When adults watch their parents divorce, if they can grieve in a healthy manner, they experience feelings of loss, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You will have to WAIT for the topic of acceptance until March, but that shouldn't be a problem for you ACODs out there, because waiting is part of our experience.
For the sake of analogy, but with hesitance, lest I minimize the reality and seriousness of an ACOD's plight, today we will liken an adult child of divorce's situation to a play in a theatre.
For years and years the play has been showing in the theatre of community and family.
The main actors have established their roles and interactions with each other. The supporting actors know their roles and their lines and although there are different scenes and lines, there is a certain type-casting for each player and most scenes. The play seems to be written with a certain end in mind, although the specifics are not written in stone, each play actor imagines that generally the script will continue as it has in the past, or as other plays have run for other family members, or people we know.
The waiting begins for the ACOD when one of the main actors or both decide to adjust their role. They may choose to leave the play, or want to stay in the play , but not play their expected role. They may want to include a new main actor who has never been introduced to the cast before. The ACOD begins to wait in the beginning, to see if this is just a stage, where the main actors will assume their normal roles again, or if things truly are beginning to change.
As the reality of change sinks in, the ACOD realizes that every one's roles are shifting. There is no script for this. The character of each role is not predictable anymore. People who were typecast as one type of person don't act like that anymore. How much is true, how much is acting? Some supporting actors try to rewrite the script and get everyone else to repeat lines that will ensure a certain outcome. Not all actors like how things are being rewritten. No one is sure of their role or lines anymore. So we wait.
After a while, the new roles are being more comfortable, and we adjust, but we dont' know what the ending is. We don't know if the characters resolve their conflicts, or if they do not. We don't know if there is a happy ending , or a tragic one ( more tragic than what has already played out on stage). We adjust , but we fear. We fear the unknown. We fear what character we are becoming , and we fear what lines and scenes are still unplayed.
The waiting continues , as the story is still being written, as all stories are. But it isn't being written how we thought, or how we would like. The location and props and set may change, and we liked the old one. The music may become louder, or more minor in key, and we liked the way it was.
We wait, when we dont' know what line we should say. We wait, when we don't know where we are to stand on stage. We don't know who is the lead anymore. So we wait.
We take one line, one scene at a time now. Waiting becomes OK. Waiting and distance and silence on stage is uncomfortable, but sometimes that is what it takes in order for everyone to adjust to all the changes and the new roles we all play.
The last chapter has not been written yet. So we continue to wait. Hoping and praying for a resolution and a happy ending. As we wait, we keep working on our role and wait for the curtain call , when the audience of community and family will learn and grow and hopefully be better off for observing us on the stage of life no matter what twists and turns or ending they witness.
IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED THIS WAITING AND THE UNKNOWN OF THE FUTURE AS AN ACOD, I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT.
Next post will cover the subject of setting boundaries.