The saying goes that hindsight is 20/20, and a great deal of time in almost every person’s life is spent in reflection, in thinking about what “would have been” or “could have been” if only…. I don’t think it’s truly possible to live life without any regrets. But I do think that most of us do the very best we can with what we are given. So many events and actions lie beyond an individual’s control, especially when in childhood. Of course children have choices but so much of their life is dictated by parents, school, their immediate environment. I suppose most of us can look back at our personal history and wish something had been different…but we can also acknowledge that whatever we went through, no matter how hard or emotional, helped to shape who we are today.
I used to spend alot of energy being angry about my childhood, the things I felt I lost when my parents divorced. This event, this life-changing action brought about by my mom and dad, so marked my adolescence that I frequently refer to my past as “pre-divorce” and “post-divorce.” The fallout of this decision by my parents was so jarring that it literally put a divisive line through how I view my own life and my own past.
I have come to realize, however, that my parents were not happily married and perhaps some of the feelings I have associated with my life as a pre-teen were because my home felt so tense. Even before my parents split, there was trauma, so I’ve come to understand that the pre- and post-divorce markers are not as definitive as I once thought.
I want to live my life as purposefully as I can, and I want to be compassionate with myself and others. As an adult I came to know the fact that my parent’s divorce was not caused by me or my siblings, that their separation – as drawn out and painful as it was – was their doing and did not reflect on us, their children. I do, however, wish one thing. I wish my parents had been able to dissolve their marriage in a more amiable, respectful and supportive manner. Through alot of hard work, I have learned to accept their actions, and how those actions impacted me and my life from age 12 until now.
If I could magically change one thing from my upbringing, I would insist that they behave like adults who had once loved each other, loved each other enough to have children. The detritus that flowed from the dissolution of their 17 year marriage was powerful, full of anger, resentment and jealousy. I wish I had not had to face so many of those strong emotions so early in life. I am happy that I am now able to let the past be the past; my experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – are what have shaped me and continue to inform the choices I make in regards to how I want to live. For this insight, I am grateful.