Although divorce isn’t always a bad thing – some families just work better when parents go their separate ways – the fallout from divorce can be overwhelming for all involved, especially the children. And, while time is a great healer, there are some things that an adult child of divorce just can’t forgive or forget.
Musician and Table Manners podcaster Jessie Ware has just reflected on what it’s like to navigate the whirling emotions that come after a bad divorce. Speaking to Elizabeth Day on the How To Fail podcast, she articulated the feeling of failure around not being able to forgive her dad for cheating on her mum when Ware was a child.
“I was thinking about whether one of my failures should be about forgiveness because I didn’t speak to my father for years,” Ware said.
“I felt incredibly loyal to my mother, I felt like I took on the role of being like the dad in the house. We were all incredibly hurt by him and what he had done – he cheated on my mum, lots of people have that story. And there was the deceit.
“The way I thought I could support my mum – even though she didn’t want us not to see him, she never, ever said that – I felt like my loyalties lay with her. Even though she’d be saying ‘you should see your father, he’s your only father, he wants to see you’.
“And it was my way of having a sense of control and power over punishing him: not speaking to him, the silent treatment, having that control. I regret it now because I actually think [of] the impact it had on all of us – because we all became a unit, my brother and my sister, we all stuck together and none of us were going to see him. I think we were just so hurt.”
Although everybody has their own story, with its own complicated mess of emotions and memories, Ware’s words will likely strike a chord with many people whose parents split up while growing up.
She went on to describe what her relationship is like with her father now, noting that it has been much better since she had children of her own. But, according to Ware there was still so many “words that were left unsaid”.
She added: “I can have an acid tongue and I particularly know how to rile him and hurt him – it’s from this place of being an angry, hurt teenager who started to not speak [to my dad] when I was about 13.
“It was very destructive and it impacted my siblings and I in very different ways and I’ll never forgive him for that, but equally, people make mistakes. I’m still so impressed by him and respect him a lot.”
Being a grown-up child of divorce really isn’t an easy path to navigate, but Ware’s words at least offer some reassuring guidance for anyone who still feels lost.
You can listen to the full interview with Jessie Ware on the How To Fail podcast.
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…