My youngest daughter, 16-year-old Cindi, had difficulty coping with our divorce process and its aftermath. Acting out of desperation and pain, Cindi submitted a prayer request at church, making a plea that her dad and I would stay married. I vaguely remember Cindi telling me about the prayer request because I was preoccupied with my consuming, emotional divorce issues.
Years later, Cindi’s words haunted me as I watched parishioners form a line to make prayer requests. Sadness overwhelmed me as I thought about Cindi’s prayer request, her pain, and her emotionally unavailable parents.
Trapped in the dark, emotional jungle of the divorce process, her dad and I performed the avoidance dance. Too many times we weren’t there – emotionally or physically – for our daughter.
Cindi navigated through our painful divorce process pretty much alone. Looking back, I realize Cindi experienced the same emotions we did – anxiety, anger, depression, fear…The divorce process ripped her family apart. No doubt, Cindi wondered, “What’s going to happen to me?”
I’m amazed that Cindi continued to get straight A’s and participate in high school sports. To the outside world, Cindi appeared to have her life together. No doubt, going to school provided a welcome escape. But Cindi’s life continued to be shrouded in our divorce issues and its effect on her.
Well, Cindi had her day to be heard. Cindi displayed her school journals at her high school graduation open house. Friends and relatives crowded around the table to read her essays, including one painful piece, “How my parents’ divorce ruined my life.”
Divorce is one of the most painful experiences our family went through. The divorce process brought things my ex and I weren’t prepared for – pain, anger, distrust…It blind-sided us. We focused on our pain and survival. That’s when the emotional needs of our sweet, sensitive daughter went unnoticed.
I realized too late that my ex and I should have been more supportive when it came to Cindi. We needed to reassure Cindi that we love her and plan to keep her life as unchanged as possible. We needed to listen more to Cindi and be in-tune to her behavior.
Seven years after the divorce became final, Cindi sobbed when I gave her my wedding ring – the ring she asked me to leave her in my will. She said, “You don’t know what the divorce did to me, and I’ll never tell you.”
Life after divorce
Fifteen years later, the sad, painful days of divorce and its aftermath are over. My daughters are responsible, lovable women who enjoy wonderful careers and seem to be happy. Their dad and I kept in communication with each other throughout the years regarding our children. We even attend the same functions that involve our daughters and their families. Most importantly, we make sure our daughters know they are loved and admired.
I’ll never know the scars our divorce left on Cindi’s heart. But now Cindi seems happy and well-adjusted. And she’s married to a wonderful man.
About the Author
Michele Sprague is the author of the book, Single Again 101, and wrote hundreds of stories for corporate magazines and newsletters, Sacramento Parent, womensrunning.com, The Huffington Post…Michele lives with her husband in Michigan. (portfolio.michelesprague.com)