My Parents Split Up When I Was An Adult. It Didn't Hurt Any Less

It doesn't matter how old you are -- it's never easy.
"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 divorce@huffingtonpost.com.
At 21, Kristen D. received the kind of news from her parents that no one wants to hear: After decades of marriage, the couple was splitting up.
"Yes, I was by all accounts a grown adult but had I been younger, I don't believe I would have been put in the middle as much either," Kristen told The Huffington Post recently. "I tried to keep everyone afloat -- to get them to feel a new sense of happiness."
Below, Kristen shares how she found out about the split almost nine years ago, how it's affected her view on her childhood and how the family is faring today.

Breaking The News:

"They actually didn't break the news to me -- my younger sister did. I had just landed from a flight to Las Vegas. I was checking into the hotel when my sister called and told me that something was going on. I spent the next few hours trying to piece it together. Once I got in touch with my dad, he told me that he didn't want to ruin my trip and that my sister shouldn't have told me. I probably made 10 phone calls to my family members during those hours. Everyone, except for my parents, told me that this was just a fight and they would be back together and fine. No one could believe it."

Kristen and her parents.
Kristen and her parents.

The First Few Years:

"The first few years were bad. Irrationally, I felt like my entire childhood was a bit of a lie. My family was the quintessential all-American family: family dinners every night, parents who were very involved in our lives. I have one sister, who was 16 at the time. Shortly after, I moved back in with my mother and sister in my childhood home which was peppered with too many memories for my mom to bear. We moved to a new house. My father moved about a mile away from us but it seemed like a different world. I was trying to start my own life. Eventually, it became clear to me that they were not getting back together. I had just graduated college and begun a challenging career in advertising but I was consumed with helping everyone else.

The feeling of going home never felt the same again. Something was always missing. Holidays, birthdays, big events, everything became separate. We had to do everything twice. We've made strides in attending major events together as a family, though. Most recently, my sister was awarded her master's degree and we attended the graduation as a family. It was so refreshing."

The Impact:

"Their split has affected me in countless ways. I truly know what I want out of a spouse and how I want to raise my future children. I know that communication is key in any relationship, whether it's a friendship or a romantic one. I pride myself on always trying to communicate to a mutually satisfying end result."

Her Relationship With Her Parents Today:

"Now, after nearly nine years, I have a great relationship with both of my parents, who after all of this time, are still only separated. I do believe that we aren't nearly as close as we would be if they were still together but we are our new normal."

The Takeaway:

"My best advice to adult children of divorce is to distance yourself from your parents' problems. Don't become the telephone between the two. It is so easy to be the person they vent to or the one they call to pass a message, but stand strong and don't fall victim to it. You end up flip-flopping on whose 'side' you're on and it never ends well. Just try to maintain positive relationships with both of them, even when you don't agree with their choices."

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