Posted by: alphafemme | November 16, 2009


I finally had time this weekend to have extended conversations with my parents, which hadn’t happened in several weeks. My dad moved out about a month ago, and when I last talked to him he was feeling optimistic, hopeful that he would be okay. And my mom was just relieved, albeit lonely, in the house they own together and raised three kids in, now all by herself.

A few weeks later and things are different. They’re both in the thick of processing. Tears, hurt, anger, disappointment, loneliness. I don’t relish the role of confidante that I seem to have fallen into for both of them. Not in the middle, exactly, since they’re not exactly tugging me in different directions. They aren’t talking about each other so much; rather, they’re each talking about themselves. And I’m glad they trust me, and in a way I’m even thirsty for details. It’s like this: maybe if I can know exactly what it was that, after 27 years, made their marriage collapse, then I can know how to avoid it myself.

It’s fear on my part, is what it is. 27 fucking years. And that’s just the years they were married — they were together for 3 years before that. 30 years. And I’m afraid.

“Honestly,” my mom says, “there wasn’t a moment during our marriage that I wasn’t thinking of leaving him.” Then why did you marry him in the first place? “I thought the things that nagged at me, the doubts, would go away. I thought he would change.”

Lesson One: people don’t change.

But why did you settle for him, then, despite the doubts? “I guess I just loved him so much that I was blinded by it. He was very romantic, you know. I thought that his love for me would inspire him to make the changes I needed him to make. But I think I didn’t really know how to ask him for what I needed.”

Lesson Two: unattended to, unmet needs grow roots and take hold, and at a certain point, the roots are too big and too deep to be dug up.

Why didn’t you try? “Try what?” To ask for what you needed? “I guess I thought I was supposed to leave them unsaid. I guess I thought it was my job to meet his.”

Lesson Three: your children will learn from you how to treat you. If you allow your own needs to be superceded by your spouse’s, then your children will learn that their own needs should be superceded by your spouse’s too. And it will take them a long, long time to unlearn that. Just like it’s taken you.

And Dad. My spirit-parent, my quasi-child. Still doing alright in your little attic apartment by yourself? “It’s hard. I feel resentful. Dismissed.”

Lesson Four: Break-ups, no matter how old you are, no matter how long the relationship was, no matter how dead it was before it finally died its final death, are, in essence, all the same.

That’s understandable, Dad. “But actually, when I really think about it, I realize that I don’t want her back. Even if she decided she wanted to try again, I don’t think I’d want to. Unless things could go back to the way they were ten years ago. Things were different then. She was different then. She’s gotten too independent.”

Lesson Five: Those bad patterns, the destructive ones, if they don’t get fixed will become such a fixture of the relationship that they are the very air it breathes, the water it drinks. And if that water dries up, the relationship dies, because it needs that water to survive.

“But you know what? I’ll be okay.”

They both said the exact same words.

Lesson Six: I’ll be okay too.




  1. I am sorry to hear about your parent’s divorce…my gf parents also got a divorce this year and it was very hard on her…he moms (Yes, mothers, they were lesbians) had been together for 28 years and JUST had a baby boy less than a year before they got a divorce….but this was because one of them step out of the marriage and had an affair…

    When my gf and I first met we talked about our families and she was so happy that her moms had been together for so long and told me that she wanted what her mothers had, but she wanted it to be her own…and when everything happened she fell apart and it fell into our relationship and she questioned whether it would possible for her and I to make our relationship work when the model she had for a loving relationship just went to shit…

    It was incredibly hard, and still is…the relation ship with her Mom (the one who stepped out of the marriage) is horrible…her Mom said some horrible things and did horrible things to my gf and it is just a big pool of animosity…

    I am happy that you are coping well with the situation and I hope that you don’t push her away…

    It was really hard to try and get my gf to understand that what affects her also affects me, and that when she has a bad day, I have a bad day too…when her parents got a divorce and she went through all of that craziness I did too because I was with her through it all and I felt it, I saw what it did to her and I saw how bad it was for her to deal with and I dealt with her BEING like that…so I went through it too…

    So I hope that you know that you don;t have to go through the bad times alone..especially when there is someone that loves you that wants to be there for you…even if is to listen to you complain about it, cry about it or just sulk about it…

    • wow, yeah, that’s tough. I’m trying to not let it have too much of an impact on my relationship, meaning, I don’t want to suddenly withdraw from her or anything, just because of my parents’ relationship. I do wish I had more positive models of successful, long-term relationships in my life though. it’s just so scary to be young and trying to make a life and see everyone else’s around yours crumbling.

      but mi’lady is definitely there for me and she really allows me to feel it in my core, too. sometimes I have a hard time accessing what I feel, except when I look at her…

  2. Breakups and divorce: not a pleasant thing, especially in the beginning, even if it is for the best. I’m glad to see you are handling it as best as you can and figuring out as much as you can for your own healing.

    I hope your parents are happy in the end – and ultimately, you will all be a better family because of it.

    I love lesson #6. It has taken me lots of heartbreak and hard lessons to figure this one out for myself. But true it is.

    • I think the part I need to hold on to in your comment there is “you will all be a better family because of it.”

      it’s hard to remember that, whatever ends up happening, we are still a family. it’s easy to look at it as though they’re tearing our family apart, with this divorce. but they don’t have that power, you’re right — whatever they do, they’ve created lives and they can’t undo that. we’re still a family.

      thanks for that reminder.

  3. I love the way you wrote this. You’re going through such a strange and difficult time yet you’re taking so much from it. Never stop doing that. ::hugs::

    • thanks greg :) I think you must be the most supportive commenter on the whole entire Internet. you’re always so affirming. thank you so much for that. you don’t even know how much it means!

  4. Divorce is such a tough thing. Your lessons are right on, and I think everyone can learn from them.

    Don’t forget to do what it takes to support yourself through all of this, too. You WILL be okay.

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