I am always amazed by people who divorce amicably: where they still talk and hang out and overall don’t hate each other’s guts.
My parent’s divorce was different. One day, when I was in 7th grade, he left a note saying he wasn’t coming back. My mom stood in the back yard so we wouldn’t hear her and she cried. He moved out-of-state. We wouldn’t hear from him for months. And then he would come back, apologize, stay two weeks, and disappear again. When he left, he didn’t just leave my mom. He left all of us. And it hurt every time.
I was probably the only one who knew why. I’d seen him kiss her when he thought nobody was looking. I knew enough people whose parents were divorced. I knew it happened and I was old enough to understand that adult’s lives are messy and full of grey areas. I knew it wasn’t my fault. But my undeveloped mind needed more. I needed to know why he left me too. Other kids got every-other-weekend and holiday. I got a birthday card three weeks late.
I’ve never said until right now, but I dreamt about him all the time; my mind continually tried to make sense of the sudden abandonment and all the feelings of worthlessness that overwhelmed me. For a time, I began to dream that he came back as a woman. He would sit me down and explain that he needed to make who he was on the inside match how he looked on the outside. I would cry and touch his face where his beard once was, but now was missing. It was something I could process, something I could define. He left because of him and not because I wasn’t good enough. I dreamt it so often that I half expected him to walk through the door in a dress and heels.
That dream gave me closure. We were so much alike that every time he walked out, he took a part of who I was with him. I felt so empty for so long. I finally realized that he was different and he wasn’t coming back – and even if he did, he wouldn’t come back the same.