How having parents who split at a young age has affected me

By Cierra Southard
April 20, 2022

My parent's and I at my high school graduation. Photo by Cierra Southard.
My parent's and I at my high school graduation. Photo by Cierra Southard.

If your parents are still together or even like each other, please consider yourself extremely lucky.

It’s not easy.

Pretty much since the time I was born my parents have been split up. Them not being together was never some sort of tragedy to me, since I have no memory of them ever being together. I was never ripped out of one household and into another because we were never all under one roof. It was normal for me to only be with one parent at a time. I would primarily live with my mom and then see my dad on the weekends.

That is 22 years of me being in the middle of countless of arguments and bounced between two different states.

Photo by Cierra Southard.

My parents have never been shy expressing their feelings about one another; unfiltered wouldn’t even be the word. Constantly hearing my mother talk badly about my father and my father talk badly about my mother is draining; mentally and emotionally. I was able to separate the two and create my own perceptions. I couldn’t be influenced by my parents about the other.

“It must be great. You get two birthday’s, two Christmas’s, two Easter baskets, two graduation parties, etc.,” they would say.

Sure, it’s great if you’re looking at it materialistically. But in reality, it’s not great at all. I barely have any memories together with my parents. Most of my life achievements have not been celebrated with both of my parents. Unfortunately, I do not know what that is like.

When there would be instances we would be under the same roof, I’d pray that everything went smoothly. But there’s no denying that it’s awkward not having your parents talk to each other.

My parent’s and I at my high school graduation. Photo by Cierra Southard.

Holiday’s were another battle. Where I wanted to spend it was just another situation where I was put into the middle and torn between the two.

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania up until the age of 10 when my mother had moved us to Delaware. This cut my time with my father even more.

I was never that child that always had both of my parents at my sporting events, homecoming and prom pictures, or other school events. I’ve always understood that the two and a half hour drive was not always feasible for my dad; my mom, not so much. Was there times he could’ve? Probably, there’s no denying that.

It was exhausting packing weekend bags and then unpacking them every single week, but it became second nature. My grandparents would always drive down and get me so I could see them and my dad for the weekend.

When put into perspective, I would only spend a total of two days with my dad or grandparents when you take into account the drive and leaving at reasonable hours. That’s barely any time to build a relationship.

It was just hard. Communication hasn’t always been our strong suit.

It became harder as I got older. On the weekends I would want to hangout with friends or I had to work. Often I felt guilty as my life was growing more in Delaware and becoming more distant with my other side of the family in Pennsylvania. Ultimately, it was inevitable.

My parents aren’t bad people. I love them both. I just think they were too young when they had me to be together or didn’t fully understand how this would affect me long-term.

Photo by Cierra Southard.

Over the years and as I’ve gotten older, me and my mother have grown closer but it’s still a work in process. Sometimes I feel like me and my father don’t even know each other, but he has always been the more understanding one.

Through self-reflecting, I definitely believe that not having my parents together has affected me and the relationships that I build with other people. I’m not a very affectionate person and I think that stems from not receiving or giving that to either of my parents. I’m very independent because I had to grow up quicker than some. I’m not a very emotional person as I was never given that platform to do so without it being overlooked.

Sometimes I feel deprived of connections with others and tend to seek out unhealthy relationships because I crave that connection.

I’ve always said to myself, “I don’t have childhood trauma. My parents love me and nothing bad has ever happened to me.” But maybe it just looks different for me. There is a reason I am who I am today, and it’s all because of what I’ve went through the past 22 years. It teaches me everything that I don’t want for my future family.

Cierra Southard

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