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Struggling with my parents' divorce as an adult

(8 Posts)
LikeSilver Fri 14-Nov-14 11:12:45

I'll try to articulate this. I realise I am being somewhat of a muppet but I can't seem to get over it so would be grateful for advice.

My parents got divorced when I was 8. Now I am am adult, it seems bizarre they ever got married, my mum is several years older than my dad, but they did and they had me. Their divorce came as a massive shock as they hid every row from me and I had absolutely no idea anything was wrong. I saw my dad each weekend and both parents remarried quickly. I was never told why they were splitting, only that they no longer loved each other. As a teen I figured out that my dad had had an affair with an 18 year old, who is now his wife. My mum was obviously trying to protect me from thinking badly of my dad and so has never discussed this with me.

Looking back I don't think I coped very well with the divorce. I have almost no memories of life before the divorce - I was only 8 but don't remember any birthdays/Christmases etc as if I have blocked them out. I was a very angry teenager and drank too much and self-harmed but couldn't really articulate why.

It was having my own daughter that seems to have sparked a change and I feel furious with my dad for breaking up our family and for putting his new girlfriend before me, a kid. That sounds ridiculous when I'm a grown woman but that's how I feel. I cannot imagine not seeing my dd every day and putting someone else before her.

I don't know how I can resolve this really. It seems weird to raise it with my dad now over twenty years have gone by, and if I did he would only sulk and refuse to talk. I love my dad but I feel I am almost holding him at arms length right now so he cannot hurt me or my dd and I don't want to continue, I don't want to feel this way about him as he grows old. I'd be grateful for any advice on how to resolve these feelings.

HumblePieMonster Fri 14-Nov-14 13:10:41

furious with my dad for breaking up our family and for putting his new girlfriend before me, a kid
This really resonates with me. My parents didn't divorce, though they split up from time to time, but my dad was a womaniser and any woman was more important than me, his daughter, or even my brother (who at least had advanced status from being a boy). Neither of our parents put us first, and both rated (younger) brother more highly than me. Even when I was the one who gave them a grandchild.
I suggest you get counselling and talk it all through a few times. I've had loads of counselling and I'm much, much better.
Having said that, there is still an unbreachable chasm between me and my father, despite my seeing him almost every day since my mother died in March.
The adult you might be able to rationalise the situation but the child you still feels betrayed.

Meerka Fri 14-Nov-14 13:13:29

Actually I think it's reasonable to be angry with him.

Holding him at arms length seems a good way of handling it.

He didn't behave well at all and it impacted on everyone around him.

pippinleaf Fri 14-Nov-14 13:19:38

I can see where you're coming from with thinking your dad out someone else first and I just wanted to present an alternative way of thinking.

My parents, now in their late sixties have just announced they are getting divorced. I'm so relieved for them both but also very sad that my dad had tolerated such awful treatment from my mum for so many years. She cheated on him numerous times, in cruel ways, and has now instigated divorce despite my dad being very against it and neither of them having anyone else to go to.

I wish they'd done it sooner and could be facing old age in login relationships instead of being so broken, emotionally and financially, when they have less chance of financial stability and emotional happiness mind many years of unhappiness behind them.

I have no relationship with my mum anymore as I simply can't forgive her for what she's done to dad and my dad is a broken man, if they'd divorced when I was a child they could both be happy now and my childhood would have been a whole lot less awful.

Your dad is still with the 'other woman' so he didn't leave for a fling. If you can, try not to see it as he left you - he left your mum. And your life might be much worse now if he hadn't. thanks

venusandmars Fri 14-Nov-14 13:46:30

I think it's understandable that you feel angry (many people do about some aspect of their childhood) - the questions is what do you do about it?

You can never know what the relationship was like between your parents, how they came to be together, what internal pressures or social pressures were on them at the time, what patterns or behaviours they brought with them from their own childhood. A relationship split is not always clear cut black and white (even if one person has had an affair).

I think there are 2 things to decide:
1) do you want to have an ongoing relationship with your dad, and how do you maintain / develop that?
2) how can you use your feelings positively within your own family to ensure greater security and stability for your own children?

Purpleroxy Fri 14-Nov-14 13:48:56

I think the root of the problem is that they hid their rows from you and additionally did not tell you straight why they were divorcing. You could have understood at 8.

Personally my main memories of childhood start from age 7. They are also "dated" from events which are big upheavals for children. I go from age 7 because I changed schools after year 2 and that was a big event. So your point of reference is the divorce. It's possible you would have only a very hazy and bitty recollection of stuff before you were 8 anyway.

If you are able to talk to your mum, you might be able to get the bare facts of what happened to give yourself some closure.

My parents are divorced but I was older than you at the time so I have fairly secure recollections of things that happened. Interestingly when my dad talks about it, selected parts are erased and incidents are cited without background or context. Cheaters often rewrite history. They do this to justify their own terrible actions to themselves as they obviously have to live with what they've done. So they edit it until it's palatable to them and then actually convince themselves that it's accurate. I would be wary of asking him if he's going to get defensive and give you an edited version.

LikeSilver Fri 14-Nov-14 13:49:44

Thank you. It helps to know I'm not alone.

pippinleaf That sounds an awful situation and I'm sorry you're in it. You're right, and I'm thankful that they did split, I'm grateful to my mum for teaching me that you don't allow anyone to treat you like that. I think my anger comes from my dad's selfish behaviour that initiated it, like yours at your mum.

Counselling is a good idea; we can't afford any right now but I think it would be helpful.

I don't feel that holding my dad at arms length is a healthy way to go forward I suppose. He isn't an awful person. He did a really, really shitty thing but he has tried to be a good dad otherwise.

sometimeviewer Fri 14-Nov-14 16:43:30

My father had more than one affair during my parent's marriage but they stayed together. My mother was very unhappy for lots of the time and it had a very detrimental effect on my ability to form a good relationship. I wish mine had split up.

I'm sorry that your's did OP but you never know what the alternative might have been like.

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