Experiences of a Divorced Kid: the Spy
December 2, 2010 1 Comment
The period between when parents separate and they move on, which may or may not be when the divorce is finalized can be a tumultuous period for the kids. I remember feeling almost like a spy—you had one identity you put on for the parents, for the judge, for the relatives and family friends, for anyone who knows about the divorce. Then, you have who you really are—the feelings you feel but can’t express, the things you want to do or be but outside circumstances prevent them.
You feel alone. A soon-to-be Divorced Kid must be very careful about what he or she says to anyone. Because, the kid quickly learns, everyone has picked a side: your Mom’s, or your Dad’s. You don’t have a side all your own. You’re supposed to pick one, too. Maybe you did, initially, but then everything became so complicated and muddled, and you can’t distinguish truth from fiction anymore. You spend every spare moment of the day, and the minutes and hours at night before you can finally fall asleep trying to figure out truth from lie. Until you can figure that out, you can’t trust anyone. Everything is suspect.
That is a horrible feeling—not being able to trust your own parents. But you can’t let that show, see, because Mom and Dad have become like hound dogs sniffing out these things. If they find out you’re suspicious of them? You’ll be grilled for information, for dirt on the other parent, or else cajoled into admitting why you don’t trust them, and forced to listen to that parent’s virtues, and the follies of the other. If the judge or outsiders find that out, that’s even worse, because you fear social services being called, and their being called is just one step from being taken away from your family—and that’s the worst fate of all. Being taken from everything you know and being put with strangers? And just think of how angry your parents would be at you.
All you want to do is talk to someone—but you quickly learn, that anything you say to anyone might make it back to one parent or the other. Family will listen a bit, then rail against the parent they oppose, then take that information to either the parent they side with, or directly to the judge on court day. Your teachers will do the same—tell a parent, or the judge, especially if you were ordered to go to a different school by the judge. Friends will either not understand, will distance themselves from you, or tell their parents, who will tell yours. You don’t want your feelings to become ammunition in the courtroom. You just want to be, to learn, to live, to love your parents and them you, unconditionally, without “the divorce” coming in between you.
If you’re lucky, you have That One Thing—yes, that thing that is yours, only yours. It’s safe from “the divorce,” whatever it is isn’t going to change or be taken away from you. It may be a sport, an organization, whatever—but no one in it knows about “the divorce” and you have no intention of telling them, either. It’s the one place you can be most of who you are, where you can relax, and put truth and lie, fighting, side-picking, and subterfuge away for a bit. You still can’t talk to someone about it, but here, it was your choice to do so. A powerful choice, because it’s one of the few you get to make in “the divorce.” It’s relieving to take that burden off your shoulders for a bit, but the dread at leaving, at getting into the car and it settling back on your shoulders is awful. There goes the identity-switch, too. Time to be a spy again.