Took me 8 years to talk about it…
Just a month or so before my 13th birthday, my parents sat me and my brother down on the edge of the couch and explained to us that mom was going to live with grandma for a few days. At that moment in time, my heart hurt so bad I wanted to die. (I was a dramatic child give me a break…) I remember this moment like it was yesterday. That’s the weirdest part about this whole experience. I only remember bits and pieces. But the bits I do remember, I remember them like it just happened.
After we were told this, mom left. Dad took us grocery shopping. Told us we could get anything we wanted.
The next thing I remember is us sitting down at the table and they are explaining to us that they weren’t happy anymore. That they weren’t going to be together anymore. Next thing I know, Jake runs out the door. He’s crying and holding this wooden fish my dad carved to go with a bear. Why he was holding that fish… I have no idea. I went after him. Tried to hug him, walked with him. We made it all the way to the back of the shop before I convinced him to turn around. He didn’t want anything to do with me at the moment (shocker)
To be honest with you, I don’t even think he really knew what was going on. I think he just saw everyone else upset and hurt and wanted to be included. He was so young. Every day since then, I tried to shelter my brother so that he wouldn’t have to see the pain my parents felt. So, he wouldn’t have to feel the pain I felt. I tried to keep his mind off it, play with him, do everything I could to protect him. I’m sure as hell, not a perfect sister, but I tried as hard as I could to be.
Flash forward to my 13th birthday party. The last party I had where all of my family was together under one roof. Both sets of grandparents, my mom, my dad, and Jake, all together. Did I think it was going to be the last time that happened? No.
I was happy, I was happy I was turning 13. I was happy that my family was there. I was thankful and grateful for all of the gifts and the food and the cake. It just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel right because I could see how hard my parents were trying to hold it together. All for me. That was the day I realized nothing would ever be the same.
Before then, I honestly just thought my parents would work it out. MY parents could NEVER get a divorce. This could NEVER happen to me and my family. I mean, I’m me nothing goes wrong? Right? Oh, how wrong I was. Please keep in mind that I am 13… the MOST I worried about was whether or not I looked good for school.
I don’t remember much from the rest of that year.
When I went into my eighth-grade year, things started to change. Not necessarily for my family, but for me. My mom tried so hard to get me to talk to her about how I was feeling. Tried to get me to a therapist, tried to get my grandparents to talk to me. She and dad just wanted to know what was going on in my head. It wasn’t too many months later that I found myself in various hospital beds, at various doctors, taking multiple different types of medicines.
I would have moments where I felt like someone was stabbing me in the chest with a knife. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It hurt. I wouldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I was in so much pain that I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself.
It wasn’t until a few months later, when the doctors finally got the whole story, that they realized everything that was going on with my body was stress induced.
I was worrying so much about my parents and my family that I made myself sick. So sick in fact that I gave myself a condition that still affects my life today. 8 years later.
My stomach overproduces the acid that is supposed to break down food. When I stress, it overproduces even more. The acid eats at the lining in my stomach and gives me cramps, pain, and nausea among other things. The pain hurt so bad that the doctors checked my heart, gave me x-rays and so many other things.
I remember laying in a hospital bed and my dad practically forcing me to finish the nasty red juice the doctors made me drink because I just didn’t want too. I remember him saying to me “I had to do it too. It helps the doctors see everything in your body!”
To this day I have pills I have to take to make sure that I’m not in pain.
Some questions I used to get when people were being nosey was, who do you like better? Do you blame them?
I mean what kind of person asks these questions? No, I don’t blame them, and I like neither one better than the other.
I didn’t really start understanding what was going on until I went to high school. I was told things that I had never even dreamed of hearing about my parents. Rumors and disgusting gossip that all came back to me because people couldn’t keep their mouths shut about my family. Rumors and gossip that made their way back to me through those people’s KIDS.
This is where I get to the real moral of my story. I told you it was a long one.
We had to battle people in the world that thought it was a sin to leave a marriage. You know what’s crazy? They weren’t even the worst people. We had to battle people in the world that did nothing but gossip.
My family struggled. We cried. We fought.
Yet every single day, I would hear something new. Does your mom like these people? Did your dad hurt your mom? Did your parents cheat on each other?
So, what if they did? Like YOU of all people are someone that should be judging someone else. Like YOU are a perfect soul that has done nothing wrong in your life.
Also, a question I got VERY very often, even though it had nothing to do with the divorce, “Did your dad lose his hair because he ate a bad sandwich?”
Every day at lunch I felt like I was on the newest segment of “tell me all your secrets.” I always asked myself why these people cared. It was my family, not theirs.
Do you want to know why they wanted to know? Because they wanted to be able to say “Hey! Did you hear… Hannah’s parents actually broke up because …..!” (Insert any number of B.S rumors that were spread across my family here)
It gets even better…you wanna know why? Because I have only been talking about KIDS for the last couple of paragraphs. Not even the parents. Not even the adults. The people we are supposed to look up too.
Adults spread rumors about my family. Joked about whose side they were going to pick. Jon is a great guy so I’m going to pick his side. But Nikki is amazing too so I’m going with her.
Can we just stop for a second and think about this? People, ADULTS, were acting like this was some game that they needed to pick sides for so that THEY could somehow to win in the end.
That’s the one question I would ask every single one of those people. Why would you ever treat someone that way?
“Didn’t you hear??? Jon and Nikki are getting a divorce!” People shared this information over their dinner table, they whispered it in each other’s ears like it was the craziest news in the world. Like the president had come to Enosburg Falls and EVERYONE had to know.
The only reason why people talk about others is to make THEMSELVES feel better.
The only reason why people judge others is because they feel sorry for THEMSELVES.
Who cares? Who really honestly cares what’s going on in my house behind closed doors?
Wanna know why?
Because they are so miserable living their own lives that they must make up rumors and talk about others. They had to put other people down to make their lives more interesting.
Why do we have to make others feel bad? Make rumors, make up excuses for why a couple broke up?
Do you think any of them cared that my family was falling apart? Do you think any of them cared about how my family felt when we were all struggling to keep it together? Do you think they cared about how me and my TEN-YEAR-OLD brother felt sitting at the end of the couch being told that mommy was going to spend some time at nanas for a few days?
They didn’t care.
All they cared about was the fact that they had the “latest” news about what was going on.
All they cared about was the fact that they had gossip about someone else.
All they cared about was the fact that the spotlight…
Wasn’t. on. them.
When people heard that my parents got a divorce, it spread like wildfire.
Why can’t we just sit down for a minute and think about what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes?
Because it would hurt us too much.
If we sat down and thought about the pain that someone was going through when we heard something, we would all be unhappy. It’s just easier to make rumors and make people feel bad. The only way that we can live, and live with ourselves, is by judging people and putting people down.
Everybody cares about what others think. Give yourself a break. Sit down and realize that judging someone else, is only hurting YOURSELF.
Don’t get me wrong, I have judged my fair share of people. I judged all of the people that hurt my family. I judged the people that bullied me. I judged the woman in the mall who has a screaming kid running around. But you know what? Fast forward a few years and I probably will have a kid screaming and running around in the mall.
I have taken a second, sat down and thought about how I view myself. How I thought about myself. I realized that the people I judged, I was judging them because I didn’t feel confident about myself. Now, If I start to judge someone, I dismiss those judgments and I look closer.
If I could go back and look at those people that bullied me, those people that started rumors about my family, I would say, “I’m sorry that me and my family have to be your human punching bag because you feel SO bad about yourself that you can’t appreciate us.”
The moral of my story?
Before you judge someone else, look in the mirror and think about why you are judging them. Think about why you think you are better than them.
Chances are, you’re not.
Remember that the reason you judge others is because you feel insecure about yourself. You can lie, make excuses or yell at me for saying that but it’s the bitter and honest truth.
And for those of you who asked me if I blame my parents for leaving each other, the answer… no. I would never. How would you feel if you were unhappy in a relationship but were expected to stay together because you had kids? You would want to leave too.
I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wasn’t for them. Yes, my story is messy. Yes, I struggled, and I got sick, but I would never be able to deal with the things I do on a daily basis if it wasn’t for my parents. They made me the strong woman I am today, and I will forever be grateful.