Recently, I got into a conversation with a close friend that I had known for many years about dreams, relationships, and college. However, when delving into deeper topics, about love and relationships, the issue of my "parents" came up when she wondered how my father felt about certain things I was doing. Despite the fact that I had known her for so long, I realized I never told her about my "parents" and how it was more of just one "parent." And, with the topic of divorce, she sincerely apologized for bringing up the topic, like any normal modern American. Understandably, the topic of divorce is a tricky one or something that requires skillful navigation around.
During my whole entire life/ from the time I could form memories, my parents have been divorced and that was just life. I would always come home to my loving mom. And, as a child, I never really understood the situation. I knew was that they didn't love each other, I knew my father wasn't necessarily a good person, and I knew that what they had was not marriage. But, I didn't know that this was not how other families grew up or how to love my father. I never understood how much my father mistreated my mother. I didn't know what love from a father really meant, and even if I felt a presence there, he never really stayed long enough then more than a week during a year at a time. And, the only reason that I felt there was something missing was every father's day gift that would remain untouched during those elementary school projects. And, while all the other kids would talk about what their fathers were like or the teachers would ask where my father was, I would give the answer. "Oh, my father is just on a business trip to China," instead of "oh, my parents are divorced."
There was so much initial sadness if a child was brought up and their parents happened to get a divorce. When I was still in elementary school and I mistakenly had told one of my friends my parents were divorce... not exactly knowing what that word meant, I remember her going up to me saying she knew someone else in the class's parents were also divorced. When my friend brought divorce up in front of the girl whose parents were also divorced, she started bawling. My friend became confused because she thought "oh wait, but aren't Linda's parents divorced?" But Linda's not upset, unaware that my reaction was atypical.
Growing up in an Asian family, divorce is taboo. There are so many set standards for marriage. With the pressure of the culture and family, some couples would rather stay together unhappily or face extreme scrutiny from family, friends or society. Therefore, when growing up, my mom's taught me to say instead "oh, my dad is on a business trip to China" that's why he's not home. But, in actuality, his life was in China. And, although this became more of a normalized thing for me to do, I understood it was a lie. And, maybe to further cover my tracks, in conversation, in matters involving any parent or any relation, I defaulted to always saying "my parents" this and "my parents" that, which in term made it seem like both were present. It became so normalized not to say anything because I was taught not to. It seemed like the secret of the household. To this day my mom keeps her marital status on the down-low. However, in recent years, I have learned more to claim it because it's nothing bad.
50% of marriages in America end in divorce, and my parents' were not the exception. Although this heavily skews my perception of love and marriage, I realize that my parents and my family do not define who I am. Unlike many families who were broken by divorce, I believe our family became stronger by cutting out the person who was hurting us. My father didn't and doesn't have a big impact on my life today. However, he still plays a bigger part in the scars of the past that will sometimes heal but reopen in ways that are not the ways people would expect. I tell more people now because I reclaimed that it is less of a taboo than something that actually was common in the America household. In my opinion, being a child of divorce isn't anything bad but a part of what my upbringing is. I never missed having a dad because I never had one in the first place. And, me having realized I never told my friend about my parent's divorce in the past had less to do with the level of closeness of how long I had known her and how I felt with her and more to do with my underlying deep belief that my parents' divorce was a taboo and it was normalized to lie. However, me having realized I never told my friend about my parent's divorce now after reclaiming divorce and normalizing it was more to do with how little I think about it because it never ever defined who I ultimately am as a person.