Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College
Divorce is the separation of two people bound by marriage. This is an experience that even the most positive minded individual would not like to endure. There are many scenarios that can cause a divorce to occur. I cannot begin to list the number of situations that contribute to divorce in today's society. I can only offer an explanation based on my own experience. I pursued a divorce after living with my ex-husband for ten years. The cause of my divorce was primarily due to his physical and verbal abuse on a wide scale. His temper, alcohol, and marijuana use were strong contributors. My final decision to divorce my husband stemmed from his last threat to kill me and my son.
For a long period of time I was completely blind to the abuse and hate that he projected towards me. Then one cold winter night, my ex-husband began drinking. He drank so much that he could not clearly pronounce his words. Shortly after, he approached me and asked me to make him dinner. I was busy doing other things and took longer than he expected me to. This threw him into a violent temper tantrum that escalated to the point where he punched me in the face with such force that it almost broke my jaw. Minutes later he was holding me by the neck, glaring at me with eyes that seemed to burn with fire, and said, "First I am going to kill you, and then I am going to kill him!" (Him, meaning my son of five years.) I was terrified and had no way of escaping that night. I realized that I needed to take some serious steps to protect me and my son. Divorce was the only answer. Two and a half years later, I am just barely recovering from everything that has happened. Now that I am divorced, these five areas of my life have been affected. My son was affected the most, then my serenity, my financial situation, my social life, and my place of residence.
The effects on my son were dramatic. He struggled to keep from crying and often asked my why we had to leave Daddy. For a child of just five years I can only imagine how difficult that would be. Not only did he miss his father, he missed his friends at his school. I had to transfer him to another school to ensure that he would be safe while I followed through with the divorce. His grades plummeted, he had temper tantrums all of the time, and he did not want to complete any of his assigned chores. I believe that he was severely depressed. I was often too busy or distracted with other things to patiently cater to his every whim, as he was used to before the divorce began. Adjustment was a whole new concept for both of us.
My serenity was deeply affected as I struggled to keep my composure between court dates, taking time off of work, and curious co-workers. I was a wreck but I hid it well. My son often asked me why he could not see Daddy and I had to take time out of my busy schedule to set him on my lap and explain to him how important it was that we were safe. I will admit that there were days all I did was cry. I attended church religiously to gain strength and give my son something to keep himself occupied. The church had a children's activity while the adults were attending the service. I remember some Sundays at church, all I could do was cry my way through the whole sermon, and wondered if I would ever be able to stop. At one point, I even strategically placed Bible verses around my apartment to remind myself that we would be okay.
Months passed and my divorce slowly crept along. My financial situation deteriorated as my savings dwindled from divorce fees. Then my car broke down, which cost me another five hundred dollars that I did not have. The saying holds true that when it rains, it pours. I remember looking in the refrigerator one morning and all that was left were a couple of eggs and a quarter of a gallon of milk. The freezer was bare with only a few old Otter Pops. The refrigerator was almost always empty, until one day I counted my change and went shopping for food. I could afford to spend only about thirty dollars. As I strolled through the store, I put what I needed in the basket and forgot to keep counting the cost. When I arrived at the check out, I placed everything on the conveyor belt and smiled at the clerk. She then asked me, "Did you find everything that you needed?" and I happily replied that I did indeed find everything that I wanted. After the clerk finished scanning every item, she totaled it up and said with a witty tone, "That will be one hundred and sixty nine dollars ma'am." I was shocked out of my silent daze and wrote her a check, all the while wondering how I would be able to cover it. I realized that this was an extremely irresponsible thing to do, but it was sure good to see food in my refrigerator and a smile on my son's face as he munched on a bowl of crispy Lucky Charms cereal. I cried the whole next day in fear that my checking account would be depleted and I would not be able to pay the rent on time. As it turned out, I was lucky. I received a check from my work as an employee bonus.
Another part of my life that was affected by my divorce was my social life; you can imagine how many friends and family members you accumulate in a ten-year period of time. To my dismay, even my closest friends no longer called me. These were long-term friends that I had shared many personal thoughts with. These were the friends that I thought I would have for a lifetime. I was wrong and I learned fast how something simple like a difference in opinion could force even the best of friends apart. This experience was depressing and discouraging. It was difficult to see all of my close friends fade away. The phone calls stopped, we no longer had dinner meetings or barbecues, and even the relatives on my ex-husband's side of the family never called to ask if I was okay. I was alone, completely alone with a little boy to take care of.
Several months passed, and I decided to move to Southern California. This was a good decision since I had friends there, and I could pursue a new life. This meant that my whole life would change dramatically. I realized that I would be leaving a place that I had known well for ten years to live in an area that I was not familiar with. I was also sacrificing a secure job in the medical field, and I understood that I would have to move my son, once again, to a new school. Finding an apartment on the little credit that I had would prove to be difficult, and I was not sure how easy it would be to find a job that would support us. This was a huge decision and I was both excited and scared out of my wits. I decided that I would follow through with it since two of my good friends opened their doors to me and my son until I was stable. I humbly accepted their offer and they happily celebrated my arrival.
Divorce has taught me many things. It has taught me to be strong even when everything looks hopeless. It has taught me to be patient. I have grown tremendously through all of this and have become a stronger and more mentally stable person. My son is doing well in school and has many new friends. He has learned to respect me more now that he has positive influences in his life. I am now attending a local college pursuing my career. I am independent and have much more confidence in myself. I can truly say through all of the pain and tears that it has been worth it. I feel that I have lived a lifetime in the past two and a half years.
Divorce is an ugly force that can bring people together or tear them apart. It can heal broken hearts or maim them for life. Divorce has a tremendous effect on each one of us involved. Children are torn between mother and father, finances are argued over as if they are the only things that are important, and hearts are scarred for a lifetime. Careers are damaged and friendships are severed forever. Unfortunately this sometimes must occur in order to protect our children and sometimes ourselves against people who only wish to hurt us. Our strength is challenged and, at best, we have a rare moment where we see our children's true resilience shine through and recognize our own ability to fight the good fight.