How to Heal Your Heart When Your Parents Divorce

How to heal your heart when your parents divorce

This is something I asked myself constantly after learning about my parents’ divorce.  I was in shock and soon after, my heart was broken.  It was a vicious cycle of denial, anger, confusion, and false hope.  My insides felt chaotic.

After replaying every detail in search of a solution, I was close to giving up.  Which is what I was supposed to do and what I should have done from the beginning.  Or so they say.  Remember, my determination to make sense of everything around me was in my head.  I was fighting reality with my thoughts as if I could will the situation away by squeezing my brain hard enough.

There was a point when my heart began to grasp that the divorce was actually happening.  I tried to hold onto denial.  I was in the center of some balloon that had inflated around me and I didn’t have a pin to make it POP.  I desired, stronger than any craving or sexual urge I ever felt, to reach forward with a sharp shard of glass and break the skin of this situation into a million little pieces, step over them and walk away.  Leave the little wrinkled pieces of latex behind on a sidewalk for good so that a gust of wind might sweep them up and away, far away.

Letting go was very hard.  Accepting the reality of my family was exhausting.  Eventually, sadness prevailed.  I realized that it was no longer about the divorce; it was about me.  I lost control over myself.  I lost the ability to keep happy, control my mood.  I let myself sink into the couch and into a cushion of grief.  I didn’t want to move.

I had to heal myself first.

I remember the day I decided to take a proactive step towards healing my broken heart.  I imaged a heart broken into two.  Day by day I would work towards completing one stitch until both halves were mended back together.  It required time and effort. 

I decided to write things that would make me happy on a piece of paper and follow through.  I was ready to help myself, or at least try.  It was time. 

I wrote three things on that piece of paper:

Go for a run
Straighten my hair

Really?  Those were the three things that came to mind in an effort to induce a moment of happiness in my heart, a few minutes without pain.   It is easy to forget how terrible I really felt at the time but when I think about the three things I wrote down, I am able to relive the weight of that month.  I must have been miserable.  I think I was.

Baby steps.

I have that piece of paper.  There is no date but I will remember the day always.  I wrote those three tasks down without thinking too much, they felt random.  I wasn't ready for a careless night at some Brooklyn microbrewery and I couldn’t handle walking to SoHo to spoil myself with something pretty. 

In retrospect, my listed tasks point out what a hermit I became.  I stayed inside, had no energy to move and no desire to take care of myself.  I was tired and unmotivated.  I felt down and needed to get out, feel the sun on my face.  Still, it was a struggle to do so.

Sunday morning I put on running shorts.  Although I wore my sneakers around the house for several hours before making it out, eventually I picked up my ipod and made it out the door.  I had been listening to a lot of “you must be depressed” music, mostly Enya, songs I never listened to before.  They seemed to speak to my pain.  Embarrassing, I know.  I also listened to the Black Eyed Peas ask, “Where is the Love?” and it moved me.  But hey, I was vulnerable.  Then again, songs are as sad as the listener.  Not today.  It was time to move on, actually move back, to my running play-list, which was equally shameful, full of techno-trance and Kanye’s “Workout Plan.”  I had to get pumped.

I walked for a long time before my legs set off into that first sprint.  For the first time I felt the truth in all that yoga talk about the connection of mind and body.  My head wanted to run but my legs said no.  Damn legs.  Still, Yoga is not for me.

A few sprints had turned into a jog and just like that, I was running.  It was hard and it didn’t feel great but I kept at it, waiting for that twinge of happiness.  Nothing.  Then something.  It was something out of body and unplanned.  I don’t know what came over me.  I was alone, no one was watching and without any reason at all, I started to skip.  At first it was a slow movement; it felt unnatural.  I was shy.  How many years had passed since I last felt the sensation of skipping?  My legs moved autonomously and it felt good.  I felt light.  I burst into full out skipping, higher and higher, my hands swinging at each side to keep balanced.  How spontaneous!  I was skipping like a little girl.  Eventually, I was out of breath and so I stopped.  I laughed.  I laughed out loud, by myself, without anyone with me.  Without trying super hard to keep happy because deep down I was too sad to smile, I laughed inside and out.  I made myself laugh and it was genuine.

After my shower, I straightened my hair.  I certainly didn’t feel healed, but I felt good.  At least for that moment, I took a vacation from my grief.  

I had completed one stitch to connect the broken pieces of my heart.



  1. Great pos! You are right, focus on healing yourself. And I love your approach - one stitch at a time. Keep going. Your blog is great.

  2. I really connected with your post. I am in the midst of all of these feelings and I felt so alone before reading your words...

  3. I am the mother of ACOD - I only hope my daughter is dealing with her loss as well as you. At least you can identify it - I believe my ACOD keeps it in

  4. Honestly, I spent countless hours wishing I could "keep it in." I know that is not what a Mother wants to hear, but the divorce of my parents consumed me and I couldn't kick my devastation to the curb. Finally, after a year of hell and a realization that proactive healing was my best option, I started this blog. I felt that those around me were tired of listening to my grief and so I found that writing, screaming into internet space, is my chance to stitch my broken heart back together. The thing is, we all cope differently. Your daughter may not cope in the same way. Perhaps she can detach herself from the pain of losing the unity of her family. Maybe she found a way to cope that is her own, not a standard by the books. I can't be sure. Although, I am sure she has a Mother, you, who loves and cares for her, who is ready to help and support her daughter in any way she can. You are doing more than you know, like a shoulder waiting on standby, for that moment when your daughter comes to you and says, "I want your help." Until then, I have a feeling that your shoulder is the greatest comfort any ACOD could ask for. Keep stitching! xx