The following is a testimonial from someone who has dealt with divorce on a very personal level:
So what happened?
My father tells me that the first ten years were their good
years. The photographs from then support this. The love is in their eyes.
There's no turning point, just the evolution of conflict. A
merry-go-round that never ends. You can feel the nuts and bolts coming undone
but nothing stops spinning long enough to see that the center cannot hold.
It wasn't so much specific incidents as it was the flurry of
reactions. My mother was hungry inside, something couldn't be satisfied. She
needed to feel, to control, to fill that hole in her soul. My father distanced,
regrouped, he remained aloof.
They never screamed at each other. It was the tension that I
have always remembered. The tension would fill the house until it choked you.
It never fully went away. It retreated into corners and cupboards, and if you
stumbled upon a hiding place it was as if a bomb went off, leaving you gasping
Loaded words. Sideways glances. Mouths set in a hard line.
Deep breaths. Nothing went over my head. I felt like it was my fault that I
could not deliver a message to bring peace back to the home.
As I got older, I started to put my finger on what I was seeing.
These fights had no resolve, it seemed like they came from a place that
extended further than the other.
From the outside looking in, my parents had a good marriage. I think they had
even convinced themselves of that. This had become their normal.
Before I left for college, I was packing my belongings while
struggling to breathe through the tension when it hit me. I was watching them
be eaten alive by the past. Eaten alive and they didn’t even know it.
My mother had a troubled family history. She was a
beautiful, intelligent and spirited woman but she had her demons. When his
father died, I think my father was never given room or comfort for his grief.
He learned to quiet everything inside. They were hardwired to collide.
None of it had anything to do with the other. They were
being eaten alive by the pain and heartache of their tiny beginnings.
I left for college two days early. I slept in my car in the
school parking lot before campus opened. The realization was too much for my
heart to contain.
I knew that my leaving would change their dynamic. They had
passed off as good enough for so long because I had been the buffer, the common
goal. I couldn’t bear to see the coming collapse.
It took one year.
“I’m getting out of the marriage. We’re destroying each
My father looked so much older. Had it really been just 12
“I know, Dad. It’s okay.”
He looked at me and I saw that despite his emotional
exhaustion, there was a ghost of shock in his expression.
He really thought they had kept up the “good enough” front
well enough to shield me from their problems.
Children know. Adults lie well, especially to themselves.
But children know.
The divorce was ugly.
I knew it was coming and it had come, but the reality of
watching the entire foundation of my childhood be dismantled was genocide of
My father left the house he built.
He hung up the phone.
It’s been ten long years since our American Dream ended. I won’t be foolish
enough to say “If only” or “what if”. It was their marriage, but it
was my world. And my world fell apart.
There are many things to take away from this story.
This is a story of a “good enough” marriage.
Is it good enough for you?