Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Looking Forward to Looking Back

Every so often someone will ask me what it was like to grow up in a divorced family. I never really know how to answer this question. Most times I explain that I really don’t know what it is like because I’ve never known any different. Any pain I have about my father comes from who he is, and not that my parents didn’t stay married. My parents divorced when I was so very young. As a child, I don’t think I even understood that my parents were divorced. In my household no one ever used the term divorce and I did not even realize that my family was any different than anyone else’s. Plus, my mom put so much time and energy in forcing my father to be in my life that he was around pretty often. My parents have always been friendly to each other, I never saw them fight. And I respect my mother so much, because she put all the crap behind her, just to try and do what was right for me. Unlike most kids I didn’t feel as if I was the cause of my parent’s unhappiness and divorce, but I did feel like I was the cause of their marriage. This made me feel terrible, considering all the crap he put my family through. But now I realize I have nothing to feel sorry about, his problems are not my own.

My stepfather moved into our house when I was around the age of five, and to me he was just another member of the family. I never felt he was trying to take my dad’s place and I liked having him around. Our family seemed pretty perfect to me. There was a time when my father actually lived with us, while my stepfather was living with us. Maybe that was awkward for everyone else, but I loved having him there. I had plans for us. I thought we could be on family feud or double dare. My mother, stepfather, father, brother, and me what a dysfunctional team we would make. This time of peaceful coexistence was during the time period that my father still lived in St.Louis. However, when he moved to Texas, that is when the real trouble started.

I would stay with my father every summer, and it was hard to adjust because my mother and father had such different rules. With my mother things were really relaxed and informal, and I just called her mom. But when I was with my father I was constantly getting in trouble for not calling him Sir. At home, I loved to play dress-up and put on make-up, but if I did that at dad’s I was in trouble for trying to look older. Things I didn’t have to ask permission to do at home, I had to ask permission to do at my fathers.

Every time I visited my dad there was always a new stepmother, girlfriend, and step siblings that I would have to get to know. And once I started to love them, they would leave as quickly and quietly as they came.

My father was always trying to convince me I wanted to live with him. He knew how to play my emotions and make me feel terrible about consistently turning him down. The last thing I wanted to do was live with him, but he was always trying to bait me. Even though my mother did not know he did this, I constantly felt like I was being pulled in both directions.

But the biggest issue I had with the divorce is just the deep seeded insecurity and jealous it led me to feel. I felt that my family was not as good as everyone else’s. I didn’t covet other families, but I wanted my own. This is what I wished for as long as I could remember. I guess when it comes down to it, everyone feels like everyone else has it so much easier. The parents are always greener on the other side. And you miss out on all the good things, if you spend too much time comparing what you have to that of others. I’ve really gotten to a place in my life that I don’t compare myself to others. I am not the only one who has hard times, and everyone has their own personal cross to bear. And although sometimes I whine, pout, and throw huge pity parties, I know I’ve been truly blessed. And maybe, just maybe I know a little more about what a marriage is and isn’t suppose to be. So maybe that IS the upside of divorce.

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