When I was 27 my parents split up. They took me to a local café, bought me a milkshake and told me my mum was moving out. I couldn’t breathe.
I was only recently engaged and so at the highest high of my life, deliriously happy… I was forced to earth with the harshest of thuds.
The whole foundation of my life, my close-knit loving family, had been shattered. Irreversibly changed.
I’d seen it coming. But then again, I hadn’t. They’d been married for more than 30 years, and I just thought after that long you get your shit together and sort it out.
For my whole life to that point I’d thought theirs was an idyllic relationship, the one I always dreamed of. They held hands, they kissed each other hello and goodbye every day, they travelled, they had good friends, they rarely fought. To me, it seemed like they were best friends. Where had it all gone wrong?
The problem with being an adult child of divorce is that you understand everything that’s happening. You feel the very real and raw pain of your parents, every word that goes unsaid, and every awkwardly polite exchange.
In many ways, it’s the worst kind of break-up because (unlike your girlfriends) you can’t console one party by bitching about the other. You have to stay completely neutral, try not to lay blame and be on everyone’s side. It’s exhausting.
The thing is, no one seems to realise how hard it is. Most seem to think it’s no big deal. So many times I’ve been told, “Well at least it didn’t happen when you were young”, and that’s true. I don’t live at home and I have my own life. But the reason I had the confidence to tackle the big wide world head-on was that I had that solid base to start from and return to if anything went wrong. Without that, I felt completely lost, as though the rug had been pulled right from under me.