This adult child of divorce shares the emotional tug of war that existed due to her parents divorce. She shares the emotional turmoil of trying to spend as much time as possible with her father. Importantly, this adult outlines vivid scenarios of what she missed out on. All because her father was not actively involved in her life.
If a child has two parents before the divorce. The child has a right to have a loving relationship with both parents.
Both my parents loved me dearly. Even after the divorce, I never doubted their love for me, not even for a moment. But that love was a double edged sword in some ways because they were always competing for me. For most of my childhood, I felt torn between my them, and their two worlds.
Because my mother had primary custody, I saw my father on weekends and holidays. I always felt guilty when I spent time with one, or like I had to hide my feelings of love for the other. I would miss my mother when I was at my father’s house, and when my father would drop me off after a visit, I would feel like my heart was being torn from my chest every time we said goodbye (I still feel that way to this day!). At a school event, I would be so happy to see my father in the audience, but when he came backstage to give me a hug, if my mother and her new husband were nearby, I would hang back, fearful of showing too much emotion, and perhaps hurting my mother’s feelings. That tug of war feeling has never gone away.
My parents’ divorce also robbed me of precious time with my father that I will never get back. Growing up, my father always tried to squeeze as much time as he could into our summer visits, and the every other weekend I saw him during the year. Once he had a new family, our time together was more limited. Nearly every visit, we would have one “date night,” where we could just be by ourselves. As much as I treasured these moments, they were never enough.
In addition to lost time with my father, I lost someone to protect me from the men my mother mistakenly brought into our lives in her (understandable) search for love; I lost someone to affirm me as a woman during the awkward and painful pre-teen years; I lost someone to greet and grill my potential boyfriends; I lost someone to comfort me when my heart was broken; and I lost strong arms to hold me when I fell and to encourage me to try again. Today, when I see my little girl run to greet my husband at the door, when I see her smile as he picks her up and twirls her around, I grieve for all the moments I lost with my father that I can never get back.
Marriage-ecosystem.org Lifelong Grief
#357, Tug of War