Introductions

My daughter Claire and I

My daughter Claire and I

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.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:21 pm

From Liz on June 16, 2009

Hi – so after reading this first part, I am left with this crazy knot in my stomach
because I can relate on so many levels. Mine were divorced at 4 and then both had
seperate families after. I lived with my mom and new step-dad and they had two more
children…I remember thinking, “this one belongs to my mom, that one belongs to
him, and I belong to the dog!” Ugh, it was horrible – but now as an adult, I
realize a lot of the choices I made/make are because of the realtionships of my
parents and the environment I was raised in. So sad for a young girl without
answers, but so enlightening for an adult who is still strong without all of the
answers. I cannot wait to read more – great job!

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2 Angie July 15, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Carolyn,
Earlier you commented on my “work” blog, but I also have a personal one “Finding Hope” at elusivehope.wordpress.com.

I checked out your website and I can identify with your comments about being a child of divorce. My parents divorced when I was three, and then my dad died 6 years later! It was horrific to say the least. He was my one ticket out of what I thought was the worst place on earth (in my 9 year old mind).

Nice to connect with you,
angie

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3 Carolyn July 16, 2009 at 9:56 am

Welcome Angie! I took a look at your site too and left you a comment there. Your story is certainly compelling and I wish you well on your journey of healing.

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4 Melissa July 30, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Wow, I am so glad I found your blog through co-parenting101. You struck an immediate nerve with me in regards to always having to explain your family situation, not being phased by it, and splitting the holidays!

At this point in my life I try to forget about the difficult times I had growing up which stemmed from my parents divorce. Maybe this is a turning point…it’s nice to find someone out here that wants to talk about it :)

Thank you, I look forward to reading more!

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5 Carolyn July 30, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Thank you and welcome Melissa! I hope you keep enjoying what you read. I was just like you. Not acknowledging any of it and I was always surprised when I’d search the ‘net that no one else was either. That’s why I started this blog. I do want to talk about it. And I’m glad you do too!

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6 Leah August 9, 2009 at 11:36 pm

Thank you for visiting my blog Carolyn, and for taking the time to comment. Your kind and comforting words meant a lot to me. All the best to you on your journey!

Peace,
Leah

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7 Jacque August 29, 2009 at 10:10 am

Carolyn:
You are writing about a critical part of divorce that people don’t like to talk about. Rock on, sister. My parents divorced and remarried when I was around 11. I have one half-sister. It’s amazing what being an ACOD does to your psyche!!! I’m so glad I found your blog. I will add you to my blogroll right now. Awesome. Seriously. Have you thought about writing a book?

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8 Carolyn August 30, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Thank you Jacque! I’ve added your link as well! Great to connect with you!

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9 Walking Queen September 1, 2009 at 12:10 am

Wow! We do have a lot in common! My parents also divorced when I was three and I have many of the same feelings as you. This is a great blog!!

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10 Miss Always Carried Away November 22, 2009 at 12:53 pm

That had to be and still must be difficult! My parents wanted to get divorced, sometimes I think that maybe they should have…
I can only imagine how difficult had to be for you to fit in your new families and I am absolutely sure that your child will be very loved by you! Through your “introduction” I got an impression of warmness you spread around. And you look very happy with you baby girl!

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11 T November 26, 2009 at 9:28 am

I can only hope I have done well by my girls since my divorce. I never wanted this for them (having come from it myself) but I wan’t given a choice. That being said, I hope that the sacrifices I’ve made (read here:
http://picturethis-tlh.blogspot.com/2009/11/for-many-of-us-thanksgiving-is-about.html)
will help them realize that it wasn’t about them and that their parents love them and want the best for THEM.

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12 Bianca November 27, 2009 at 11:22 pm

I’m also a child of divorce. I totally understand!

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13 Richard November 29, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and thoughts as a child of divorce! You are a talented writer and you have produced a site which can be helpful to so many!

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14 Salt November 30, 2009 at 9:33 pm

I see so many parallels between your life and mine. My parents divorced when I was 7 (it was awkward being the only girl in my small school class whose parents were not together!) and I too became the convenient sitter (the oldest of my three brothers is 16 years younger than I am).

Oh and I was a hellion of a teenager/young adult too, but I’m totally fine now. :)

Thanks so much for sharing your story! It’s nice to ‘meet’ others who have been through something similar.

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15 Laura A December 21, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Wishing you a wonder-filled and joyous Holiday Season, and a bucket full of good wishes for a healthy and loving 2010!!
LA xo

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16 Michelle @ Italian Mama Chef March 3, 2010 at 9:26 am

I am excited to have found you and your blog. I found you at TMC! I too am a child of divorce and like you, 30 some years later and I am still dealing with the issues. I hope to connect with you and learn with you. You are right, there isn’t much out there for us, once we grow up. But the effects of divorce are long lasting. If you want to hear of my story, please email me and I will share.

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17 Carolyn March 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Thank you and welcome, Michelle! I will definitely be emailing you.

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18 TC March 9, 2010 at 11:34 am

Hi Carolyn,
I found your site when I was looking up that classic book on divorce. I always remember the title, Divorce is a Grown-Up problem. I can’t believe they still use it. Anyway, I got that book from my parents when I was five. I was just wondering how my kids would feel If I left their mother. I’m soo close with them I don’t think I would be able to live apart from them. My wife is constantly overwhelmed by our children and life. We have not been able to re-connect since the births of our kids – the last being three years ago. We can’t even agree on simple things like discipline with re: to our kids. I don’t think I’m ready to make the split, but If I wait much longer I feel my health is being negatively affected. Any ideas about how I can go about making things better? I suggested that we go to therapy; she said “she doesn’t have time”. I never saw this coming . Thanks for listening:o)

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19 David March 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Communication is the key.
You mentionned “we cannot even agree on simple things”, this sounds familiar to me. Our problem was as previosuly mentionned my difficulty in communicating with my spouse. I would avoid the root cause of frustration and nag about the superficial things. It made the situation worst. Your comment “We have not been able to re-connect since the births of our kids ” is true for many because life is not the same. Think back to your life before kids, what worked well and focus on that. Employment, kids/family time, etc are a must, figure out what can be removed from your schedule (ie: television, appointments, etc..) and use that time to re-connect as a couple. For us it was time together talking and listening that we omitted after kids.
Thinking back to my wedding as we light the unity candle we were each given an identical candle which was suppose to represent bride/groom as individuals and that’s never the case which is why marriage requires effort.

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20 David March 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm

OOPs the post below was suppose to go here.

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21 Momma Sunshine April 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm

What a great blog topic.

One of the things that I worried most about when separating from my husband (and I still worry about!) is how it is affecting our children. We do our best to keep things amicable for the sake of our kids, but I know that it’s got to affect them….

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22 Carolyn April 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Hey, Momma Sunshine (I *love* that name, by the way),

I think the best way to know how it’s all affected them is to ask. And then listen. Really listen without trying to correct them or letting them see the hurt that knowing will bring you. Give them permission to talk. Tell them that nothing they can say will hurt you or make you angry with them. Help them find the words they are sure to search for. Help them to set their feelings free.

That’s what I wish had been done for me, anyway. Thanks for stopping by!

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23 Sasha Townsend June 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Wow, Carolyn! I’m so glad I found your blog. You commented on someone elses’ blog and I found a link to you here.

I’m an ACOD too. I’m also the exec. director of a nonprofit dedicated to the child of divorce called Blended Love. We’re based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and run educational programs for children, parents, and teachers through the public schools.

I just started my blog, and I’m looking forward to reading more from you. Your candor is freeing. Thank you for your transparency and giving all of us the courage to speak up.

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24 Carolyn June 24, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Hi Sasha! And welcome! I look forward to getting over to your blog soon too. It sounds like you are quite an advocate for children of divorce. Thank you!

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25 dragonflymama September 8, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Hi Carolyn-
I am thrilled to find your blog and read more of your story. I am a stepmom to a 12 year old girl who’s parents divored when she was 3. It has been a very rough and rocky road of separation, divorce, custody battles, and moving on, for all of us. I write my own blog about the challenges I face being a stepmom with a biomom who is severely threatened by my presence in her daughter’s life. I think nonstop about how the choices my girl’s parents, ALL of us, have made will affect her reality as an adult, the choices she will make, and who she will become because of the path she has been placed on. Thank you so much for writing this, and I hope to find more understanding through your words.
Dragonflymama

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26 nkrummy February 20, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Wow- my story is so similar to yours, except I was still pretty “good” during my teens and early 20′s, and I don’t have any kids now. It’s great to see you created this site, and I hope more people find their way here. I know what it’s like to feel like all you want to do is be happy and healthy in life, but feel like you never *fully* escape some of the negative things that shaped you as a child- at least not in the inside.
Thanks so much for creating this site and I look forward to meeting others here! :)

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27 Sarah October 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

Hi Carolyn,

So happy to have found your blog. My parents divorced when I was two and my father married the woman he was having an affair with. He left for New Hampshire and I can’t begin to list all of the ways I secretly loathe him. He eventually moved back to the area and they had kids. My mom also remarried (a self concerned bachelor of 25 years) and has never been the same. I blame so much of my mothers unhappiness on my fathers actions and lack there of. I was a great child until my teenage years where I also began to rebel. And hard. I am currently in my young twenties and I have survived that stage and I am extremely proud to be going to school to become a nurse. I live with my father now because of convenience reasons and a big part of me hates him for the lack of love I feel from him. I have to watch him do all the things for my younger siblings that he never did for me. Every day is a constant reminder of how he wasn’t there for me in ways that he could have been and is now for his other children. Sometimes he goes days without asking me how I am. I am currently in a great relationship after few bad ones and I really want to go this distance with him. He is the most loving and selfless man I’ve ever met and I want to be a part of his life. However, there are times where such strong emotions knock on my door and have been causing issues. He is so great and takes all of my maniac-ness in stride but I can’t keep doing this. I can’t kept being this girl. I am living a dream that a few years I wouldn’t have even thought to be a possibility. I need to make a choice. Do I conquer a conversation with my dad that has been forever swept under the rug? Do I hold him accountable for his actions and responsible for my pain? Since my years I teenage rebellion I don’t think I have ever received his forgiveness for questionable things I did yet I have given him 24 years of forgiveness without acknowledgement that he appreciates I would still love him after what he did? I am reaching for happiness but instead of grasping it I am fondling around like it’s dark in the attic and I can’t quite reach what I am desperately searching for. I crave peace to move on.
Thank you for starting your blog. So many times I say to myself “Sar, your life could be worse.” Your blog says to me that this is a BIG deal and it should be treated as so.
I tried to read some of your other entries but only received a short version in which I couldn’t read any further. Is there a way or do I need a subscription?
Thanks for listening.

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