Divorce; Finding the Silver Lining

A 16-year-old’s reflections on family’s restructuring

I let out a loud yawn as I walked down the stairs and towards the kitchen, grabbing the bagel that was sitting on the counter for me. I looked up at the stove, the time flashing in bright green letters 6:56. My dad still lived in East Troy, while my mom and my school are in Shorewood. Since the traffic is usually bad in the mornings my dad calculated earlier on in the school year that we should leave an hour early just to be safe. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to get up at 6:15 every morning I’m at my Dad’s. I sleepily slid on my coat and grabbed my backpack and another bag that I filled with things I might need or want at my mom’s house. I followed my also tired brother outside the door and into the garage. I throw my bags into the open car before I slid on my shoes.

“Do you have all your stuff?” My dad asked me as we’re getting into the car.

I paused, the middle of buckling my seatbelt. I went over a mental list in my head of everything I wanted/needed to bring. My stomach dropped as it hit me, I forgot my favorite pair of pants, I needed those pants.

“Oh shoot,” I exclaimed releasing the seat belt from my grasp as I jumped out of the car before my dad could ask me what I forgot.

I took off my shoes as fast as I could before I sprinted down the stairs into my room. I ripped open the drawer that is dedicated to jeans and I rummaged around what used to be neatly folded clothes. Relief and clarity washed over me as I pulled out the blue jeans that I love so much. I stood up, gripping the jeans rather tightly in my left hand and I expertly closed the drawer with my foot; a useful skill I’ve developed over the years. I walked across my room and stopped right before the stairs, they look a lot longer and steeper than before. I took a deep breath before I began to jog up the stairs. I flung open the garage door, a new sense of urgency washed over me when I realized my snail-like pace will now most-likely make me late to school. I closed the garage door almost as quickly as I opened it, I then grabbed my shoes with my free hand. I open the car door and threw my belongings on the car floor, receiving a raised eyebrow from my dad. I plopped into the car and slam the door shut, my breaths were coming out in short pants.

“Record time!” My dad jokes as he pulls out of the garage.

“Actually,” my brother quips in from the back, “she was a lot faster last week!”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” I laugh.

This was quite usual for my family and me: we (mostly me) would gather the things we think we might need if we were going to my mom’s house or vice versa. I was 9 when my parents divorced, so I don’t really remember everything very well. My siblings and I adapted quickly to the new schedule my parents created, we would be with our mom on Mondays through Wednesdays and with our dad on Wednesday night until Friday and switch off with every other weekend.

“What’s so important about those jeans anyway?” My 9-year-old sister’s squeaky voice said, almost drowning out the radio and snapping me out of my thoughts.

“What do you mean?” I asked absentmindedly, touching the jeans.

“Like,” my sister begins, “you always need to have them with you whenever we switch houses, and sometimes you don’t even wear them when you bring them along.”

My stomach felt like it flipped and was now upside down. I felt caught, a question I didn’t have an answer to. My sister was right, sometimes I wouldn’t even wear the jeans that I made such a big deal to bring. I never really stopped to think about why I always wanted to have the jeans with me, until now. I felt like I needed to have them with me at all times, just in case something happened, I would have them. Instead of furthering my reflection on why I needed to have them with me at all times, I brushed off the comment.

“They’re excellent jeans,” I state matter-of-factly, “I need to have them with me at all times because they go with anything, I will never lose them!”

My sister paused for a moment before losing interest in the topic, responding with an inaudible mumble.

Later on, in the week, I lost the jeans. The day I was planning on wearing them, they went missing. I looked everywhere for them: underneath my bed, in the laundry, in my closet, all my drawers, all my families’ rooms; I even looked in the car. It was like they vanished into thin air. I was upset that I lost the jeans, but I moved past the hung-up emotions I had about losing them, and soon enough, I forgot about the jeans. The jeans symbolized me holding onto something because I was scared of what would happen if I didn’t have it with me anymore, the change that would follow if I let go. But losing it or letting go showed me that change isn’t a bad thing or something to be scared. I was scared of change when my parents divorced, I didn’t know what was going to happen and the thought of changing something that I’ve been used to for 9 years frightened me. Once I went through the change, I realized that it wasn’t a big deal and it wasn’t anything to dread.  My parents’ separation changed me as a person because it brought me closer to all my family members, taught me that change isn’t a bad thing, and last but not least, to embrace adversity and see the positive.

After my parents’ divorce, I grew closer to all my family members. Although I was pretty close to my family before, this determinant, brought me closer to my siblings first. Since I am the oldest sibling I wanted to make sure my younger siblings were comforted and that they would still be okay. This desire to make my siblings feel better, resulted in me spending all my time with them; playing dolls with my little sister, playing video games with my brother, family movie nights, and playing Legos with my sister and my brother. As my siblings and I got older I started to grow closer to my brother than my sister; my sister is 6 years younger than me while my brother is 3, I grew closer to my brother because he was closer to my age and at similar maturity level. While my sister was still very immature and didn’t really know how to hold proper conversations without turning it into a conversation about mermaids or American girl dolls. Naturally, my sister is closer to my brother since they’re three years apart and can relate more to one another. But now in present age, I’m equally as close to both siblings because they matured and grew up. I also become very, very, close-knit with my parents as I get older. The separation gave me a lot of one on one time with each of my parents individually. Currently, I am, extremely close with my each one of my parents, I wouldn’t have been as close to my parents or my siblings as I am now if they didn’t get divorced.

When I was little, a change was a scary thing to me. It was an unpredictable place that could help me or hurt me. Thinking about change intimated me and scared me. When my parents divorced I was terrified, because I didn’t know what would change in my life and what would stay the same. But soon I realized that the change wasn’t bad at all; I stayed in the same house I lived in since I was 1, I also got a new house which excited me, I kept my pets, I also got new pets, and everyone seemed to be much happier. The one thing that really changed my viewpoint about change, was when I looked around me at my family and I saw how first they were sad about the change in our life but now they were happier than ever.  When all these things happened, and it showed me not to fear change, but to welcome it, because most of the time, it affects you positively.

Although positive things resulted from my parents’ separation there was also adversity before the positive. Since I was young when this happened, I don’t remember much, but I do remember the sadness I felt when my parents told my siblings and I. But, I didn’t cry. I don’t think I cried because deep down inside, even though I was young, I knew this would eventually become a good thing, not only my life but my family members’ lives as well. A little bit after my parents divorced, I felt confused and lost, not knowing how things would be from now on and how to go about things. But with support from my family and friends, I learned to get over one of the biggest challenges in my life so far. The separation gave me a perspective on how change isn’t always a bad thing, and to see the positive in things that most people wouldn’t have; my family, including my parents, all became closer and a lot happier.

In summary, my parents’ divorce changed me as a person and helped me to grow in positive ways. It taught me how to manage adversity and also see the positive side of things. This growth brought me closer to my family members, teaching me, that change isn’t always a bad thing, in fact, change can actually make things even better. If I did not have this experience at 9 years old, I am not sure when I would have learned how to deal with adversity and look for the positive in it. Change is part of life, but I am grateful I learned this valuable life lesson when I did.

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