One Year Since My Parents’ Separation: What I’ve Learned

As the title so boldly says, today marks one year since my parents decided to separate. This topic is by no means something easy to write about, but I know many of my readers are kids around my age going through similar things.

I don’t like to think about that morning. The morning I woke up calmly in my turquoise room in the bed I thought would be the only one I would have until Grade 12. My mom sat down next to me and explained that she and my dad had decided it was over. The worst morning of my life. Up until then my life had been perfect and I was very aware of it.

The news put me in a state of shock, this had happened once before but it only lasted three days then. This time felt different for sure, it was much more absolute. I sat there and let out an emotionless, “Okay.” My mom then asked me if I wanted to look at a house with her that day. Again, all I had was a “Sure.”

The house was dark and small, but it was our only option. Being the optimist I am, I walked around imagining how we could decorate and make it brighter. I later learned that nothing would work. I grew to hate that house, it drove me insane. It’s the kind of house that could be nice for a short winter vacation, being that it was up in the woods, but the fact that the surrounding trees let no sunlight in and the lack of civilization around it made it depressing as hell. While the house itself was horrible, it also represented the fact that my whole family wasn’t under the roof of my childhood home anymore. After a little while I finally cracked. I sat there sobbing as I told Mom that I couldn’t stand it, though she had been hiding it, my sister fully agreed. Thanks to that whole conversation, my Mom started looking at listings, which led to our current home that I adore!

Back at Dad’s the days dragged on. I loved that house but it now had a cloud of sadness over it. Just walking through the door you could feel that we were missing someone. When I was at my mom’s the only company my dad had was our dog Poppins, who would later pass away in September. After many sad, dark months, slowly but surely the house began to brighten. After April all of the holidays we had to do for the first time as a family of three were over and the sun began to shine, getting ready for a beautiful Vancouver summer. We were no longer a gloomy group missing a member and instead began to build a life as a trio. We began to get excited for things we always did instead of dreading them. The three of us would plan movie nights and family dinners, and we had fun!

Throughout it all I learned a lot about myself. I have always been a flamboyant person that didn’t mind making my presence known, but almost immediately after the separation I asked Dad to take me shopping for colourless, comfortable clothes. I avoided my colourful clothes at all costs and even stopped wearing makeup, which is something I have always loved doing. I also missed a lot of school because I just didn’t want to deal with people. However, through it all I began being a lot more insightful. Being around so much complex conflict forces you to really think about all sides of a story and how everyone feels. I stopped seeing the world as black and white and realized that almost everything is grey, which helped me a lot with growing empathy, something I have always struggled with. For a long time I questioned what my role in the world was, and for that while it was to absorb the knowledge I need to help the people around me heal. I went to therapy to let out my emotions so that I could be as stable as possible when going back into the tough situations (double Christmas, family reunions, etc…), and it really helped! I talked to someone who specializes in youth and deals with these situations a lot, and he had a lot of good advice for me, the most accurate piece being that it all just takes a lot of time.

Fast forward twelve months and life feels great again. We’re in a new house (that I love) with Mom and have settled into a routine in both. Last week at the Youth Climate Strike something really meaningful to me happened; we were able to take a non-tense family photo! My parents now joke around as friends and there isn’t really tension anymore. Both of them have found “good friends” and I’m really happy for them. For anyone going through this, it really does get better, and eventually life will feel stable again. I wanted to write this for whoever may need this, and I hope it helped.

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