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The Unseen Burdens: A Child's Journey Through Divorce

April 03, 20244 min read

The dissolution of a marriage is never a tapestry of a single thread; it is a complex weaving of numerous strands, each harbouring its own shade of emotion and narrative. For a child entangled within this tapestry, the hues are often too heavy, too dark, or far too intricate to comprehend fully. Reflecting on my own experience, I recognize the broadly painted strokes of burden and the subtly drawn lines of internal conflict that mark the canvas of my childhood.

At the tender age of eight, my family's dynamic shifted radically; my father left, my brother followed him, and I was thrust into the role of my mother's inadvertent confidant. The sobering reality of my father's absence wove its first thread of burden upon my shoulders—a weight I wasn't ready to bear.

In the whirl of what seemed to be an endless cycle of departures and returns—our family's RV disappearing and reappearing with my father's presence—I felt torn. The role I unconsciously assumed was to be the glue that held my mother together. But deep down, a part of me yearned to join my brother, to flee the pressure of being the sole source of my mother's perceived happiness. My childhood was inadvertently marred by an unwarranted sense of responsibility to mend what was broken—not with hands that healed, but with a heart that secretly wanted to escape.

I learned, perhaps too late, that the shadows cast by a parent’s unhealed wounds dance sinisterly into the lives of their children. They fasten themselves onto vulnerable souls, shaping fears and beliefs that were never meant to take root. In addition to the assumed role as my Mother's source of happiness, her stories of my father's misdeeds were brushstrokes of disillusionment on my childhood's canvas, depicting an image of my father that was framed by her own hurt.

Every time my dad left, it left a deep impression on me. I can't forget the pain when he left and how it showed how delicate our family ties are. When my brother chose to go with him, and I couldn't, it felt like a heavy emotional conflict.

The joy that washed over me with my Father's return flickered out all too quickly, eclipsed by the stark truth that I had fallen short. It wasn't just that hope had come back; it was the piercing clarity that my efforts alone couldn't spark the same joy in my Mother's eyes, that her happiness hinged on his presence, not mine. That fleeting moment of elation gave way to a sobering wave of my inadequacy. 

This haunting belief in my own inadequacy reared its head time and again in my life's journey. While it wasn't solely rooted in my failed attempts to be the source of my mother's joy, it certainly added to the pile of 'proof' that fed this deep-seated, unconscious conviction. It became the cornerstone of self-doubt that blocked the path to my triumphs and genuine aspirations.

The Unseen Burdens: A Child's Journey

To you who have wandered through similar paths of confusion and heartache, I write to say you are not alone in the labyrinth of emotions surrounding a family's separation. The fabric of our experiences may differ in texture and tone, but the feelings of uncertainty and the search for stability resonate in unison.

I know, without a doubt, I was loved very deeply by both of my parents. I know, this unseen burden I chose to carry was not one they intentionally exposed me to. It's the way life is. We children pick up these burdens because at the moment in time we unconsciously believe it serves us. I chose to pick up the burden of being the source of my Mother's happiness and my inadequacy in that position continued to carry it into new moments which did not serve me. However, being unconscious about it, without healing I too will perpetuate the experience with my children. 

Absolutely certain I am, that my parents' childhoods were worlds apart from mine. They pledged, heart and soul, to gift us a life they were denied, and by heavens, they triumphed. Choosing our paths when merely children themselves, they wove a future for us even with scars inherited from their own kin. Our narrative, poignant yet widespread, reflects a bygone era's silent norm. Now, with eyes wide open to this shared legacy of invisible familial weights, I stand in solidarity, an advocate for collective healing—to nurture the wellbeing of generations on the horizon.

I invite you to join me in transforming our shared understanding into a beacon of empathy and solidarity. May we extend beyond the limitations of our individual stories and weave together support, one where our voices are heard, and our burdens are shared and lifted.

The chapters of one's life are not dictated by the fractures of the past but rather by the steps toward healing and the resilient climb toward growth. I extend my words, reflections, and heart to those navigating the aftereffects of divorce, offering knowledge that understanding begins with recognition and healing with acknowledgment.

In casting aside these burdens, we discover the strength of our own resilience and the undying hope that in the wake of dismantled pasts, brighter futures can be built—one word, one reflection, and one healing moment at a time.


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Kids First, Becoming a Mom, Healing the Generations

motherhoodparentingunseen burdensdivorcepersonal developmentparents separating
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