Everyone assumes that divorce is only hard on little kids. They have to swing back and forth between households. They have to split the holidays. They have to grow up with two separate families. They have to learn about falling out of love at such an early age.
But when you’re older and your parents get divorced, you don’t get pity presents from aunts and uncles who are hoping to distract you from the divorce. You don’t have people checking in on you and trying to cheer you up with trips to Disney and Adventureland. You don’t have a support system. Instead, you are your parents‘ support system.
You are there to calm them down when they burst into tears. You are there to listen to their rants. You are there to remind them that they are valuable and they are beautiful and they will love again.
When you’re a kid, your parents try hard to help you through the divorce. But when you’re an adult, your parents expect you to help them get through the divorce.
You’re an adult now, so they don’t hide anything from you. Your mother complains about your father. Your father complains about your mother. You get caught in the middle. You have to choose what you tell them and what you hide. You have to protect their feelings when you’re having trouble processing your own feelings.
When you’re a kid, your parents might shield you from the details. About cheating. About drugs. About drinking. About money. About all of the little things that led to their separation. But you are an adult now, so you get to hear every disturbing detail about their relationship.
Maybe you will be forced to pick a side. Maybe you will cut one parent out of your life forever because you cannot stand the way they treated the other one. Or maybe they will actually have a civil divorce and you’ll manage to keep them both in your life. Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones who is able to invite both parents to Thanksgiving dinner without a fight breaking out.
Either way, when you’re an adult and your parents get divorced, you feel like you are alone. You feel like you are overreacting every time you take a drink to deal with the stress, because you are supposed to be mature by this age. You are supposed to be realistic, understanding. You are supposed to know that relationships don’t always last and love is a choice and divorce is becoming more and more common.
When you’re an adult, your parents don’t think that they are hurting you with the divorce. They say it has nothing to do with you, we both love you, and expect you to believe it because you’re older now.
Since you’re an adult, since you aren’t a little kid anymore, no one realizes how much you are going to be impacted by what’s happening. No one realizes that you will still develop trust issues because of the divorce. They don’t realize that your own relationships are going to suffer because of the divorce. They don’t realize that you are going to start questioning whether you should get married yourself.
They don’t realize that everything changes when your mom and dad stop loving each other, no matter how old you are.