Divorce: Rift Between Parent and Child

I always expected my parents to divorce at some point. I didn’t know when, and I thought it had been long overdue, but I was pretty certain it would happen. Naturally, then, when it happened, it was quite unexpected. It was in a year when I thought they were fighting the least. They seemed to have a few common interests or things they liked to do together and it seemed as if, instead of opting for a divorce, they had settled on living the rest of their lives in this peace agreement. Nonetheless, the announcement did not shock me. It didn’t particularly feel like my world shattered. I didn’t particularly feel much in general and the only thought that was very clear in my head was: ‘This isn’t too bad. I’m living with depression. Nothing can ever get as bad as what I’m already facing.’

And so they split up; my dad left the house and started living god knows where; my sister opted to live with grandma pretty quickly; mum found a new romantic interest.

My internship at the time continued as normal, my depression didn’t particularly improve or worsen and the sun kept on rising each morning. The only thing that did suddenly change was the fact that everyone wanted to talk to me. Suddenly, both my mum and dad felt the need to talk and for the first time in years I opened up. I told my dad about my depression (as he didn’t understand how this divorce couldn’t possibly be affecting me – and we went to the doctor), and I told mum and dad that I felt like they hadn’t been listening to me for years. There were a lot of issues that suddenly needed to be talked out and all of a sudden, I found myself in life-changing fights with my parents.

I predicted the divorce and I knew that my parents wouldn’t stay friends with one another afterwards. I knew that my sister would be devastated and perhaps not understand, but I never expected the change in my relationship with my mum, dad and sister.

To be clear, I did not feel like I had any relationship with my family before the divorce. I did not feel like a part of this family and I did not feel a lot of affection towards any of them (apart from the: they are my family and therefore I love them sort of thing). I had more or less cut them out of my life because the way that our family functioned back then was toxic for me. Therefore, it’s not as if I was afraid of anything since I had nothing to lose and at first it seemed like I grew a much better bond with my dad and mum individually than before. However, once the issues from the past surfaced this changed. In my memory, we fought quite a lot but kept talking, at least. But then, fairly quickly after the divorce, I broke contact with my dad. I was so angry and hurt that I hoped he would miss my 18th birthday (which was still about 9 months away), but we actually made up about 2 months early.

While I didn’t speak to my dad for a few months, it never came to that with my mum, not until I moved to Wales, about 3 years later. I had come home during my first Christmas holiday and left before New Years. Mum broke contact with me then and as a result, I did not go home that summer at all. We only semi-made up a year later, when I visited her place for two days, together with my girlfriend at the time.

In both instances that I lost contact with my parents, it really hurt me. While, as I said, I didn’t particularly feel like we had any connection with one another before the divorce, it really affected me. There is something about a child-parent relationship. It hurts when it’s broken.

At the start of this summer, I thought my relationship with both my dad and my mum were pretty stable. I thought we had spoken most things out and I enjoyed spending time with each of them. I also felt quite proud that we had been able to work it out. Compared with before the divorce, my relationships with both are much better. However, it seems like not all demons have worked out yet. I keep going through rough patches with my parents every now and then, and I wonder if they ever wonder if their relationship with their kids would have been better if they hadn’t divorced? I suppose everyone expects the normal things to happen when a couple divorces. If I think about it now, I know that it is quite common for the relationship between children and their parents to change. As a result of divorce, some of my friends don’t have contact with the father at all. Some of my friends are really close to their mum, or the other way around.

It never occurred to me that my relationship with my parents would change as a result of divorce. I think it has been for the better though, even if it’s not perfect yet.

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