Saturday, September 17, 2011

The One With The Divorce Story

[This post is in response to Laurel Snyder author of the forthcoming Bigger than a Breadbox. (September 27!)]

Bigger than a Breadbox addresses divorce and a daughter trying to adjust to her new life. And I’ve heard there’s a touch of magic! Isn’t the cover beautifully intriguing?

Here’s a link to her blog:

Laurel asked people to tell her a story. We owe it to her. She shares wonderful stories with us.

So here’s mine.

In fifth grade all my friends’ parents were getting divorced. Actually, it seemed like every kid I knew had parents who were divorcing. Except me.
Did I feel lucky?
Did I feel relieved?
Was I scared my parents would be next?
I was scared my parents wouldn’t be next.
You see, I wanted my mom and dad to get divorced.
Many of my friends knew of the strange desire I had to see my parents split up. My friend Mindy put it best: “What’s your problem? Do you just want two of everything? Two bedrooms, two of all the holidays and stuff like that?”
That wasn’t it. The problem was I didn’t know exactly why I wanted my parents to live separate lives.
Did they yell?
Did they fight?
Were they mean to one another?
So, what was my problem?
I didn’t know the answer to that question. The problem was that my parents didn’t fight, they didn’t yell, and they weren’t mean to each other. Sound weird? Well…
In both my extended families everyone yells to communicate. This isn’t because we are a certain nationality, I know this stereotypical of a few; it’s just how we talk. I think by the time I was ten, I had noticed that my parents spoke quietly to one another. It just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like family.
Same thing with the fighting. My parents never fought; not about money, not about us kids, nothing. Again, I refer back to my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Whew! I’m not sure there has ever been one holiday where someone didn’t lock themselves into a bathroom crying due to something someone else said. (I’ve never been the one in the bathroom, thank you very much.) Everything is usually ironed out by the time the night’s over, though. (Oddly enough when a fight lasts beyond one day, the two family members give each other the silent treatment. Go figure.)
Personally, if I don’t fight with you, or at least openly disagree, then you don’t mean enough for me to even bother with you. Note: I don’t go around picking fights. I haven’t had the opportunity to oppose everyone on the planet…yet! And I believe I inherited this from both my parents.
Ok, am I about to say my family members are all mean to each other? A little bit. It’s not so much mean, but we all pick on each other. (This is what usually leads to those previously mentioned bathroom scenes.) Do I pick on people? Only if they pick on me first! (Two wrongs make a right, right?) Anyway, my parents didn’t pick on each other. They weren’t playful with one another. They didn’t take a second to rib the other to show they were paying attention.
Can you see how all this might be a noticeable problem to a kid? Some couples say they forgot to make time for each other or they forgot how to date one another. I think my parents forgot to challenge each other and their complacency led to boredom and resentment.
So I noticed all these things and wanted my parents to get a divorce. Fine. But what did I need? What was I missing?
(Again, I was ten. Cut me some slack. I just couldn’t figure out that part. I’m not sure I was aware that I had a need not being met.)
And then I was twenty, almost twenty-one. (Exactly ten years later. Wow. That’s actually just a little over ten years from right now. Holy Smokes!)
Anyway, I had to take my car in to the shop for some body work and my dad met me at the mechanic’s. Right there on one of the busiest streets in town, my dad told that he left my mom and they were getting a divorce. In my little ten year old voice I asked why. He said something about it coming for a long time. He wasn’t kidding.
(You know how the camera pans to all the crying girls at rock concerts and they look dumb? Well, I was at an NSync concert once and out of nowhere the stage came right for me putting me within six feet of the guys. The only thing I could think to do was-sigh-cry and wave.)
Minus the wave and rock star fun, that same kind of cry happened to me again. It was a kind of mixture of so many emotions that I couldn’t express them appropriately or even at all. The only thing my body could do was expel all these different feelings through tears. Of course my dad took this as sadness and hugged me, only the second time he’s hugged me in my life. (Which is exactly two more than my mom. We’re not huggers, we’re yellers. And in fairness, they may have hugged me as a baby and I don’t remember it.)
So, there I am crying on a busy street in my college town with my non-hugging dad embracing me. Geeze.
In my head I spoke to that ten year old: “Suck it up little girl. Smile. You finally got what you wanted.”
At twenty, I wanted, no craved, stability. This wasn’t stability.
(By the way, exactly six months after this nineteen Al-Qaeda terrorists commandeered four United States airplanes and…well I haven’t been able to locate stability since.
So my parents divorced and now my dad is remarried. I now have a step mother, brother, and sister as well as a step sister-in-law (that I graduated from high school with) and a step niece and nephew. In my early thirties it’s a unique challenge to fit into a step family. With my mom, she puts me in the middle of her and my dad; it’s frustrating and childish. I don’t know how I would have dealt with that as a child. It wouldn’t have been pretty. Everyone gets along and I’m thankful for that.
And I finally figured out what I was missing! I wanted and needed to see a healthy adult relationship. I needed to see what two people in love looked like. (I was in the gifted classes in school so I was smart enough to know that Young and the Restless and Dallas “love” wasn’t real.) I needed to around that kind of thing, immersed in it, living it.
How did I figure that one out?
Well, let’s put it this way: I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost twelve years and have no desire to get married. We’ve lived together for eleven years. I know how to be a girlfriend; but I don’t know how to be a wife.
So this is my story, and it’s ongoing.
I’m simply a WIP. (work in progress)


  1. Oh, Kelly. Wow. Wow. This is an amazing story, and the idea of you carrying those thoughts for so long-- the tension of it. I can't imagine. Thank you so much for sharing. Your boyfriend is a lucky guy.

  2. It is so good to share! Best wishes...just imagine though. You are in the middle of creating something totally different for your family...a walk through life that will be unique just to you. There is no stability though. It doesn't matter if you know how to be a good wife or a GREAT will always bring an emotion full of changes. The question is more will you value and enjoy the journey?
    Cheers, T