This is an open letter from a daughter of a broken relationship. I have wanted to write this blog post/open letter so many times, but I was always afraid of how it would come across. I don’t want it to come across in a negative light toward my parents whom I love very, very much. I also don’t want it to hurt their feelings or make them feel bad. Therefore, I have begun to write it many times only to delete everything I’ve written and close my computer. Tonight alone, I’ve written a couple paragraphs only to delete them and start over more than a handful of times. This time is different though. This time I am going to write this blog post/open letter and I’m not going to look back, because it needs to be written and because I’ve read several “open letters about divorce” lately that have really made me want to write my own. So, here it goes.
I know I’m not the only “child” whose parents have divorced. I also know that I was born into a generation with some major trust issues—it’s actually a matter I discuss somewhat frequently with a friend of mine from work. I know that being a “millennial (born between 1980 and 2000)” puts me in a category of people who will almost always commit to living with their significant other before every considering committing to marry him/her. My friend and I talk about this somewhat frequently as well and she tends to say something along the lines of, “As much as I wish it did, I don’t think monogamy exists. I think people are only as loyal as their best option.” I think that’s the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Sure, if we look at the statistics of how many millennial’s parents are still committed to their first marriage, then maybe it makes sense to believe monogamy is a myth, but that’s only because too many people have bought into this lie that love is 50/50. No! Just, no! Love is NOT 50/50! Love is 100/100. It’s two imperfect people giving their very best to each other and loving each other despite their shortcomings, because, guess what NOBODY IS PERFECT. You may think I’m “cute” or “naïve” to think I know what I’m talking about when it comes to love and relationships, because I’ve never actually been in a relationship myself, but there’s a reason I’ve never been in a relationship and it’s because I DO believe in monogamy and it’s not something I’m going to find by being in relationship just because I can be. Again, that may sound “cute” or “naïve,” but I know what I’m talking about.
In nearly every memory I can remember about my parents, they were not happy together. I can’t count how many nights they ended yelling at each other because they were fighting over the absolutely stupidest things. I also can’t count how many nights I stayed awake at night drenching my pillow in tears as I begged the Lord to change my parents’ relationship. When I was in high school, mostly during my eleventh grade year, I felt nearly emotion a kid could possibly feel about her parents’ broken relationship. I felt like I was the blame, I felt anger, I felt resentment, I felt sadness, I felt it all, sometimes all at once, sometimes in floods that lasted long stretches of time, and sometimes alternatively on different nights. And eventually, I got to the point when I didn’t feel anything at all. All I wanted was them to get divorced already, instead of threatening it all the time, so that we could all just finally move on with our lives. In the end, they did get divorced, and you know what? It didn’t fix everything like I hoped it would. In the beginning, I was so angry with them, because I was already twenty-years-old, so I understood that they broke the ultimate vows and promises by divorcing instead of choosing to work things out and love each other—through better and through worse. Then, I felt resentment, because they finally started to get along after the divorce. Finally, I feel hope and even a little bit of happiness, but to be honest, also still a little bit of resentment.
I want to confess something to you. I know our relationship has really sucked over the last several years—probably the entirety of my teens years and maybe even before that. I know you think that it had to do with the fact that I chose mom’s side over your side, because she was the woman and I was the daughter, but that’s not true, and least not mostly. Our relationship has sucked because for as long as I can remember, I have always been so mad at you. You made a promise to mom, God, and everyone who gathered to witness your wedding that you would always love mom, through EVERYTHING NO MATTER WHAT. You didn’t do that. I know this because love isn’t always a matter of the heart, in fact, it’s almost always a matter of choice, and choices are reflected in actions. If you had kept your promise to always love mom, y’all wouldn’t have fought with each other all the time and you would have been someone whom everyone in the house wanted to follow as head of the household. You weren’t though. You were grumpy and argumentative, and you left us at least a handful of times, only to come back, swearing to change, but never really changing, until finally you left for good and everything ended in divorce. You like to tell me that when I was a little girl, I was always so excited to see you, but I don’t remember that. I only remember being disappointed because you were supposed to be the head of the household who was an earthly example of who God is—loving and caring and always there. You weren’t always there. You left. You were also supposed to be someone whom I looked up to as an example of someone I might want to marry someday, but you weren’t, not when you were angry. Not when you argued with mom, and not when you left.
I say this publicly, because pretty much everyone who knows our family knows the story, and because I also want to say the following things publically. I forgive you. I forgive you for breaking your promise to always love mom. I forgive you for not taking the highroad and choosing not to argue with mom over the stupidest and pettiest of things. I forgive you for taking the multiple chances you were given and not using them to change until it was too late. I also forgive you for divorcing mom. I want you to know that not everything was bad. You weren’t a horrible father and I really don’t think you were a horrible husband. I won’t lie and say you couldn’t have been better, but who couldn’t be better? We could all be better at everything we do. I appreciate and love the memories we have of watching Disney Channel shows and movies together. I will always remember the goofy times in which we would quiz each other and try stump each other with the most random of trivia questions from Disney Channel shows and movies like, what was Lizzie McGuire’s middle name (I don’t even remember, but I do remember that being one of our questions.) Even though we never really had a great relationship and it still needs a lot of work, though it’s being mended slowly every day, I look forward to the day when I one day find a man to marry so you can walk me down the aisle.
My confession to you is that I have always held a sort of resentment toward you. It’s true what they say, the apple doesn’t far from the true. Children get many of their qualities from their parents. I have resented you because I am my mother’s daughter, which means almost all of the qualities I hate in myself are qualities I have gotten from you. You and I are both stubborn and strong-willed with a need to be always right. We raise our voices when we get angry, but refuse to admit that we’re anything less/worse than simply passionate about what we’re discussing—let’s face it, we are not simply being passionate, we are angry and yelling. We stress about every little detail about everything even the stupidest detail that have no weight on the final outcome of whatever it is we’re stressing about, but it doesn’t matter, because it exists, and that means it’s supposed to be stressed about until we’re on the verge of having a breakdown over stressing over so much at one time. I’ve also resented you for giving dad so many chances even though every time he left and came back the results were always the same. I’ve resented you because you would always threaten divorce but would never really do it. I never really wanted you to get divorced, but you threatened so much, it got to the point I wished and waited for it to actually happen so that I would have to hear you talk about it anymore. I’ve also resented you because anytime you’d ask for someone’s opinion on something, you wouldn’t rest until they said what you wanted to hear, or until everything blew up and out of proportion.
It’s such a shame we couldn’t grow up like Rory and Lorelai Gilmore, but you know what? It’s okay. Mother-Daughter relationships like theirs are few and far between, if they really exist at all. Most mother-daughter relationships, like ours, are like Emily and Lorelai’s relationship—strained, but only because we always want what’s best, even if we don’t always agree. I “forgive you” for passing me some of our worst traits, because sometimes they came in handy as some of our best traits also because you also passed on some of your best traits. We’re rather quiet and reserved in a large setting, unless we have one of those special people around us who bring out our social side, but in one on one situations, we’re more relaxed and at ease. I also have your pretty eyes, pretty hair, and adorable dimples! Oh, and your laugh, which I’m still trying to decide whether is a blessing or a curse since it’s so loud! Ha, ha! I hope that as we continue to grow close and get past the teen angsts and resentment of our past relationship, we can become more like friends now that your job of disciplining me is finished.
Dear Mom and Dad,
Sometimes, I still feel resentment and anger toward you both because I was always so proud to know that even though you were both always arguing and fighting and that that brought out the worst in all of us sometimes, you still stayed married, and thus technically still fought for your marriage. I mean, who can argue as passionately as y’all did and as we all did as a family and not do it because we love each other? I don’t remember what the exact quote is and I can’t remember where it’s from, but there’s a quote from show that I like that basically says, “They fight because they care. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t fight,” and I really like that because that’s how I always felt about our family. Then, you finally got a divorce though, and I sometimes thought that that would make me happy, because it would end the fighting, but it didn’t make me happy. It made me sad and I grew even more resentful toward y’all, because it was like y’all gave up on everything you ever fought for, thus, putting the family through drama for no reason. Then, when I learned that after getting divorced y’all finally decided to start working on your relationship together, I grew even more resentful, because it was a waste of time and resources to get divorced only to work on your relationship anyway. You could have just separated for an undetermined amount of time and then worked everything out. I was also resentful because you finally decided to try to get along when I was twenty-something and living on my own, so I don’t really get to see much of the evidence of y’all working things out.
Now I’m happy though, because I’m a firm believer in “better late than never” and I also believe in monogamy, which to a certain extent, y’all are keeping by working on your relationship. I can only hope that working on your relationship will lead to a recommitment to each other and your marriage, because if not, what’s the point?
Dear World (Part Two),
So, now you know. I’ve seen some of the very worst things that make love so hard, but you know what? Even though my parents are divorced, I still believe in love, I still believe in monogamy, and I am still a hopeless romantic. Why and how? You may ask. Because love and monogamy are daily choices to stay committed to this one person no matter what life may throw at you. Love and monogamy are the daily choices to say that, sure, maybe that person over their looks better or acts better, but I don’t care, because the grass is greener where you water it. So, yeah, I am twenty-two-years-old and I have never been in a relationship, but it’s not because I haven’t had the opportunity to and it’s not because I’m naïve. It’s because I believe in love and monogamy and I’m not going to be in a relationship just to say I’ve been in a relationship, because those are the kinds of relationships that break us and make us afraid to believe in love and monogamy—no, I’m waiting for someone whom I can call friend, before I call him boyfriend, someone who I can feel comfortable with, before getting comfy with him. I’m looking and waiting for someone who is a trustworthy friend whom I am as comfortable sharing my deepest thoughts and feelings with as I am with my closest friends with, because if I trust him as much I trust my closest girl friends, then I’ll know that I can trust him with my heart and my love life. I am the daughter of a broken relationship, but that does not define and it does not keep me from believing in trust, true love, and monogamy/commitment.