LB: GIRLilla Warfare’s Editorial Assistant Sami Blumenthal is only 17. I just read her piece, and I sat here at my desk and cried. My only instructions to her were: Go the distance, Sami. Describe the gain from pain. And, my friends, this young woman went there … As a child of divorce, this piece hit home for me. As a Mommy who got divorced (and then remarried), this piece not only hit home, it also went deep inside. As a writer, I’m so proud of you, Sami, for conveying the truth. It is, hands down, the hardest, scariest part. Keep this up, and I promise, you will go far … Lotsa xoxo’s, Girlfriend.
By Sami Blumenthal
Let me tell you, I’ve learned a lot because of my parents’ divorce. And I’m actually starting to realize it now, as I prepare myself for college. On August 21, I will be headed toward Champaign, Illinois, to attend the University of Illinois. I realize that on that day, I will not be departing from ONE driveway, waving goodbye to the one home I grew up in, with my one, united family. I leave the small town of Deerfield, Illinois, from TWO homes, now two separate families, from two separate driveways.
Just picturing that seems like a heart-breaking end to a classic Disney movie. However, I’ve been through situations a little more challenging. Here’s where I’ve been… As a freshman in high school, life seemed pretty easy and manageable. It seemed that the worst part of my day could have been that a senior pointed and laughed…screaming “HA-HA…FRESHMAN!” as I tripped over my own shoelaces. But, I was wrong.
Freshman year was not at all easy. That was the year I found out my parents were getting divorced. It was the year when MY home was no longer MY home.
It was the year I was forced to feel comfortable living in two different houses, sometimes without my mom … other days without my dad. In my nightmares, the vacant seat at the head of my mom’s dinner table was collecting cobwebs and dust. At night, my dad’s bed had one less body. This new world I was forced to live in felt so empty and dark. I was now living in complete incompletion. It didn’t help when my mom would cry. I felt her pain. Was I making her cry? Could this be my fault? Am I not making her happy? Her anguish was infectious. In search for an antibiotic, I would spend time at my dad’s house. I understood my mom was no longer with him, but it didn’t mean that I couldn’t be. But what kind of vaccine is Dad’s new girlfriend? How was bringing this girl around me almost daily supposed to mend the hole in my heart? In fact, his new friend made a new hole in my heart. A deeper and darker one. Does my Dad not like me anymore? Is time spent with my Dad worthless? Why is he spending “our quality time” with this girl? Where’s mommy?
Mommy was at home, an emotional wreck. Trying to stay strong for her two girls, it seemed almost impossible.
It’s hard to find the confidence to overcome a devastating situation, such as divorce, when those who were confident in me, didn’t seem confident in themselves.
Because I sensed defeat in my mom’s voice and actions, I felted defeated as well. At times I felt like I couldn’t bother my mom with my feelings, opinions, and perspectives of the divorce, because she had too much on her plate. I wouldn’t dare burden my sister with such heavy and draining material … she was too young. My Dad seemed to move on so quickly, I felt like my problems were nothing but a small insect on his windshield of life. So, I kept to myself. But my problems were eating me alive. Self-destructive thoughts and actions seemed to take over. I struggled with finding the confidence in myself to be a happy, beautiful teenager, when I had first-hand proof that all good things come to an end. Is this how all relationships play out? Will my marriage one day last?
I began to feel isolated with my thoughts, which resulted in me pushing a lot of friends away. Unintentionally, I grew to be so selfish because I saw one parent who seemed to only think about himself and his happiness, and another parent who began to follow that same path. I felt like I was surrounded by selfish people, and I adapted those qualities very fast. I knew this had to change. But how? How did I have time to change when for example my mom introduced me to that “someone special” in her life? In the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think — could this one day be my new step-dad? And how will his new role in my family affect my life?
It seemed like all my thoughts were so selfish. Only thinking about my wants, my needs. This is only because I perceived two parents who thought the very same. But here I am now, leaving for college in two months. It is now my opportunity to change into the young-adult that I really want to be. Here’s where I’m at now: Where there once was deep pain…there is now gain.
All the times I felt lonely and abandoned these past three years, I’ve actually developed incredible opportunities to become an independent young adult. I’ve had a lot of time on my own to explore different jobs and discover passions I never knew I had. I was able to connect with my artistic side, and find the comfort in capturing moments in time. As for the self-destruction, I’ve learned that hurting myself … that’s selfish. By hurting myself, I am disappointing, and hurting my family and friends. I’ve learned to take out my frustration and translate it into beauty. Into art.
It took time for me to understand that beneath what seemed to be my parents’ quest for their own happiness, they remained confident in me, even if they weren’t doing this together anymore. From divorce, I learned that the true way to discover inner happiness is to find the beauty behind all that ugly. This is how I’ve survived it.
Even though that may seem awkward, and even wrong to say, I believe it is the most refreshing and calm way to view a dark situation. Some may cry because their family is torn apart in TWOs: two homes, two dinner tables, two bedrooms; but I now have chosen to rejoice because I have two homes, two dinner tables, two bedrooms. I’m not explaining that I’m HAPPY because I have TWO of everything. I’m explaining that I feel confident, and supported by two homes and two families. There’s a major difference in my perception.
As I leave for school, I notice that some people leave and have ONE leg to stand on. I, however, seem to have two. Two legs that provide a comfortable balance as I set sail for my future. A good friend once told me, Amor Fati. It’s a Latin phrase that translates to “love of one’s fate.” It is used to describe the positive attitude in which one sees everything that happens in life, like separation, or loss, as good, and that the event had the ability to part with that good sense.
I guess, I too, am embracing “Amor Fati.” It’s taken work, but I now have the ability to recognize and appreciate the positive outcomes of my family’s divorce. I have learned how to become more independent, I have discovered a strong passion in art, and I came to a realization that my parents will always have the confidence and support for me, even if they are fighting their own battles. And you know what? I’m grateful for all of this. Because without the divorce, I’d still be that naive, little freshman, tripping over her shoelaces.