If there is such a thing as the typical child of a broken home, I’m sure that I do not fit the description. I grew up in the suburbs with my mom, dad, and brother. My parents took me to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. I played the piano, wore the latest fashions, was given my very own car right before my 16th birthday, and played any sport from soccer to tennis. I spent summers with my grandparents, all four of whom still enjoy spending time with their 27 year-old granddaughter. How could anyone describe my situation as a broken home?
I did not realize that my home was broken until my parents announced their divorce when I was 22. I knew they disagreed on most things and it did seem strange that my mother had taken to sleeping on the living room sofa. But divorce? They could work it out, I thought, try harder, live out their Christian beliefs, and do the right thing for me, my brother, my grandparents, everyone…but they didn’t. Unbeknownst to me – the 5 year-old who ran an in-house anti-smoking campaign for my mom at my dad’s request or the 12 year-old who thought we stopped seeing the family counselor because I had learned to love my mother at church camp – the divorce was the not the beginning of my parents’ neglect of their marriage and responsibilities to their children, but the evidence of this neglect, the proof.
Therapy isn’t easy, and lately it has made my life much harder than I expected. I want to be happy, avoid the mistakes my parents made, and build a life with a good man; but I had no idea it would be this difficult to prepare myself. In my nine years as an adult I have attained a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, purchased my first home, and started a career that I am extremely proud of. But somehow, I’m not emotionally ready to share my life with someone and start a family. What sense does this make? Being type A, or at least type A-minus, I would love for someone to hand me a to-do list to help me prepare for my own family someday. That way, I could really get moving on this and see my progress on a chart, graph, something…but this doesn’t seem to be the way therapy works. Some days I am so disappointed with my parents and so hurt. Other days I only want to remember the good things about my childhood.
I have to keep reminding myself that now is my time to figure out who I am and what I want for my life. This life isn’t perfect, but it can be good, it can be better.