual world), pout, sulk, etc.? I'm here. Just email me at acod16@gmail. Trust me, it's just as therapeutic for me to hear from you. Shows me I'm not alone, you know?


Serenity said...

I have had to put boundaries on what I do talk about with each member of my family now. Some I can talk about anything with. Others I need to remind them that I don't want to hear certain things. Others I want to talk to , but they won't talk openly about what has happened. Tough Conversation ...understatement...I AGREE!!!!!! Maybe crying and yelling would be easier and do a better job.....haha...not really...but it sure would feel good!!

MVroom said...

It sure would, Serenity! I seriously ask for patience every time I talk to my family, particularly about the divorce. Taking those few moments to take deep breaths and try to relax does help. Although that's not to say I don't still lose my cool and yell ;) It's a learning process, I guess.

Anonymous said...

My parents seperated right after Thanksgiving four years ago. Who knew that would be the last thanksgiving where everyone sat around the table from both sides of the family... I was 27 years old, married with a one year old child. Now birthdays and holidays leave dad out. At first, I invited dad to my son's 2nd bday party, but he was emotional and rude and my mom was trying to stay away from him, then told me after the party ended that she doesn't want him to come to any more family events. I understand why but it is so hard to see my dad pushed out. It all started over my dad's excessive drinking and their mutual money issues. They tried therapy and rehab throughout the years as I was growing up and I never even knew it. It was a big blindside to hear that my mom just couldn't take it anymore and that she had been suffering in their marriage for a long time. When my dad retired, his drinking increased and that was the last straw for my mom. I love my dad and I try to visit him seperately for every holiday and birthday. I take my kids to his house and visit. It feels like I just throw him a crumb while my mom gets everything. I tried not to choose sides but I eventually realized I chose mom, because she loves her grandchildren soo much...she has to see them and speak to them every day. She seeks them out and babysits and helps me and is my best friend. I trust her with my kids. I couldn't even leave my kids with my dad for an hour without worrying because he is soo emotionally unstable and or drunk nowadays. My dad, on the other hand, has bonded with old buddies of his. He is a great guy, loving and helpful, but when it comes to his wife and kids, he does not make healthy choices. my dad rarely seeks them out...maybe once every few months. He does not remembers their birthdays, but he also does not get invited to their bday parties, so I can't get mad at him for that. I will always love my dad and be grateful for being a part of my life growing up, but as an adult, it is distant and strained and unhealthy. It is sooo depressing.

Janay Stiles said...

Well, divorce is never an easy thing to accept, much less overcome. And it’s good that you mustered up the courage to open the communication lines to your parents again. Not taking to them wouldn’t help at all. Talking to someone close to you can certainly help release some of the emotion built up during and after the divorce. The release is good for your emotional and mental health.


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