I’ve watched many a divorce and been brought into a few to testify on a few. They were painful to watch and painful to be a part of. At the time, each parent believed they were right and were willing to fight until they got exactly what they wanted, which was everything their way. In both divorces, even though both parties were willing to do whatever it took to get their way, it was the fathers that kept their child’s best interest at heart. I knew I was being used to fulfill their ultimate goal in the end. But both father’s didn’t want their daughters to just be collateral damage. They didn’t want their daughters to be part of a war between them and their wives. Both men did what they had to do, what they thought was right, to ensure their daughters would be raised in the best environment they could be. I’m not thrilled at all at the venom that was spewed upon me by the wives for being asked to speak the truth at their divorce. But, I don’t regret it, because I had the best interest of the child in my mind and heart throughout the entire process and did not let the emotions of the two fighting cloud my judgment. The women didn’t care that in the midst of this divorce, they were hurting their own daughters by instilling hate. I watched these women and wondered, do they know that their own child will be collateral damage for them being right? For them to win?
One of THE best life lessons I learned while getting my degree in Early Childhood Development was this: Never put adult topics, adult emotions, or adult situations on a child.
My parents divorced. They never said one bad word against the other. I knew they were under stress over money and the house, but I never knew the details, because they kept their adult situation between the two of them.
The divorce between the people that I knew was difficult because they wanted me to choose a side. The husband or the wife. I chose the child. I made my choice based on the child.
What choices are you faced with? Based on the choice will there be collateral damage? Do you see all sides and can you be objective? Is your choice based on the greatest degree of love for everyone involved? Is it rooted in hate and revenge? Does the choice have to do with your own personal experiences and losses or is it purely objective?
I think a lot about those that are caught in the crossfire. I think about those innocent that are just collateral damage. No one notices them. No one validates them. No one sees that they were unnecessarily harmed due to the circumstances surrounding them.
I think of the man who abused me as a child. Those who had to choose a side. Those who felt they needed to choose a side. Me. Or the man who abused me. 99% chose the abuser. They didn’t think about how their choice would feel to the unchosen. But they were caught in the crossfire. They should have chosen the child. Always choose the child. But children grow up. I am 44 years old. I still don’t want people to choose the person that hurt me. It is painful to know that someone that I love can be friends with another person who caused me extreme pain. How can they be friends with someone who hurt me? It is hard to feel like I don’t matter. I don’t matter enough for that person to say, ” you know what, you hurt Bethany, and so I just cannot associate with you.” When in reality, they are just caught in the crossfire, don’t know what choice to make, and so they choose the path of least resistance.
Divorces, abuse, LIFE, is very complicated, and choices and sides and pride just muddy up the waters even more. It is difficult to put down the blame card. I have to do that. I have to not be angry at Jen (fake name) because she is friends with father who she KNOWS has caused me great pain. I can’t be mad at everyone!
I have to leave you with this…My mother, aunt, uncle, cousins, father, brothers, FAMILY, chose to not speak to me anymore. If it were JUST them, and me, it would be cut and dry. But I have a daughter. And she has become collateral damage. Because when my family chose to dump me, she got dumped too. Not intentionally. They thought they could still have a relationship with her. I did not tell her she couldn’t. I did not put these adult issues on her. I never have. But how could she choose? A group of people who she knew were not speaking to me…or me. She didn’t have to choose. But didn’t she? In the end she lost everyone in her family because she was caught in the crossfire. An innocent precious soul. She lost because they had to be right, pride, no one thinking about the child. My daughter isn’t a child anymore. But I know as well as you as well as anyone who has had a trauma or a loss, that our childself still exists. I have no doubt she still feels that pain. How unfair to be caught in the crossfire isn’t it!
Adults are very very often self absorbed, self centered, self rooted, self EVERYTHING. They forget about the children and the other individuals caught in the crossfire of what THEY created. So I ask you this, don’t forget the child. In this world of everybody needs to win, everyone needs to be right, everyone leads with their pride, don’t forget those who will be collateral damage of your war. They are worth being noticed. Their emotions are worth seeing and being considered in the midst of chaos that abuse or divorce or family disputes will cause. I’ve seen too many little girls and little boys being collateral damage. That only stops happening when adults see a world beyond themselves. When they realize their actions have consequences. When they become selfless. Some are not capable of this. But if you are one of the ones who is, look out for that child who everyone forgot in the crossfire. She/he needs someone to notice them.