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Photo courtesy of Roman Hernandez

Living life under two roofs

I always feel indifferent when people react to my home life. My parents have been divorced since I was about two years old, and living between “mom’s house” and “dad’s house” is as normal for me as going to school five days a week.

I never really understand why people would feel sorry for me, and I suspect it’s because they believe I’m still affected by the divorce. However, because the entire ordeal that led to the split happened when I was too young to understand, I don’t feel too emotionally attached to it.

At the end of my 8th grade year at George K. Porter Middle School, I switched my primary households. Before, I spent the majority of my time with my mother, visiting my dad every other weekend. Since then, the roles have been reversed, and making that switch has helped me to develop as a person.

I have always been close to my dad, as was evident since I was a baby. My mother said that I would “light up” whenever I’d see him, and I’d always be more energetic when he was around. I have no explanation for this, nor do I have a reason for having this strong bond with the man that helped to raise me. But, living under a roof that was less than pleasant with my mother, followed by brief visits with my dad, left me feeling sad most of the time.

The person who I felt really understood me and would listen to me was not the person I would come home to 80% of the time, and as I progressed into middle school, it became even more difficult to cope with my living situation. I often shut myself away from my mother, and I gradually stopped caring about my appearances and hygiene. Pretty much, all I was concerned about was my social life and preparing to be shuttled between houses every other weekend.

Moving in with my dad was what brought me out of the dark hole I had dug myself into. The unending affection and care my dad demonstrated was something I had not really been accustomed to growing up, and even though I only lived under his care for about four years, I came out of my shell again.

Of course, no child of a divorce has the same story as mine. Some are stuck living in a toxic environment, while others become completely emancipated and pull away legally from their parents. Some run away and get lost in the streets, while others live through the process and move on to create a life for themselves.

But, from my own experiences, I’ve learned that having divorced parents is both a curse and a blessing. My mother cannot speak with my dad, and I constantly live trying to keep the two households separate. But I understand that their separation wasn’t my fault, and I see that under their circumstances, separation was a good thing. In growing up under two roofs, I’ve seen the person I want to become, as well as the person I don’t want to turn into.

I will be going on to college this fall, moving to Oregon and putting hundreds of miles between me and my family. A part of me is excited and eager to leave, putting behind the past behind me and starting a new and improved chapter. And yet another part of me is sad, and worried for a future where I won’t be able to walk into my house and allow my dad to hug away my fears. However, I understand that the rest of my life is not waiting for me safe at home. Even though I will miss him desperately, I will look forward to living my life under a single roof. One that will be all my own, and free of the negativity I grew up with.

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