Divorce - pt 1
It is inevitable that at some point your parents will fail you in some way
The emotional wounds our parents inflict are often the deepest, how could they not be?
It is inevitable that at some point your parents will fail you in some way, it’s not necessarily right or easy, but it is an unavoidable product of imperfect people living in close relationship with one another. On the whole, we hold our parents to a standard (moral, physical, emotional) higher than that which we set for our friends or siblings or anyone else. To be a parent is to be placed on a pedestal by your children and should you fall you will most likely take them out in the process and both of you will end up severely bruised, maybe broken, in a messy pile… I hope you follow the analogy.
the person you would turn to in times of trouble is someone you don’t recognise all that well anymore
The day you realise your parents are human, with baggage and habits and sin, is always going to be a little sad, but sometimes it is not only incredibly sad but incredibly hurtful and often comes too soon. Maybe it is the day your parents told you they were divorcing, or they let you down in a big way, or maybe they were never there in the first place. You are left reeling, broken and lost because the person you would turn to in times of trouble is someone you don’t recognise all that well anymore and fails to be someone you can rely upon. If this feels familiar, I’m really sorry. I appreciate that my own experience doesn’t automatically enable me to understand your situation or your feelings and I know that people have gone through far worse, far far worse. But this is something that I have been working through for a long time myself, with God and a lot of other trusted people as well, and I have come to some realisations which I really wanted to share.
So, my sob story: I don’t remember my parents together, they broke up when I was very little and my Dad moved out when I was about five. I remember that I loved going to his place at weekends and he used to come over after school on his way home from work. He got married when I was about seven and divorced when I was nine and remarried when I was ten... and that was as messy as it sounds. During that time, I stopped loving weekends at my Dad’s house, he stopped coming to see me and then I no longer had the option anyway because he moved to Thailand when I was 12. He has lived abroad ever since. At best I see him once a year and at worst every two or three and he has since divorced and remarried for the third time. We live very separate lives; he didn’t know I was a Christian until I had been going to church for two years: I chose (rightly or wrongly) to keep it from him because he doesn’t think in any way fondly of the Church. He didn’t react well. He never saw the damage that his absence caused but I was a mess, I had self-esteem that was on the floor and I made many poor choices based on my low self-worth. I stumbled into church at fifteen and it could not have come sooner, I now know Jesus and he is healing and shaping me. I still make poor choices sometimes but I no longer view myself as undeserving and I have a hope and a future and for that I praise God.
I stumbled into church at fifteen and it could not have come sooner
In this time I have learnt that I am by nature an extremely non-confrontational person: shouting makes me cringe, it unsettles me if I feel I have injured someone slightly and I have to be pushed and shoved into sharing my negative emotions (they always feel a bit much) and it has cost me. Ostritching is not a coping strategy, maybe not even a real word. It is denial and it comes back to bite you. For a long time I didn’t confront my hurt, or what had caused it, and I refused to think about what could heal it. Instead I nursed it and carried it around with me and figured I’d learn to live with it. The thing about physical wounds that go untreated is they get infected, they don’t close, and they cause scarring. Emotional wounds are the same. Don’t underestimate emotional hurts just because you can’t see them… eventually you will see their outworking in your life and relationships. Live with them long enough and you won’t be able to recognise yourself without them. You will start to operate around your sore spots, adjust boundaries in your relationships to accommodate them and ultimately limit the ability of others to know you: “You can’t get too close, that hurts” or “I can’t do that because that part of me doesn’t work”. What’s more, you start to ask people to work around it, “Forgive me? I have issues”. ‘I damage because I am damaged’ is an excuse and a dangerous one at that. Unfortunately, hiding behind other peoples’ actions towards us, so never needing to take responsibility for our own, is all too easy. What is tough, what we are called to as followers of Jesus, is to forgive. Forgiveness is the currency of freedom and is a word that’s so common and synonymous with Christianity that familiarity has sometimes undermined its power and its cost. Forgiveness is not easy; I don’t think it’s meant to be.