The first sign is the silence.
It’s the silence after the fight, you know, the kind of fight where you realize through your parents screams how much they truly hate each other. But it’s really the words that hit you more than the actual screams.
And when it’s all done, you sit in silence.
It’s the kind of silence that impends the incoming hammer that will leave your family broken apart. It’s the kind of silence that’s not really silence at all but a declaration that from now on, your life will forever change. Continues on the next pages.
Relatives become strangers.
Once your parents separate, people start choosing sides. No longer are we together as family. Now there are enemies and survivors. You and your siblings grow distant because soon you’ll be separated. Or maybe you’ll grow closer than ever before.
Your family is almost unrecognizable and it scares you sh*tless.
You rarely see your cousins, especially the ones who are your best friends anymore. And when you do, the conversations that used be fun and hilarious are now awkward and full of tension.
You make the painful effort to bridge the gap, trying to put back together how things were before.
You find out secrets you’d rather not know.
In their most vulnerable moments, your parents tell you how they really feel about each other. Through tears, your mom tells you she married your dad too young and through anger, your dad tells you how much he can’t stand your mom’s spoiled attitude.
Secret after secret is tossed at you and you’re left to pick up the shock of it all.
Since when did your parents hate each other? How did you not notice how much your aunt couldn’t stand your mother? When did your family become a reality TV show?
You learn that secrets are better left kept under the rug.
You’re not sure what it means to be a family anymore.
Because your family is now broken and you don’t know if they’ll ever get back together or if things will be the same. It hurts to see everyone you love in so much pain and conflict.
You’re not sure how to be a family anymore. You barely see your cousins and siblings anymore. And if you parents remarried, you have adapt to a new kind of family that you can’t help but feel like an alien in.
But you try to heal with time and you try to have some hope in those hard conversations when your parents tell you that the reason for this is because they love each other and want what’s best for your family. You cling to those words because you want peace again.
You want to be a family again.