My parents’ divorce was messy.
It was one-sided, surprising and swift – a break up that left my entire family reeling and my mother in pieces.
For those initial few weeks, every day presented new challenges; fresh revelations about the actual state of my parents’ 32-year long relationship, their weaknesses and failings. The trauma of their breakup was one that saw my sister and I band together, becoming each other’s crutches when it felt like everything and everyone around us were crumbling to dust.
When a divorce isn’t amicable, you see ugly sides to your parents you never knew existed.
Despite us ‘kids’ being adults by the time of their separation, the pain was no duller. Finding out about our dad’s “new girlfriend” a total of two weeks after he left mum was confusing and crushing.
And yet, with time, it got easier. As these things do.
Eventually, the lights in the kitchen were no longer on at 3am. My mother could sleep without either of us beside her in bed. The house we all shared together was packed into boxes; the furniture sent off to op-shops and second-hand stores, tables and armchairs given away to families who wouldn’t be reminded of my dad’s deception just by looking at them.
My sister and I learned that our parents are flawed and vulnerable, and forgave them for the mistakes that wedged our home in half. We repaired the broken pieces of our relationship with our dad. We put on tough faces as The Girlfriend began appearing at family events. We sucked it up.
My dad walked out four years ago, but only now have I realised what is most painful about him leaving us.
The most painful part of my parents’ divorce is not hearing the private details of their marriage. It’s not the legal battles, or affairs. It’s seeing him with his new, shiny, younger family.
It’s seeing my father – the man who called my sibling and me his pride and joy – trading up to a life and son that do not belong to him.