Stories of Divorce Survival From Real People

Editor’s Note: This year, Modern Law began offering a scholarship to people who have survived divorce. We asked applicants to tell us in an essay how divorce had made them better or stronger. This series is the result of the stories we received. We’ve changed names and locations when appropriate. 

According to the basic dictionary, divorce is defined as: “the ending of a marriage by a legal process”. But what the dictionary seems to leave out, is how absolutely excruciating it is; the pain, stress, and depression that comes along with it. How it seems to affect each aspect of our lives, and will continue for the rest of our lives. It does not warn us of the countless nights we will spend crying in bed, or the thousands of dollars you will spend on a lawyer.

But, on the other hand, the dictionary also does not express the positives; the strengths you gain, the unforced smiles you get, and how you finally feel like you can breathe again. I am a college kid that is a witness of divorce, and this is how I survived it. Growing up, I had the best childhood from what I can remember. I was constantly happy, and my parents made sure of that. I believed that they were so in love, for they always seemed like it.

They would tell me stories of how they met – on a blind date to McDonalds when they were 15 and 16 – and I found myself wanting to find a love like that in the future. There were some smoggy memories of them having some wicked fights, but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary for a married couple. When I finally hit the teenager stages of my life is when I really started to notice that they were not the parents I remembered growing up with, and that is when everything seemed to change in my world. Throughout my entire teenage years, all I can really remember about my parents is their constant battling. If they had one good day in the week, it was a miracle.

Every day I would come home, and my mom would have something new that she was mad at my dad about; or worse, she would still be mad about something that happened months ago. My parent’s fights only got worse as the years went on. At times, they would even put me in the middle of it, trying to pressure me to pick sides. I would spend countless nights hiding out in my bathroom crying because I simply had no solution. I would keep everything bottled up inside, and I noticed it started to affect my every day mental health.

Focusing in school got hard, focusing at my job, focusing on anything really. Everything around me just became really sad, and dreaded going home. One of the other biggest factors for me is I never could fully trust a man or getting into a relationship, because I feared I would have the same thing my parents did.

By the time my senior year rolled around, I knew I needed to get out of my house. Going to college and living in the dorms turned out to be the best thing for me; it literally saved me from insanity. My parents finally decided to split after I left for college, and now are legally separated and going through the divorce process. But to be honest, it has been years that my parents have truly been “separated” – just living under the same roof.

These past few months have still been hard for me to deal with, especially being home for the holidays and not having the other parent there. Everything is still such an adjustment, and at first, I took the route of trying to drink my problems away in college. I felt as if I had been on this rapid roller-coaster ride with my parents for the past six years, and I was at my breaking point. I knew something had to change. For the past two months, I have really been just diving myself into my school work, sorority, and family/friends to get my mind off things. I have had major support from people I dearly love, and that has helped me get through this tough time.

Without the love and support I have received, I fear of where I could have ended up today. Although I am still trying to deal with the divorce of my parents, there are some great positive rewards that have come from it. It is so nice to see my mom genuinely smile every day, and hear my dad’s voice so happy. It is so much less stressful to come home to a battle constantly, and I finally feel like my entire family can breathe.

In my heart I knew it was something they had to do, no matter how scared I was to have the title of divorced parents. But I have come to the realization that sometimes love evolves over so many years, and just is not the same.

We are constantly growing as people, and in some cases, that love does not grow with us. We must outgrow it and branch off into a different path of life in order to find peace once again, and that is what makes any witness or victim of divorce a better person at the end of the day.

Click here to read another story of a child that survived their parents divorce.