Reflecting

As I sit here eating these, (BEST ever, btw) my niece is sitting on the couch with her friend watching old home videos. I can’t believe it has been (at least) 10 years since we took that camping trip. My niece is sweet and tells me I have not aged one bit! (Actually, the truth is, the girl in those videos was one who was carrying her Freshman Fifteen, and thankfully that has changed.)

Dear niece has been with me since Thursday. Her dad (my brother) has come home from Iraq and right now he is on a little get away with his wife trying to re-group after having been gone for nearly a year. What a year.

And I just cannot help but think: No daughter should have to do this twice. Two deployments. Afghanistan. Iraq. Two divorces. How many times can you “lose” your dad in a lifetime?

Caught between two parents who love her dearly and her own “coming to fruition” of who she is and wants to be- what a ride. I sure love her sass, her independence and her ability to think maturely about her life and all the battles going on in it. She is really on her game, a rock star in so many ways. Beautiful, talented, witty, responsible, funny. And she reminds me of myself in so many ways. We get along.

I cannot help but remember what it was like for me. Caught in the middle.  Divorce is never a pretty scene, even when parents do their best to be civil. And the children are always the ones who get the short end of the stick. Put into that equation the remarrying of parents, and you get a whole new dynamic of emotional roller coasters where you feel like if you could just throw up everything would be better. Only you cannot throw up. You must brace each day and learn new coping skills. You must press on with the faith that the ride will be over soon and you can just get off.

It took more than five years for that roller coaster ride for me to be over. Five years of adolescence Being. Ugh. (Including and not limited to: hormones, zits, bad boyfriends, shallow friendships, terrible grades, even more terrible decisions, depression, rebellion, going through the motions, long days at work on purpose, eating disorders, lying, crying, shutting down, etc…)  Yeah. It was a rough time. But mostly because I made it so. It is so silly in hindsight. I am embarrassed at my behavior. But it was those tumultuous  years that shaped what I have learned and who I have become. It was that time that showed me my strength (which is a grand thing), courage and my ability to be better than I was.

I often wonder, “Was that my trial in life? Being a child of Divorce?” And if not, what else is coming my way? I know we are not all issued just one hardship. I know some people who have gotten two!  But in all seriousness, I am grateful that I went through all of that as a teenager just for the fact that I can relate to my niece who faces much of what I did. We all need someone to relate to. And even though I am 15 years her senior, I feel a closeness and a bond that I treasure. I just hope that she can see it too and believe that despite it all, everything will be alright.

Especially when we decide to make it alright.

*****

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5 thoughts on “Reflecting

  1. Divorce is never easy Even if you are married a year when your parents tell you they are doing this. You did an awesome post Holly

  2. So glad you’re getting to spend some time with your niece. I’m sure it’s needed by her as much as you’re enjoying it.

    I have wondered the same thing — so I have these health problems, is this the trial of my life, or is there something else coming? Something this was PREPARING me for. I don’t even like to think about it.

    I am definitely going to try those cookies — I love the combination of salty & sweet.

  3. I have seen in my family how awful divorce can be too. I bet it’s fun for you to think about how you’ve come out on top in spite of an awful situation.

  4. Holly,
    Thank you. I love that you understand most of what it’s like for me. I just wish I could always be as positive as you; in time maybe. Thanks for the wonderful weekend, and being the best aunt ever!

  5. I read this several days ago on my cell phone (where it is basically impossible to comment) and have been thinking about it ever since. I think every child of divorce can relate to your post. My heart hurts for your cousin. Knowing that every situation is different, I think that divorce carries the same kind of pain and confusion for children of divorce. I remember feeling so much of the same stuff you mentioned when I was growing up and actually feeling like the fear of screwing up my future marriage (because I didnt want to experience divorce again or put my future children through it) was enough to paralyze me through most of my early 20s. I;ve often thought the same thing, “was that my trial in life?” I;ve decided the blessing of divorce is resiliency. You’re absolutely right about having a choice in making your life “alright.” I think after the pain dissipates it comes down to choosing your own path to happiness regardless of what you were dealt (meaning collective you). The beauty of getting older is coming to those realizations and knowing that at the time I felt very alone but now I see how many others have gone through and survived the same thing. It sounds like your cousin has the gift of a strong personality and Im sure, though the road will be tough she will make it through and Im so glad she has someone like you help support her through it. Thanks for post.

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