I was just 12 years old when my mom told me the words that no parent ever wants to say to their children:
"We're getting a divorce."
Going through my parents' divorce was one of the most impactful experiences of my life. 23 years later I still learn how to cope and manage one of the most extreme changes my family has gone through. The journey has had its ups and downs, confusing and awkward moments, bouts of sadness, anger, and anxiety. And still, at times, I admit that I have to work extra hard at being an accepting, forgiving, and positive person.
Overall, I'm so grateful that I've learned how to cope, manage, and accept this change that impacted my family so long ago. Even though it was a painful, life-changing experience, I came out a stronger, more resilient, and wiser human being for it.
Here are seven life lessons I learned from my parent's divorce that has helped me immensely through life and has helped create the woman I am today:
1. Change is the only constant
I learned early in life that change was inevitable. Whether we plan for it or not, life is always going to be in a constant state of change. And instead of hiding from it, it should be embraced. Getting comfortable with change and the fact that it's inevitable, helps prepare oneself for life's unexpected curve balls, excitement, and tragedy that's impossible to dodge over a lifetime.
2. No one is perfect
We're human, and with all the beautiful aspects that come with being human, there are also certain characteristics we must accept: We all breakdown. We all have moments of weakness. And we all have areas to grow and improve on. Remembering this as we deal with difficult situations, whether within our family or any other relationship, is they key to understanding and working together to move forward.
3. Acceptance is the key to happiness
Life doesn't always go according to plan and some things, unfortunately, are left out of our control. Instead of fighting it, accept it, knowing it's all part of the Universe's plan for you and no matter what, you will grow from it. I promise you this.
4. Don't sweat the small stuff
When you go through something traumatic, it teaches you not to fuss over the little things. It's not always easy when you're faced with an issue (big or small), but when you are aware that the situation will pass and won't affect you in an hour, a day, or even a year, you can learn not to sweat it too much!
5. You are stronger than you think
Even when the world seems to be crashing down, know that you have the strength to get through it and to stand back up again. Humans are so resilient, and when we tap into our inner strength, we can get over any hurdle if we stay positive and put our mind to it. During painful moments, just remind yourself of how strong you are. You will get through it!
6. As your world changes your mind expands
Going through a family divorce is an automatic ticket to having an open-mind, in my opinion. From early on I had to live in two separate homes, adapt to a step-family, and learn to accept new relationships and places into my life. Going through this has expanded and stretched my mind for the better. Ironically, I am in a loving relationship with a divorced man with kids. I guess I started getting prepared (and having an open mind about this) long ago. :)
7. What happens to you prepares you for what's to come
This might sound crazy, but I am grateful I went through this tough time with my family. Yes -- grateful! I know that this experience created the strong, resilient, and well-rounded woman I've become today. The pain I've experienced has been the motivation for me to help others achieve happiness. As Tony Robbins said: "Your problem is your GIFT."
This problem is my gift.
It's defined the person I am today and has been the driving force behind why I do what I do. It's given me the passion and fuel to help others' create happiness in their lives.
What have the painful experiences of your life taught you? How has this experience made you the person you have become? Share below!
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"When My Parents Split Up" is a HuffPost series that explores what it's like to have your parents divorce at all ages, from infancy to adulthood. Want to share your experience as a child of divorce? Email us at email@example.com.
Alison Chrun was 8 years old when her parents split up. Years later, Churn is a wife and mom of two who's studying to become a marriage and family therapist. Her hope is to make the experience of divorce a little easier on kids and parents.
"I want to help children and parents have a different experience," Churn told HuffPost recently. "Parents who divorce often make the grave mistake of assuming their children don't know what's going on. When I was growing up, I knew that divorce was imminent."
Below, Chrun, who writes about motherhood and relationships on her blog Appetite for Honesty, shares more of her experience as a child of divorce.
Breaking The News:
"I had just come home from school when my Mom said she wanted to tell me something. I remember her picking me up and perching me onto the countertop in our kitchen. I could feel something was coming since her approach was so out of the ordinary. She had a faulty smile on her face but I didn't buy it. My heart was racing. She looked at me and said, 'Mommy has something to tell you. Your Daddy and I aren't going to live together anymore.' I knew what was to follow. The fighting and constant separations of Dad coming and going with his overnight bag was all so confusing before but it made sense in that moment. It was over. I vividly remember pulling my Mom's necklace off her neck and screaming at the top of my lungs. My Dad walked in, sobbing uncontrollably.That was the first time I'd ever seen him cry. The rest is a blur. It felt like a nightmare."
The Custody Arrangement:
"My parents had joint custody but that didn't make life any easier. My mom moved on quickly and we, as her children, followed. All I wanted was to have my family back together and I missed my father being in our house. After a few years, we moved in with our dad and lived with him for the remainder of our childhood."
The First Few Years:
"I was always a sensitive child, but became more so after the divorce. I watched after my little sister constantly. I was not just a big sister, I was her protector. I filtered the information to her regarding my parents so that her 6-year-old mind could process it, but she felt broken too."
"The divorce made me who I am today. It forced me to grow up much faster than other children. And although on the outside it may look like I'm one of the lucky ones who came out of it unscathed and turned a negative into a positive, I've had to work my whole life not to give up. The divorce activated my instincts at such a young age, I've only gotten better at using them and that's the reason I'm becoming a marriage and family therapist. I really want to make a difference where I can."
Her Relationship With Her Parents Today:
"I want divorced parents to know that it's OK to be honest with your children. They're always watching and learning. And while many couples aren't meant to stay together, you can separate in a healthy and successful way that will be less painful to your children. Communicate with your children and ask how they're feeling about the process. Listen to them and really do what's best for them. When you have children, divorce shouldn't be about the couple but about how to make it the easiest transition possible for the kids. And take them to therapy!"
More From HuffPost:
"My Dad is my rock. He's always been a stable and consistent force in my life. He's my best friend and I thank him every chance I get for loving and supporting me the way he has for the past 33 years. My mother and I aren't as close but regardless, I love her and I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for her too. I have learned so much from her. She has given me the very best parts of her."
Celebrities Talk About Their Parents Divorce