It’s been years; still, even after all that time, I can certainly say that the damage is there. I was almost twelve when it was fairly noticeable that my parents couldn’t function together anymore. I remember the look on both their faces (the only thing they still seemed to have in common) — it was dull, empty, dreadful. A slight smile was brightened their dispositions when they were talking to us or looking at us. But it wasn’t enough. You could feel the rage filling the atmosphere, trying to suck out anything good from you.

Their voices got louder and angrier each and every time they happened to exchange a few more words than a usual dialogue consists of. They were disappointed – with themselves, how they ended up in this way. But you know how it goes … the responsibility was too heavy for them to admit; not to mention handle it and then accept it. They failed. Staying together, a strong couple that could fight through hard times and enjoy the good times.

If you ask me now, I still have the same answer as I did that day; the day when it was announced that they were getting a divorce. “You know what? I think this is the best thing you both can do.” There hasn’t been a single day I regret that answer – they were miserable. You wouldn’t want to see both your parents sad every moment of every day, would you?

And I was alright, I didn’t mind. I didn’t have any second thoughts about them living separately; how hard can it be, after all?

Some children think that they may lose their parents, that they may miss out on their lives when this kind of situation occurs. You can say that this is a common fear. But that wasn’t my case. I didn’t lose my parents from my life.

I lost myself.

I lost myself through the expectations they had of me – I was almost twelve, and I was expected to behave and think like I was twenty. Any childish moment I could have was corrected, criticized. I wanted to be young, innocent; but I had to understand many of the things that my parents didn’t make the effort to explain in the first place. I had to figure it out all by myself, like a mind reader.

But all it led to was frustration – I had it towards myself, towards others. I was aggressive, I got angry for minor reasons. I wasn’t feeling good. This is the aftermath; and it didn’t stop there. My parents were against each other, fighting over numerous court orders and paperwork; they stopped speaking, they made negotiations only when they had meetings with their lawyers. They haven’t spoken with each other in thirteen years.

As I got older, I realized that this was never going to end. The conflict between them will always be there. But as I said, I was getting older and along with that I had to make my own choices. Among the tears, the resentment, the endless questions I had towards them, and the rage I felt for behaving like five-year-olds, I realized that I couldn’t fight a battle that wasn’t mine. They say that in a divorce, children should be a priority. But in most cases, including mine, they are a priority. Just not in the way that people think. Parents use their children as a way of arming themselves getting against each other. Instead of keeping the conflict between the two of them only, they place the children right upon the battlefield and ask them to fight – for reasons yet unknown. And let’s not forget the relatives that come along the way with their own opinions and making the whole thing worse.

You get older, you get wiser. Anyone who’s been in the same situation knows right away that if you don’t get out of all this mess, you’ll end up having yourself torn apart. And that’s exactly what I did.

“I don’t care anymore if you kill each other. Do whatever you please, keep fighting. Just know that I’m way out of all this. I don’t want to hear a word about it ever again.”

And now you are the black sheep of the family that doesn’t give a shit and cares only about yourself. I’ll take it, hell yeah, I’ll take it. It’s better than trying to take responsibility for things I never have done, arguing about things in the past that no longer serve a meaning or for taking revenge. I care only about myself when I no longer wanted to transfer a message from one person to another when they didn’t have the courage to stand up and face their issues.

Yes, I care only about myself for wanting to leave a toxic situation. That’s how I stood up on my own two feet and got the motivation to never be like this – I can’t be like this. This is how now, I’ve learned to respect human relationships more than ever. It’s this experience that today, it drives me to be a better person and avoid toxic people.

It’s an example, an illustration of what I don’t want to become or experience. And I know it deeply that I won’t, I won’t let it happen.

It’s a promise I gave to myself one day, and I still keep it up to now.

I’ll take the pain out of all this and I’ll make it strength; I’ll take the ugliness too, and I’ll make it something beautiful, out of gold.

Author: Victoria A. Dimou

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