Quiet Tragedy: Through a Child’s Eyes

randomlychad  —  October 23, 2013 — 7 Comments

'Fagor Pressure Cooker Lid' photo (c) 2010, Julie Magro - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Not all family tragedies erupt with sudden explosions of violence. Some tragedies are far quieter, silently simmering for years like a pressure cooker. The children never hear a cross word exchanged between their parents, but even if they lack the ability to articulate just what it is, they know. Children are notoriously perceptive creatures, and even if they lack the words, they feel the tension.

And then one day something is different. The pressure, the tension, has unexpectedly been relieved. The valve has been turned, the lid is off the cooker, and the steam evaporated into the air.

'@ Steam' photo (c) 2009, Pete Birkinshaw - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Likewise has their family dissipated into the ether like steam. It has ended not with a bang, but a hissing whisper. Quietly swept away like gossamer on the wind…

Not all tragedies are loud things. Instead of an explosion of emotion, there is an implosion of the soul. “Why did this happen,” the child asks (perhaps not in so many words)? “Am I to blame?” There are no words, no navigator, to traverse this inner landscape. One parent is gone, and the other working desperately to hold on, provide a semblance of stability.

'Atomic Bomb Test' photo (c) 2012, SDASM Archives - license: http://www.flickr.com/commons/usage/

Too late.

The bomb has quietly gone off. Where before the child was whole, he is now a fractured soul. Unsteady, unstuck, unanchored, he is a ship in the long, dark night headed, like Titanic, for a berg. Collision is inevitable when one has no concrete sense of place, no place that feels like home. Untethered, the child wanders rootless, without purpose.

'Tom Riddle's Diary' photo (c) 2012, Sarah_Ackerman - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Life becomes something merely to be survived. Like Voldemort split amongst his horcruxes, it is a fragmented existence–a half life. Like Harry, the child will spend the better part of his life trying to find the pieces; unlike, he is not trying to destroy them, but piece them back together into a meaningful whole. Yet so often this is akin to placing square pegs into round holes: things may indeed be forced into place, but they are not a good fit.

And they slip, or cannot be dislodged–except by force.

This child? He is a child of divorce.

I am the child, and this is my story.

What is yours?




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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers.Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

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  • Ouch is the gentlest term I could use on this one. Good post -- but then again, I’m not very objective on this one 🙁

    • Thanks, Rick! I’m not so sure that it’s something anyone could be objective about. Looking to guest post? Want to share your story? I’m open.

      • I’m willing to share the tale at some point and would love to guest post, Chad -- but let me get out from under being under first. 🙂

        Feel free to pop over to my bistro on the web at anytime, and the invitation to guest post is open for you there as well -- you choice of topic -- just say when you’d like 🙂

  • I, too, am that child, though some of the details are different.

    I saw my parents’ divorce coming since I was 8. They made sure they didn’t argue in front of me; in fact, Mom was afraid of challenging Pop in the first place. We survived through his emotional abuse, caused by his own emotional abuse by his own family (though his parents did not divorce).

    It was when Pop got physical and pushed Mom into a wall, albeit probably out of frustration, that the divorce happened. I didn’t know that little detail, though, until years later, after Pop died. I wound up staying with him, though I hated him for years. (I know Chad remembers, but I did a guest post on forgiving Pop earlier this year.)

    In my case, his emotional abuse combined with that of the rural area in which I was “born & raised” had produced its damage, damage that I still experience, stumble over, and use to hurt others unintentionally at 51 years of age. When that happens, I hate my life and upbringing. I hate the hurt and torment that remains with me. God has healed me of many, many things, but a pastor proved just how fragile I still am in that area.

    Care for another guest post from me? This is just the start.

    • Wow, Joe! I’m sorry you went through that, but isn’t it good to know that we’re not alone? That these experiences aren’t unique. The lie enemy peddles is that there’s no coming back--that we’re damaged goods.

      It’s not true.

      Yes, absolutely! Look forward to it.

  • Sonja

    So is there any advice to people thinking of divorce to help prevent this? Is staying unhappy and tense any better than seperate and calm?

    • Off the top of my head, I’d say counseling. But that takes two willing partners. In the absence of infidelity, or abuse, the best recourse is to follow the scriptural guidelines. Granted, this is not a quick fix. But when you take two sinful people, with wicked flesh, out of an evil society, and call it heaven on earth? There’s bound to be mess.

      And it starts with confronting the ugliness in ourselves. With admitting that we, too, are the problem.

      I’m by no means an expert. Might I suggest contacting the commenter Genevieve above? She’s a relationship consultant.