Marriage Missions International

Adult Children of Divorce – Healing the Pain

“I’ve come to envy young children going through a divorce. Everyone worries about them. They’re sent to psychologists. The adult child’s grief isn’t taken as seriously. Many of our parents stayed together because we’d be more mature once we headed off to college, walked down the aisle, or had our first baby.

Parents expect us to shrug off their split, as if the breakup of our family should no longer concern us because pieces of our adult life are in place. Even I felt I was overreacting. I’m an adult, I figured. I should be able to handle this.”

That’s a quote from Brook Lea Foster, who wrote the article “The Way We Were” featured in the Sept/Oct 2006 issue of AARP Magazine. She was talking about the difficulty of coming to terms with her parents divorce even though it happened when she was an adult.

Even though you are an adult, it doesn’t mean that you don’t still feel immense pain because you realize that “things will never be the same.” As Brook said in the article:

“My life suddenly seemed a series of “lasts” —a final Christmas, an end to eggs together at the breakfast table. I’d never again find my parents standing side by side on the porch, waving to me as I pulled into the driveway.”

There are a lot of “lasts” an adult child of divorce must go through in letting go of the past and a lot of “firsts” to adjust to as you visit your parents one-by-one in different locations and often different states. There’s also the “firsts” to adjust to as you meet new people they are each dating. This adjustment doesn’t necessarily come easy just because you are supposed to “be adult about it.”

In another article posted in the Washingtonian Magazine, Brook had additional thoughts to say on this subject. She wrote,

“When a younger couple gets a divorce, they worry about how it will affect the children. My Mom told me that’s partly why she and Dad stayed together for so long. Did it mean that what I saw as a perfect childhood was a lie?

“There’s a notion that an adult child won’t hurt as much as a youngster, that a 26-year-old isn’t as likely to be affected by her parents’ breakup. That she’ll understand. It’s not true. Understanding what your parents are going through is even worse. I began obsessing about their growing old alone. I pictured them in separate houses without someone to make them tea if they had the flu. They could come live with me, but I’d have to choose one.

“My parents and I reversed roles. I became the worried one, the one wanting to make sure they had a good weekend or that the birthday present I’d sent was perfect. ‘I told a friend after the holidays that my family felt dead to me.’ ‘I think you’re exaggerating,’ my friend said. But I wasn’t. I was in mourning. My family as I knew it was dying.”

As you can surmise, it’s not as easy for many adult children to adjust to their parents’ divorces even though many people may thin they should. That’s why we want to lead you to some additional  thoughts on this subject, hoping that they will help those who are dealing with this issue.

The first resources we want to direct you to are a series of interviews conducted by the ministry of Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey. This series was aired October 23-27 of 2006 where Dennis interviewed Jen Abbas and Elizabeth Marquardt.

To make the choice to either listen to or read the transcripts for each of the 5 broadcasts (titled, Surviving the Aftermath of Divorce, The Emotional Hurdles of Living Through a Divorce; The Sleeper Effect of Divorce; Forgiving Our Parents, and Approaching Marriage) please click onto the links provided below:

ADULT CHILDREN OF DIVORCE: Healing the Pain that Lives On

As well, there is another 3-part series of broadcasts conducted by the ministry of Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey that deal with the subject of adult children and how their parents’ divorce has affected their lives, where Dennis Rainey is interviewing Bill and Jesse Butterworth.  Please click onto the links provided below to either listen to or read the transcripts for:

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

THE AFTER SHOCK OF DIVORCE

THE WORST OF BOTH WORLDS

The above article was put together by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions.

If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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35 Responses to “Adult Children of Divorce – Healing the Pain”
  1. Randy says:

    (USA)  Does this Brooke Lee Foster woman really envy children who have to go through a divorce? I can’t tell you how presumptuous that sounds from my perspective.

    My parents were divorced in the early 70′s, when I was 3, and it has had a major effect on the past 35 years of my life. The “therapy” and “everyone worrying about it” that she mentions in the first paragraph are oversimplified generalizations and convenient assumptions. I was eventually threatened with punishment when I expressed my unhappiness too much at ages 3 and 4. There was certainly no one being paid to listen to my anguish and help me work through incredible confusion and loss. I wonder if Brooke’s parents ever told her they would give her something to cry about when she expressed her unhappiness to her parents as an adult? I was expected to “shrug it off” myself – at age 3, no less.

    The only “therapy” I received was during incarceration as a teenager. I’m sorry, but I have been dealing with the pain on my own since forever – and being a child when your parents get divorced means you have much fewer internal emotional resources than a grown person. It also means that you develop your view of life, relationships and the world from a perspective of massive pain, loneliness and profound uncertainty . . . at least in my case.

    The loss of my family has colored every choice, opportunity, memory and relationship I have ever had and imbued my relationships with an innate fear of intimacy and an anxiety about seperation, all at the same time. My entire life has felt like a mixed message. I was essentially raised by day care centers and schools, because my single parent had to work constantly to support us.

    Most of my friends and family can’t understand why I am not happier and more successful. They don’t understand the energy and focus it requires every frickin’ day, just to overcome a mistrust of LIFE that they have a hard time even conceptualizing. Needless to say, it’s been very alienating and lonely for me.

    Nonetheless, I am determined to somehow make something of what truly feels like an undermined, disaster of a life . . .

    Brooke, your envy is very much misplaced. I wish I had never been through a divorce at all – but I can’t imagine having had some memories of a family and a stable home would have hurt . . .

    • Sean says:

      (UNITED KINGDOM)  My Dad left when I was a baby my mum re-married to a bully. I started seeing my dad again when I was 12. He had another family by then. He has never had much time for me. This has coloured my whole life as you say Randy. Superficially, I hold it together, job, house etc. But the scars are pretty deep.

      My brother who is two years older is clinically depressed and is in supervised housing. Basically, this went on about 40 years ago and every day it still breaks my heat. I am so sick of it. I tried therapy. The only thing that really helps is not seeing my parents. I saw my dad yesterday for the first time in a year and now I just feel like a messed up kid again. What can you do? I just have to keep going.

    • Cristine says:

      (UNITED STATES) I wanted to let you know that I appreciate some of your words, expressed here. You are speaking the truth, for many of us, who realize only when we ourselves are adults, the hurt and damage we suffered because of our parents’ divorces. Thank you for so eloquently expressing the exact feelings in my heart.

    • Christina from United States says:

      I believe that the author is simply trying to illustrate that divorce is as equally painful for grown, adult children as it is for young children, albeit for different reasons. However, adult children are not given the proper attention or sympathy for the pain they are suffering. Oh, and to note, I am sure that the remark of feeling jealousy toward children of divorced parents was just a sort of cavelier way of making a point and not entirely serious, really now. When my parents divorced both my brother and I were adults, our younger sister was still a child.

      This article resonated deeply with me as there was much fuss over the state and well-being of my sister, and, though my brother and I weren’t exactly ignored, we also weren’t garnering much of anything in the way of concern or sympathy as we should have, despite the fact that out of all of us, I, the eldest, most definitely took the divorce the hardest and had the most difficult time adjusting to it. I remember at a very young age when many of my friends parents were splitting up feeling so lucky and almost a little… ashamed(?) that MY parents were still together and in love. Nearly every single person I knew’s parents divorced when we were young -elementary school young. And here I was- my parents had made it, I thought! And made it for years after -25 years to be exact.

      So imagine my horror when, in college, my parents took the easy way out of their issues and split. There wasn’t any of the screaming and/or fighting I had heard about as being the common staple of on-the-road-to-divorce parents! Though I can’t say with honesty that it was a complete and total surprise either…just a bit dramatic a decision. Divorce?! Really? REALLY??! Anyway, 10 years later and I still am having almost as hard a time with it now as it was then. My father, the man who I looked up to and idolized as everything I wanted to be, has since married a monster of a woman half his age. A woman who believes that as adults we no longer have a right to call him “daddy”, or to ask him for help.

      Another thing not always acknowledged is the affect divorce has on adult children in terms of their growth. I feel, at 32, like a child still. I reverted to 16, emotionally, when my parents divorced, and haven’t aged since. Ok, maybe I’m about 17 now ;) Children of divorcees age too quickly, adult children age backwards. I still feel like a little kid vying for my daddy’s attention; having secret fantasies of my parents getting back together. STILL feeling dumped by my father’s side of the family; hating his new wife… all childish behavior. My oh my what a mess divorce is. It never goes away. I bear the trauma, yes trauma, of it forever and always will- every single relationship I have formed is directly affected by it. My opinions on marriage are cynical and skeptical. My parents became flawed to me -divorce almost held a magnifying glass up to them- watching even them behave like children THEMSELVES.

      Ten years later and my father STILL will go off on a tangent about my mother upon the mention of her, and hearing him say anything awful about her STILL feels like a kick in the gut, a stab in the heart. STILL. It’s still fresh. Divorce is ugly, it made my parents ugly to me, it made my sister a monster, my brother a heroin addict who cannot function normally or even speak properly, and it made myself all of those things and more -an emotional train wreck. To think HOW MANY families in this country, in this world, are going through the same thing, are all wing made ugly in the same way- it’s …horrifying. It is so on and so accepted that the nastiness of what it really does to people is taken for granted, and the pain and suffering of the adult children of divorce is ESPECIALLY ignored.

  2. Erin says:

    (USA)  America’s divorce rate is the world’s highest because the law permits one partner to unilaterally end a marriage. Marriages are terminated by one person against the will of the other spouse in 80% of cases. Letters from Children of Divorce:

    “25 years ago when I was 14, my parents divorced. My younger brother is now dead from a heroin overdose, after all the pain my mother caused by leaving us, for her boyfriend. My mother is old, retired, and alone and now needs my help. I am using this opportunity, to stay away from her, to return the favor for all the pain and torment.” –Annie

    “Do parents even comprehend the massive, unfathomable amount of pain, suffering, agony and devastation that their selfish divorces, adulterous affairs & remarriages cause? Do they?” –James

    “I will never accept that parents are just human and make “mistakes,” divorce is not a mistake, it is a sin. They say it’s not good to stay in a bad marriage, get a life, marriage is not about being happy. Divorce is wrong, family-destroying and evil.” –Brett

    “I don’t think parents even care about how this affects their children because my own mom chose her boyfriend over my dad and my brothers and I. We suffered tremendously and now because of my mom’s example, both of my grandparents are divorced and most of my aunts and uncles are in the middle of their own divorces. This is out of control, when will it stop?” –John

    “When my father left the family no one said anything to him. No members of his church stood up to confront him. My family now lies in ruins.

    Studies on children of divorce show much higher rates of suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, mental illness, criminality, teenage pregnancy, abortion, school failure, social withdrawal, joblessness, poverty, etc. Divorce is a crime against humanity! To the enablers of divorce; judges, lawyers, co-workers, friends, and relatives please kill yourselves.

    Anyone who tries to rationalize their divorce is insane. They are lying and self-centered. Children are destroyed after a divorce. As a degenerate, decadent society, we no longer punish, ostracize, or even criticize people who divorce!

    By allowing people to divorce, kid’s lives are ruined. Do not buy into all the disgusting “tolerance” business, universities, schools, and even churches shove down your throats. Don’t tolerate it, don’t accept it, divorce needs to be against the law. Divorce is one of the greatest unpunished crimes of our age. –Justin

    “Look at the legalized adultery we call divorce. Men marry one wife after another and are still admitted into good society; and women do likewise. There are thousands of supposedly respectable men in American living with other men’s wives, and thousands of supposedly respectable women living with other women’s husbands.” –R. A. Torrey

    R.A. Torrey (1856-1928)
    Pastor and graduate of Yale University
    Superintendent of Moody Bible Institute for 19 years

    “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes.” 1 Corinthians 7:39

  3. Nicole says:

    (USA)  Divorce did not bring closure or healing. Therapy did not bring closure or healing. All this psycho-babble is thrown around to make the adults feel better. The truth is the adults were lazy and failed us. In an age of instant gratification, the adults did not have the maturity or perseverance to show their children how to deal with life’s ups and downs. The adults haven’t shown us how to succeed in a relationship – only how to quit and be distrustful of love.

    If love was there once, it is still there. A mature person realizes that and finds ways to nurture it and get the spark back. Any person who has lived with another for a length of time has issues. Unless abuse is involved, there is no such thing as irreconcilable differences. It’s a cope-out. If you focus on the good in an individual, the love will come back.

    The problem is people focus on the bad and love fades. People escape by having affairs and get fooled into thinking life is better with this new person. It’s not. If the relationship succeeds, it’s because the effort that should have been applied in the first relationship is applied in the second instead.

    Stop cheating us parents! Grow up and stop making us sacrifice our family and our childhood. Stop turning all our joyous milestones, events and holidays into logistical nightmares. Stop making us the collateral damage and turning us into timeshares being bounced from household to household. Show us we are worth the time and effort. Show us what love and commitment mean. Show us how to find the good in people again and again and love them forever. Show us some values and perseverance. Show us how to be an honorable person worthy of our respect. Show us how to love and honor the covenant of marriage the first time around.

  4. Pam says:

    (USA)  I’m the adult child of divorce. My parents divorced when I was 4. I didn’t have my dad in my life. Not on a regular basis anyway. I saw him a total of about 5 times in my whole life. I felt like I knew him better than that though because I held on to each time I saw him so tightly.

    My mom remarried immediately. My step dad was very good to us and I felt like a princess to him. When I was 13 suddenly my castle came crashing down. Another divorce. I fought it by playing sad love songs so they could hear them thinking it would change things. My mother whisked my two sisters and I to another state and remarried later. Another step dad. They are still married after 25 years and I love my step dad but have always felt a void.

    I have recently reconnected with my biological dad and he is so perfect towards me! My dream come true. He is the type of father I dreamed him up to be and more. He has stayed away to let us feel some sort of normal so not to be passed around. He said he has loved us every day of his life and I can tell he is being truthful.

    Sounds good, right? No. His wife of 34 years is having a fit! She has a lot of jeleousy and has made it seem like an ugly affair. He has to hide to talk to us and it’s so hard. I feel like I’m still dealing with the hurt and anger that I would have at a younger age! I don’t want to lose him again and he doesn’t want to lose me. I also don’t believe in marriages breaking up and because of this his marriage has been very unstable.

    I don’t know where to go from here. I’m so confused about the whole situation. Why can’t people just stop being selfish and learn to love? Why can’t the adults grow up. I now understand why my mother wanted me protected from all this. Would I have had to stay on weekends with a step mother that mistreated me? I have been married for 24 years now because I will never put my kids through this ugliness called divorce!

    Finally Daddys Little Girl… and made to feel guilty for it. :’(

  5. Gloria says:

    (USA)  It’s very easy to blame others for our unhappiness and to hang on to old bitterness and anger. However, each of us is accountable for our own happiness. Sure, we can’t change what happened to us as a child, but once we become an adult, it’s up to each of us to search for those things that make us happy.

    • Cristine says:

      (UNITED STATES) Very nice, and true. But, first we have to realize what is troubling us, what is the problem, and then we have to mend ourselves. We have to forgive our parents for hurting us and move on with our lives. I have just now, as an adult, a grown woman, finally come to understand that losing my dad through divorce when I was a little girl has been troubling me my entire life. Now that I see it, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I can forgive my parents, but I am still mending myself.

  6. Samantha says:

    (USA)  To Whom It May Concern: My name is Samantha Friedman, an alumna of the University of California at Berkeley and Fordham University, and I am currently a doctoral clinical psychology student at Saybrook University (San Francisco). I am seeking adults between the ages of 20 and 35 who have experienced parental divorce in either childhood or adulthood to assist me in the completion of a study that examines the effects of parental divorce on marital attitudes and intimacy.

    If you agree to participate in this study, please click on this link (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TK8Q7GT) and complete the survey on SurveyMonkey.com. The online survey I am conducting is very easy to complete. The whole process is designed to take less than 15 minutes to complete. Participation in this study is completely voluntary and anonymous. You are free to not answer any question, to stop participating at any time for any reason, and to not have your information be part of the data set. All forms will be kept confidential; that is, no one will have knowledge of which questionnaire belongs to you.

    The aim of my study is to learn about the psychological impact of parental divorce, particularly how the age at which parental divorce occurs influences attitudes towards marriage and intimacy. It is of particular importance to examine the effects of parental divorce on marital attitudes and levels of intimacy because they are indicators of relationship stability. The ultimate goal of this study is to acquire data that can be used to assist adult children of divorce in understanding the impact of mid- to late-life parental divorce and develop strategies that encourage healthy, lasting marriages.

    Please contact me if you would like a summary of my findings when the project is finished. If you have any questions, please contact me at SamanthaFriedman@hotmail.com.

    Thank you in advance for your time and assistance. I really appreciate your help and I am sincerely grateful. Best wishes, Samantha Friedman

  7. Rachelle says:

    (USA)  Me and my two sisters are adults. Our parents announced their divorce before the holidays. My sister tells me not to show any feelings -just be numb, for we used to, and our feelings don’t count. My other sister is self medicating herself but we don’t say anything among each other. I drink myself away but I told my mom some hurtful words. She filed the divorce. I’m just confused and wonder if our family morals were just all lies. I guess you can say we numb ourselves to not have any emotions. Is it wrong for us to be hurt since we are adults and move on but question our family values?

  8. Magen says:

    (USA)  I made this support group if you are interested click the link: Adult Children of Divorce Meet Up Group http://www.groupomatic.com/ur4knwwx

  9. Mary says:

    (USA)  My parents are not divorced, not yet anyway! They have been married 32 years this month and I found out two days ago that my dad cheated on my mom over the holidays. He was traveling a lot for work (we thought), and this has come as a huge shock to everyone! My parents have cell phones on my plan and I got online to pay the bill and noticed my dad used over a 1000 minutes, mostly to one number I didn’t recognize.

    I called it, a woman answered; I asked who it was and she hung up. I called a ton but she wouldn’t answer again. I asked my mom what was going on and she told me about 2 weeks prior my dad told her he had cheated.

    I am an only child and so close to my parents. I only live 3 miles away and see them almost every day. I am so hurt and angry, and really worried about my mom! I may be 29 years old, but I feel like I’m 10 hoping my parents will stay together! This has really destroyed me.

    My husband is also really angry at my dad. He said he used to look up to him and now he doesn’t even think he can look at him! They used to be really close too! Not only did my dad’s cheating hurt my mom, it hurt everyone! I feel so helpless, numb. I haven’t eaten or slept in days! Is it normal to feel such pain, feel so betrayed?

    • Ching says:

      (USA)  Mary… I came across your article and my heart really goes out to you. I’m a firstborn of three and when my mum finally told us children that my dad has been having an affair for the past 8 years, it was devastating. It’s been 9 years since mum told us the news. The hard part was that people who loved my mum came around to support her but us kids were expected to cope. We were 26, 23 and 20 years old. I know it must be awfully hard on you being the only child to carry the burden of the betrayal. But I would advise you to get help for yourself as quickly as you can.

      1. Speak to your parents’ siblings if you think it’s wise. I would choose the ones that your mum and dad especially respect. See if they can talk to their brother (your dad) or sister (your mum) – they may have more leverage. Families should come in to help and the stronger the support system, the better. You may want to ask your mum’s permission/opinion on this before you speak to them because it may be too embarrassing for her.

      2. Allow your parents to completely take the responsibility of restoring their marriage. But you can encourage the one who is more open for counselling to seek help. If both of them want counselling, that’s better. If not, even if one goes it’s better than nothing

      3. Write a letter to your dad and express how you feel in a way that will be helpful rather than destructive. Sometimes writing it as an allegorical story will touch his heart better than just a straightforward letter.

      4. What your dad did was wrong. But it takes two people for something like this to happen. There is usually a history in their relationship. But if you’re lucky, this may be a one off thing with your dad and if handled properly he can come to his senses and repent, turn around. Your dad needs help as much as your mother needs comforting.

      5. As a daughter I know my sis and I felt the betrayal in a huge way. Sometimes it affects how we view our romantic relationship and marriage. Spend time talking about your sense of fear and betrayal with your husband and read up on “Adult Children of Divorce”

      6. A book or two which might help; your mum esp:
      Getting Past the Affair: A Program to Help You Cope, Heal, and Move On — Together or Apart
      Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity.

      I really hope something here might help. But don’t give up yet Mary, it’s still fresh enough to do something constructive and they might come back together

  10. Laura says:

    (USA)  I am 61 yrs. old. I divorced in 2009 after 38 yrs of marriage. He walked out on me and until this day I do not know why. My daughter talks to me so disrespectfully; she is 36 yrs. old. I walk on egg shells when we are together. She has two children that I can only see on her terms. Her father lives with her and I am shunned. She NEVER calls me to even see if I am dead or alive or even comes to see me. If I want to see my grandchildren, I have to initiate the phone call to set up a date. I am not even welcomed at her home.

    This is killing me emotionally. I have a son that has considered me less than dead. He is 31 yrs. old. His wife won’t even talk to me. We have never had harsh words with each other. I don’t know why she does not talk to me nor do I understand why she would allow my son not to even communicate with his Mother. They have two daughters I am not allowed to see. The secound daughter was born last year and they wouldn’t even allow me to see her when she was born.

    I cry every night over this. This has been such a nightmare for me. I can’t fathom what was said or done that warrants this degree of hatred for me. I am their MOTHER and I know from the bottom of my heart that I do not deserve this kind of treatment. Both my children deserted me and threw me to the ground, like I was some sort of a MONSTER. I would have never allowed them to do this to their father.

    I have always been there for my children. I have never abused or hurt my children in any way or ever in my whole life. I worked hard to give them everything they needed in their life growing up. Their father has had 20 different jobs in our lifetime. I retired from one. I gave my family the best health care available and a steady pay check coming in our household all their life. My children even disowened MY side of the family, their grandfather, aunts, and uncles.

    I have tried for the last 4 yrs to reach out and talk to them about this. They won’t talk to me about this. My daughter accuses me of putting her in the middle if I bring up anything about my son. I don’t overstep my boundries on anything. I do not impose anything. I am very careful about that. I don’t get this. I have been crying every night for the last 4 yrs. I have lost everything, my home, and my family. I am too old to start my life over. So what do I do and where do I go? There is nothing to look forward to. I am truly lost. My heart is more than just broken, it is slowly and painfully fading away.

    • Lisa says:

      (USA)  I want you to know I am going through the same. My husband has been cheating for over five years and it has been one lie after another. I finally filed, but recently one of my sons just cut me off and his girfriend and I cannot see their daughter and I was blocked on facebook. My soon to be ex cut me off of all money and I have no car.

      I spent 25 years trying to be a wife and mother and now I am 45 and have to start over. My kids were sick of me crying and only one helps me. I lost my mother as well. I have about given up because the pain is endless and my parents divorced. I pray but… the pain NEVER go away and my family mocks my pain, so I am slowly becoming numb. It is easier than hurting all the time.

    • Erin says:

      (USA) I am so sorry. Just came across this website and read your painful story. How are you now? I can really feel your pain as this same senerio has just become my life. Not only having to deal with the loss of my marriage, but also the loss of my children and grandbabies. It is so difficult. I can only assure you (and myself) that GOD is with the broken hearted, even when’re it does not feel like it Please just keep in mind that you are not alone, try not to let bitterness set in. Wishing you the best Laura and keeping you and yours in Prayer.

  11. Jason says:

    (CANADA)  I’m in my thirties now and now more than ever I am obsessed with how happy my family was when I was 6 years old, about 5 years before they divorced. Somehow those days became a touchstone for me in just the past few years. I went through college constantly rejected by girls never having experienced any affection and I don’t know why girls hate me so much.

    Now women instantly find me attractive because of God knows what (my Christian Bale looks? my affluence? my ambition?) and I’m just paranoid. What are they after? Every time I hear about a woman cheating on her man I paralyze and freak-out.

    The last time I had a crush on a girl I was almost thirty. I called her up and heard her flirting with random guys on the street. The sensation of pain that came over me was overwhelming and so incredibly intense I felt ripped sideways out of reality. Suicide was no longer an option because I was convinced this pain would only be there to greet me on the other side, it was just that surreal. Since then, I vowed to kill off any and all feelings and emotions I have. It’s just too risky, too much of a liability, and probably could hold my soul in a vice for all eternity (presuming there’s some kind of afterlife). Those of you reading this wonder why I would do this to myself. Well, you just don’t quite understand yet then. There is no healing for this pain, I’ve been through all the counselling and counselors, I’ve read countless books, I’ve been through religious programs, relationship courses, nutrition regiments, you name it. Read my lips: There! Is! No! Healing!

    The window of opportunity for that passed somewhere in my early teens. All that can be done now is to cope and manage this permanent “injury” in whatever way I can and pray that I don’t find myself walking the path of Anders Breivik.

    I’ve become a cold calculating machine of pure logic and driven ambition adopting personal laws and axioms to ensure that I will function in society with stability but without any passion. It’s too bad and I know it’s sick but I AM SICK and there is NO cure. Like I said, suicide is not an option, I’m convinced this pain will follow me for eternity. This is an eternal cold war of the mind.

    • Christy says:

      (CANADA)  Jason, I can identify with your feelings all too well and the amount of pain that you are going through. I too have this intense, extreme pain over my parents divorce -they have been struggling and have recently announced that they are divorcing after 32 years of marriage. I have also experienced something close to this level of pain a few years back.

      I know you feel you’ve tried everything, but I want you to know that there is still hope and one thing you haven’t tried -Jesus himself will heal you. I know what I’m saying doesn’t make sense and you feel you’ve tried “religious courses”, but that’s not what I’m suggesting. You need to cry out to Jesus himself -it will work and He can heal you. You can be set free from this prison you are in. He can save you from the darkest places.

      The first time I experienced this intense, extreme pain I couldn’t even take it. I was so hurt, so angry. I carried it around for about six months, trying to untangle and forgive even one thing about a desperately complicated situation. I finally was able to sort out my feelings/forgive one thing about the situation -the one thing I thought was the root of all the pain -only to find I was still a tangled mess.

      I saw a picture of a ball of entangled yarn -so tangled that you couldn’t even begin to untangle it. I managed to yank one piece free, but the huge, tangled mess still remained. I still hurt so much. Then I cried out to the Lord and He didn’t bother to untangle it all, but rather dissolved the ball completely. After that, I was set free from it and the pain was gone. I was healed instantly.

      I have confidence that He is going to do that again for me. Even now, He is my ever present help in my times of trouble. Please consider what I’m saying – ‘religion’ won’t save you, Jesus will.

    • Angela says:

      (NEW ZEALAND)  Jason, I hear the pain in your comments. I can relate to what you say -and without sounding ‘corny’, there is an answer. It is to put Jesus in the gaps of your life. Divorce cripples a child. Divorce cripples the adult they become. There is pain beyond description.

      A book I read that helped me ENORMOUSLY was called A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss,by Jerry Sittser. He lost his mother, wife and child in a car crash and describes the aftermath and his subsequent rehabilitation. It is written by a man who has clearly suffered enormously. Please read it. God bless you :)

  12. Krista says:

    (CANADA)  Hello Everyone and Lisa especially, My mother and father are still going through a very painful divorce and the story seems almost identical to yours. The process of this divorce has been going on for almost 6 years now. My dad cheated on my mom and my parents were nearing 25 years of marriage. However, it gets even better… the woman whom he cheated with became pregnant and that child may be my half sibling. My father and that women are now together and have just had a child together.

    I am almost 24 and truly old enough to have my own children. My whole world, perception of life, marriage, love, trust has been completely shattered. Around the time of this incident I too became lost in a sea of depression and I completely sympathize with your feeling of averting to the numbness so as to carry on with life. I was almost successful at taking my own life, and am I ever grateful that I was given a second chance at life. I still do not have the answers to all the wrong that went on. I may struggle at times with how to understand how I can trust another man if I cannot even trust my own father who was my ultimate role model in life and for many of my friends, as well. However, I have become closer to God through this process.

    When I found out about the news my all of a sudden my mother, whom had been the one that would console me, was crying on my shoulder asking me what she could do. I felt like I didn’t have an answer. At that time I believed there was a God but I wasn’t leading a Christian life or accepting God as my daily bread. However, at that moment where my mother was crying on my shoulder at the age of 16… it suddenly occurred to me… we cannot be strong on our own.

    Although my mother is a mother and had taken care of me all her life she was suddenly unable to take care of herself, and that is when I realized that God truly exists… he is the one that can take care of all of us. He is the father of the fatherless… he is the savior of us all and he is the one that will be walking with us through all our darkest moments and be that guiding fatherly hand that can reach out and show us the way. He can show us our worth, the amazing gifts, talents and purpose that we each were given to share with this world.

    I pray that you can take heart in this and truly seek out and push into God if you are a believer in Christ. Don’t let these worldly things persuade you to think less of yourself and your life on earth… Take courage… stand up and let God know that through him you are renewed and you are whole. Coming from a daughter of a mother… I send you my love … God bless and may you find peace in our Father’s arms.

  13. Serenity says:

    (USA)  http://acodtimeforserenity.blogspot.com I would like you to visit my blog above to gain a bit of hope and healing if you are one of us who is an adult child of divorce!

  14. serenity says:

    (USA)  I started a blog for adult children of divorce.

    http://acodtimeforserenity.blogspot.com

  15. Kat says:

    (UK)  My parents divorced when I was 22. My sister was 15. So I have seen the damage on both adults and on teenagers. My sister rebelled massively and was allowed to get it all out and yell and scream. I however, was used as the shoulder to cry on for both. The counselor, the message carrier, the peace keeper, etc etc. My older brother buried his head in the sand and it all landed on my shoulders.

    My sister, emotionally, is doing far better than me. I am still in counseling and on anti depressants as a direct result of the divorce. It was not a typical break up. There was a lot of debt involved, a house and an affair, a new woman and my father ended up moving to a different city. Very messy. And I tried to help.

    I cant say that younger children have it easier because its hard no matter what age but there is a lot more pressure on older children to handle it better and to not necessarily feel what they’re feeling outside of there own mind. Its exhausting. And there are so many more things to consider. I was terrified of my parents committing suicide so I tried to show no anger. This wouldn’t have even crossed my mind as a child.

  16. Marc says:

    (USA)  My daugther contacted me after 19 years. Believe me, I take all the blame. Everything was going good until her mother and stepdad started to really come down hard on her for contacting me. Now my daugther will only text if she feels like it and when she does it is 1 word replays. It just seems she is ready to end it with me. I just don’t get it. Can anyone help me understand?

  17. Leslie says:

    (USA)  Divorce at any age is a heartbreak. I’ve now been on both ends -I was a small child when my parents split and realized that the divorce would not end until one of them died -I was mistaken it does not end!

    I stayed in an abusive/ unfaithful relationship to protect my children from divorce until I had to chose between two Ds -death or divorce. My friends impressed the need for me to live for my children. I understand too well the hurt / rejection / questions.

    I will make this statement “an adult has the tools to deal with a divorce and they are insulated from the daily battlefield” (like parents going back to court for a third time for custody or the knowledge that daddy again didn’t send money for food). Children starting at a small age are intuitive and they know what is happening even when their parents don’t cry on their shoulders. Thanks for the thoughtful article.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    (USA) My advice is: No one ever said life is supposed to be perfect whether you are the child or the parent. Walk on. Pick up the good pieces of your life and be as kind as you can to others. There is no perfect child or perfect mother/father. Life is not a rose garden. After 27 years of an unhappy marriage I left. I met and married a great husband. My former husband married someone the age of our oldest daughter. Moaning about life helps no one. Do the best you can. Surround yourself with things you love.

    Even though my second passed away I have wonderful memories of all the times we spent together. Life is a learning experience until the day you pass on. Enjoy life as much as you can. No one has a perfect life. We grow up with fairy tales. Help others. There is so much joy in doing for others. Just don’t let anyone use you. Back off and draw your boundary lines.

    I let some of my children into my boundary lines and some I don’t. My life is peaceful and I have no guilt about keeping my distance. If your child/children love you they will abide by your rules. I came from a totally disfunctional family. It could have been very different. When you went to my grandmother’s house there was a rule that never changed. There would be no fighting of any kind in her home. It was a place of security. I now have the same rules. Get along or go home. Life is too short to live in a constant turmoil. Make your home your heaven on earth. It is up to you. Best wishes.

  19. Jenny says:

    (UK) My parents divorced when I was 14. I am 25 now and living abroad where I work as a translator. I have been successful in my education and career but am emotionally incredibly unstable and have been suffering from depression for years. I have massive anxiety problems and develop relationships, only for me to go emotionally cold.

    The reason for my parent’s divorce has never been fully understood -not even now. My mum left my dad because of his money problems (which I found out about later, he owed thousands in tax, everything, you name it and the house was under threat). Subsequently my mother tried to sell the house quickly to get her half, leading me to resent her for years. I didn’t talk to her for about 4 years. She also said my dad was having an affair, which I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss. My dad is a compulsive liar and although I love him dearly, my perception of my parents is now one that is shrouded in questions and doubt.

    My mother had a bad upbringing; an alcoholic father and a useless mother. I think if I’m honest my mother has emotional/mental problems. She is emotionally very weak and I fear I am developing signs of being like her. She remarried (as did my dad) to a guy who I think is lovely but there are already strains. She tells me all their marital problems, that there is no intimacy etc etc. My biggest fear is that my mum will end up on her own. Living abroad was a way I could escape it, but the lonliness and confusion is still there. I worry about my emotional state in the future and although it’s not discernible at the time, the emotional scars of divorce can reappear in ways you never expected. Your parents are essentially your ultimate foundation and when that goes, in some ways you are alone. I feel like I can never explain these emotions/feelings I have and can never rationalise them or make them go away. But something changes, thats for sure.

  20. Kristina says:

    (UNITED STATES) I’m 23; my mother just announced to me that she is divorcing my father. He had an affair about 10 yrs ago but my mother forgave him and gave him another chance. She is a strong Christian woman & I grew up under strong Christian values. My father used to be close with God but has strayed almost completely from God over the past decade or so. Turns out he has been having another affair with a different woman and my mother has had enough. I can’t shake this and am having a very hard time dealing with this.

    Someone PLEASE help me get through this. I have 3 other siblings, I live 10 hrs away from the rest of my family right now so I don’t have them to cope with right now.

  21. Erin says:

    (USA) Lisa, I did not see your post until after I replied. I so understand the ‘numb’ feeling. You, also are not alone in this. GOD is with you. I don’t understand all that is happening, but I do know that everything happens for a reason and at the end of all this pain there will somehow come peace, joy and a sense of belonging. Will be keeping you and yours in Prayer as well. Funny, I thought I was the only one who in the loss of a very long term marriage lost the children and grands as well. Very painful, but we will get through this. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

  22. Shawna says:

    (USA) My mom walked out of a 35 year marriage this past Christmas Eve. She told all her kids over the phone. I am 33, a single mother and my 3 siblings are all boys. I have always been everyone’s rock, and arbitrator in my family… which is very tight knit. My mother was having an affair, I caught her 4 years ago. But it turns out there was more than one man.

    At this point my son and I are staying with my dad whom is leaning heavily on me emotionally, also to cook, clean, help him with bills. I’m just lost… looking for insight. Two days ago I had a “sleepdriving” episode from ambien, I totaled my 2013 Kia Soul, woke up in a ditch in my “nightie” and barefoot. My mother has not even called to check on me.

    Anyone have any suggestions-book wise? I have searched, but would like a suggestion. I am already in therapy, on anti-depressants from dealing with my own demons, but my family will always come first and I am trying to handle all of this as best as I can!!! Staying strong!

  23. R.MARIE says:

    (USA) To all of you on here suffering from your parents’ divorce, my heart breaks for you! I have only been able to read bits and pieces because it’s too painful. I am the mother of 2 grown sons. My youngest was 18 when his dad and I divorced after almost 30 years of marriage. They had no idea how toxic our relationship was (he is a sex-addict and had a secret life -but very successful on the outside). Our divorce came as a complete shock to them, and I am only now coming to understand just how devastating this has been on them, particularly the younger one.

    We were divorced in 2009, after years of therapy and deep depression on my part (though hidden far too well from my sons). Their dad remarried almost immediately, and I limped along -fighting often with my youngest. It was really rough. I finally got my life together again and am living with someone new -my son lives with us. He has struggled to find his way and tries hard but has had some set backs. Yesterday he really poured his heart out about how much pain he is in on a daily basis.

    I am feeling like I have totally ruined his life (my older son is doing pretty well as far as I know). I don’t see how he can move forward -he won’t get help and after reading here, don’t even know if it would help anyway. It’s as if I’ve ripped his heart open and no amount of surgery will ever repair it.

    Since I can’t take back what has happend, I would like to ask you all if there is anything that you would want from your divorced parents now -any sort of comfort, help, any particular support that may help –it seems total healing may be beyond anything I can do. But if there is anything at all, just the smallest thing, please kindly share. My son hurts so badly… Thanks for any help.

  24. Paul David from United States says:

    I am still suffering from my parent’s divorce. It was 100% my mother’s fault and over time, all 5 children have held her accountable. We love her – but just cannot accept the damage she has brought upon our family.
    My father and I have always been tight – and he went from being a dad 365 days out of the year to 52 days out of the year (every other weekend). I forgave my mom – but I did not forget. My dad did everything he could to heal the marriage. She cheated on him and blamed him for the divorce. She had friends that were getting a divorce and it seemed like the hip thing to do. Her denial and rewriting of history was amazing. Borderline psychopath.

    When my wife and I got married 15 years ago, I warned her about my mom and her ‘moral relativism’. Once my brother’s wife cheated on him after 13 months of marriage, my wife got to see my mom’s relativism in action. She was blown away. My mom excused my sister-in-law’s adultery so she could excuse her own. My wife lost respect for my mom at that time.

    13 years later, my wife started hanging out with the same type of immoral scum that my mom chose to hang out with just 33 years earlier. Now, my wife has COMPLETELY changed everything about herself. She used to not believe in divorce and was against anyone who committed adultery or destroyed their family with divorce. Now my wife has cheated on me, wants a separation, excuses her friends and her adultery, blames me entirely and doesn’t care one lick about the damage that will happen to the children if we divorce.

    I am blown away. I cannot believe I have to live through this all over again. On the good side, after knowing each other for 18+ years, my mom and wife who were never close will be able to really get chummy.

    For the life of me, I do not know how these immoral psychopaths can do what they do to their own families. I am hurt by my wife’s adultery and hurt by her denial and rewriting of history and moral relativism – but still could never choose anything besides forgiveness and reconciliation – for my Faith’s sake and for my children’s sake.

    My kids can see what is going on and my 12 year old keeps asking me why mom treats me so bad and why does she always go out late with her friends and why her friends come before her family. Same thing I asked at the same age.

    He told me that if my wife left me, he would never speak to her again and that the judge may grant her 50% custody – he can’t force my son to like her, listen to her or respect her.

    Those who are blind to Satan’s history are doomed to repeat it.

    I pray that we can reconcile – but will not feel sorry for how her life turns out if she divorces me. People say that Karma will get you, but I do not believe in Karma. I believe that God will make it right and will allow her life to spiral out of control until she either denies him or turns his life over to him, completely.

  25. Joan from United States says:

    My adult daughters (19 & 23) told me of their father/my husband was having an affair with a woman from work. He had an affair with a woman from work when they were younger and they found out from their older sister some time ago; so this is salt in their never closed wounds.

    Our marriage has been strained for so many years from lack of communication. When they told me in June 2013 I immediately hired a private investigator and because of it being a working relationship it was difficult to get the evidence I needed. My daughters were in the loop with what I was doing and even spoke with the attorney I had retained. I went on a two week vacation to visit family and within 2 hrs of my departure my husband was in a hotel with her. The weekend before my return he met her at a bar, made out in the parking lot after a few drinks, then took her to my home.

    When I returned I never let on all the evidence that was on video. I met with the atty and had him served a week later in the house to not humiliate him being served at work or to give his girlfriend/coworker any hints of what she was to expect as I live in one of 7 states that can sue the mistress for “alienation of affection”, not to mention loss of job would be my alimony and he is an officer of the company and makes a very good salary. After his emotional breakdown of getting caught he still denied to our daughters of his affair and tried to make it my fault. It was only after our 3rd therapy session that he came clean about lying and cheating but still says there was no sexual intercourse. While he understands that intimacy through texting, communication and physical contact, it is adultery on every level in the eyes of God and the man made laws.

    I am a renewed Christian but he is not although he tells us he does believe in God but the girls and I have never seen him pray or open a Bible but he claims to be very faithful so we leave that up to him and God as we cannot judge his faith. All through the investigation I shared way too much with my daughters, that I regret doing for now that I have chosen to try and reconcile with therapy and communicating more with him today my daughters feel I am like an abusive woman who keeps going back for more punishment as in their minds they were prepared for divorce. They’re finding it difficult to talk to me about anything because they know that their father and I are for the first time talking about everything. They’re very angry with me that I tell him the conversations I have with them and vice versa with him. My husband says they just want to know that I’m happy with the reconciliation and once I show them that he and I are better than before they’ll forgive me and not question why I stayed. I’m not so sure that they’ll regain the respect they had before for me and they’ll never be close to me again.

    As young women I want as their mother to teach them how a man is supposed to respect love and treat them but their own father failed miserably in that department and I’m now forgiving him for this horrible sin to me, the sanctity of my marriage. But I also am trying to teach them the act of forgiveness but they aren’t buying it right now. Actions speak louder than words so maybe in time they’ll see that their father is remorseful and is dedicated to our marriage as I am and always have been dedicated to my marriage, God and my children.

    I’m at a loss of words for my daughters because they have such little respect for me staying. Is my husband correct when he says that in time they’ll see our marriage stronger than before and they’ll come around? Younger people today, through the reality tv shows and media celebrity coverage, come from this “if it’s broken throw it away” mentality and because neither of my daughters have been married or have had children they may not truly understand my dilemma. Any suggestions on how I can communicate to my daughters that I’m not feeling abused and I’m at fault for things that went wrong in my marriage but just because I didn’t go out and cheat and lie I’m still responsible for the things that went wrong? How can they understand that I am not an abused woman and I want them to accept a “redo” with my husband and my family can be stronger than ever before?

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