Chapter 26. Learning to Pull Myself Up: Finding Courage Within

I was 12 years old when my parents separated, and 17 when they eventually divorced. Whether the strain in their relationship stemmed from too many days spent traveling in opposite directions or too many nights existing in silent isolation, I'll never know. And to be honest, it doesn't matter to me anymore.

While divorce is never easy or desirable, there are times, I suppose, when it seems preferable to yelling and fighting and general ugliness. Luckily for my sister Rachel and me, our home was quiet and respectful, with none of the aforementioned noisy pain. Yet there was a certain deadness—a nondescript lack of love that produces raw uneasiness. An unsettling tension in the air that, while not loud or injurious, was unhealthy nonetheless.

And that's what our home was like during the years leading up to my parents' separation. I could sense that things were somehow "off." I could see it in my mother's eyes and could feel it when my hands touched the couch, warm and rumpled in the morning. And I understood that I was to step carefully, avoiding land mines and eggshells constantly. It was a tiring time that, to be completely honest, I was glad to see come to an end.

But having Dad out of the house meant new struggles for me; new longings for the little girl who only wanted her father's unconditional love, attention, and time. I was so desperate to please him, to have my victories lock his eyes and grab his chin, forcing him ...

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