Do Not Self-Destruct
So, your parents are undergoing a divorce, or your parents are getting separated. Indeed, it's a tough life you have. And though you see that broken families are becoming a norm in our society, that fact does not negate the pain you are feeling. The truth hurts. (Ouch!)
I came from a broken family. My parents separated when I was eight; my father left my mom for her cousin. Many people who see me now are surprised that I came from a broken family. Who wouldn't be? I got my university degree from the National University of Singapore. I was a scholar since I was in fifth grade. I have a good job. I have good friends, and my mom was able to successfully support my two younger brothers and I. I have a lot to thank God for. And I have a lot to share to people whose life are like mine when I was an eight year old girl.
Yes, if you are a son or a daughter of a couple whose relationship is crumbling, this is for you. If you are a parent who has not thought about about your kid(s) during while contemplating separation, this is for you. If you are a parent who hopes that your kid(s) will eventually be able to cope up with the separation, this is for you, so you could see what they had to go through.
Just a disclaimer: My mom had been very good. I don't blame my mom or my dad for anything. I don't believe that parents separate with the intention of spiting their kids. It's just that my parent's union was never really right to begin with.
So here I start with Rule Number 1:
Do not self-destruct
By this time, you probably feel that the whole world is conniving to destroy your life. It must have been written in the stars for you to be miserable. You might be even wondering if this is a result of the e-mail chain that you broke, or a result of you breaking that mirror (ok, I'm kidding). But jokes aside, yes, I believe at this time, you probably think that Murphy's Law is absolute. Everyone, and everything, is out to destroy your fairy tale.
Well, I tell you, don't give them a hand.
Sure, a couple of beers to tide you through your emo moments will help. But don't make alcohol your water.
Maybe some retail therapy will help. You might want to buy that expensive pair of shoes you've been eyeing for a while (within the maximum budget you have, you can let Visa cover it if you can). And toss in a new hair cut, or hair color, too. But don't bankrupt yourself.
Think long term. Don't be a passive participant to what you think fate is cruelly dishing out to you. Fate favors the fighters. Be strong.
Don't fight with your parents. But instead, find ways to fight for your happiness - a happiness that is not dependent on your parents being together if you can't.
It might take a while, it might take a long time. But for sure, if you self-destruct, your healing will take a longer time. Because you're not only healing the wounds from your parents' separation, you'll also need to heal the wounds you've inflicted on yourself.
If you can't think of anything right now, just remember this: Don't self destruct!
I'll be writing the other rules I've followed to survive happily. So stay tuned and hang in there, my friend. The rainbows will come one day.
For the kids, the trauma of having to live with a broken family is undeniable. Though many brush it off, it haunts them when they are alone, it haunts them in the silence of their hearts. Many may deny it and try to appear strong but we all need healing. And here are the things I followed to help me cope.
Friend, you are not alone.
1. Don't self-destruct. While I have already written about this at length, I can't emphasize it more. I remember when I was a child, my mom used to tell me that I was not really punishing her if I chose to be rebellious, refuse to go to school, or be promiscuous. She told me that she'll eventually get old and I'll be left to clean up after my own mess. That really put things in perspective.
Just last December, my mom told me that in parenting, you need to adjust your style to your kids' personalities. I think she had a good understanding of what I was like, what inspires me and what pushes me to achieve things. She is one great woman. (Kleenex, please)
2. Grieve, but not too long. Let's face it. Sometimes, separation is like experiencing death. It may not be a physical death of a loved one, but for a child, it may be the death of dreams of Sunday night dinners, or of your dad walking you down the aisle on your wedding day.
The Kübler-Ross model, there are five emotional stages when dealing with death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I feel that the same can be applied when dealing with our parents' separations. You have to go through a proper grieving process, otherwise, moving on will just like be bandaging a deep wound, but never properly treating it.
3. Write a journal. There is a reason why jotting notes, using pen and paper to solve arithmetic, or making mind-maps are effective ways of studying. It helps us see the whole picture. It helps our mind process information.
Writing a journal, likewise, helps you process your emotions. Plus, there is an added advantage of doing so. One day, you will look back and be proud of yourself knowing how far you've come, and how stronger you've become despite what can be considered a major set-back. You don't have to use a Mont Blanc for this, but may be a pen with Swarovski crystals might be nice ;)
4. Find a hobby (a good one!). I repeat, find a good hobby. Smoking is not a hobby, it's a vice. Drug? Definitely a vice! You should know the difference between a good hobby and a vice.
You can sing, you can paint, you can dance. For me, I studied hard. I read World Book Encyclopedia. Yup, I know it was boring, but it helped me cope. Right now, when I am sad, I cook. So turn that negative energy into something positive. After all, a great many novels have been a result of heartbreaks.
5. Surround yourself with positive people. Well, if you're a blue crayon and you surround yourself with blue crayons, you'll only be able to paint blue. Surround yourself with colorful people and be a part of a rainbow. Soon enough, you'll be happy since you are part of a happy crowd.
But more than happy people, surround yourself with joyful people. There is a difference between happiness and joyfulness. I hope you will learn what it is. I'll write about this in my next write-ups.
6. Find a good counsellor. I'm not talking about professional counsellors although I believe that they really help. Support groups also help, but I'm talking more about good friends, aunts, uncles, family members, anyone who you know is a part of your life.
Only through loving can the wounds of love be healed. I feel that people you know personally are the best people who can give you sound advise, while at the same time, give you the healing love you need.
7. Visualize what you want to be 10 or 20 years from now. I hope you're visualizing something great.Now this sounds easy. But the tough part is to believe that this is achievable.
Most of the time, I see this advice in business books, or in motivational books. I believe this is also applicable in personal life. Don't let others, or the events that have happened in your life define who you will be. You have the power to choose.
8. Don't lose hope, the best is yet to be. Like they said, when you're down, the only way is to go up. Fight on!
9. Be realistic. It will hurt so prepare yourself. Whoever tells you that it will be easy is lying through their teeth. Our hearts are not made of stone. So if you know what is coming, you can prepare yourself for it.
I went on a thrilling ride in an amusement park last December. I'm pretty sure a couple of you have tried it before. I hope Disneyland has one. Whenever I see that I am accelerating down, I would brace myself and ensure that I don't just depend on the safety belts to keep me on my seat. At the back of my mind, I think of how to shift my center of gravity to prepare myself for the impact. I'm sure that's not the right way to enjoy an amusement part ride. However, I knew this technique helped me avoid feeling nauseous after the ride. The same can be said of what is happening in your life right now. Know what is coming up, and prepare how to handle it.
10. Choose what to believe in. You will hear a lot of messages from many different sources. I sincerely pray that you be wise, and that you will know what to believe in. Once you follow the wrong advice, it will be very difficult.
I'm not professing that I have the right advice. You may not agree on some of the things I say. But I hope you read with an open mind, and an open heart.
Bonus Rule: You may have known by now that I like sciences very much. Now, I've given you and overview of 10 rules. However, I realized that there is a zeroth rule. It's the most basic, and I'll write on that, too.
Until my next write-up, I wish you well.