For as long as I could remember, my stepdad Eric had been in my life. He started dating my mother when I was a year old, after her and my father had an interesting break-up. Because Eric and my mom were married for 15 years, and had three more kids together, they were my most considerable “family” unit. I worshipped Eric and our little slice of happiness and unity. I pictured something like this to be lifelong, which was mistake #1.
When I was 17, about to finish my senior year of high school, my mother called me and said she asked Eric to move out for a few days. She told me first and wanted me to know before my three younger siblings. I didn’t really know what to think, I was just frankly confused at the whole situation, but I just figured that it would all smooth over, and everything would be fine.
But, as the title of this article suggests, that didn’t happen. Short days of Eric being gone turned into weeks, months and now we’re almost 4 years from his departure from our lives.
I never considered divorce a beneficial life-changing event, especially for the children of said parents. However, being at an age where I can process and understand divorce for what it is, I think that there are many important life lessons you can learn from witnessing your parents have one. Sounds weird, I know, and I am in no way advocating divorce, it’s pretty terrible — but hear me out. I learned ten valuable lessons from my parents’ divorce, of which I will always cherish.
10. Pay Attention to People
If I had maybe opened my eyes and paid attention to people besides myself, I probably would have noticed how unhappy my mother was in her marriage. This goes for situations beyond that. Maybe if you just took time to notice that someone was unhappy, you could save his or her lives. If you spared a minute to pay attention to someone beside yourself, you can almost predict the future.
9. Don’t Beat around the Bush
When my mom was going through the divorce, several people gave her lip because she didn’t wait until my youngest sister had graduated high school, and didn’t gave her that full-time family. I have a family friend who is MISERABLE in her marriage, but is waiting until her daughter is in college to make the move. It doesn’t matter when you do it, you’re going to do. No matter what age the child is, 40 or 4, they will still be affected. So just rip of the Band-Aid and do it.
8. Lying to yourself will make you miserable/crazy
My mother lied to herself constantly about her happiness, and she was depressed about it. Do your mental health a favor, and be honest with yourself.
7. Nothing is forever
Though I’m in a committed, happy, wonderful relationship now doesn’t mean I will be forever. The only thing that is eternal is yourself and your degree. (side note: stay in school)
6. Sometimes you have to hurt feelings to get what you deserve
My mom had to hurt Eric’s feelings in order to get a relationship she deserved. And though it sucked for them both, my mom taught me through her choice that you have to put yourself first sometimes.
5. Don’t Get too Comfortable
One thing my mom said to me after her marriage ended was that Eric got too comfortable in their marriage. He never took her on dates, bought her flowers, or even really said I love you. He stopped trying and got too comfortable that she would be there forever. I think that’s a valuable lesson in life- don’t get too comfortable in a job and start slacking, you could lose it tomorrow. Always be working hard to maintain the life you love.
4. Be Okay with Being Alone
Sometime in your life, you will be alone. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Spend the time to better yourself and do something great. My mom is considering going to Bartending School with girlfriends. Being alone hasn’t made her any less fun.
3. Know how to handle your business
One less fortunate thing about the divorce is that when Eric left, he took all the knowledge of finances with him. He had been the “math guy” in family and always handled bills and taxes. When he left, my Mom had to relearn how to handle her financial life. Sounds silly, but it happens that way a lot. So learn it, learn how to balance checkbooks and pay your taxes so if you ever happen to not have a “math guy” around you’ll still be financially stable.
2. People Change
After a divorce, you’ll be amazed how quickly people change. My mom lost friends, people took sides, and even Eric turned spiteful and mean. This can happen frequently, so don’t be surprised when someone you thought was perfect turns out to be completely different. Emotional subjects like divorce can show peoples’ true colors, and sometimes those colors are a shitty brown.
1. You’re Never Alone in Anything
You may think you have a unique and crazy experience, but it’s almost guaranteed someone else has experienced something like it before you. Find them, be friends, bond. Don’t feel like you’re crazy or a horrible person, because you’re not. You’re human and we all make mistakes, and lucky for us we have divorce to fix some of those mistakes.