Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Horror of Divorce

The  maxim "The family that prays together, stays together" has the testimony
of past generations that gathered around the family alter.

     This is an anonymously written view of the devestating effects of divorce on children from a woman who had been there as a child. Divorce is yet another trap that appears to give freedom.  This writer makes it clear that there are shackles that get put on children in divorce.

"Please, please don't sign them! O Daddy, don't sign those papers!"  My pleadings must have added greatly to my father's burden, but the pen held firmly in his hand continued to write his name on the final papers. 
Thus was my world destroyed and I with it, for on that day something died in the heart of a child. A child?  In years, yes, but the child pleading in the divorce court that day would never again be a carefree little girl.  For now my mommy and daddy were divorced.  It was a big word and a hateful one. What it meant to grown-ups I did not know, but what it meant to me is a story that can never be fully told. 
Right now it meant that the home we had known existed no longer.  To us children our home was our world, with both mother and daddy essential parts of it.  But that had suddenly crumbled.  Like a violent storm that strikes suddenly and leaves you to pick up the pieces.  So life had suddenly turned our home inside out and upside down.  Much of the shock lay in the fact that the ones destroying it had been our very security and life.
From now on my family must be divided.  I was to choose between my mother and father---- I could not have both, though I loved both and wanted them, both of them, to love me.  Each was necessary to me. How could I turn my back on one and say I wanted the other more?
     I remembered nights when I was sick and how my mother kept vigil---- how she had fed me and tended to my needs,  surely she loved me! When things troubled me I had always gone to her and her explanations had banished childish fears.  I had great faith in my mother.
     Nor could I doubt my father's love or the close place I had in his heart.  Often my brothers sent me to Dad when they wanted some favor, knowing he seldom refused me.  This special place I had with Daddy was perhaps because I was so like him and we understood each other so well.  I had deep respect for my father--- but how could I compare it with what I felt for Mother?  And how could I make a decision that would separate me from either?
     This was the down payment in the price of divorce -- and the children had to pay.   To any parent who still count the cost, I plead the cause of your children!  If you subject them to the agony of choosing between the parents he loves, something wonderful has to die in his heart during the unnatural struggle that choice entails. 
    Years have passed, but I still shutter at the memory of the day I left our home with my mother. Daddy cried like a child and then just stood and stared into space.  I have wondered what went through his mind then.  He had worked so hard to do right by his family and now all he had built was gone.  Was part of his grief due to the fact that missing from the circle of his motherless children was his only daughter?  Was he thinking of what might have been?
     In my mind there is no doubt of what might have been: theirs could have been a successful marriage had they determined to keep the home intact-- had both or even one of them been able to sacrifice personal feelings. 
      As far back as my memory goes I remember my parents quarreling. Like all quarrels, these were born of selfishness and stubbornness, with neither willing to give in to the other.  Foolish advice was: "Separate if you can't get along, it will be better for the children."  (Better to crush six young hearts than for one or two to bear small hurts?  Better the blow should fall on six lives, young and tender, not old enough to know why they must be separated from one another?)
     Bitter protest and tears were vain for divorce courts do not consider human hearts when they collect their dues.  Mother and Dad were to be "free" but we children were not.  I became a slave to despair.  The quarrels?  They ceased, to be sure, but the cries of heartbroken children took their place, and I, for one, longed to hear those quarrels, if only it meant I could have my mother and daddy back!
     This story is my own---- the plea I make is that of my own heart, though my brothers, too, could write their own stories, and neighbors in our small town could add to it.  Perhaps it is just a familiar story; a daddy too busy to do the little things that count so much and having to neglect his six  and eight year old boys.  My little brother longed for his mother, but he compensated for his loss and grief by acts of meanness, so he became a problem child at school.  My teen-aged brothers became involved with the law to the point where they spent a night in jail.  I realized even then that this, too, is a part of the price of divorce that the children have to pay.
     Perhaps a girl needs her mother even more than do boys.  I seemed to be cut the deepest and to suffer the most.  The shock of that day in court was indelibly printed on my memory, but I had only begun to taste of the bitter portion meted out to children who are victims of divorce.
     With Daddy thrust out of my life and my brothers gone, my heart fastened more tenaciously than ever on Mother and words cannot express the shock that was mine when I found her in the arms of another man.  In that instant I knew utter desolation. I had lost my father---- now my mother no longer belonged to me!  Another man, a stranger to me, had taken her and this discovery completely changed and embittered my life.
      Emotions that had been sealed within me now broke forth in endless weeping.  Bitterness enveloped me like a cloud and resentment made it impossible for me to speak peaceably to my mother.  Back of the confused emotions came the resolve that no one else should have her.  She belonged to me and to Daddy!  I became obsessed with the idea that I must win her from the one whom I felt was the cause of my sorrow.
     Artist may paint human suffering but neither artist's brush nor writer's pen can recapture the horror of the moment when a child realizes it had lost the battle for its mother's love.  One day she had been my mother-- the next, she was a stranger whose only feeling seemed to be displeasure at her unreasonable child.  Neighbors pitied and tried to comfort, but their words did not reach me.  I only knew departed hope.  My appeal had failed and no failure had ever involved so much.
     So I tried going back to our old home and living with Daddy.  I think I was in a state of shock as I found my way back there.  A few weeks before I had been in this home: a happy confident child, but as I entered the familiar yard there was no joy in my heart--- no anticipation or eagerness.  Daddy met me at the door and seemed thankful I had returned, but he found to his sorrow that it a not the same little girl who had come back.  Sorrow and grief had caused youth to flee, and with it had gone laughter and joy. 
    He tried, but was not able to save me from the depths of despair to which I sank.  I wept until tears no longer came.  Many pitied but there was no healing or my wounded heart.  When we heard that mother had remarried, great bitterness possessed me.  Grief had so eaten away at my life that I became hard and rebellious.  The faith that my mother had destroyed had caused me to lose confidence in everyone, even my father, and I became full of self-pity, feeling that everyone was against me, even my father.
      I left Daddy and stayed with anyone who would have me.  Later, harsh circumstances forced me to go back to my mother and her new husband.
      I must have been a haunt from the past for them, and I lived with the stinging reality that I was not wanted.  Yet every fiber of my being craved to be loved.  Violent argument-- a war of hate began between me and the intruder.  Strain began to show on my mother's face and in my misery, I found secret consolation in that fact.  My frayed emotions became a physical sickness, for the human system can only be over taxed just so long before something breaks.  Fitful sleep, punctuated by nightmares became my new pattern.  No one wanted to be around me and being alone most of the time, I developed a fear of people.
      I succumbed completely to shattered nerves.
      I wish I could take the hand of every parent even remotely thinking of divorce and lead you back with me into the horrible valley of shadow through which I have come.  If the hurt of an innocent child' heart, the bitter shock to a tender life, the tears of an innocent child's heart, the bitter shock to a tender life, the tears of an unwanted misplaced child could all be called to bear witness in a divorce court, there would be a lot fewer divorces granted in our land.
     Thank God, in my struggles through that darkness I met the Savior and slowly-- very slowly-- began to live again.  Since that time I have married, and at one time it seemed that I would fail as my parents had.  But through sacrifice and love I was able to prove that marriage can be made to last.  Today I am so blessed to have my wonderful husband and a secure loving home setting for my precious children.  It is infinitely worth it to work and pray problems through and make Christ the Head of your home.  My marriage did not succeed overnight, but every effort and sacrifice of feeling or pride on my part proved worthwhile as it brought out qualities in my husband that I had not known existed.  God alone knows the joys I now reap from every battle I fought-- with myself-- instead of with my husband.  I had to learn to give when I would have rather taken, to smile when my heart rebelled, to hold my tongue and let God speak for me-- but my rewards are a truly happy marriage and a secure home.
     If any reading this have at all contemplated divorce, I beg of you, gather your children into your arms, look deeply into their faces, and in pity spare them that which I have had to endure and can never forget.

Source: Adapted from the August 2013 edition of The Evangelist of Truth magazine.

The Evangelist of Truth
5830 Alexander Hill Road
Washington, Indiana 47501

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