The enormity of divorce scares me to the core every time. Every time I meet someone who is lonely after divorce, or speaks about the effects of divorce or even see it on a soap opera, the challenges divorce presents shocks every time.
Divorce is not something that just affects the separating couple. It is just as likely to hit the extended family to outside friends who have no choice but watch the drama unfold.
The problem is divorce is on the increase and the ever-changing family structures see the effects forever unfolding.
As a child of divorced parents, I see the effects on a daily basis. I find it difficult to trust new people, which is one of the reasons why I have never been in a relationship. My nan is always worrying about our family after my parents' traumatic divorce. My mum and dad regularly comment on the divorce. My sister has been known to break into tears randomly thinking about the divorce.
It's been four years down the line and I am forever asking myself when will it end? Will the consequences still be felt ten years down the line? Will future generations feel it?
I'm trying to move on from the point of my parents' divorce and open up the debate of the effects of divorce. My parents' divorce happened as it happened. Yes, it was awful. Yes, it could have been less traumatic. Yes, it maybe didn't have to have happen.
But it made me who I am today. I don't think I would be half as resilient, adaptable, feisty, blunt and adventurous if it wasn't for my parents' divorce. Everything can change in a heartbeat.
I have been asked in various contexts what advice I would give to young adults whose parents' are separating. My advice is simple; It's not your fault. For a while during my parents' divorce, I pretended to ignore it was happening. I don't think I've ever been as exhausted as I was during my parents' divorce. Living between two friends' houses, working 16 hours a week, studying for four A Levels, having parental responsibility for my younger sister, being woken up with abusive messages the night before my A Level exams, I'm surprised I didn't combust. But having all these various responsibilities was the way I dealt with my parents' divorce. We all have our own coping mechanisms and you need to find the one that suits you. There will be moments when the grief cuts you anew and with time, it will become less so.
My work with Voices in the Middle is attempting to show there can be positives to divorce. Families can be happier, stable and focused when there is divorce.
The more we can do to ease the pain of divorce, the less we can save having to treat for depression and other problems. Only last year, one newspaper stated 'the stress of divorce can triple risk children getting diabetes'. If this is even partly true and you weigh up the associated costs of diabetes, you can start to understand the enormity of divorce.
That's why I will be working with Voices in the Middle to establish a voice for children when their parents' separate. We should all be doing far more to eradicate the effects of divorce, even if we haven't personally be affected by it. For our friends, our future generations and ourselves.
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