This I Believe

Erin - Fountain, Colorado
Entered on May 14, 2007

I believe in the transformational power of exercising empathy.

At a young age in 1996, I impulsively married a troubled man I hardly knew because I was impregnated by him. I learned from my poor judgment you should conquer your own emotional baggage from your childhood; really know yourself and needs before making life decisions which will shape the rest of your life. It would have been worth the invested time learning about myself; my limitations and strengths, my dreams and fears, emotional needs and the root of all my values, beliefs and bias. I believe in the necessity of one’s self-discovery.

I believe many parents believe societal myths about divorce. I clung onto the idea my daughter would benefit from a divorce between her parents caught in an unhealthy marriage so I sought a divorce. Seven months later, I became a non-residential, divorced mother of a young daughter who didn’t view it as beneficial. My divorce brought about unexpected misery and parenting complexities; it didn’t mitigate the existing problems but instead amplified them. I believe divorce adversely affects children.

In October of 2001, I began my journey of post-divorce healing and growth when I started seeking answers for my anger from stepmothers on an internet message board. In retrospect, I believe my initial motivation registering on a stepmother board was to purge my anger; I couldn’t lash out at the stepmother in my daughter’s life without negative consequences so why not those on the internet? What I discovered is I had a lot to learn about my own culpability in my own life circumstances. I learned how to be empathetic from those who offered it. I learned more about myself through the lenses of someone holding a different perspective. Finally, I learned friendship can form in the most unlikely of places. I believe in the power of being empathetic.

I believe the best parent to a child of divorce is both parents. I’ve learned the court system cannot fix what is broken between two divorced parents unwilling to work together . I’ve learned fighting the other parent, even when justified, only makes the situation more unbearable for the child caught in the middle. I believe a child loves and needs both his parents, for better or worse.