This I Believe

Brianna - Austin, Texas
Entered on May 8, 2007

They say that I am more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They say that I am more likely to have emotional problems. And they say that I am most likely to have an unhappy relationship, which eventually will end in divorce. I say they don’t know what they’re talking about.

I first learned that my parents were getting divorced when my mother collapsed on the kitchen floor screaming at my dad to get out of our house. I knew at this moment my life would be changed. These screaming rants became a routine part of my life. I was no longer a child; I was an item on a list that expensive lawyers battled over in court.

The legal experts told me I was damaged; I needed to seek the help of medical professionals in order to be repaired. These doctors poked and prodded at me. They looked at me under their microscopes. “Oh no, the prognosis is not good,” they said, “She is broken.” They put a big red stamp on my forehead: “DAMAGED”.

I walked around for years with my scarlet letter on display. I was an empty shell, denying myself the things I felt I did not deserve. My mom told me I wasn’t allowed to love my dad, so I didn’t. I was statistically proven not to find love or happiness, so I didn’t ask for it. I thought that this was the way things were supposed to be; my past determined my future.

And then, something amazing happened. I began to realize that this is not my past; it belongs to my parents. I looked back and noticed I had already survived the odds. I hadn’t surrendered my life to drugs and alcohol or become a social delinquent. I actually turned out to be a pretty respectable person. I graduated in the top of my class from high school with many accomplishments under my belt. I went on to college and even graduate school. I even found somebody to love me. I looked in the mirror in disbelief. I don’t recall the exact moment when it happened, but my stamp had washed away. I was left with one ideological truth: the mistakes made by my parents don’t determine my future. And this I finally believe.