About this time last year, South East Queensland was lashed by devastating floods. Small towns, farms and valleys experienced terrible flooding. In my professional role, I was required to spend time in some of these small towns and faming communities as part of the governmental disaster relief program. I witnessed the absolute gouging of the water through the valleys. Whole paddocks washed away. Concrete bridges smashed and thrown down the river like they were driftwood. Scars 9’ high etched through the middle of the valleys. I spoke to some of the farmers who had been through this, and other floods. They spoke of the roar of the river. The recklessness of water. The tyranny of the flood. They experienced it – I just saw the aftermath of it. The effects. The devastation. Watching these farmers gauge how they would rebuild, if they could. Wondering what they would do with a gravel riverbed where acres of paddock used to be. Counting the cost.
At the moment, I find myself in a storm. Not a physical storm, but a destructive storm nevertheless. The storm? Divorce. Before you ask – no, I am not getting divorced, nor separated. I do, however, feel like I have front row tickets, watching the storm that is divorce in an acquaintance of mine. Like any storm, you see the warnings, the signs. You get ready to brace. You prepare yourself for it, hoping somehow it will pass. Hoping the violence of divorce will somehow fizzle out and end up being a storm in a teacup. You put up protective walls around your already bruised heard. And you brace. Then it comes.
The storm rages around you, like the storms mentioned above. The rain pours down, it races down the mountain. It collects, gathers speed. It disregards all in its path. It smashes against those with strong foundations and demolishes those on shifting soils. The storm of divorce is a selfish storm. It cares not for those in its path. It cares not for the devastation it leaves behind in its wake. It thunders down the mountain and rips a deep gouge in the valley of the heart. It separates, isolates, causes fear, shakes foundations.
At the moment, I am seeing this storm shake the family in question. That raging torrent is screaming through the valley. It’s drowning the love that might have been there. It’s ripping away root from earth. How much more destabilising can this storm of divorce be?
This violence that is divorce does not just affect the married people in question. The surge washes over children, parents, extended family, friends. That’s why it’s selfish. I’ve noticed in many a divorce, one, sometimes both people are just being so selfish, disregarding all those with an emotional investment in the marriage, in the health of the family.
You know, it’s easy to feel out of control in the midst of the storm of divorce. The farmers I spoke to told of the gripping fear of helplessness in the midst of the storm. Of being powerless against the anger of the river. Of the rising of the tied. But like the storm in the valley, the storm of divorce subsides. Yes, devastation follows, but that devastation does not define the recovery.
The ‘no fault’ divorce has been a part of Australian Family Law since 1979. Children of those early ‘no fault’ divorce parents are now often married themselves. Many of my peers don’t want their parents’ marriage. They definitely don’t want their parents’ divorce! Regardless of your family history, it’s not your future. You don’t have to be your parents’ marriage. You certainly do not have to be your parents’ divorce! You have the opportunity to create your own family, for you, your spouse and your children.
So if you are suffering under the effects of someone’s divorce, take heart. The storm subsides and the water recedes. From there, you can re-build. You can decide what foundations you want for your life. For your marriage. For your children. You can decide not to inflict the violence of divorce onto those you love – those that need your protection the most.