Divorce is like a Hurricaine

Divorce is like a Hurricaine

Divorce is like a Hurricaine

by by Suzy Miller

Divorce is Like a Hurricane

“Divorce is like a hurricane” the doctor says

To my Mother who instinctively puts hands upon her swollen belly

As if that will protect me from the storm that is to come.

Who will protect me?

Encased within her womb I am not immune to the storm.  

Adrenaline pumps each time the arguments begin.  

Cortisol surges with each new legal battle, sustained flight and fight response contributing to my Mother’s now heightened risk of heart disease, lower immunity, allergies.

Depression.

I feel another cortisol-blast from my host’s stress as surging guilt stabs like flying broken glass: 

“Will these anti-depressants harm the baby, doctor?”

Whilst the outer world battles the ravages of fear of financial and emotional armageddon, 

Snuggled in her womb, every biochemical and hormonal rush is transmitted Down the umbilical super highway 

With unerring precision.  

I am spared nothing.  

And we are still only in the eye of the storm.

For then comes the miracle of my birth. 

I arrive into a home where relationship disfunction is matched only by the dysfunction of the family law system 

And the chaos of my parent’s divorce 

Now manifesting as fear of poverty that makes my prospects educationally bleak;

A father I don’t yet know is absent and he tries to provide financially but at work

He’s just not the same. Productivity dips.

Debts to the divorce lawyers, how will he pay?

Mother disconnected, self-medicating to cope, 

Here am I approaching my 1001 days from conception, 

Pre-configured for a life on the edge, with a body hard-wired for action, 

Ready for fight or flight, and 

There is no off-switch for what has now become my ‘norm’.  

And I’m not yet 2 years old.

“Doctor, do you think my daughter has ADHD?” 

“Doctor, do I really need to medicate her?”

“Doctor, why can’t I come off the drugs you gave me for depression without feeling suicidal? Is this it forever?”

In the wake of the storm, I have become one more statistic.

My parents allowed the divorce hurricane to destroy the landscape of our lives, by taking shelter in the wrong places, 

By allowing their all too human fears for self preservation to overcome their intuition, 

Which must have told them in a small quiet voice that the journey they chose 

Over rough legal ground and traversing mountains of bitter recrimination, 

that I would make that same journey with them. 

But the effects would be increased, because I am small. 

An innocent. 

Go back to the doctor, my Mother, who gave you medication you still can’t get off to numb the emotional pain, and yet the pain is still there. 

Go back to your insensitive employers, my Father, who let you go because of  poor attendance, as visiting me was not seen as a valid reason for flexible working. 

Go back to the lawyers and the judges and the family court system and tell them how 

I have a significantly higher risk of: health problems, 

Of drug addiction, 

Of going to prison, 

Of mental illness.

Because of how my parents failed to cope with the hurricane.

Why did the doctor not know that numbing the pain of divorce does little to help empower action to make more courageous and less adversarial choices?

Why did the therapist not tell my mother that every attacking thought and angry word spoken or received, is pumped into the child she carries, raw and unfiltered?

Why did the lawyer not tell my mother that in a hurricane, you need to look for somewhere solid to take cover, and connect with experts who encourage waging peace instead of war?

Why did no-one show her that there is a better way to stay out of the path of the hurricane, to rebuild a life where both of my parents can thrive – not as a broken family, but as an extended family?

Divorce is like a hurricane.  But for some it doesn’t pass, just relentlessly rips at the fabric of human family life.  

Pumped with adrenalin and cortisol and sustained stress since my conception, 

Fed direct via the umbilical cord and then the very atmosphere I breathe for the more recent of my 1001 days;

My ability to sit still, to listen, to feel at peace – unable to naturally develop. 

The hurricane… has become me.

 

Suzy Miller
Divorce Strategist

Lady Diana haunted by her past: How child custody battles can destroy lives

Haunted by the sound of her mother’s footsteps on the gravel drive as she walked away…

Did Diana’s childhood trauma contribute to her early death?

Lady Diana Spencer was reported as saying that she was haunted by the sound of footsteps on gravel, receding into the distance. They were the footsteps of her mother walking away, defeated, having lost a bitter child custody battle to Diana’s father.  The children were to remain with him, and visit their mother on alternate weekends.

How much did that experience haunt her future relationships? Did it in some way contributed to her early death? How much weight should anyone put on our childhood experiences, in relation to those relationship choices we make?

We could say that the experience of the child, and their perception of it, is ‘the truth’. It is immovable and can’t be changed. But I disagree. The situation the child is in may be beyond their control, but the sad fact is that their perception of that situation is invariably – according to psychologists and psychotherapists – completely false. The torment of their parents battles is often perceived by the child as being their fault. That they are somehow to blame.

 

As a child, you are the centre of your own universe. Of course everything must relate to you?  And protracted angry custody battles can only reinforce a sense of inherent culpability.

But the real truth is that the conflict is the responsibility of the adults alone, not the children. So a mis-perception has been born – and for many children that misperception has negative impacts on the rest of their lives.

 

In her marriage to Prince Charles, Diana believed her erratic emotional behaviour to be neurotic. She blamed herself for the relationship breakdown on one level – just as a child will invariably blame themselves for their parents breakup. But guilt, no matter how misperceived, is uncomfortable to live with. It’s so much easier to project it onto someone else.

And we love to do that, don’t we? But do we blame the spouse who has lied to us? Made us feel betrayed and abandoned? No! We keep the full force of our blame for “that bitch he ran of with” or “that bastard she shacked up with”.  I see it often. My guess is that it is more convenient to attribute the blame on someone you are disconnected from. You can perceive whatever you want about them without reality getting in the way. They can’t defend themselves as you don’t need to listen. How convenient.

Diana’s blaming of Camilla for her marriage failure may well have been justified, but it didn’t help heal the damaged child that still lurked within her. Much easier to escape into the thrill and excitement of new relationships. Have you ever used a relationship to escape? I have. All that passion. The thrill, a sense of freedom from the person you believe yourself to be – trapped by an intolerable situation – transformed into the person you think you want to be.

No one can say whether Diana would have gone on to lead a happy life if she had survived the accident. But the choices we make, the relationships we choose, are often driven by a desire to run away from a misperception of the past.

 

Diana was a seeker – she searched for solace in many therapies – even Colonic Irrigation. Now – I know that mind and body are connected and a good clear out can be as effective psychologically as it is physically. But come on! Colonic Irrigation is not going to take away the haunting footsteps of a mother’s shoes on gravel, is it?

As adults we can’t change the details of the past, but we have enormous power to change perception of what these events mean to us.

If Diana had perceived the truth – that her parents bitter relationship was not in any way her fault – would she have believed herself to be so ‘neurotic’ in her marriage, under pressure from playing a public roll that would be a massive challenge to even the most emotionally secure? Would she have needed to escape into the arms of lovers, one of whom ultimately drove her to her death?  We can never know.

The renewed interest in Diana’s past has revived two thoughts in my mind. The first is that as a parent – now that my children are young adults – should I be paying attention to any misperceptions they may still hold about the past? Should I ask them what haunts them still?

The second thought is to wonder how my own parents’ relationship may have affected me and how I should choose to perceive the beliefs I formed as a consequence of that? Perceptions that may well be as unstable and malleable as a distant sound from long ago, that holds a meaning laden with false beliefs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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