My dad filed for divorce and fled with a woman ten years younger than my mom. It was hurtful for all of us, especially to our mom who has been married to him for almost 20 years. I mean, how can he leave her just like that? She was depressed for nearly a year, and it’s been hard for us all, as well.
Two months ago, something changed. My mom admitted to me that she has been seeing this therapist for a Divorce Counseling treatment program. I just told her that I would support her all the way. What else could I say, right? If she needed counseling, then so be it. She asked me if I can go with her and I said yes. Right after that, my mom scheduled a group counseling session with my sister and me all together.
“Even though it affects you, divorce is something that’s going on between your mom and dad. No matter how it may feel, it is never your fault if they are fighting,” says Fran Walfish, PsyD, a family and relationship psychotherapist. “By the same token, it is also not your responsibility to fix things,” he adds.
The first session was upsetting, but a great learning experience for me. I didn’t know that my sister knew of my dad’s affair. She said that she felt so guilty about it and asked for forgiveness from my mom. My sister saw dad and his mistress in a hotel last year. They were in the lobby, getting their room key while my sister was with her classmates for a school trip. Our dad had to bribe her with a hefty sum and things so that she would shut up about it. I haven’t seen my sister cry so hard – the good thing, our mom didn’t take it against her. But her anger with dad bloomed so much more for putting my sister in that position.
Our counselor said that while our feelings were all valid and understandable, anger festered in our hearts for dad will set us back. She said that we had to process our feelings, accept that we have such feelings for him, and find ways to forgive him – this is for our own sake. I think she is right. Harboring such anger and pain will not do well for me, my mom, and my sister. I then asked our counselor about ways or things to do so we can cope with everything. She made some suggestions, and we were open to trying them. It’s been a month of dealing for all of us, and it’s been better. Even mom brightened up a bit.
In addition, Jennifer Guttman, PsyD, reminds parents, “Don’t diminish their feelings because it hurts to see them angry or sad. Create a safe place to express themselves. Bottling up their emotions will not help them move through the divorce process.”
Creative Writing Lessons
I used to be a literary staff writer for the school paper back in high school, and so I decided to take creative writing classes, payments care of daddy. Well, he was more than happy to pay for it. At least when I feel bad, I won’t call him. I just have to write what I feel in a journal with his name on it. It’s therapeutic.
Who took dancing classes? Not me and not my sister, but our mom did! I saw pictures of her when she was younger, and she was into jazz dancing. Jazz is a combination of ballet, tap dance, and African-American rhythm. She’s been doing it for three weeks now. Mom said that it’s relaxing and comforting as well.
Reading Inspirational Books
My sister is still thinking of what to do, but she is an extensive reader, and I noticed new books in her apartment. The books were all from Og Mandino, a best-selling American author. I picked up a book and saw a quote my sister wrote. The quote was from the distinguished writer:
“How do I change?
If I feel depressed, I will sing.
If I feel sad, I will laugh.
If I feel ill, I will double my labor.
If I feel fear, I will plunge ahead.
If I feel inferior, I will wear new garments.
If I feel uncertain, I will raise my voice.
If I feel poverty, I will think of wealth to come.
If I feel incompetent, I will think of past success.
If I feel insignificant, I will remember my goals.
Today I will be the master of my emotions.”
I think with that, my sister is coping really well.
This is our life now. We have no other choice in the matter. Dad left mom, and he just showers us with cash. I’ll have to accept that fact, move on and let go of my anger.
Stephanie Samar, PsyD says, “You don’t want to inadvertently pressure kids to feel like they need to be on board and happy about a divorce. While it may be true, of course, that you just want your kids to be happy as soon as possible, giving them the room to process their own feelings is an important part of adjusting.”