DO tell your parents.
Certainly, tell your parents, if you’re able. Now, each of us has a different relationship with our parents. Maybe you’re emotionally close to them, but they live far away. Maybe you’re physically close to them, but don’t talk with them much. Maybe you’re neither. Or you’re both. And maybe they’re happily married. Or they’re unhappily divorced. By the grace of God, my parents are both physically and emotionally close, and still happily married.I did not immediately tell my parents. I told my friends first. Why? Especially when I just told you to tell your parents? Well, I didn’t say tell them first lol! I didn’t tell them first because I was embarrassed and afraid. I was embarrassed that a man, marriage, and expensive wedding I had chosen had failed so devastatingly. I was worried that somehow meant I had poor self-awareness, insight, or judgment. Even more than that though, I was afraid that if I told them, it was because it was all really happening - he was really gone and my marriage was really over.
Yet with all the sorrow and panic, I was feeling after he walked out the door, there was no way I couldn’t tell them. With the frequency of my phone calls to my mom and visits with my dad, they would definitely sense that something was desperately off with me. So I told them. The conversations went a little something like this.
I called my mom about an hour after he left. I was pacing the kitchen, quietly crying, trying not to alarm my daughter. The phone rang only twice, and my mom cheerfully answered:
“Are you guys relaxing like us?” Since we’d just gotten home from my brother’s baseball game.
“Mom... he left.”
And then I sobbed. And gasped. And sobbed some more.
“Ok, ok. What’s [your daughter] doing?”
“She’s *gasp* watching *gasp* TV.” I was struggling to breathe at this point, having a full-fledged meltdown.
“Ok. I’m coming over.” I could feel her urgency. She was probably putting on shoes and grabbing her purse as she spoke.
And I sobbed some more.
“Ok. Take a deep breath. I’m coming.”
And she was at my front door in a matter of minutes, hugging me tightly, letting my tears soak her blouse. Without any judgment or assumptions. Just love. And likely a little confusion and anger simmering below the surface.
Then my mom told my dad. I never had to actually utter the words “he left” to my dad, thankfully. That would have been too much because of the disappointment I thought I’d have found there (but probably would not have). But several days later, when I think my constant crying was beginning to worry my mom, she told me to go see my dad. And I did. My dad opened the door, and I walked through, not even attempting to hold it together.
“Hi, little sweetheart!”
“Hi, daddy.” And I started crying immediately. He just hugged me. Wrapped both his arms around me, and held me close, until all of the tears were gone.
“Come in. Sit down.”
“Do you want some iced tea?”
“Sure.” I was not thirsty. But I knew that he knew what had happened. And i knew that he was inwardly worried. So I needed to drink some of this iced tea so he didn’t feel completely helpless.
“Go ahead and stretch out on the couch, as they do in all those movies when someone goes to see a shrink.” I chuckled, for the first time in days. “I just won't charge you.” Laughing was good. “Tell me what’s going on. I will just listen.”
I recounted how that day went and ended with “then, he left. I don’t understand why. And he says he’s not coming back.”
He paused for a moment, and I just sat there eagerly awaiting his wisdom, hoping he’d put me out of my misery and just tell me what to do. “Mhmm. So what do you want?”
I thought about it for about 20 seconds and blurted the answer that seemed obvious. I should have thought about it longer. Or trusted my gut enough to listen to it without thinking much. But I blurted (falsely) confidently, “I want for him to come back.”
“Ok. You know I’ve been divorced before. It's definitely hard. And you can’t force someone to be with you. If you really want him back, then you’ll have to talk to him and God about it. But also, just take some time to think about what you really want. And know that your mother and I are here for you and [your daughter] always.”
“I know. Thank you, daddy.”
I remember staying there a while longer, some of it in silence and some of it just crying, and some of it being distracted by my dad’s funny stories. But it helped tremendously because I knew I didn’t have to carry this burden by myself; they were there with me.
I highly recommend telling your parents. No one can take the pain away, but your parents may be able to take away some of the aftermath or effects of that separation and pain. And if nothing else, they (should) love you more than anyone else. For that reason, they’ll be the most hurt by this, but also the most willing to ease your pain.
Ever since that day, both of my parents have checked in on my daughter and I regularly. They answer each and every phone call or text. They divert people who want to pry me with questions about my divorce. They’re armed and ready to confront him if they even think he’s about to make our lives any more difficult. They keep us company when we’re lonely. They entertain my daughter when she seems sensitive to any changes. They buy us groceries and kill spiders. They put gas in our car and treat us to lunch. They ride the emotional rollercoaster with us, responding only with love and encouragement.
They are our backbone.
Does your relationship with your parents allow you to tell them? What was their reaction? What has your experience been?