One year ago my world was turned upside down.
It was a normal day at Starbucks. Drive thru was steady and we were all having a good time working together. Then I got a text from my dad.
This was not out of the ordinary, but his words made my heart worried. He said, “I am coming to see you when you are done work.” That’s weird. His visits are usually unannounced and during the day. Why was this visit planned? Something must be wrong. I had paid my school loan this month. I hadn’t spent more money on his credit card. So what had I done to need a scheduled visit after work? My mind wandered the rest of the day, anxiously awaiting 3:30pm.
I finally finished what felt like the longest shift ever. I was honestly expecting him to tell me that someone had died. In hindsight, that might have been easier to deal with. But instead, he told me that after 27 years of marriage, my parents were separating and my dad had moved out.
Shock. Anger. Confusion.
Aaron and I were still newlyweds. My parents seemed like they had a great relationship. It was a happiness I had striven to have in my own marriage. I was left spiraling.
I still to this day do not know how I held the tears in while I was talking to my dad. I was trying to be brave while trying to comprehend what my new normal was going to look like. What about holidays? What about the house I had grown up in? What about my brother who still lived at home?
My head was spinning. I had so many questions. I was heartbroken.
We talked for over an hour before he got in his truck and drove away. The second I closed my car door the tears started to flow uncontrollably. I could barely see my phone screen to call my sister. Sarah was in as much shock as I was. My sweet niece Ivy Joy just sat quietly telling me she loved me as she watched me cry over FaceTime. Aaron was speechless. My best friends didn’t know what to say. No one saw this coming.
It was a shock that changed our entire inner circle, not just our immediate family. They had been Jeff+Karen for almost 30 years. Now they had to figure out how to be Jeff and Karen, separately instead of together.
Now I had to figure out how to be strong for my family, all while my own marriage was struggling behind closed doors. But I didn’t know how to be strong at a time like this. All of a sudden I had a new role that I didn’t feel capable of accomplishing. I felt suffocated in all areas of my life.
So I ran.
I shut it all out because I did not know how to cope. My brother took on all of my moms hurt. I stopped showing up for dinners and plans with my family. Instead of facing people that I knew I would have questions, I hid. I did not take time off over the holidays because I didn’t want to face anyone. I did not want to accept the way our family had just changed. Right when my family needed me the most, I bailed.
Let’s fast forward to today. We are now one year through the storm of that day. What a year it has been.
Everyone seems to be moving on with their lives.
My childhood home is sold and a new family has moved in. My mom and brother are renting a cute house in town. My dad is set to move to the country at the end of the month.
Our new normal is bi-weekly dinners with dad and daily talks on the phone. He updates me about life, work and his feelings. I updated him about mine. I never thought my dad and I would have the relationship we do now and I’m so glad we do.
Everyone seems happier, despite the drama of this past year. I guess that’s what matters the most. The first year is the hardest. It has to get easier from here. I’ll update as we go.