the big d

The letter D. I love it, and I hate it. It is the first letter of my name, but also the first letter of an awful, nasty word–divorce. Divorce rips apart families, tears up happiness, and shatters childhood Disney fantasies. I was devastated. I thought no one else in the world could be in more distress than I was. It even became plain how despair caused suicides–not that I had had intentions, but I had understood the desire. Divorce was the legal ending of a marriage in the modern world. There were no such thing in the fantasies I believed in as a child. In spite of the fact that half of the marriages today come to this unpleasant halt, I certainly didn’t grow up expecting my parents to be totted into these fabricated figures. In the deep of the night, water spilled out of my eyes. I could have easily filled up an entire olympic-sized swimming pool with my teardrops.

It certainly wasn’t unexpected. With quotidian World War III-scaled clashes taking place at my home, I was hardly cajoled by the saying, “There’s nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” On one typical school day, I was asked unexpectedly to write about my family. My brain was stumped. I saw my classmates were thrilled by the prompt, proposing topics such as family vacations, parents’ day, and picnics to write about. I peered at my own paper, clean and mint. There were only the repeating lines of blue in a consistent and uniformed manner. It was too perfect.

Seven years elapsed. Not a day went where both my parents picked me up from school, took me on vacations, or simply gathered around the dinner table and shared stories. It had been so long, so long that I’ve forgotten the feeling of being complete, as a whole, as a family. Whenever I walked into a restaurant and saw families sharing jokes, I would feel my face stiffen as I released a soft breath of sorrow and bitterness. I still remember the day when the papers were signed, the alleged legal documents, full of formal jargons of the law. The constitution, which supposedly protects justice, peace, and happiness of humanity, was endorsing a cruel act of suffering. That day, I dropped “everlasting love” from my lexicon.

With the constant unconditional support that came from my friends and church mates, I gradually got better tear-by-tear. I went from one day without crying to one week without crying, from crawling to walking. They were baby steps, but it was on the right course of recovery. I started learning how to forgive. Life was not merely black and white. The grey zone did exist. There are things between my parents that I may never know, but it was their decision and I should respect it, not interfere.

Their divorce has taken me on a lengthy and unforgettable journey, allowing me to discover happiness on a different but higher level. I gained the capability of giving love and not taking in harm from others. The pitch-black darkness of the night no longer haunts me. In fact I want it to get darker and darker, because at some point, it won’t be able to get any darker. And when it can’t get any darker, light will emerge.

It seems the greatest lessons in life are not taught in schools or universities, but rather through the toughest moments life takes you. As the Chinese proverb states, “how will you know something is sweet, when you have not tasted bitter.” The challenge of getting through any obstacle in life is not the problem itself, but the ability to stay positive and to make the right choices. It is these trials that keep me strong.

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