Today’s post is written by my 15-year old daughter. I learn a lot when I ask open ended questions of my children and let them share. This one was a painful but powerful one to read.
Lessons Learned From Living In A High Conflict Home
By Morgan Nielsen, 15 years old
Screaming in the night wakes me up, I lay in bed telling myself to go back to sleep and it will be fine in the morning. I am fully awake trying to cover my ears with my pillow because I want the yelling to stop. I wanted to help but I didn’t know how. I go downstairs into my parents’ bedroom. They both look at me and I say “ please stop.” My mom walks me back to my bedroom and tells me she’s sorry for waking me up. She tucks me back into bed, kisses me on the forehead and says, “go to sleep.” As I try to fall asleep I pray to God and ask him if he would make the yelling stop. I say amen and fall asleep.
This is one of my vivid memories of life when my parents were still married, before the divorce. My mom says that divorce is awful but a bad marriage is worse. She says that raising us girls in a really bad family was worse than putting us through the pain of divorce. Maybe she is right. I just wish that it had never happened, none of it. I wish my parents were able to get along and that we would all be living together as a family.
I have learned a lot from being a child of divorced parents so hopefully that is something good that came of it. The three things that come to mind first about what I learned from living in a high conflict home are: 1) The importance of good communication; 2) How terrible living with someone who has an addiction is; and 4) Learning to take care of yourself.
1. The Importance of Good Communication
I know what it is like to watch two adults who can’t communicate with each other. I have seen two adults who could act nice and loving to each other one minute and then start screaming horrible things to each other a second later. This means that my parents could not communicate well and my sisters and I had to live with it. It was awful. The bottom line is if you can’t communicate well in your marriage it won’t be fun for anyone.
How to do this?
First, date someone for a long time before getting married. If you can’t communicate well with each other hopefully you will know that and break up instead of having to get divorced. You also have to respect each other’s opinions. If you think a guy is stupid then you should never get married. If you are bringing up a hard subject, ask your guy if he is ready to talk about it and wait until you are both in the mood. Do not be afraid to say I am sorry. When your guy is talking to you, try to listen. If he starts screaming at you try to walk away from him. Maybe you need a very long cooling off period. My mom says that therapy can sometimes help with communication but you both need to be committed to it.
2. How Terrible Living With Someone Who Has An Addiction Is
My dad is addicted to alcohol and when he drinks he becomes very mean and nobody in my family wants to talk with him until the next morning because we don’t want to get yelled at. That is usually the reason why my mom and dad would get into arguments. We tried to help him with his addiction and it seemed to be working until we found out he wasn’t getting help and was still drinking. The result of his drinking caused a divorce and not seeing his daughter as much as he wants to. It was very painful and I will never date a boy who has an addiction. There is nothing you can do about it anyway. You will tell that person to stop their addiction but it won’t work. It is an ADDICTION! You can’t tell a person to stop an addiction with a snap of your fingers. It will take patience, time, and therapy. Telling a person to stop an addiction is like telling a person with depression to stop being depressed. IT’S NOT GOING TO WORK! If they want help they will get help. If they don’t well….Good Luck with that. It is really hard to try and help someone who doesn’t want help. You are helpless. You are always trying to see if they are lying to you.
3. Take Care of Yourself
A child living in a high conflict home must learn to care of herself. I learned this at a very young age. I know it seems a little self centered to be thinking of yourself so much but at the end of the day you have to do what fits your needs. When I was living with my parents, I did things like watch TV, swim in the pool, or just sit outside. This helped me to try and forget about the fights my parents were in. One time I ran up to my bedroom crying and shut the door. When my mom tried to come and talk to me, I told her I needed to be left alone. I am happy she respected that. I also started to take long baths. I would shut the door and take music in the bathroom and try to calm down. I learned this from my mom. She would try to relax in the bathtub and it worked. I still love to sit in the tub. My mom also does yoga and gets massages. I hate yoga and I don’t get many massages at my age but I love to work out. I love to run. I am on cheerleading. I am a very good ice skater. In the winter I snowboard. These are all things I do to take care of myself.
Sometimes I still feel a lot of pain because I really miss my dad. When I feel really sad I cry mostly when I am in the bathtub because this is my alone time and I have a lot of privacy. All the things I mentioned above help me take care of myself. I also have friends I can talk to. I can make myself as distracted as I need to be.
I wish I was not from a divorced family but I am. I can’t change it. I can try to make sure I pick a great guy to begin with so I never need to get divorced and my children never need to suffer like this. I hope I have learned a lot and that I won’t repeat the mistakes my mom says that she made. I know she tried her best and maybe this sad experience will make me a better person. I hope so!