What exactly does divorce do to someone?

Screaming. Yelling. Arguing.

Those are the sounds that you observe when your parents are on the verge of a divorce. You want to scream back at them and tell them to stop, but you can’t. So you sit, watching. Listening to what they’re saying and the verbal abuse that is vomited towards one another.

Something that I never thought I would see at a young age was my parents expressing their sadness so profoundly and all I can do is sit and watch. Watching and crying with them. Watching my dad cry, something that I never thought I would see. Watching my mother cry. Crying tears for the future and what was to come. Watching her and trying to comfort her.

Of course, when it first happened, I immediately assumed it was my fault. I mean, what else is any young kid going to think? For more than a decade, your parents are happy and laughing. Then, suddenly, things fall apart.

I remember the night when my mother told me that my parents were getting a divorce. I was absolutely heartbroken and I didn’t know what to do. I sat there, motionless. I cried and watched my mom cry.

“It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.”

The words flew out of her mouth and she echoed the same sentence until I was calm. Her tranquil stare soothed me as my muffled tears left water stains on her shirt.

I wanted her to leave, so I told her I was fine and I was ready for bed. She left and I immediately fell to my knees and started to pray.

I prayed that this was a terrible nightmare. I prayed that this wasn’t true. I prayed for sanity. I prayed for some semblance of stability. My whole world was capsized in one night. I wanted God to fix everything. My plea fell on deaf ears.

That was six years ago.

My dad lived in our front room until he found an apartment he could live in. It was odd to see your parents in the same house, but separate rooms. They avoided each other because they knew if they crossed paths, an argument would start.

Whenever I made my way to our front room to talk to my dad, it felt like a conjugal visit. My dad was a stranger in his own house.

Obviously, it was weird, but we made it work. Eventually, my dad moved out, and we sold our house. The house was not hard to part with because the materialistic value of the house was unimportant to me. My home was with my family, which was now separated.

The one thing that kept me humble, stable, and sane was my dog: Harley. Harley was truly a man’s best friend. Obviously, that phrase has been used far too many times and it’s too much of a cliché, but I really mean this. Wherever I went, Harley was there.

Early morning rides to school? My co-pilot was in the backseat making sure the squirrels didn’t get too close to the car. Hours of homework? He would lay by my desk and make sure I finished it all. Eating dinner? Harley made sure I finished my plate (even if he had to help out a little).

We’ve all had a childhood dog that we adore more than life itself, and that’s exactly what Harley was for me. He was the stability I prayed for.

I was now attempting to live my life with a separated family. The original plan was for me and my brothers to spend one week with my dad then a week with my mom. Standard stuff.

But, I don’t fall under the category of “standard stuff.” I crave stability and community. Ultimately, I had to make the tough decision to only spend every other weekend with my dad. My reasoning for this may seem superficial, but keep in mind that I was still in middle school.

I chose my mom over my dad because she rented a house versus my dad who rented an apartment. And, Harley was at my mother’s. My mom was chosen to keep Harley because my dad could not afford the extra payment for a pet at his apartment complex.

Looking back, I realize that this was a mistake and how much it hurt my father, but this was the right decision for me at the time. I needed to have some sort of stability and Harley was located at my mom’s, not my dad’s. I think my dad understood where my needs were and I’m extremely grateful he allowed me to pursue what I felt was necessary.

It was difficult living with separated parents. I mean, it’s still difficult. I don’t always get my way because of previous engagements that I have with either my mom or dad. I have to make sure that I am spending enough time with each one, or else I feel guilty. When there’s family in town, I have to sacrifice time with one parent to spend time with the other.

I know the system is flawed and strenuous. And yet, it works for me. Well, it works for the time being. The ultimate solution would have been for my parents to stay together, but that was not a viable option because they’re happier now than when they were at the end of their marriage.

My mom has since remarried and is extremely happy. I now have five step siblings in addition to my two brothers. I have another father figure that I can look up to. And even though my dad is not remarried, he seems happier.

It’s odd to think that after more than a decade of marriage feelings can disappear. Those feelings of love and compassion suddenly dissipate and they’re replaced with hatred and anger.

I now realize that the divorce was necessary. Because of their separation, I found my passion for basketball and started to rely on myself more. I discovered who I am through their divorce and I’m grateful for the process.

Their divorce changed me forever, and I am forever thankful.