My parents divorced when I was pretty young, it was devastating. My dad cheated on my mom and I thought that was the ultimate betrayal, not only to her but to me too. I thought if he hadn’t done that we would all still be happy and he wouldn’t have ruined my life. I couldn’t understand why he did that to me.
For about two years, my mom blamed me for the incident. She said I had the choice on whether or not he ultimately left her… left us. She put me in a tough spot where I was the ultimate factor in his decision because I didn’t stop him from leaving. I didn’t beg him enough to stay. My tears didn’t deter him enough from signing the papers. It was all my fault. And for those years, she took her anger out on me.
I struggled with understanding why my father left. He was my best friend who I thought was the perfect human being. Not only did I feel betrayed by his infidelity, but it was a sign that every piece of wisdom he gave to me and every emotional talk was a lie. All those times that he told me I deserved a better man flooded back to me and I began to re-evaluate all my relationships and all my beliefs. How could someone give me advice on love when he, himself, didn’t know how to be monogamous?
Then, I realized that him not cheating wouldn’t have changed much, that one incident wasn’t the catalyst, it was the final reaction to their already crumbling marriage. When I realized that, it made me feel a lot better. I don’t think it was the right choice to make but I didn’t consider it a choice that was meant to hurt me. At least not anymore.
My parents struggled to keep the fire in their marriage alive. My dad tried to make the relationship work for 10 years before coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t the best for the both of them. He struggled with staying faithful because he wasn’t happy, and after struggling through several moments like that, he caved in on the last and gave into cheating. He told me, the only thing that kept him from being unfaithful the previous times was the thought of being there for me.
I still don’t condone infidelity. I still don’t believe what he did was right, but somehow, I forgave him. I don’t hate him anymore and I still don’t completely understand why I felt this sort of peace flow over me after he explained the situation.
My mother, on the other hand, took me longer to forgive. Her angry words kept speeding through my mind for years. “It’s your fault.” “He would have stayed if you tried harder.” “Why did you let him leave us?” It wasn’t until she apologized that I had forgiven her. As all the heartfelt sorries made their way through her sobs and hiccups, that’s when I truly exonerated her. She didn’t mean to hurt me. She blamed me because she didn’t know who else to blame as she struggled to keep her husband. My mom explained she couldn’t come to terms with the divorce and her only outlet was to be angry with me. It wasn’t right, and she realized it.
The thing is, it’s not my fault. It’s never the child’s fault. In this case, no one really was to blame besides the marriage itself. A marriage takes work and sometimes people grow apart. No one is to blame. At least that’s how I see it.
If you are a parent reading this and going through a divorce, please think about everything through your child’s eyes for a minute. Despite the bitter feelings you may have towards one another, as parents, you shouldn’t bring your child in the middle. Ask yourself how you would feel in their position. This only takes a few minutes but it could make all the difference.
Don’t forget that your children are even more vulnerable than you are and every move you make will impact them greatly. If the home life is getting really rocky, it would be a good idea to try some therapy. Whether it be therapy for yourself, couples therapy, or family therapy, take that into consideration. At the very least it will make your children feel like they are being heard and the divorce will be less traumatic in the long run.
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