Divorce effects hard to shake, even years later


I can only remember one book being read to me as a child. When I was four years old, my parents called my older brother and sister and me to the living room; they wanted to read us a story. I sat sandwiched between my siblings on our big, green couch, awaiting a marvelous fairytale that would, without doubt, end happily ever after. But, that was not the ending to this story.

It’s a vivid image, even now, 17 years later. My mom opened the book called “When Dinosaurs Divorce.” At the time, I could not understand why this story made everyone so sad. The book had pretty pictures of bright green dinosaurs, but they seemed sad too. My mom started crying, then did my dad. Soon tears began to burn my eyes and stream down my tiny, puffy cheeks and I had no idea why.

At four years old, the permanence of the whole situation had been lost on me; a little bit of my innocence had been lost, too. There are things in the world that we want to shelter children from for as long as we can. But, it is inevitable; sometimes, we just have to grow up a little bit faster and sooner than we would have hoped.

It was not until later in my life that I fully understood this permanence. I began to realize how different my life was going to be when I had to constantly pack my belongings to be carted from house to house. Having estranged parents while I was growing up often resulted in extreme confusion concerning the whereabouts of homework, soccer uniforms, and my favorite pair of jeans.

Since my parents divorced when I was so young, the idea of married parents still seems foreign to me. I’ve always wondered what that would be like. I don’t know if my life would have turned out better or worse, but I do know that their divorce has affected every one of my relationships. I approach a relationship as if it comes with an inherent expiration date. I’ve never had the notion that anything lasts forever.  At some point, it will be forgotten, left in the back of the fridge to curdle and go sour.

As a child, I thought it was only my parents who could not make their marriage work. But during the past few years, marriages and relationships that I was so sure had a solid foundation began to crack and crumble all around me.

When I was told about the end of these relationships, no one read me a book about dinosaurs. Unlike when I was four, I could completely understand the situation. The reality of it all crashed down on me like waves, which brought with them a cruel understanding of what these breakups meant for the individuals and the people who loved them.

I am now left to wander through the ruins of relationships past. I am searching through the rubble for the devious, dinosaur detonator. What exactly caused these marriages to implode?  Does it have to do with the values of our society? Who is to blame for the demolition of these families?

The answers to these questions will forever be lost in the destruction. Maybe marriage is hard. Maybe their foundations were not as strong as I dreamt they were. Maybe marriage is not a fairytale.

Despite this realization, I cannot help but long for the life that I never had. I have a longing for a life where a defining characteristic of who I am is not that my parents are no longer together. I have a longing for a life where I believe that sometimes, things do work out. I have a longing for a life where dinosaurs do not get divorced, and neither do parents.

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