Thirteen years ago I made the decision to get a divorce. A decision I have never regretted – once I realized the truth.
Choosing to get divorced was the hardest decision of my life. Ultimately, I stayed in a miserable marriage far too long because I believed it was what was best for my children. It wasn’t until after weeks of sitting in a therapists office, that I realized I was not doing my two young children any favors by choosing to stay in a miserable marriage.
It was a long and hard road, but I finally realized that the relationship I had with my children’s father was NOT the example I wanted to set for my children. I did NOT want them to grow up thinking that our relationship was how marriage was supposed to be.
Fast forward 13 years, which brings us to today, and I have two healthy and emotionally happy children. Their father met an amazing woman who makes him happy and I am happy living the independent, single life. My ex-husband, his new wife and I have built a great co-parenting relationship. We even wrote a book together, documenting our journey.
I often wonder how different all of our lives would be if I had choose to stay in my miserable marriage. I often wonder how miserable my kids would be if they had been subjected any longer to our poor excuse of what a marriage should look like.
Hence… the inspiration for this letter…
Dear Mom and Dad…
Please, if you are miserable, don’t stay together for my sake. I am much like a sponge; soaking up every word, every action and every emotion you display. When you are sad, I am sad. When you are stressed, I am stressed. My formative years with you determine the trajectory of the rest of my life.
You are the two people that mold and shape 99.9% of my beliefs and the way I will perceive this great big world we live in. My only hope is that you have the courage and strength to make your world as joyous and love filled as you possibly can because, in case you haven’t noticed, your well being directly affects my well being.
Of course I want you to try to reconcile… not just give up, but if you have reconciled to the best of your ability, then it would actually be to my benefit if you would just agree to disagree and go your separate ways. You can do better when you know better, but not a moment sooner.
I know you don’t think that I can hear your arguments, but I do. I know that you don’t think that I could possibly sense your stressed out demeanor and ever shortening fuse, but I can. I sense that you are distant. I sense that you have bigger things on your mind then giving 100% of your attention to me.
I know you often contemplate and worry about the possible magnitude of negative side effects that could occur, revolving me, if you decide to leave a marriage that you so deeply know is unhealthy. I know you are trying to “suck it up” and stay together, for my sake.
Can I tell you a little secret? Do you want to know what would bring me a lifetime of happiness?
The one thing that would bring me a lifetime of happiness is… TO SEE BOTH OF YOU BEING HAPPY AND ENJOYING THIS THING CALLED LIFE.
Don’t you get it? If I only grow up living within and soaking up the dysfunction that is currently surrounding me… I have no other example as which to live by. The odds are, I will end up in the same situation that you are in right now, which is miserable. I might become resentful and defy the odds but I don’t think that’s what you really want either.
What is the bottom line? It’s actually pretty simple. I want you to be happy. I want you to be so happy that your happiness overflows onto me. No matter how hard it feels at the moment, I want you to choose YOU. I want you to be happy. I want you to show me what standing up for yourself looks like so that one day, if needed, I will be able to do the same.
I believe that God always loves us, no matter what.
It is that simple. Please mom, please dad. Do whatever it is you need to do in order to be happy. Happiness is contagious. Please, give me living proof of what happiness looks like, even if that cannot be achieved together.
To be honest, depending on how old I am, it might take me 20 years to fully understand and appreciate it, however, please stand strong in your faith of knowing that eventually I will figure it out and that, eventually, it will be worth it.
I don’t know who made you to believe that in order to be a good parent you need to suffer and put everyone else’s needs before your own because that could not be farther from the truth. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest and every moment lived as if it was your last.
I don’t want to look back, as an adult, and wonder if I was the reason you missed out on living a happy life. Please, don’t stay miserable on my account.
Wouldn’t you want ME to choose happiness? Wouldn’t you want ME to live the life of my dreams?
That’s what I thought. So why aren’t you doing the same?
Remember what you taught me? You taught me that we all make mistakes. You taught me that mistakes are how we grow and learn. You taught me that there are no failures in life, just lessons to learn from. You taught me to embrace my failures and keep moving forward.
Maybe getting married was a failure. So what. Maybe it was necessary in order to project you into the next, greatest version of yourself. Now is your chance to grow, learn and become better. And guess what? When you grow, learn and become a better version of yourself, SO DO I.
Stop thinking that you are doing me any favors by committing to your own self misery. I just want both of you to be happy.