Friday, June 5, 2015

The Soundtrack of My Life, Going Through The Big "D" (and I don't mean Dallas)

If you participated in Battle of the Bands (June 1 post... and still time to vote!) than you know that we've slipped into my sophomore year at college.



My parents decided to divorce my sophomore year. When I originally wrote this post, the way I remembered it was that my dad sent me a letter letting me know that he and mom were divorcing. Turns out I keep a lot of shizzle, and when I was making scrapbooks I taped all of that shizzle in there... including the letter from dad. After reading the letter (again), I realized the letter was a follow-up to a phone conversation in which they dropped the bomb. But, all of these years later all I remembered was the letter. The brain is a weird place. If you don't believe me on that, you need to read some of my older blog posts. They confirm it.

Here's the proof that I did get a phone call and then a letter:

Click to enlarge


Here's the bizarre thing about my parents divorcing: I was expecting it. I'd known it was going to happen since junior high school and I watched the movie Heaven Can Wait. If you've seen that movie, do you remember the scene when the Warren Beatty character takes the Julie Christie character out to dinner? At the end of the evening he drops her off at her hotel. As she's walking up the stairs he calls from the parking lot, "My wife and I are getting a divorce."

She replies, "But you're not even separated."

He says, "Sure we are. It's a big house."

Granted, in that movie said wife was desperately trying to kill the Warren Beatty character for his money. It wasn't like that in my house. No one was plotting murder, and the house wasn't all that big. BUT, my parents lived very separate lives. In fact, there was a distinct lack of conversation. My parents could go for weeks without saying anything other than, "Pass the salt."

So, they didn't divorce because they argued all the time. They didn't. They simply didn't connect any more on any level, and even I knew it.

So, what was shocking about this turn of events? They did it before I expected. I really thought they'd wait until my brother graduated high school (and me college). So, I thought I had a few more years to adjust myself to the idea. I also thought it wasn't going to be "that big a deal" when it finally happened.

Boy, was I wrong.

If I thought I was in a spin freshman year, I learned what spin really was my sophomore year. I even wrote a research paper on divorce and why it happens. The whole world felt upended and my faith in the "lastingness" of relationships was at all-time low. Honestly, I'm not sure that it ever really recovered, because I still am amazed when someone says they're happily married after a whole lotta years. How do they do that???? What I learned in my research was that they do stuff together, take an interest in the other person's interests, and genuinely like one another. (You can understand something intellectually and still not really grasp it, if you know what I mean.)

What I'm trying to say is that knowing on a theoretical level what keeps people together and what drives them apart didn't change a whole lot for me. I was still messed up.




Just when you think that you know it all
You'll never fall and that it's all good
And you're gonna win again, it's a sin, that's gonna mess you up
Just when you think that you can't be touched
You're on your way up you think you're too much
That's gonna mess you up, it's your ego, your mojo, out of control

That's gonna mess you up, life has a way
To put you in your place if it needs to
That's gonna mess you up, leave yourself behind
Look around you'll find, it ain't all about you
In the end it's who you loved and who loved you
If it ain't the heart and soul stuff, that's gonna mess you up

Just when you thought that the girl was yours
She stuck it to you with a note on the door
Sayin' all take and no give, boy that ain't no way to live
She left you high and dry in the middle of the night
'Cause you didn't treat her right, that's gonna mess you up
You neglected, she rejected, should've expected

That's gonna mess you up, life has a way
To put you in your place if it needs to
That's gonna mess you up, leave yourself behind
Look around you'll find, it ain't all about you
In the end it's who you loved and who loved you
If it ain't the heart and soul stuff, that's gonna mess you up

That's gonna mess you up, life has a way
To put you in your place if it needs to
That's gonna mess you up, leave yourself behind
Look around you'll find, it ain't all about you
In the end it's who you loved and who loved you
If it ain't the heart and soul stuff, that's gonna mess you up

Have you ever been through a divorce? Your parents? Your grandparents? How did you cope?

37 comments:

  1. I'm fortunate my parents are still together after over fifty years. My wife and I have been married half of that. People do need to be friends and spend time together. And communicate.
    Sorry the divorce shook your work so hard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are fortunate. As society continues its path of disintegration, the divorced family is now more common than the non-divorced one. And, no matter how well it's done... it messes up the kids.

      Delete
  2. I was six when my parents divorced so it's pretty hard to remember how I felt. By the time I was nine my dad had remarried and by the time I was 14 I had four more brothers and sisters (in addition to the two I already had - so yup, seven kids). The interesting thing is how the second set of kids have fared in comparison to the first. It perfectly illustrates how kids of divorce don't fare as well in life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Marcy. My heart hurts for you.

      I think kids of divorce have to work harder on things like self-esteem. Codependence. Trust. Letting other people in. You know, the biggies. However, I do believe it's possible to overcome anything, including divorce. You just have to work harder for it. So, hang in there, because I do believe if you keep plugging these things won't be such hurdles.

      Delete
  3. My parents never did divorce but they should have. They fought all the time. I've been divorced several times and my first one devastated my son. It is so hard on kids, no matter how well it's handled. I've come to believe that if a child receives unconditional love, they can pretty much handle anything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's hard to know what the "right" thing is, isn't it? As I said, I always knew the right thing for my parents was to divorce (at a fairly early age), but I didn't understand how the reality would impact my life.

      Of course, we're not there yet, but I know that my divorcing my ex-husband was really hard on his two young children. Devastating really. And still, he backed into a place where I had no other choice. It was divorce or die and I chose living. Of course, knowing the pain it caused them was migraine-inducing all by itself... I really think there are seven circles of hell, and I've traveled all of them. Ha! Well, a good many of them...

      Delete
  4. My husband was divorced with two boys when I met him. We have tons in common and that helps us work. I love my two steps sons. We're very close. My four children and their half brothers are a real family though they have a few years between them. Relationships are work and I don't think you really know someone until you've been with them for years and years. My husband and I both want the other to be happy so we each compromise at times to make sure that happens.
    I don't know what the answer is when parents don't get along. Is it better for the kids to stay together or not? I guess each case is different.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think one of the things that can "save" children of divorce is is a parent marries someone who loves them like their own (and that relationship works out). It sounds like you managed to blend your families very well, and everyone felt loved. Can you do more than that? I think you did good!

      Delete
  5. I've been through a whopper of a divorce even though we weren't married that long. Actually, we were married 4 years on paper, but that was only because he didn't want to pay child support. I'm waiting for him to croak before I actually discuss it, ha ha.

    The good news is that my second (and LAST) husband is all the things I longed for: he is my best friend, he is honest, hardworking and loyal to a fault. He married me when I had two young boys and it was bumpy when it started (ex liked to keep stirring the pot) but I would do it all over again. He's my rock.

    A bad start doesn't mean you automatically have a bad end. And just because you haven't experienced it yet, doesn't mean that the perfect guy for you isn't just around the corner. I wasn't even looking for Hubzam; in fact, when I met him I think the main thing we had in common was that neither of us wanted to remarry. We grew on each other and we've been together 27 years - married 20 (this month). We're not exactly the same but he is the missing puzzle piece in my life that completed it.

    I wish that for you, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I read about your divorce, I thought of mine (of course), and then I thought of this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aekvEjn6q34 Have you heard it before? Well, we'll eventually get there again when I revisit my Train feature.

      It's funny, but I do think I'm gaining on meeting a good person. I think it's because I'm building myself into someone who will actually attract the sort of person I want in my life. I do believe that we attract people living on the level where we are.

      Even your story illustrates this truth (when you and your Hubs met NEITHER of you wanted to marry again), so you were in the same place. And then as you got to know one another, healed each other, grew together... turns out you were moving in the same direction with regard to the healing. And then marriage was a choice that seemed like something good instead of a trap. Yeah, that's what a bad divorce does for you... makes you feel like marriage is a cage instead of a safe place.

      Thank you. Well, the good news is that if/when it happens, all of you will know it. Because that's how I roll. :)

      Delete
    2. My parents were together for 60 years before they passed (within a few months of each other), and the last five years, while my mother was in a nursing home, my father visited every day.

      From what I could see, they had very little in common except their Catholic faith, which made their wedding vows binding regardless of whether they continued to connect or grew apart or whatever.

      As a family, we did not have much, and I wonder if that makes it easier to stay together. After both of them worked all day and dealt with the six of us kids, maybe they were just too tired to worry about much else.

      I do not pretend to know what keeps people together, but I do feel that as a society we have made both entering and leaving a marriage far too easy.

      Please understand Robin (or any reader who has undergone a divorce), I am not passing any judgement-I do not pretend to know your circumstance.

      But in my own family I have seen marriages fail for pretty frivolous reasons, and I have been to weddings where the vows skip the whole "for better or for worse" sentiment and put in something much less binding, which always makes me wonder how committed the couple is to the endeavor.

      I was at one ceremony where the minister said said "for as long as you both love each other."

      That might just mean the duration of the honeymoon!

      I get that marriage is hard, but I think you have to expect some hard.

      Since pop culture has invaded every other aspect of life, maybe we need to tie wedding vows to things like the duration of the New England Patriots football dynasty or the streak of Katy Perry hit singles.

      We might have better luck.

      "Do you promise to love each other for as long as women throw underwear at Jon Bon Jovi?"


      Delete
    3. This is the sort of discussion that my dad and I had frequently (the philosophical kind). I don't have good answers, but you've raised some valid concerns and questions.

      The hard truth is this: the more people who come from fractured families only means there are more people who have no concrete ideas on what a healthy marriage looks like. They know they want to be married and want a family. But they have no role models on how to bring that desire into a reality. PLUS, they are broken themselves in ways they likely don't understand. Add to that, they will likely choose for a mate someone just as broken as they are, and quite likely, someone who also comes from a fractured home. Now, throw two people together with gigantic holes in their heart and no clue about how to create a healthy marriage... and then take a look at society. That is what you're looking at.

      We can't expect schools to teach this to kids. Heck, look what they're doing with math these days...

      It's only when people understand they need to fix themselves (and that reality often doesn't hit until AFTER they've been divorced) that good, positive change happens. Of course it would be better if they figured it out before the train wreck, but I give a round of applause to anyone who figures it out at all. Heck, I consider myself to be fairly self-attuned and it took years for me to see that me choosing bad men were MORE about me than them. Yes, they were still bad, but I was the one that chose them. Nailing that point was key to stopping the behavior.

      To answer the question you didn't ask... how do we turn this around? I'm not sure we can. The only way to turn anything around is to understand the nature of the problem. Too many people never figure out the problem is within, so they can't begin to fix it.

      Like I said, this is like many conversations I had with my dad. I suspect that a day will come when marriage will be a thing of the past. I mean, when something works less than 50% of the time, why bother? And that day will likely arrive when we all live in a globally controlled police state. In other words, we're circling the drain now, but most people don't know it.

      Delete
    4. Well, I'm not sure anyone knows what a healthy marriage looks like, as they all have their low points. But I do think you've nailed the biggest part of the problem with the 50% failure rate-the selection process.

      My father almost did not marry my mother because two of her siblings had failed marriages and that concerned him.

      Again-I do not want to pass judgement, but that type of thought process bodes a lot better for a lasting marriage than "his ass looked good in jeans" (I actually know a woman who married her second spouse for that reason-or so she said).

      There was one woman in my life that I felt was the One, and I was planning to move to live close to her and see if I was right. An older gentleman I'd worked with who had been in two successful marriages (his first wife died, his second lasted until he passed away) said some pretty smart words to me.

      "You are looking for reasons to marry her-you should be looking for reasons not to."

      He was right-the signs are always there if you are willing to look. And if you are willing to, as you say, fix yourself, you'll be even better at seeing the warning signs in someone else.

      I remain hopeful that we can turn things around. I still believe in love, romance and marriage-and I think that as our standard of living in the US declines (it has been-we just don't see it with all the gadgets), people may revisit what they think is important in a life partner.

      Although a cute butt in jeans is not necessarily a bad thing...

      Delete
  6. Hi, again, dear Robin! When I was growing up, single parent families that resulted from separation and divorce were few and far between. Remember the gang of kids I told you about, the bullies that surrounded me and beat me with rubber hoses when I was five? The leader of that gang was a child of divorce. He lived with his mother on my block. His dad lived across town and rarely spent time with him. Surely the disappointment of having an absentee father that neglected him filled that boy with anger and bitterness and cause him to act out against others. I can understand how painful and how much of a distraction it was for you when your parents split up while you were trying to focus on your college career.

    In a few days Mrs. Shady and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary. Truth be told I have always lamented the fact that we don't have all that much in common, don't enjoy many of the same activities and that we argue too often. Yet, there is a deep, unexplained, intangible rapport between us and it is the glue that keeps us together.

    I hope you are feeling well at this hour, dear friend Robin, and I wish you a safe and happy weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The truth in your story is painful. Imagine that more than 50% of kids are now living in divorced homes. I guess that explains why bullying is so prevalent. There is just so much pain and it has to manifest in some way.

      My hope for you and Mrs. Shady is that you find some common ground. Life sure is more pleasant when you have a few things you enjoy doing together.

      Delete
  7. All I can think of is Steely Dan's Haitian Divorce...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess I'll have to go listen to that...

      Delete
  8. Oh, a new one! I'll be back, GIRL WONDER.

    ~ D-FensDogG

    ReplyDelete
  9. First, I want to say that it made me sad reading that letter your Dad wrote to you. I sense that I would have REALLY LIKED your Dad A LOT!

    My friend DiscConnected wrote this:

    >>... I was at one ceremony where the minister said said "for as long as you both love each other."

    I Guffawed-Out-Loud! Yeah, good luck to THAT couple! (It made me think of prenuptial agreements. What a sour note to begin a supposedly long married life on.)

    When I was growing up, my parents had a lot of problems. In fact, they separated at least twice but ultimately got back together for the sake of us three kids. I'm so glad they did.

    Back then, money was always an issue - and I think that's often a big problem for a lot marriages on the rocks - also, my Pa was a gambling and drinking man, and truth be told, my Ma could nag a bit. That was an explosive combination.

    I saw MANY big arguments when I was little, heard a lot of yelling and have a memory of cups and saucers being thrown and broken. But my Pa NEVER laid a hand on my Ma, and she said some things she shouldn't have, but I know she needed an outlet and I was the oldest ear around.

    In the later years, they actually got along pretty darn well. There wasn't a lot of "love" displayed, but the few times it was made it seem that much more special. My Pa took an early retirement (I thank God for that because he died just 3 years later) and my folks seemed to get along the best ever after that...

    Pa didn't come home tired from work anymore. He was around to do more things in the house so the nagging lessened, and he was free to go to the track or off-track betting parlors and play the horses.

    Life is hard for most of us, that's all there is to it. But, you know, we're here on this gigantic round school and trying to learn and do the best we can.

    Speaking of horse races, you think American Pharaoh can win the Triple Crown tomorrow? I'm going to downtown Reno to see the race. I'd love to see another Triple Crown winner, but it's the hardest thing in all of sports to accomplish. I thought I was going to see it before with Big Brown and California Chrome. This time, I don't believe it will happen. I'd love it, but it's just too difficult going against fresh horses and in the longest of the Triple Crown races. I'm now kind of amazed that ANY horses ever won the Triple Crown before.

    After I tally my BOTB votes and announce the winner (no surprise coming there) I expect to post a new TSOML blog bit.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you'd have liked my dad (and he, you) too. He was a no-nonsense sort of person.

      I agree that money is a big cause of divorce. (Learned that in researching my paper!) It's also hard when one person does things that place the family in jeopardy. Sounds like maybe your pa's gambling was a not-so-great thing since money was tight. It probably played havoc with your ma's nerves. Worry can make a person sick. (Trust me on this one! No research necessary!)

      If your parents separated and got back together twice that says that there was a deep love (and deep unhappiness there). The love was just bigger than the unhappiness. Maybe your ma reconciled herself to the fact that she simply wasn't going to change your dad and decided she could live with it. Well, until she couldn't (since they separated twice). I suspect that as you kids left the nest and finances eased your pa's gambling didn't put the strain on the household funds like before... so it was easier on your ma.

      Clue: women nag when they feel frustrated, as in the other party simply will not hear them. Another clue: sometimes letting the person know you've heard their concerns makes a big difference. Of course, acting on that information makes the biggest difference of all.

      What all of that research on divorce ultimately taught me is that one person decided to divorce when they felt 100% certain that the other person wasn't going to change AND they couldn't live with it the way it was. I think that was true for my parents. I know it was true for me.

      I can't say that I know much about horse racing, but I hope you enjoy the races!

      <<<---Life is hard for most of us, that's all there is to it. But, you know, we're here on this gigantic round school and trying to learn and do the best we can.

      Amen brother.

      Delete
    2. GW ~
      Yeah, I agree with all you wrote above.

      I know I still owe you a major E, but I've got to write that "business" one first and get it sent to the various parties concerned with that business. After that, I'll start on the personal one to you. So... hold yer horses (...a wee bit o' mo').

      ~ D-FensDogG

      Delete
  10. My parents didn't divorce, but they probably should have, because ours was a dysfunctional family long before it was cool. Ironically, the one time I remember them talking to me about the possibility of getting a divorce... and it was after I'd already gotten married myself... I cried about it. Cried? I still don't understand why it bothered me, because in my heart of hearts, I knew how poisonous my father was for my mother and me, and as a young kid, I used to pray that he would go away.

    I've always believed that in every marriage, there are times it would be easier to walk away than to work things out, and my marriage is no different. My husband was a changed man when he came home from Vietnam, but I hung in there, because I was convinced the real him was still in there somewhere. And I was right. It took more than twenty-five years before he started behaving like "himself" again. Now, we've got 46 years in, and things have never been better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Girl, you're a trooper. You hung in for 25 years? That is a long time. I'm so glad you got your husband back.

      As for what you said about your parents... how funny is that? You can think you want something until get it. You can know it's the best thing until it happens. And then there's the breakdown. Yep, you cry about it. I know this arena well.

      Delete
  11. Since everyone talks about how "everyone gets a divorce," I thought I'd have tons of support, and I'd just be joining "Everyone's club." Nope. It was horrendous and horrendously traumatic, Robin. Every minute felt like an eternity, and I just wanted it to be over with. But when it's over with, there's still an ugly mess of feelings to sort through. I'm sorry when you went through that at such a young age. Even when you expect it, intellectually, the emotions are overwhelming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even when it's the best thing for you, it's still horrible. Just horrible. There's a reason that divorce isn't recommended. It's damn painful.

      Delete
  12. I guess the two of us are just lucky (Brandon and I, or Meli and I, take your pick). My parents have been married happily for 30-something years. So have Brandon's. And Meli's. I honestly don't even know what divorce looks like up close. And going off of some of the fantastic comments above, I do feel like that really helped me put some perspective on my own marriage. There were a few relationships I was in when I was younger where the girl said she wanted marriage, even though we were okay for each other but not perfect. If I had relented it would have failed, I have no doubt of that, but I held out until I found the right one because I knew I wanted a truly happy marriage. And I definitely looked at my parents' marriage for that influence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is simply no replacement for a good role model. When you know what a happy marriage looks like you can actually create it for yourself. When you don't... well, you tend to recreate what you know, which ain't good.

      Delete
  13. I grew up in a time where a divorce was a very scandalous thing that you mostly only heard about movie stars doing. My parents had some rocky times, but nothing overly bad and they stayed close until my father died. Maybe the juggling act helped--the family that juggles together stays together you might say.

    I went into marriage with an old-fashioned view of something that doesn't end and yet I ended up with two divorces and three marriages (hopefully this third one is the for life one). Funny thing is that all my wives came from families where the marriages were pretty traditional long-lasting marriages. I guess it was just the era I was married into where a lot of relationships don't last. As far as I'm concerned divorce sucks. I never wanted any of them, but fortunately everything for the most part turned out pretty decently.

    Sad that your parents had to deal with divorce and most of all that you did. We deserve to have regular families where parents stay together to keep things less confusing..

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Road trippin' with A to Z
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The family that juggles together stays together. Well, that's food for thought. Maybe more people ought to juggle professionally to save the state of the union.

      Yes, divorce does suck. I know people who are glad they did it (I'm among them), but it sucked big-time. Even my parents, whose divorce was extremely amicable, had their moments I'm sure. There is just nothing good about divorce.

      Delete
  14. My parents divorced when I was 4. Then they both married a few times more after that. The divorce that about did me in was when I was 13 and my stepdad at the time had an affair and told us not to come home. We were vacationing and visiting our family in Texas but was living in San Diego. My world turned upside down. It was so painful and did a lot of damage to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't imagine that, Holli. Reading this makes me very sad for the child that you were.

      Delete
  15. My parents loved each other and were together 27 years. They would have some big to do fights but they always made up in such a cute way-my dad would buy my mom food she loved and my mom would be extra attentive to my dad and make his favourite meals. They were both married before so they knew what they didn't want. My former in laws were together 59 years before mom in law passed away. dad in law passed away 9 months later. They never argued according to the kids which was just weird to me. I think if one finds the right partner, you find out what works. I have heard many people say that the divorce rate is up and complain people get divorced too quickly and it got me thinking about the people I know who are married and if they are happily married. In the times long ago, one would not think of getting divorced yet many were not happy at all. I know my Oma and Opa were not. They were married 63 years but he didn't respect her and she was only 16 when she met him and knew no other boys at all. I know of friends who don't seem happy but stay together because it's the thing to do. In the end one should be happy because children can detect this just like you did even if it shocked you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My grandpa didn't respect my grandma either. He was pretty nasty sometimes (and violent when my mom was a kid). That traumatizes a kid, too. I think divorce is better than abuse. Both are terrible, but the scars from abuse... well, that is a time when divorce is the better option.

      Delete
  16. I've always thought that losing a parent at a young age was worse than being a child of divorce, but the older I get the more I realize how many similarities there are. You still share the same feelings of helplessness, abandonment, guilt, confusion, and loss. The major difference is there's a finality in death; whereas children of divorce constantly feel like they're taking sides choosing one parent over the other. In the best cases of divorce, children can eventually reconcile with both parents, but there are so many factors involved. I'm sorry you had to go through this, Robin. It had to be especially difficult while you were away at school, and your life was falling apart.

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You must understand that I didn't really see it as falling apart all the time. In fact, I really liked college. It is now that I see how terrible so many of the choices I made then were. At the time, I was just rolling with it. I think whenever you're trying to figure out the big questions of "Who am I?" and "What do I want to do with my life?" there is some confusion. There is some pain when the things you thought you wanted don't turn out to be right for you. But, there is also the thrill of independence and the joy of when you arrive at an answer.

      I think the divorce was probably harder on my brother who still lived at home. At least I didn't have to think about it 24/7. I was seven hours away and could busy myself with other things.

      The lessons that these people taught me on how to treat someone when you're in "relationship" were the most damaging. They weren't in agreement. And some of them were pretty terrible to one another. The messages were conflicting and just plain wrong.

      Delete
  17. What a great song choice. Yes, I've gone through divorce. Myself and my parents. On my 13 wedding anniversary, the Sheriff stopped into my place of business and served me divorce papers. My 13th wedding anniversary!
    ♫ That's gonna mess you up. ♪

    Also, my parents went through a divorce when I was in High School. My sister was dating a guy a few years older than her, and eventually this guy fell in love with my mother. One night, my dad woke up and followed them. He caught up to them as they were making out by the lake.
    ♫ That's gonna mess you up. ♪

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. That is super messed up with your parents. I can't imagine what that was like for your sister or your father. Or how that changed everyone's relationship with Mom. Yikes. I've made some bonehead decisions that I deeply regret, but nothing as bad as that (thank goodness!). I hope that your family recovered from that.

      Sounds like you didn't see that divorce coming. I'm sorry.

      Delete

You can now add YouTube videos in your comments by copy/pasting the link. AND/OR you can insert an image by surrounding the code with this: [im]code[/im]. In the case of images, make sure that your code is short and simple ending with something like .jpg. If you want to use a pic from someplace like Google Images, click on the image, then click on View Image. That is the code you want!

Dazzle Me!