I’m really into lists. And since beginning therapy ten months ago I’m also really into sharing my feelings. My parent’s divorce has played a huge role in my life, as it usually does for all divorced children. The effects have been both quite obvious – like being really good at packing an overnight bag – to almost subconscious. Apparently, I have trouble with intimacy and affection because I was never exposed to it at a young age. Go figure.
Anyway, back to therapy. So since I started sorting through these issues I’ve slowly been able to come to terms with my parent’s divorce and see that not all marriages are doomed to failure. In fact, I have just as much a chance for a happy marriage as anyone else.
But I can’t ignore the warning signs my mother and father so thoughtfully laid out for me. So, I’ve compiled a list. A list of promises I will keep to myself in order to never repeat their mistakes. With these promises I have faith that one day, when I meet the right person and if we decide to get married, we’ll do it the right way. I’d like to think that these promises can act as guidelines for other divorced children, living in an uncertain world full of cynical reminders that 50% marriages end in divorce… and hopeful whispers that 50% don’t.
I have faith and I promise myself…
1. That by the time I’m ready for marriage and family, I am going to be one well-adjusted bitch. And I’m going to be happy and I’m going to make my family happy.
The veritable fuck ton of therapy I am putting myself through now will pay off later. Yes, it’s hard as hell and yes, sometimes I feel like quitting. But you can bet your ass that when I come out the other side of this tunnel, I am going to be in touch with my emotions and honest with myself and with others. I will have overcome my anxiety and depression and though there will be as many downs as there are ups, I will have faith in myself to see it through and keep my sanity.
2. That my children will have beach days and I will remember the towels and juice boxes and snacks.
My family never went on vacations. The closest we came was going to the State Fair for my sister’s birthday every year and yup, you guessed it, the fighting was torrential. My kids will get their beach days and their trips to Disneyland and their family game nights. I will remember the sunscreen and the camera and they will grow up with fond memories of family time. Dinner time at our house will be sacred.
3. That I will be open and honest with my Significant Other, no matter what.
I will not lie about whether or not I took out the trash or how shitty my boss treats me. I will be honest about the big and about the small, especially when it comes to my emotions. I will not let insignificant wounds fester until they are life-threatening. When there is a problem, I will address it directly and compassionately. Honesty and kindness are not mutually exclusive.
4. That I will not be afraid to show affection to myself, my children and my SO.
My SO and I will kiss and we will kiss often. We will hold hands in front of our children and embarrass them when we slow dance. They will never doubt that we are in love. I will not shy away from intimacy. My children will be hugged, bear-like and often. We will be one of those families that tells each other “I love you” every time we get off the phone. And even through those angst-y teenage years, with doors slammed and oaths to run away forever, I will remind my children each and every day that I love them. And my SO will never doubt my devotion to our marriage.
5. That I will listen to my SO when he/she is open and honest with me. I will not judge. I will love unconditionally.
Honesty begets honesty and my SO will feel that, in me, is a comrade. A confidant. My SO will come to me in times of weakness and in times of strength and I will never sneer. I will never write off his/her problems. I will listen with an open mind and heart and together, as a team, we will get through whatever comes our way.
6. That I will not end up like my parents.
Yes, okay, this one seems obvious. But let me expand. I will not be bitter. I will not be delusional. I will not be unhappy. I will not get married, have three children, live in tension and violence for eighteen years; only to have it all crumble down in a torrid divorce that has shockwaves lasting more than a decade afterwards. When I get married, it will be for the first and the last time. I will have happy, well-adjusted children and my family will know that they are loved. There is no divorce in my future.
7. That even if shit happens, I will get through it. And so will my family.
Though I now recognize that shit doesn’t have to happen, yes, shit does happen. But just like storms pass and the sun lives to see another day and the Angles will come back for another season, no matter how many games we lose to Texas, this too shall pass. I will have faith in my strength to see any hardship through. My family will be imbibed with this strength. We will love and support each other. When that storm comes, we’ll face it head on and holding hands.
8. To always have faith. In my SO, in my children, in the universe and in myself.
Just as I am confident now I know there will be a day when I doubt everything. But I always have her. The strong one in the back of my mind who continues to whisper, this isn’t the end. I will have faith in the person I love. Our love will be worth more than any faults and I will have faith in my SO to help me pick up the pieces when it all falls apart. We will love and support each other, even with all our imperfections. I will have faith in my children and in my parenting. I will have faith that even though they make mistakes and get too drunk on prom night and drive too fast, ultimately they will be happy and healthy. I will have faith in the universe and that when the time is right, things will happen. Though I may not end up where I intended, it will be exactly where I am meant to be. Most of all, I will have faith that everything will be okay.
Cheers to the other 50%.