Watching your parents divorce as a child leaves you with lifelong scars.
Children of divorce tend to be emotionally cautious in our relationships but, despite the difficulties, we do our best to love as well as we can. Here are some of the many struggles that children who grew up in divorced households understand all too well:
- Commitment is a roller coaster ride. We crave commitment to keep relationships from ending in disaster, yet we shy away from it because we're constantly questioning if we have something real.
- Heavy trust issues. Our parents taught us how quickly trust can be shredded. We unknowingly trusted them to keep the family together and they let us down, so we learned not to trust easily.
- Having a guarded heart. We keep our emotions pent up to avoid being vulnerable, but keeping them all in makes us feel like we'll burst. When we do show emotions, they’re extra intense.
- Which is why we’re bad at expressing emotions. We cry at the wrong times, we don’t say “I love you enough,” and have signature expressionless faces.
- That nagging feeling that we’re frauds. We feel guilty over our parents’ divorce, even though we know we aren't to blame. That guilt stays with us through college graduation, getting a great job, winning awards, and other accomplishments so we feel like we don’t really deserve them.
- Being very self-aware. Watching our parents divorce made us feel like we'd lost all control, so we compulsively try to maintain control over ourselves and our environment.
- Trying to please everyone. We're used to going back and forth between our parents, giving them as much love as we could so they wouldn’t feel like we were favoring one over the other.
- Intense fear of abandonment that lives in the back of our minds. We secretly believe that the people we love will leave us no matter how hard we try.
- Relationship paranoia. We tend to get in our own way; we believe the person we love will leave us, so we become closed off and end up pushing them away.
- Being overly affectionate. We cling tightly to our lovers and friends as if to always remind them of how much we love them, in case they forgot.
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