I will say that I believe that my parents had a happy marriage at one point. I want to believe this, though I don't know it authoritatively to be true. Obviously, they were married for several years and they had both myself and my brother. And though having children and living together cannot be proof individually of happiness and the smiles in the old photographs could be a certain degree of fake, I believe they thought themselves to be happy. Perhaps there is no difference. Perhaps that is all you need in the short term.
So whether they really were happy at first but lost it OR they really wanted to be happy but weren't able to make it I don't know. Perhaps they married too soon. Perhaps one or both of them changed too much over the years. The result was the same.
I noticed that something was wrong at about the age of 7-years-old. Jon was 2-years-old and our parents were fighting. It wasn't just a few catty snips at each other but long matches where their voices went from angry whispers to yelling. Perhaps mercifully, I witnessed little of it directly. But I do have a few memories.
On one occasion, Jon and I were shuffled into our room by ourselves perhaps with the hope that we would just play and not come out while they were fighting. My parents were making an effort to keep the problems from being evident to us. However, the very nature of whatever lead to the moment made it clear that something was very wrong in the other room. I looked at Jon and he was even more confused than I was. We just sat on our little footstool chairs and hugged each other while we cried.
At some other occasion, we were asked to play in our room during the afternoon while mom and dad went outside on the driveway. Curious or bored, I wandered into the living room and looked out the window at them. The look on my mother's face is a clear memory to me today. I cried and yelled and was tempted to bang on the windows.
At some other point, there was a very strong yelling fight which I don't remember very well, but I do remember that my mother sort of left and went to a friends' or neighbors' house. When she came home, it was dinner time and my dad was saying something about it never happening again. She could look no one in the eye, least of all me.
There are some other occasional memories. Through it all, I didn't know what was going on. All I knew was that my parents were in pain. They seemed to be causing it. I didn't really understand what marriage was and had never heard the word "divorce".
Eventually, my parents would sit us down and resignedly tell us that they were going to separate. They would still both be our parents and we would share our time between their houses in a new arrangement called joint custody. The reasons for the divorce wouldn't come up nor would there be attempts at an explanation until much later.
It wasn't until adulthood that I realized that I was actually quite lucky. There was no violence between my parents that I know of. There was yelling but it wasn't very loud and there was certainly no hitting or throwing involved. There were no domestic disturbance calls. There were no late night bags packed and wacky kidnap scenarios. There were just broken hearts. My life might have been very different had they patched things up, but it might have been a lot worse had things devolved into dangerous territory.
Many of the years to come in my life would be shaped and formed with the divorce as a backdrop and not all of it was fun. But I can't say that I wish it had never happened. My extended family is certainly larger and certainly my life is richer from my experiences. I'm painfully aware that both my parents will read this and I hope they don't cringe. I hope that they know that I may have pointed accusatory fingers at them before, but I take full responsibility for my life now. I thank them wholeheartedly for the track of my life. And now I love it.
But the story of my life will have to revisit some of those days and get the other readers from there to now. Skip ahead a few chapters if it's convenient for you. Otherwise, read on.
Now listening to: Pink Floyd - The Best of Pink Floyd - Entire Album.