Take a deep breath….and write!

by Carolyn on June 25, 2009

My daughter Claire and I

My daughter Claire and I

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Carolyn and I have been thinking about starting this blog for a long time now. I was worried though. Mostly worried about what others would think. What would my family, friends and husband make of all this. But I decided to heck with it! We need a space like this. People like you. And people like me.

I became a child of divorce at three years old. At least that’s when my parent’s divorce/separation proceedings began. I accepted things pretty easily. I was never the petulant child who stomps their foot while crying for their parents to stay together, nor the cunning child who schemes ways to try and make their parents fall in love again. To be honest, I don’t even have the faintest memory of my nuclear family being intact. No whisper of a trip to the zoo together. No glimmer of a summer walk through the park. Nothing. As far as I am concerned, I have always been a child of divorce. I’ve never known anything else.

My parents both remarried when I was eight years old (strangely enough, their weddings were only a few months apart). They both married people with no children and then started families with their new spouses. My mom had two children with her husband and my dad had three children with his wife. Talk about never really fitting in! I felt like the last remaining remnant of the biggest mistake of their lives. Not that I was a mistake (for I always knew that both my parents loved me very much), but I always felt like I was a constant and ever present reminder of the life they had chosen and then rejected.

Now all of this happened before divorce was the norm. I remember teachers questioning permission slips in front of my whole class because my mom (who had signed it) had a different last name than me. I remember having to explain my family dynamic to each new friend I made as they listened; trying to understand. I remember the questions “so are any of your sisters or brothers really sisters or brothers or are they…what’s the word…step?”. But through it all I have never felt burdened by any of this. A bit of a freak, yes. But never hard done by. I had no point of reference for the nuclear family. Just as my friends couldn’t understand my family dynamic, I really couldn’t wrap my head around theirs either.

So I became the easy babysitter for my parents, which is what happens when you are ten years older than your sisters and brothers. I split up summers and holidays between my two families and I grew up. I was a model child until my teen years, when suddenly rebellion and self loathing became my dominant personality traits. I was imploding right through my early twenties; but despite my best efforts I came through it fairly unscathed. I now live a pretty normal life. Much more ‘normal’ than I could have ever thought possible.

Wife, mom, employee, daughter and sister are all terms that describe me now. But all of those roles are rooted in my status as a grown up child of divorce. You see, the way I approach my marriage, motherhood, family, household, even work is innately affected by this one characteristic. I’ve never wanted to acknowledge that, but it is undeniable. So that’s what I’m going to explore. I know I’m not alone. I know there are thousands out there just like me. But even though this must be true, there is little by way of support for us. Little research has been done on the affect our histories is having on our futures.  I can’t figure out why that is, but maybe we can change it. Until then, I’m going to share my stories and insights on being a grown up child of divorce. I’d love to read yours.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Urchin June 25, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Okay. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that your server is still giving you a hard time.

I hope this clears up soon as I’m already getting the shakes from the lack of new entries.

-twitch twitch-

Fix it, WordPress, fix it please!

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2 Carolyn June 25, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Oh yes, this hasn’t been fun. But I think things are going to be okay now. I hope, anyway. Thanks for waiting for me. :)

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3 Urchin June 25, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Of course I’d wait for you! How can I not when you’ve pulled me in with your vocabulic (it’s a word now! mwahahaha) web of wonders!

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4 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:15 pm

From Frank Fradella on June 14, 2009

This is beautiful and brave and as long as I’ve known you, I can’t believe I never
really understood this until now. This is an incredible start to a blog. I can’t
wait to read what comes next.

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5 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:28 pm

From my Aunt Jackie on June 16, 2009

Wow! Your a very good writer! Keep it up, loved it!
Aunt Jackie

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6 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:29 pm

From Tammy on June 16, 2009

Your are very talented Carolyn. This is fabulous. And just to let you know there were more “Freaks” at Princess Anne than just you. The Phillips’ were right there
with you, trying to be the norm and not feel the pity and like an out cast b/c we were now considered “orphans” b/c we no longer had our Dad. We should have had our own club at the school. You are truely brave to let people into this part of your
life and to let then know how it really affected you and still to this day does.
Can’t wait to read more.

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7 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:30 pm

From Bernita on June 17, 2009

Carolyn,
What a great way to make your feelings known…..I have often journaled on being a grown up child of a parent who remarries after death. This is so hard and I am still dealing with it, three years afterward. This is so brave of you, and of
course proud of you too. P.S. I miss our talks.

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8 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:31 pm

From Kelly on June 18, 2009

Congrats Carolyn! This is going to be fantastic! I look forward to reading more -
good for you!

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9 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:32 pm

From Lee on June 18, 2009

WOW. We have shared many things during our talks & laughs but we never really talked about your deep feelings about this. This is like a good book that I don’t want to put down. I wish I had your courage, Carolyn. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us.
-Lee xo

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10 Kathleen Hoffman July 13, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Carolyn I am glad you posted this on facebook, as it has captured and enthralled me…reading the words, each moved forward as though they floated out of my head instead of off the page. We have a lot more in common that I ever realized and I am in awe of the rational way you express the complex emotions of development into an adult. I was right there with you the whole time and never knew. I am going to keep reading, but I had to stop after this article and tell you how amazing I think it is. Gentle and concise articulation makes me happy : ) ~Kat

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11 Carolyn July 13, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Thanks so much and welcome aboard, Kat! Wow, it sure has been a lot of years…how are you? It is amazing how we can be so close to someone in proximity and never actually get to know them, isn’t it? I’m really glad you are enjoying reading what I have here. It’s such a nice compliment!

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12 Holly September 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Thank you for stopping by my mess… i believe that we have alot in common… i enjoyed your post and it took me back a bit.. my parents divorced when i was one but lived together until i was 16 and i have one full sister who is ten years younger than i… both of my parents are remarried now and so my family dynamic is a very “blended” one… much the same as yours… i love the picture of you standing on the rocks… a thousand words…

i started my blog because i lost my job and my fiance said i had too much time on my hands… i can’t afford a counselor right now so i turned to writing… very theraputic…

take care and i will be back… :-)

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13 Carolyn September 18, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Yes, the writing is therapeutic isn’t it? Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, we have much in common. But your parents lived together after their divorce? I can’t imagine. I’d love to hear more.

The picture is actually of a friend of mine. But when I saw the picture I knew it was 100% congruent with the feel I wanted to have for my site. She was gracious enough to let me use it.

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14 Mellisa October 10, 2009 at 9:15 am

This post really moved me. I am also the product of divorce…and it really does affect every aspect of the way that you move through life. I “made” (asked, begged or implored– however you want to say it) my husband live with me before we got married. I knew even at the ripe old age of 20 that I didn’t want to become what I had always known. I signed up for your e-mail updates and can’t wait to see what you explore next.
.-= Mellisa´s last blog ..Happy Birthday: To My Great Grandma!! =-.

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15 Carolyn October 13, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Welcome Melissa! I just subscribed to your blog too. I can always use tips to help save some dough! ;) I’m really glad you’ve liked what you’ve read here so far.

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16 Christy January 15, 2011 at 1:51 am

I am so glad I found your blog! I’ve just come to realize that many of my problems stem from my parent’s divorce when I was 16. I never thought anything of it. I didn’t acknowledge any kind of affect it had on me. I moved on, I thought. I was a kid, now I’m 32 with a husband and a son. But after journaling and dealing with panic attacks and discovering that they started when I was 16, the dots started to connect. I searched the web for something about this and came across your blog. It’s like I’m reading my own journal. I am a perfectionist, an up-tight, anxious, afraid and angry woman, but I hold it all in for fear that someone will find out and….I don’t know what they would do….leave me? dislike me? be ashamed of me? Whatever my issues are, I’m glad I’m not alone. I am so glad.

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17 Terry Gaspard November 20, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Hi Carolyn,

My daughter and I are happy to announce the launching of our website based on our study of more than 100 daughters of diovrce. We have written a book called LoveWeCanBeSureOf based on our research. Divorce goes back 5 generations in our family and we are passionate about the topic!

Please contact us and read our weekly blog posts – you might enjoy the one on Handling the Holidays!

Great job on your blogs!
Terry

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