My story has nothing to do with being an adult child of divorce . It has everything to do with real fear. Riding a roller coaster in the dark in one of the front seats pushed me over the edge. Not literally, but figuratively. Although I was in my early twenties, I came off the "fun ride" and sat on a bench where a few elderly people were sitting. They were probably experiencing physical reactions to being flung through the air wildly and quickly. But I was experiencing psychological fear.
And I was crying. As embarrassing as it was, I could not control my reaction . I was truly afraid.
What is fun for one person in an amusement park may not be fun for another person.
And as an ACOD, I don't mean to imply that any of it is fun for any of us. But we all experience varying reactions that are common to all and some that are as different as we and our stories are!
Fear shows up in different arenas for the adult child of divorce.
Sometimes we fear the past. Or what we do not know of the past. What we may learn of the past that will further affect our trust, our memories and our reality in the here and now.
Were there more affairs? Are there other half siblings we don't know? If the problems I know about now were there, what other problems existed that I still don't know about? Do I want to know? What do others know from my family's past that I don't know?
Fear can cripple us in the present. What will happen if I set boundaries with either one parent or both? Or with siblings? What words of anger and rejections will be directed at me when I express my feelings? What is the true state of my and my parent's physical safety, given the fact that what has happened in my family was unthinkable in the past.... what is a parent or both parents capable of doing to themselves or each other ?
Future fear makes us feel uncertain. We fear what our holidays will look like now? We wonder what will happen when mom and dad are in the same room at some future gathering? What if my parent or parents withdraw from me or reject my efforts to talk about the true issues? What if my desire to see a counselor together is turned down? Can I handle any more abandonment or rejection? How will this affect MY children? What are they going to learn from this breakdown in our family? And if we are not married yet, the question looms of "are my relationships doomed?" because true love and commitment just are not possible?
And if we are married, we wonder if betrayal, or loss of commitment could happen to us?
As adult children of divorce, we experience true fear. We know we are on a roller coaster, not by our doing, but by others choices. We may be adults, but as we experience the twists and turns , darkness and unknown path that now lies before us, we sometimes just want to get off. We want to sit and cry and realize it is just a "ride". Fear is real to us ACODs.
I can't take away your fear. It may be legitimate and may need to be dealt with by the help of others such as counselors, police, people of the faith community or decisions that help eliminate the causes of the fear.
For me, a certain amount of peace and absence of fear comes from my faith in God. I believe He will bring me to the end of the "ride" , through the dark tunnels and the fast, crazy loops and the unknown path I am on. I believe He is guiding, directing, and holding me in, so even if I am crying and exhausted when I experience fear, I can also have peace, and clear thoughts that don't immobilize me.
If you are an ACOD who is experiencing true fear today, I pray you will seek the help you need to gain new trust and rest.
New International Version (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
2 Timothy 1:7
New King James Version (NKJV)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.