My parents got divorced when I was in sixth grade, then I got divorced when my kids were young. It took years to heal from my parents' decision.

My parents got divorced when I was in sixth grade, then I got divorced when my kids were young. It took years to heal from my parents' decision.
The author's own divorce helped her better understand her parents.Peter Dazeley/Getty Images
  • My parents got divorced when I was in sixth grade.
  • My first husband and I divorced when our kids were 2 and 4 years old.

My parents got divorced when I was in sixth grade. At the time, it felt like I was the only child of divorce in my community. My parents' divorce was high conflict, and I remember having the feeling of being pulled, split in half, being asked to pick sides, and hearing terrible things about one parent from the other.

Because I have always been a strong-willed person, I didn't think the divorce impacted me in any way. I only knew I didn't want to be around my family and that someday I would create my own family and never repeat the mistakes of my parents.

I met my first husband in college

When I graduated from high school, I went to college more than 500 miles away. I was doing great, had big plans, and still felt as though my parents' divorce had not impacted me.

When I was a senior in college, I met my first husband, and we dated for several years before we married. There was something about him that made me feel comfortable. He was the first man I dated that seemed to have similar future aspirations, and I thought we were the perfect match. It was also very appealing that he had a big, loving, intact family when I met him, so I believed we would be able to create the loving family I promised I would have.

We married, began our working careers, and after some time, started our family. We had issues prior to having our children, but they didn't seem to be big. I became a stay-at-home mom when our first child was born, and that's when our issues really started to become a problem.


When our kids were toddlers, we got divorced

We had two children within two years, and by the time our children were 4 and 2, we were divorcing. Again, I vowed that I would not recreate for my children my own childhood experience. I would do everything I could to prevent my children from feeling stuck in the middle, feeling shame, having a split life, and feeling bad for wanting to spend time with one parent or the other.

Over the next 10 years, our coparenting dynamic wasn't great. We had to engage attorneys five times over that period, and I had child-protective services called on me five times. We were ordered to utilize the OurFamilyWizard app for all communication, had coparenting counseling, a therapist for the children, custody evaluations, and eventually, a court order that restricted contact between me and my children for more than three years. Prior to the trial for this case, I chose to settle with my coparent because my children had had enough, and I believed they deserved a childhood, even if that meant that they would be living only with their father.

I have a loving relationship with my kids and my parents

It took a little bit of time, but eventually, my children and I were able to connect and build a relationship with each other, a relationship based on mutual respect, understanding, and love — a supportive and friendly relationship rather than a parent-child relationship.

It was during the last custody battle that I was able to truly reconcile my severed relationship with one of my parents and come to see this parent for who they were, without allowing their baggage to influence me. I now see both of my parents for who they are and have built loving relationships with both.

It all started with the childhood trauma I experienced in my own parents' divorce. My first husband felt comfortable to me, and now I see that this feeling was because he had similar behaviors and traits to both of my parents, and I was drawn to him to try to fix and heal my childhood wounds through replaying the story with him. When we divorced, I did not disconnect emotionally from the communication dynamic we created in our marriage, so we continued to replay our dynamic, the one from my childhood, over and over again. That's true generational trauma.