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In fact, when my brother told his friends about our parents' split, they laughed -- such was their lack of concern and understanding. If our parents managed to stay unhappily married for over three decades, why bother to change things now?The truth is, despite my devastation -- and I really was devastated -- I didn't feel entitled to grieve publicly for my parents' divorce.When my dad left my mum for another woman, he suggested they didn't inform my two brothers and me. The idea that adult children are not affected by their parents' divorce is not a special brand of crazy reserved for my dad. Dad figured that because the three of us were now independent adults, small matters like breaking up our family, airing the dirty laundry, selling the family home and fighting over who kept the baby photos were a private matter between him and mum.Watching the family home and assets being packed up and fought over shatters your world, no matter how old you are. There was no safe refuge, physically or emotionally, that I could run to if I needed it.My parents we so engrossed in their own pain and anger they no longer had any concern for me, other than as a pawn in their own drama.Make it clear that divorce is not the child’s fault. One of the most confusing parts of the process was that some people whose parents had split when they were very young were eager to tell me that I shouldn’t be grieving in the same way, because I was older.
But for the moment, I could relax because the friend I grew up with wasn’t going anywhere. From all that has been written of children of divorce—custody battles, alternating weekends, shielding them from the details—you would think this experience is unique to the younger set. Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin of Bowling Green State University’s sociology department found that in 2010, the number of divorced adults had doubled since 1990, and that approximately 1 in 4 divorces in 2010 were “gray divorces,” or divorces between couples older than 50.Divorce for an adult child is many things, but easy isn’t one of them.It’s living in the house you grew up in with two parents who no longer love each other—for an entire year.And for many, their hurt and loss will be just as intense as if they were a child.
I remember, clear as day, the moment my parents told me they were getting a divorce.
Which was odd, considering my head was as fuzzy as the view out of my windshield, wipers ineffective against the rain, as I drove across the state line to the apartment of my childhood best friend.