As it turns out, I'm an expert in divorce and child custody matters. Not that I started my professional journey with that goal in mind. Conversely, I wanted to stay as far away from divorce as possible because of my personal history. I grew up in and out of more versions of a blended family than there are fingers on one hand.
Divorce had already caused a schism in my family before I was born. I remember alternating between my grandfather and stepmother's home and my grandmother's home for holidays. I can still see the eye rolling and grimace on my grandmother's face if my grandfather was ever mentioned in her presence. I recall the cordial but cold relationship between my dad and his father. At the age of 6, I remember my own father coming and going from our home, as he tried to figure out if he wanted to stay or go. By the age of 9, he and my mother called it quits and both remarried the same year. I recall being such an anxious child that my imagination would get swept away in all the dangers that my bedroom could pose--little people living under my bed, demons at the windows, and kidnappers who could come get me at night. All this uncertainty and animosity in my family led to a bounty feelings like fear, insecurity, stress, and probably some anger--always lurking behind the curtain of an overachieving, people-pleasing, and attention-deprived little girl.
The divorce upheavals in my family of origin would continue through my formative years, and even into adulthood. I felt like I had a front row seat of what not to do. So much so that by age 15, I had already formulated a plan to "never have this happen to me." Step 1: Do Not Marry Anyone I Went to High School With. This was a surefire tactic, since most of the step-parents that came and went could also have planned a high school reunion together. Step 2: Do Not Marry Before My Career Is Established. I’d seen my own mother go from upper middle class to barely getting by in the blink of an eye. Step 3. Do Not Marry Until I Am At Least Thirty Years Old. Foolproof, I thought. I’ll have so much emotional maturity and healing from intentional therapy by then that my future marriage will be basically bubble-wrapped.
I did pretty well with the steps, though I married at 26 years old. But he went to a different high school, I had a Master’s degree and an established career by then, and had sowed my fill of wild oats. I had even addressed my family of origin issues in years of therapy. That overachieving, people-pleasing, and attention-seeking little girl was now a successful and balanced young woman. Three amazing children and 15 years later, I discovered a bombshell of deceit in my marriage. Ironically, the vision of my organization, the Divorce Resource Center of Georgia, had already emerged 2 years prior through a series of personal and professional growth opportunities. It seemed like a dream come true, that sweet spot of life when all cylinders are firing in tandem. Until that day when the bomb dropped, and now my life looked more like a country song than a strategic, carefully curated outcome.
Do you see a theme here yet? Us kids of divorce are well known for our control issues. That front row seat to divorce and child custody plus 20 years in the child welfare field and then the trampling of my own marriage is what I bring to the potluck that is divorce-related DRAMA.
Oh, the stories I could tell. Make me a dirty martini and I’ll tell you some of them. Whenever my clients say to me, “I bet you’ve never seen this kind of drama before,” I just give them a half smile and a wink and say "try me." Unmapped and at times, unwanted as my journey has been, it has landed me in a world where I Know Divorce Drama. And thankfully, I know what works and what doesn’t work to find peace of mind amidst the chaos and how to rebuild after the destruction. Whether you are a professional in this field or a player in this game, my passion is for you to Know Divorce Drama, too.