Divorce An Impact That Never Really Goes Away.

I am estranged from my mother, and my relationship with my father is on the ropes. I have not had a meaningful relationship with another organism that shares my genes since I was about 10. That was when my parents divorced. It was a dirty, nasty, drawn out catastrophe of an ordeal. This bleeds into my social life, and I really do not have the ability to sustain friendships. I spent about 5 years of my life either in my mother's custody or my fathers.

When in my mother's custody, I was now the husband/father role in the single mom household dynamic. A Freudian would say I am the definition of an oedipal victor case. I would have all of my mother's troubles dumped on me. I was rarely given the opportunity to help, or do anything about our circumstance (she would NOT allow that), but she was very studious about making sure I was up to date with all of the horrible financial and security issues we faced and that I carried that weight on my mind for her now that she had unloaded it someplace other than her own head. The remainder of time in my mother's custody was spent with my mom telling me extravagant lies about horrible sins my father had committed in horribly inappropriate detail in an effort to get me to pick "her side" after the divorce. My mother worked 2-3 jobs. I was sole caretaker for a number of years for my little sister while my mom worked all night and often slept while we were at school when in my mother's custody. I'd go for days without seeing her. I cannot have a conversation with my sister anymore either. My mother got good at manipulating me into not liking my father, and she turned around and applied those skills to making up lies about me and telling them to my sister to make her hate me when I moved out. My mother suffered HORRIBLE empty nest syndrome and multiple times tried to order me to move back home. I had my own apartment, a job, and was in my 20's, so for obvious reasons I refused to move back home simply because she was my "mother and telling me to move back home". Her struggle with empty nest syndrome started her down the path of decisions and actions that eventually lead to the estrangement.

When in my father's custody, the physics of my social world were turned on their head. Though I was already 10 when the divorce started, and the divorce dragged on all the way until I was 14, and I never aged past the age of 6 in the eyes of my fathers family. I was a child, I did not have anything to contribute to any conversation. I was spoken to in a kindergarten falsetto voice and told to remain silent and in "the other room" with my sister. We were treated like untouchables. My father, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, and upon occasion, my 2 cousins (who were only 2 and 4 years older than me) would sit around the dining room table and spend ENTIRE DAYS trash-talking my mother, all clearly audible from the room myself and my sister stayed in. My sister and I were half infected by our mother, so we were lesser people than the rest of the family. Christmas would roll around. I remember one in particular where my cousin received a massive box filled with hundreds of little boxes and duct taped shut. Inside each small box was a 1 dollar bill totaling in 1000 dollars. It was exciting and fun and AWESOME. Then I opened my gifts. I got coloring books (from the food shelter where my grandma volunteered for her church) and a set of small "ghost-busters" pajamas (also from the food shelter where my grandma volunteered for her church). Puberty had already grown by body into a snug medium. I remember that Christmas so vividly because I have never felt more worthless than the day I watched my cousins get large sums of cash on top of nice new gifts, and I got a couple leftovers from the bottom of the used goods donation bin at the church. I felt like a second class person. I was made to feel like I was worth inherently less than others.

To be fair, my father never participated in the conversations, he would just sit at the table, listen, and accept the support. He never spoke up for his children, and never went to his children to support them. Where my mother was guilty of badmouthing my father, my father was guilty of not telling his family to stop badmouthing my mother (even if it was just while her children were in earshot).

My head felt like exploding. I was forced to live 2 completely different lives, which existed in 2 different universes and had 2 completely different sets of rules. For a week be the savior of everything, and everything depended in me... EVERYTHING. On the weekends and during the summers, I was a small child of little importance and would never amount to anything anyway, so who cares? Everyone I loved hated everyone else I loved, and for every interaction with "family" all I got to discuss was how horrible one of my parents was.

I turn 25 soon, and really, its been a solid 10 years since the **** was really hitting the fan, and I have lost my bonds with these people. The saying is that the phone works 2 ways, so I accept my share of the blame for not using it, but I'm also the younger one, and to be honest, never really had the opportunity to learn what family was or how one interacts with their family. I spent my formative years as a moral sticking point in a divorce decree and not as much of anything else. Over the years, I've seen all the hate, and hypocrisy, and self righteousness in my family, but have never received any of the positive things.

I got married a few months ago and invited my mother, sister, and father (and only about 10 other people). It was a short ceremony, vows were 2 sentences long. My goal was for there just simply to be no drama. When I invited my parents, I asked both of them to be on their best behavior, and to not cause drama because they were near each-other again. My mother took an insulted tone with me and angrily told me that she was not capable of making that kind of promise. We fought. She uninvited herself, and about a month later moved out of state. I have not had contact with her since she uninvited herself from my wedding.

I have anxiety issues that are mostly socially based, and it wasn't until recently that I realized that this dysfunction in my familial relationships is the trauma that is causing my psychological weakness. These secrets that I hold just because I don't think anyone wants to listen weighs on my head WAY too much.

I looked for support groups, for people who have been disowned by their families, or have been forced into situations of estrangement from their parents for any reason, and simply got angry when I saw numerous support groups for Parents in this situation, but nothing in the way of support for a child who has been wronged and/or abandoned by their parents, in childhood or in adulthood. I read about "Parental Alienation Disorder", which I'm sure could exist, but which I'm also sure is not present in 99% of these situations. I think it is bullshit when a society behaves under the assumption that when a family estrangement occurs, the child is the rotten one.

I have always chalked up my inability to sustain a family relationship to the fact that my parents demonstrated for me just how false the statement "Family is forever" is through their divorce, making it easier for me to leave such attachments behind when those attachments do more damage than good. To love my patriarchal side, I must denounce my mother. To love my matriarchal side, I must demonize my father. When I was 12 I said it, and I still say it today. When told to pick a side, my answer was, is, and will always be "no", and I go to find my own corner of the world to reside in.

I've grappled with anxiety, insecurity, depression, and so much more. I have grappled with these things because of my parents divorce and because how I was treated by both sides of my family in the aftermath. When my mother is regularly in my life, it drives me insane. She is manipulative and when she is in my head, she has more than once driven me to suicide attempts. My suicidal tendencies backed off when I started limiting my interaction with my mother, and I have not had anything anywhere near a suicidal thought since I have stopped talking to her entirely. I want to be a normal good little boy, but my mother is toxic. Not only to me, but to those around her.

It happens to everyone I suppose. Parents **** up their kids, that's how it is. No parent is issued a manual, and mistakes will happen. However, if by the time the child makes it to adulthood, they find themselves unable to withstand the burden which their parent's mistakes have put on them, that mentality does not demonstrate a psychological disorder. In other words, yes, as a child of divorce, you get "two Christmases", but you also get 2 industrial strength doses of "my family ****** me up", where as most humans only get 1 dose, and it isn't nearly as strong. This is not disorder, this is logical progression.

It happens, adults develop and cannot/will not continue a relationship with their parents. I feel this is less a horrible thing that a child could do to a parent and more a reflection of what that parent has done to that child since that child was born. If the blame game is gonna start up, the finger definitely is not pointed at the kid by default.

As my parting thought, it makes me sick when I Google "support groups for children who are estranged from their parents" and on the first page I get multiple results for "Support groups for Parents who have disowned their children", complete with religious tie ins, but have a hard time finding a place where people who have been broken by their parents can find some support.
jjmar jjmar
22-25, M
May 19, 2012