Count Your Blessings

While writing a four page essay on my background in new media, I came across an article a wrote years ago for Sparknotes. This is how I was feeling exactly four years ago after my parents divorced.

Let’s start out plain and simple: my parents are divorced. They sprung the news on me over six months ago. I reacted like any teenager would: crying, screaming, yelling. The anger was directed primarily at my parents, but at the same time, some of it was directed toward myself—for acting so weak in a time of struggle, when I knew I was stronger than that.

I then went too far in the opposite direction, keeping my feelings boxed up inside for months, until I finally realized I was being too strong. Both consciously and unconsciously I had known my parents drifting apart, but I refused to let myself see it, convinced it was a rough patch and I just had to suck it up. A lot of good that did me: soon my world would completely change, all because of my parent’s broken promise to God.

In the months that followed, a lot of promises were made that weren’t going to be kept. “I’m notleaving. We won’t sell the house. You don’t have to meet him.” Guess what? She did leave, we’re selling the house, and I am now living half my life with him.

Though I know the divorce is something I couldn’t have prevented, I’m still bothered by the relationship struggles I now have. Not just with my parents, but with my classmates and my extended family. I’ve had to accept two total strangers into my life, without any say on my part. My family, on both sides, treats me in a noticeably different way, and school is something else entirely.

I’ve yet to have my first boyfriend, first kiss, or even my first date. I’ve got fewer expectations than ever of being whisked away by Prince Charming, especially considering the emotional rollercoaster I’m currently riding. My friends are hard to hold onto, and sometimes I hardly want to come to school. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suicidal or depressed, just an average tenth grader in the middle of the High School Hierarchy trying to deal with big changes in my life. Because of the divorce, I’m putting extra pressure on myself to enter into a new relationship. But constantly dealing with the fallout of the divorce—on top of school, sports, and extra-curriculars—means I have hardly any time to deal with my feelings, much less someone else’s.

In a perfect world, I would be focused on studying for the SATs next year, deciding which college to attend, and figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life. In the real world, I’m lucky to know what I’m doing for lunch tomorrow. I hardly know what I’m feeling, or what I want to feel. The divorce has made me vulnerable and mistrustful; I constantly suspect people of having ulterior motives.

The way that a divorce hurts a child unfolds over time. You feel empty at first, then angry, then sad and lonely. Your outlook can be affected in every way, from how you feel about getting up in the morning to the way you perceive your religion.

So here’s a call to the children who have to go through the home swaps, open houses, meeting your parents’ new significant others, and all the other life changes. All of us are on a journey, and together we can get through it. We’re still broken, we’re still hurt, and we’re still going to have to head back out to the battlefield of everyday life. Here’s to all the casualties.

That’s a lot, right? Kind of heavy stuff for a fifteen/sixteen year old! But as I read it, I can’t believe how much has changed and how infinitely God has blessed me.

Though I know the divorce is something I couldn’t have prevented, I’m still bothered by the relationship struggles I now have. Not just with my parents, but with my classmates and my extended family. I’ve had to accept two total strangers into my life, without any say on my part. My family, on both sides, treats me in a noticeably different way, and school is something else entirely.

I’ll admit, I had a harder time that year. My family and I went through a cataclysmic change of environment in a series of months, and it was a new life everyone had to get used to. Those two “total strangers” have been supporting and loving me for four years now, and making both of my parents happier than I’ve seen them in 20 years. My extended family was probably tip-toeing around me because they didn’t know how I was taking the divorce. But there’s nothing bad about that at all, and my two new extended families love me like I’m one of their own. I’ve only gained love, not lost it.

I’ve yet to have my first boyfriend, first kiss, or even my first date. I’ve got fewer expectations than ever of being whisked away by Prince Charming, especially considering the emotional rollercoaster I’m currently riding. My friends are hard to hold onto, and sometimes I hardly want to come to school. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suicidal or depressed, just an average tenth grader in the middle of the High School Hierarchy trying to deal with big changes in my life. Because of the divorce, I’m putting extra pressure on myself to enter into a new relationship. But constantly dealing with the fallout of the divorce—on top of school, sports, and extra-curriculars—means I have hardly any time to deal with my feelings, much less someone else’s.

Well kid, if I told you you’d have to wait another year for that kiss, you’d probably write another angsty post like this. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 17. Which is not embarrassing at all. I loved this paragraph because looking at how blessed I am in my relationship now, I can’t help but think I was being a little dramatic. Especially the “I’m not suicidal or depressed,” section. There are kids that age actually dealing with crap like that, and it hurts my heart that I would have taken it so lightly. Lucas Miles didn’t sweep me off my feet. He bought me new shoes and flew me to a nightclub in Paris and danced with me under the Eiffel Tower (even though he hates dancing). Everyone is so right when they say love comes when you’re not looking for it. And something about friends I’ve learned: they come and they go. Most of the people in high school are friends because you kind of have to be. It makes life a whole lot easier to have a place to sit at lunch, someone to partner up with in class or call for the homework when you forget. But through college, the College Program and Lucas, I’ve met an incredible group of people I know I’ll walk in Heaven with.  The bonds go deeper, the love is stronger and our personalities mesh in all the right ways.

In a perfect world, I would be focused on studying for the SATs next year, deciding which college to attend, and figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life. In the real world, I’m lucky to know what I’m doing for lunch tomorrow. I hardly know what I’m feeling, or what I want to feel. The divorce has made me vulnerable and mistrustful; I constantly suspect people of having ulterior motives.

Guess what 15-year-old Katti? You got through the SATs, you’re a Junior in college with a 4.0 and you have a plan for the rest of your life with a person you love. And you aren’t cynical at all. Paranoid of strangers and still afraid to go places alone, but not cynical. Oh but actually the lunch thing is on point.

The way that a divorce hurts a child unfolds over time. You feel empty at first, then angry, then sad and lonely. Your outlook can be affected in every way, from how you feel about getting up in the morning to the way you perceive your religion.

You did feel that way, and that was a healthy way to grieve. Your outlook was affected, but for the better. You grew in so many ways. You learned how strong you could be when it was necessary. You learned how important family is, and how important a promise to God is. You learned how to love God and others in a purer way. You look at life with excitement, joy and happiness. You have your bad days, but you’ve learned so much in four years. You’ve learned how to take care of yourself and take care of others. Running away from your problems isn’t the right choice. Family comes first and they’re (usually) right. Always look for the best in people.

You grew strong and you grew wise. And I’m so glad you didn’t grow up.

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