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Writing to My Past Self: A 19 Year Old Child of Divorced Parents (Pt 2)

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In Part 2 of a two-part series, Sharon continues to share honestly about how being a child of divorced parents has affected her response to future events and new relationships.

Dear 19-year-old me,

You will be surprised later in life how your unprocessed pain and grief would affect your future relationships. You will trace your relationship difficulties to your earlier experiences of Papa and Mummy’s divorce. I wish you were able to work through your emotional baggage earlier, but I am thankful that you eventually got round to it and that you chose not to dismiss them, but face them bravely. The process will force you to rethink certain presumptions you’ve held about Papa ad Mummy, but it would be an important process to go through, so that you can truly find it in your heart to forgive them and be at peace.

  • Effect on future relationships

When you get married, you will understand first hand that it takes a lot of effort to maintain a healthy marriage because it requires active effort on your part to face your own brokenness, as well as accommodating your spouse’s flaws with patience and compassion. It pushes you to be more mindful of the way you behave and how that may affect someone else who had a different upbringing and experiences. Because you now know how challenging marriage can be, you will empathise more deeply with the challenges Papa and Mummy faced in theirs, and why their marriage might not have worked out in the end.  You will realise that marriage is still worth  the struggle.

  • Effect on response to future life events and caregiving

You will find yourself capable of taking on major life events with grace and patience, even though it was difficult; your own graduation, Didi’s graduation, and your wedding. Yes, some time will be taken away from the celebrations to navigate the logistics of keeping your parents apart. It will be a burden you wish you did not have to bear, but you will also learn that you possess the bravery to open up about what  matters to you, even when it requires your loved ones to do something difficult, like persuading Mummy to take a family photo with Papa. The personal growth you have experienced from navigating these challenging situations will also equip you to better relate to other people in your life and help you to transit into a different relationship dynamic with Papa and Mummy as an adult.

One day, you will come to a sobering realisation that Papa and Mummy suddenly look much older than you remember them to be. In that time, you and Didi will have to begin thinking about how you will care for each of them in their old age, each in their separate homes. You will learn that it helps to plan early, and to initiate advanced care planning conversations with Papa and Mummy while they are still healthy and able to express their wishes.

Closing reflections:

You will be able to look back with much gratefulness despite your loss of a conventional family structure. You are ultimately grateful for the childhood you enjoyed, for the determination to steward your own marriage and cherish your relationships, for the independence and health that Papa and Mummy currently enjoy, and for the ability to still maintain a relationship with both of them.

You will learn that the end of Papa and Mummy’s marriage does not mean the end of the world. You are brave, and you will come out of this a stronger person, and get far ahead in life.

With love,

34-year-old me