Monday, January 30, 2006

Lauren Winner on Between Two Worlds

Indeed, sometimes I feel so defensive about my childhood that I find myself refusing to admit that my parents' divorce had any impact on me whatsoever.

I hesitate to speak about how the divorce affected me for a variety of reasons. First, it seems like Oprah-esque, therapeutic whining; I am well aware that I grew up with many advantages, and it seems ridiculous and ungrateful to natter on about my "broken home" when lots of folks had it a good deal worse. Second, I have never wanted to talk to either of my parents about my occasional, fleeting insights into the ways their divorce shaped me; I prefer to maintain the polite fiction that all was always well, that everyone did the best he or she could, that there is no place in our family story for blame or regret, let alone repentance. Finally, I bristle when someone tries to explain everything in my life—starting with my religious peregrinations—as a reaction to the divorce. I am so determined not to have my autobiography reduced to postdivorce acting-out that I often find myself at another absurd extreme, an extreme in which parents' choices have no impact on their kids whatsoever, an extreme in which I am exactly the person I would have been had I been born to June and Ward Cleaver.

I know my defenses are ridiculous and false, not to mention prideful. When I can clear my head, when it is just God and me or my journal and me, I can admit the obvious: that yes, of course, even in the most amicable divorce, even when parents don't turn their kids into chess pieces, even when divorce does not spell economic disaster for the custodial mom, even then divorce indelibly marks children.

read the whole review here...

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