My parents divorced when I was just 12 years old. This is a rocky age for anybody, and mix in my family splitting apart, and you had a recipe for disaster. The road wasn't always smooth. It's hard to watch your parents fall in love with, and marry, people that aren't each other. But thankfully, as I've grown up, I'm now 21 and can honestly say that my parent's divorce was the best thing that could've happened to my family.
1. The way divorce bonded my siblings and I
Being the middle child of five kids, you learn how to get along with your siblings — or else you won't really survive until adulthood.
My siblings and I always got along well enough, but going through something as hard as divorce creates a bond that can't be replaced. When my parents were fighting, when our mom started going out on dates with guys we didn't know, when we moved, when we went and spent the weekend with our dad, his girlfriend, and her weird kids, when everything was hard and confusing — we always had each other. When we moved to a new place and didn't know any of the neighborhood kids, we could play with each other — and we loved it. There were (and still are) times when we confided in each other about our parents when things were hard. They have always been there.
Now in adulthood, I'm constantly texting and joking around with my siblings. We don't always have time to see each other, but when we do spend time together, it's uplifting, fun, and positive. My siblings are my original best friends, and I don't think we would be so close if it weren't for the divorce.
2. My relationships with my step-parents
My mom and dad respectively had struggles finding the loves of their lives, and I definitely didn't like all of the people they dated between the divorce and their current marriages. I hated going over to my dad's house when he lived with his ex-girlfriend. But now, they're both married to amazing people.
My now step-mom and step-dad have both accepted me as their own child, and I respect them both as parental figures in my life. If something ever were to happen in either of their marriages, I still think I would stay close to my step-parents. The bonds I've formed with my step-parents is something I cherish. Each of them have introduced so much positivity and joy into my life, and supported me through some of the hardest times I've had to face. I've been through a lot with both of them and that has helped to build so much trust. They are family to me, and I would never have been able to have these great relationships with them if my parents hadn't married them.
Plus, having four parents to share good news with, to support me in life, and to get advice from? It's an absolute blessing.
3. The benefit of having two homes
There's no place like home, and I am so fortunate that I have two places that are like this for me. I know that I can walk into either house, eat whatever is in the fridge, stay for however long I want, and always have people there for me at each home. Plus, both families are so different. If I need somebody to talk to, the advice I get at my mom's house will always be different from the advice I get at my dad's house. At both homes, we have very different traditions and rituals. For instance, I cherish going to church with my dad, step-mom, and step-siblings. But at my mom's house, I cherish having family game nights, cooking big meals with my mom, and studying with my sister on the couch.
4. Having hope for my own love life after breakups
Breakups are horrible.
Seeing the way my parents struggled to rebuild their lives after the divorce was also pretty horrible. But imagining the pressure they felt of having to put their lives back together, as well as still being a good parent? I can't imagine how tough that must be, and to anyone who does that- you are amazing.
They both were heartbroken and struggled to heal. It was slow, but eventually, they both found their new lives and became happy again. My dad in particular was once very hopeless and depressed. Now, he is genuinely so content in life and is so blissfully happy in his marriage.
This has helped me when I've gone through breakups. I can sit on the couch and bawl my eyes out with either of my parents and they tell me how they got through the divorce. They talk about how it felt when they met their now spouses and how much better they feel now being in a relationship that they truly belong in. This is helpful for me because it isn't just stories I'm reading on the internet, or my friends giving me advice. I was there when they were heartbroken. I watched them have to put their lives back together. I watched them fall in love, and I watched them rise from the ashes of heartbreak.
And on top of that, my step-parents have both been divorced before marrying my mom and dad. So they can share even more advice and wisdom with me. The hope and comfort that brings me is irreplaceable.
5. Seeing my parents happier and healthier
I saved this one for last — because it's the most important to me.
Before my parents got divorced, there was constant fighting. There was so much drama and tension and neither my mom or dad were truly happy- and that negativity definitely leaked onto my siblings and I.
I always remind myself that before we ever were a family, before my parents ever had kids- they were a couple. They were their own people that got together with hopes and dreams of their own. Over time, their love died and stopped working as it should. Having been in unhealthy relationships myself, I know how it can drain your life force. Nobody should have to stay in a situation like that.
It's much easier for me to compartmentalize this as an adult than it was for me when I was younger. It's hard to imagine your parents as being anything but that. But they're living, breathing humans just like I am. Knowing that they are both healthy and happy now brings me so much joy. Seeing my mom laughing with her husband, seeing my dad light up when his wife is around- these things make me genuinely so happy.
I heard a quote once that said, "no good relationship ever ended in divorce" and I think about that often. It was heartbreaking to watch my parents get a divorce and have to lose so much of what made us a family- the traditions, our home together, and a sense of belonging. But so much positivity came out of it- and my parents, my siblings and I are better off now. You always want the people you love to be happy and healthy- and I would go through it again if it meant that for my parents.