Divorce is horrible. When I was eight and my Dad sat me in front of a cheesy american video to make divorce seem like a normal everyday occurrence so kids swallowed the consequences better. It even had a cheesy tune spelling out the letters of divorce like you were learning the alphabet.
Yet I was the only kid in class who had parents that were splitting up. They split when I was seven. One morning we got up and the delivery men had arrived and were packing up some of our things. I had wondered why, on the previous day, Mum had put up a sign saying ‘Pickfords this way‘ at the end of our road. We were effectively moonlighting while dad was at work. Although I didn’t know this at the time I just thought it was a game that Mum and I were playing on him. I said to Mum, “It will be funny when Dad gets home and we aren’t here”. After 2 years passed I realised it was beyond a game. Although it morphed into this weird game of possession over me. Whenever my Dad had an argument with Mum over the weekend when I was staying with him he would say “right I am bringing her back” it was the easiest way for my Dad to get revenge by using me as the thing he could hold over her. Because I was upset it would make her upset – what a cunt he was back then.
I could go on with more tales of woe of toing and froing between my dad and mum – which all culminated in me refusing to budge from the car and watching my dad abandon the car on my Mum’s road and attempt to walk to the nearest bus stop. It was a true battle of wills between an 8 year old and her father and I was never going to back down. The car door was open where my dad had been standing trying to negotiate with me but I didn’t move a muscle, I didn’t even undo my seatbelt – not even when my Mum tried to coax me in. I would have stayed in that effin car all night. I watched Dad’s back as he walked down the road and then watched him turn round climb into the car and start the hour’s drive back to his in silence.
A few months later a fat man moved in with me, my mum and my granny – who had put us up for the interim. This fat man was my Mum’s new boyfriend. As we only lived in the upstairs of Granny’s house so that she could have the ground floor we had 3 bedrooms and a bathroom at our disposal. One of the bedrooms was a living room. For some reason that I can’t quite remember, fat man, mum and me all slept in the same room. I knew when they wanted sex because they would move into the other room thinking I was still asleep. In the end I got my own room. Although this didn’t stop all the moaning, groaning and grunting that went on most nights that I could hear as clear as crystal through the paper thin walls. Its strange hearing your mother having sex with a man who isn’t your father. Particularly at an age when you don’t quite understand what sex is all about. Just typing this now brings back the sounds of their sex in process – my mother was very loud. It affected me in a strange way and I think I will leave the rest of the story for another blog.
Anyway, back to divorce. It fucks kids up. Avoid it at all costs. Just because your kid is smiling at you and looks like they believe you when you say to them ‘everything is going to be OK’ does not mean that they are taking it on the chin. I can only speak from my own experience as a 7 year old going through a divorce it was incredibly confusing, swept everything you thought you knew completely away from underneath you and left you very unstable and having to find inner strength. With kids the reaction tends to come out in other areas – normally at school. I developed a habit of stealing things from my friends and becoming quite aggressive – although you don’t realise that you are doing it at the time. You are just doing what helps to numb the stuff going on in your head.
Two of my friends are going through break-ups. One child is 7 and the other is 6. I see them and it breaks my heart – they look so strong and unflappable on the outside and completely unaffected. That’s how I used to look but inside there is turmoil.
Despite my Mum’s best efforts to make things right (my dad made his efforts a while later) my childhood from the time of the break-up to about the age of 13 or 14 was a write-off. I can’t remember one moment of bliss. As an only child I was indulged. I was given a pony, a jeep and later a motorbike! What a lucky kid! No seriously I know how lucky I was but I would have exchanged all of that and more to have had my mum and dad together.
Recently I dared criticise my mother for the effect her relationships with other men had on me while I was growing up (although I have yet to tell her how the sexual side of her relationships affected me – think i will take that to the grave with me). Thinking that it would placate me, she said “if I hadn’t been with fat man (name has been removed obviously) then I wouldn’t have been able to fund your pony” I was stunned. Does she really feel that her relationship with him affected me so little that I would have been happy with him if I had known that he was funding my pony? Fuck off! If only she had given me that option at the time. I would have gladly flogged the pony to the first taker in return for kicking him out.
Living with Dad was not an option either as he just saw it as a chance to get the child maintenance payments reversed in his favour but with a few more daddy day care pounds added on top so that put paid to that idea – cheers Dad. At least he led the bachelor life for a good 15 years, which I would much rather have lived with.
But even after you have long since left home, got married yourself and had your own children the effects of divorce continue. My children have 3 sets of grandparents – my husband’s parents who are simple as it is just the two of them and they have been married 40 years, then there is my dad and my stepmum and my mum and my twat of a stepdad. It gets very confusing with grandfather, grandma J, Grandad M etc etc. Then there is Christmas – trying to fit them all in and not piss anyone off – then there is the stepchildren – who don’t get on very well either. In fact I gave up on my stepdad’s children as they were just impossible to get along with so I waved the white flag and we now see each other separately. This means that I have to book in dates in advance to see my mum – great! My stepdad is a sensitive soul (and very possessive) he likes to know where my mum is at all times and doesn’t like it when she spends time with me. Anyway that’s another blog for another time.
The long and the short of it is – if you are thinking of divorcing and there are children involved please avoid it at all costs. My Mum would even back me in on this as she has said quite a few times now that if she could reverse time she would have stayed with dad as she believes divorce is not worth it having lived with the consequences. At least try to patch things up no matter how hard it is. (Domestic abuse however is a whole different ball game).
If you think that your children will survive it and not be to upset emotionally you are kidding yourself.
Sorry its been quite a heavy one today but I am unable to voice my true opinions to my friends in the process of splitting because I am ultimately criticising their parenting by saying – but what about the kids?
Thanks for reading. I would be grateful if you could donate £1 to Unicef if you enjoyed this blog. This blog is intended to fundraise for Unicef and help them combat child poverty globally. Please go to my fundraising page to donate.