Being Single Thinking Double – My Parents Divorce

MikeSaid (3) (Medium)“Straight out of left field” so the saying goes and the day my mom called us in and told us she was going to ask my dad to leave, I simply had no idea why. I had never seen them fight or argue, I had no inkling this was coming or why. In a flash my dad was gone, one day I lived in the same house as him and the next I didn’t, never to share a roof with him again. We visited on weekends; spending our time in a place we called “divorceland.” It was trips to bookshops, record libraries, museums, pinball halls, restaurants and the occasional movie. I never had two homes, my own room or a second bed, somewhere to visit my father. The strangest thing is that I can’t ever remember missing him, I am not certain he was ever really present before he left.

Who really knows the impact that has had on me, my ability to form relationships, to trust? The one thing I am absolutely certain of is the impact it has had on my own relationship with my daughter. I will certainly explore my relationship with my father (or lack thereof) later on and how this two shaped me and my role as a father.

As I hit the terrible teens I began to fight with my mom and of course threatened that I was going to “go and live with my father”… boy was I in for a surprise. Turns out he wasn’t as keen as I was; in fact, it was not going to happen. I am not certain if I questioned this at the time, but as the years rolled on, I began to question it and to some degree build up resentment towards him. No single incident in my life had a greater influence on my relationship with my daughter than this. I made a very conscious decision that the sins of the father were NOT going to be visited on the children and the children’s children.

Years later as a husband and a father I began to ask questions of him, I wanted a deeper understanding of his life choices. I wanted to ask him, no, I wanted to tell him how those choices had affected me. Although I got a few answers I never really got any explanation and certainly no closure and this unfortunately set the tone for my relationship with him for the future.

Sasha spends approximately 12 nights of the month with me, we would both like it to be just a little more (that’s a blog for another day) but one day when chatting about it she asked me how many nights a month I stayed with my father. I tried to explain that things were different back then, but I could see from the look on her face that she could not grasp the concept that since the day he left I had never shared a home with him and very little of my life.

I have tried revisiting that day so many times, I have tried to understand those early years after the divorce, and I have tried to imagine the added burden placed on a woman in her early 40’s who is suddenly saddled with raising three teenagers. Perhaps the added stress and strain was a major contributor to my next defining moment…

My mother’s illness.

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10 Comments
  1. I have been reading through all this and hats off to you my friend.. And its good to see on a single dads opoint of you.. will be following you

    Love
    Kat

  2. I’m sorry you had to experience this but I’m glad it has helped you be a better dad.

    • Thank you Heather. I think we all go through so much, it is up to us to determine how it will shape us

  3. Mike, I too was raised by a single mom. My parents divorced when I was nine and my brother 6. I recall screaming when he left. I blamed my mom. I must admit to missing him terribly although he had no real relationship with me to speak of. I suppose the desire that I had to be loved by him never died, although he died some years ago. We spent every second weekend with him in his home, but we were guests. There was always a new woman around. We occupied ourselves. We never did a thing with him – there were no visits to the zoo, museum or movies. There is no doubt in my mind that that relationship changed me and created an unhealthy dynamic in my life going forward. I’ve had to work hard to change that. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what you did with that pain.

    • Lisa, the pain we hid all those years ago (or in some cases didn’t hide) certainly manifests itself in our own relationships. I am so conscious of how those things affected me, I am so careful in trying they do not have the same impact on Sasha, I can only hope I am doing a good job. As I say time and time again… I want the buck to stop with me. I do not want her to pay for my mistakes.

      • I hear you Mike. The cycle of disfunction has to end and we have to be the ones to make that change. It’s tough and sometimes you don’t know if you are winning 🙂

        • That’s the hard part, you never really know if you are winning, you just keep believing in the process and keep at it

  4. Really enjoying the blog MikeSaid, Keep ’em coming !

    My folks divorced circa 1979/1980 during matric/SADF (while I was raving & oblivious to everything) . I was given the choice & opted to stay with my Dad. Truthfully all I wanted was the status quo. Long stories & maybe start my own blog.

    You are a great dad with awesome energy to get you through the teen years – I have boys, it’s gonna be easier me-thinks.

    PK

    • As they say, when you have boys the tough years are from 1 – 12, when you have a girl that’s when the hard stuff starts! Thank you Phil, if I have inspired you to write, even a journal to start with, that is great!

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