Moving Forward and How Much Should We Blame Our Parents For

 Someone asked me something the other day something that stuck around with me:
"Is it really your parents' fault how you show up?"

For context, we were talking about divorce and love, and the concept of the scarlet letter and its impact on men vs. women. How does a divorce/separation impact how we show up or how others perceive us when trying to rebuild our lives? It is not my place to share his point of view (though if he does allow me after reading this, I would be happy to point you to him for his counterpoint!). I will, however, in honor of the title of this blog, share mine. After all, if we are going to talk about rebuilding after trauma, isn't one of the first steps to healing to be vulnerable enough to let the light back in after living in the dark for so long?.

I will not sugarcoat this, mostly because I don't think it is even possible: dating as a woman after ending a marriage might just be one of the most difficult parts of the whole process. Divorced or separated notwithstanding, as a woman, you are often made to feel that you are carrying this huge scarlet letter that might as well be a neon sign that reads "CAUTION: LARGE BAGGAGE AHEAD". As if co-parenting wasn't difficult enough, even in the most harmonious of relationships, or single parenting during your scheduled time wasn't a challenge on its own, we now have to battle against the forces beyond are control that take the shape of people's assumptions of what our lives are like, even before we have a chance to prove them otherwise: "you probably don't have time to travel", "there is no flexibility on your schedule because you have kids", "it is just too much drama". Let me tell you something on that last one; I have heard that line used more times than I would like to own up to, and most of it has been by people that haven't spent enough time with me to make an informed assessment, especially since anyone who knows me knows, getting my walls down takes more work than hosting a fully kosher Passover Seder.

Now, we rewind. I am a child of divorce. My parents got their divorce when I was in my 20s, mostly because it was illegal in Chile until then. However, we all knew that it was coming, and while the grief was real when it happened, so was the relief. No family should have to live in an environment shaped with so much tension. I will leave my parents' dating history post-divorce out because it is not my story to tell, but I will tell you something: while "fault" may be a strong word, I do strongly believe that our lives are shaped by their choices, whether we choose to adopt them as our own or not. I watched my mother try to rebuild a life after 25 years of marriage, and as I try to rebuild mine after 10, I cannot help but feel more connected to her than ever before. Even if our journeys are different, how we show up is shaped on our parents because they are our first point of exposure for what love is supposed to be.

Here is my take on love after divorce: First, never let anyone tell you that you are not worth the effort. Those who would like to get to know you, will. Second, practice not internalizing that scarlet letter; it does not define YOU, it defines how others show up, and that is their journey. And third, when you do find someone, make sure it is someone that together, you bring the best in one another. How is any of this because of my parents? because If I learned ONE thing out of being a child of divorce is that, no matter what comes, or how difficult life is, I want my children's perception of what love is to be something healthy and strong, albeit imperfect, and not something that they feel relief to see end.


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