Every time it comes up in conversation that my parents are divorced, the first thing people do is apologize. "I am so sorry. I didn't know that your parents are divorced. Growing up like that must have been awful."
Was it hard growing up in a divorced home? Yes. But, was it awful? No. Sure, there was a lot of back-and-forth, living out of suitcases. Holidays were complicated. Whose year is it for Easter, mom or dad? Christmas was exhausting, a never ending voyage house to house. And, there was the slightly more than occasional time that mom and dad would disagree on something, and you felt stuck in the middle.
Despite it all, I can proudly say that my parents' divorce was the best thing that has ever happened to me. My parents divorced when I was 4 years old and my brother, Andrew, was 2. At that time, we didn't fully understand what was going on, and going back and forth from mom and dad's house became "normal".
I always will know that my parents loved each other. It wasn't ever a question, but that wasn't the issue. It was that they loved themselves and my brother and I more. They knew that toxic relationship wasn't healthy for them to continue and definitely wasn't healthy to raise two children in.
I have heard so many times people say, "I will never get a divorce, especially if I have kids. I would just be hurting my kids." Immediately, a million responses flood to my mind. First, no one knows if they would willingly get a divorce until they are in a situation where it is a possibility. I would love to say that I will not get a divorce, simply because I came from a divorced family, but I know in all reality that could happen. Second, divorce is not death. It is not something that should have this stigma that it is so utterly horrible because, in most cases, divorce is the turning point in their life where things improve from what their life once was. Third, people divorcing who have children aren't ever hurting their children. They are doing a selfless act by stepping away from the relationship because they know it is best for their children. There is no benefit to a child to be raised in a household of fighting and unhappiness.
Through my parents' divorce I have learned how much they truly love me unconditionally. Despite their differences, they always come together for my brother and I. Both of my parents come to all of our sporting events, and almost always sit together. They co-parent extremely well and communicate with each other about their children even when they are really annoyed with each other. They embrace each other's new spouses because they will be a part of their children's lives.They always do whatever they can to support their children, regardless of their personal differences.
Through their divorce, I learned a lot of meaningful life lessons.
1. Divorce isn't "quitting" or "giving up." It is acknowledging that you need to do what is best for yourself (and in my parents' case, their children as well).
2. Being independent is okay! You can survive without a partner and sometimes you are better off without one.
3. Divorce does not define you. I am a child of divorce, but that is not all that I am. I am a scholar, a sorority woman, a daughter, a sister, a friend and most importantly unapologetically myself.
Without my parents' divorce, I wouldn't be the person that I am today. I have learned so many things and the experiences, good or bad, have left a lasting impression on me. I am so unbelievably thankful for the decision my parents made to no longer be together. Now, I have two amazing stepparents that take me as their own and two more siblings that I love more than life itself. I have twice the love, twice the joy and twice the support. Sure, living in a split home isn't the ideal life. It's not the house with the white picket fence; the back and forth is chaos. But, it is my chaos and I wouldn't have it any other way.