A Bittersweet Divorce

My parents are getting a divorce.

There. I said it.

It’s out in the open. The world knows our family is crumbling. And really, it’s okay. It’s probably for the better. Why polar opposites would ever join in holy matrimony is a total mystery anyway – or how they raised four very normal children for that matter. Maybe “normal” is a stretch but we’re decent. We’re like other people, until you realize most of the world is a little psychotic. So yes, we’ll just go with “normal” for now.

I’m in my late 20s so you’d think this wouldn’t be a big deal. And honestly, it’s not. And honestly, I’m lying. The process has barely begun and I’m learning a lot about myself, how much I value things I didn’t realize held a sacred place in my heart, and how deep tradition runs in my veins. I suppose it does with everyone – only I’ve been too ignorant to realize it. I’ve more so taken every single thing in my life for granted, believed I deserved it and had full faith it would all continue on forever and nothing would ever change.

I even had a perception that everyone had what I had – a really great, tightly knit, near-perfect family – and shared my same feelings toward it. I mean, its family. It doesn’t get any better. But oddly, when I start opening up to people, everyone had a story of their own: a crazy uncle, a brother in jail, severe problems with bipolar disorder, alcoholism, divorce, schizophrenia – and I wasn’t even hanging out at a psych ward. These are coworkers, friends, and extended family. By the sounds of it, my family’s situation is not rare. We’re not even the exception. We’re the rule, and there are millions right alongside us, looking us in the eye, shrugging their shoulders and saying “it’ll all be okay.”

And it will, because it has to. But it doesn’t stop me from staring at the train wreck and the path it bulldozes in its derailment as I numbly stand in the wake and nauseously stare at its effects in shock. In pain. In absolute confusion.

What now?

Great question.

I think through this all, the toughest thing is breaking traditions. Until this year, I had done the same thing every holiday for the last 28 years.  We always always always have a family celebration, where we do family things, talk about family stuff, drink family drinks, spend family time together and exchange laughter… with family. The whole family.

Well, turns out that got torn apart pretty hard this year, and I’m dumbfounded every time someone asks me what my plan is.

“So what are your plans for Thanksgiving?”

[Blank Stare] “Um, not sure,” I say like a bonehead.

Plan? Let’s put it this way, even if I had two stoves, my plans would still all be on the back burners. When you start having to “plan” events that have been automatic your entire life, it’s perplexing. It’s something I’ve never experienced and I feel like a pre-schooler trying to give directions to her own home.

And again, a few weeks later.

“What are you doing for Christmas?”

Shit, I don’t know. Is often my first thought, though I feel like it wouldn’t be very festive to vocalize. So I don’t. Instead, I fumble through and change the subject, which I hear I’ve gotten pretty good at.

I guess this is that plot-altering chapter in my life, the point where I spend the rest of the book trying to figure out a way for it all to make sense. And I’m sure one day it will. I suppose – as with anything – the change, the adjustment period, is probably the most difficult. And I’ve learned that change can be a good thing.

Realistically, this isn’t a tragic novel. It’s a non-fiction lesson. Maybe the true tragedy would have been watching Mom and Dad continue on with a loveless marriage that was draining the life out of each of them. And, in all honesty, I’m looking forward to hearing about their future ventures separately. My parents. Dating. Now that will be interesting.

Shootin’ the Wit is a sporadic blog about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.

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