Divorce can give opportunity for reflection, self growth

Emily Pavlik, co-sports editor

Four tiny lights burned brightly atop a vanilla cake in front of me. Only the flame of my candles and two cell phones were visible in the darkened room. 

On my left, my mom captured the moment through her iPhone, while my dad stood to my right soaking in the moment. As I blew out the candles, I wished for a gift that could not be tied with a bow. 

I wished for my parents to have a happily ever after together. 

I wanted my fairytale to begin.  

Although the uncoupling of two people you love can be scary, I believe divorce is portrayed with an unfair reputation. 

Fairytales were stories that convinced me there was only one happy ending in life, with no alternatives. The Parent Trap, a story of long lost pre-teen sisters that hatch a successful plan to bring their divorced parents back together was my idea of a happy ending. Although now I see this story as an idealized version of childhood dreams, my 4-year-old brain believed every word of it. 

I wanted my family to be brought back together, and if Lindsey Lohan could do it, so could I. 

Disney often has the bad habit of portraying a glamorized version of family relationships and villainizing characters that marry into a family. These films don’t give justice to what I believe a realistic divorce looks like.

After starting public school, I discovered there were others just like me. No story or family is exactly the same, but it gave me hope that I was not alone. This reality assured me that my parent’s separation was not uncommon. 

I was able to create unique relationships that improved my perception of what a family should look like. At the age of nine, I gained a younger step-brother. I was thrilled to be a big sister, which encouraged me to grow into a role model.

Divorce gave me a chance to count on more people. I gained an older step-sister at the age of 13. As I entered the awkward teenage years, I had a lot of questions, and it was comforting to turn to her when I didn’t feel like approaching my parents.

Although divorce can result in positive additions to life, I still went through hardships. One main struggle I faced was the adjustment of continuous movement. I wished I could have been with both of my parents at the same time, but that was not my reality. 

Tears were shed over the amounts of stress built into the bags I have to pack for each house and the fear of missing out while with the other parent. Sometimes I would wither in the corner of my room and break down. I wished I was not alone. 

However, what I did not recognize was that I am not alone. 

I am lucky enough to have not just two parents looking out for me, but four. Even at my most vulnerable moments, no matter who I’m with, the comfort of my family has always been there for me. 

After accepting the terms of my story, I was able to enhance my strength and tear away my insecurities. 

As I got older, my confidence grew. I could not change the divorce itself, but I could change my attitude towards it. 

Over the past 16 years, I have gained confidence in who I have become as a person, and I have grown to be more supportive of my family as a whole. 

Although Hollywood might not believe my life is the next blockbuster film, it does not stop me from pursuing a life of happiness. I do not villainize others for joining my family after the divorce, or stomp on their toes to get them to leave. 

I encourage you to form bonds with the unique connections of step-parents and step-siblings; in the end, they only give you more people to count on throughout your life, and who knows, they may surprise you.