Divorce Destroyed My Family And My Ontology

by StillSoAngry
(Detroit, MI)



I'm almost 50 and I've struggled with anger all my life. My parents divorced when I was three, and for years I didn't realize how much this impacted me. After all, "the kids are OK if the adults are happy," right? But I wasn't OK and never really understood why.

They both remarried and went on to new families. I was left behind emotionally. Sure, my physical needs were always met. But I was an outsider where ever I went. My parents had rejected each other, which meant they had rejected 1/2 of me. I felt this acutely but could not articulate it. And of course nothing in the professional literature indicated just how bad divorce really is for kids.

I know now that it tears a child's ontology into two pieces. It's not hard to understand this. The parents are the origins of the child. When they are one, this is a representation of the child and his origins. But when my parents split up, I no longer felt unified on the inside.

Having my ontology torn into two was a form of torture. Worse, I had to watch as my mother created an intact family for her new daughter. So I had this unarticulated feeling of constant rejection (rejection of half of me, the half that was from my father), and this made me feel very angry. It was flipped when I was at my father's house--the half of me that represented my mother was rejected. Having half of myself rejected no matter which home I was in was like being an appendage. It was torturous.

I want my family back. I don't want all those step-parents and step-children complicating my life, muddying my ontology. I don't want to have to choose between my parents on holidays and birthdays. It's not fair and is very unequal.

Their parents didn't make those kinds of demands on them, yet they demanded it of me. I want them to pay for what they did, for how they made me feel, for gas-lighting me all those years... "Why are you so cranky all the time?" I was cranky because you were constantly rejecting the other half of me!

And you lied about it, saying I'd be OK. You lied, living as if your happiness was more important than mine, falsely believing that I'd be happy if you were happy. You lied, saying that the other parent was too horrible for you to live with, but sent me there to navigate their world alone. Parents are supposed to sacrifice for their children, not the other way around.

So yes, I have wanted revenge all these years but never saw that in myself until today. I don't know why it took me this long to see it.

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May 03, 2016
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Claiming Who You Are...
by: StillSoAngry

Thanks for posting my story, and for your feedback. It is hard to claim half of who I am when an authority figure rejects it, and when that same authority figure tried to "install" a new parent. The subsequent family structures require that I suppress the other half of me.

Our culture seems to have a belief about children, that they are like gears in a car. First gear = first family. All you have to do is push in the clutch, shift the gear to second, and voila! Install a new "blended" family (I think something similar could be said for kids of adoption). But having lived through it, I want the entire world to know that this is a lie.

Just because my mother and father fell in love with new people, doesn't mean that I did too. There is literally zero incentive for kids in my situation to tell the truth about how they really feel. And what good would it do anyway? We quickly figure out that we are in an impossible situation. We end up in a constant state of liminality, which I firmly believe contributes to the higher suicide rates, lower educational attainment, and other negative outcomes for kids of divorce.

Marriage matters, and first families matter. I feel like I've never been able to say that my first family, my REAL family, mattered. I had to pretend that it did not. That's part of what I meant when I said I was gaslighted. And I don't think I am alone, which means my parents were not unique or terrible people. It's a cultural problem, not an individual problem. Adult "choice" and "freedom" trump the needs of children.

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent. I will check out those links you gave.

May 03, 2016
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To the author of "Divorce Destroyed..."
by: Dr. DeFoore

Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. I respect your feelings, and I can tell you have put a lot of thought into your perspective about your parents' divorce and how it has impacted you.

Over my 43 years of experience as a counselor, I've seen many cases of divorce and its impact on children. What you describe makes perfect sense, in the way you felt torn in half by your parents' condemnation of each others. And you're right...their inability to get along impacted your life tremendously, through no fault of your own.

The question now is, are you going to have to live with this anger and desire for revenge for the rest of your life? I hope not. You were damaged by their choices, without a doubt. Let's see if we can find a way to heal those wounds so that you can go on with your life without the toxicity of anger and resentment.

I can tell you're very intelligent, and that you've studied the meaning of ontology, a concept pretty rarely used in my experience. As a student of philosophy myself, I'm intrigued by your viewpoint.

I don't know if this will help you, but my experience is that your ontology (defined as, "the study of the nature of existence") is influenced greatly by your family of origin and your childhood experience, as you have pointed out.

My experience also leads me to very strongly believe that the nature and meaning of your existence is far deeper and greater and more under your control than you might imagine. Most of my professional work as a counselor is designed to help individuals claim full authority over their lives, and remove any limiting or dysfunctional influences from their family of origin.

You can do this. You are ultimately the designer of your own ontology, as determined by the choices you make in your thoughts, emotions and actions. You will find guidance for this process on this page. If you choose to, follow these steps and see if that offers you some relief.

Take a look at what makes you you...apart from the influences of your parents and their divorce. Try not to define yourself by what you are against or angry about...define yourself by what you love and what you are interested in creating in your life.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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