Spoiled Children of Divorce

Successful Children – Angelina Jolie
December 31, 2007, 6:49 am
Filed under: Exemplary Children of Divorce | Tags:

Angelina Jolie is the beautiful, firey film actress, philanthropist and human rights advocate. Her parents divorced when she was 2 years old. She is estranged from her famous actor Father whose name I can’t remember. He likes to tell people publicly that Angelina is crazy.  And sometimes I think she’s a little over the top but I never wonder why or about what because that’s pretty obvious to me.  She sure is gorgeous and I like her acting, but I have to admit that I pretty much sided with Jen when Angie broke up Jen & Brad’s marriage.

Angelina’s Mother just passed last year.  I wonder if that’s tougher for kids from Divorce.  Once you’ve lost innocence through grief or loss, whatever it is, each suceeding incidence opens a new wound while opening up the old wounds as well. Plus, you’re completely alone in dealing with the loss all over again. The other parent is generally oblivious to your feelings.  There’s no feeling of family crisis; it’s just always a personal crisis because no one is there to share it with you.

Angelina gives a whole lot of her time and money to charitable causes.  She’s obviously very sensitive to suffering in others and a true activist.

Mommy’s BFs
December 31, 2007, 6:32 am
Filed under: Parents and their Dates, Uncategorized

An old roommate said it best when he blurted out “All Mother’s Boyfriends are Johns!” It was actually part of a conversation where he was talking about his Mother’s boyfriend who was named John and I said Wow! my Mother’s boyfriend was named John too. Hence….you get it.

The dating thing. Wow. I had trouble adjusting to that. I learned how to be mean to men by watching my Mother date.  She learned how to use my new talent when some guy came to the door without calling first.  She’d have me open it.  I’d have said anything to get them to leave.  Unfortunately, I carried this skill into my own relationships later on.

My Father left with my best friend’s Mother whom he eventually married after 3 years of fighting over money with my Mother. I was 14 when he left and had just graduated from High School when he married his new wife.  He was one of the Fathers who declares bankruptcy after he gets a divorce. From my internet searches I’m finding ex-wives who say that’s pretty common, but in my Father’s case all of his business partnerships fell apart that year as well so I think it was a personal thing.  He was going through Hell no doubt but he still managed to hire a really shifty attorney, the guy was literally so skinny that when he turned to the side he sort of vanished, you could only see him again if he turned back toward you.  But, back to the dating thing. Every time I went out with my Father for the weekly dinner I would feel like I was going on his date with his girlfriend. It was extra stressful because she had just broken up my family. And it was extra surreal because they honest to God thought they had done nothing wrong. And if I let on that I was uncomfortable at all I would be yelled at.  And, looking back, I guess I should have been going on dates of my own and not just starting up my relationship with my Father.  But we’ll talk about my pathology later after I’m completely spent on bitching about my parents’ pathologies.

So, my Mother had to get back into the dating thing. If she hadn’t been strapped by kids and money problems and the fact that she was 40 and had no job skills, she would have rejoiced at this much sooner because she was a charmer and a drinker and a partier who loved to dress up and go out. She was actually pretty cruel in letting me in particular know that I was a burden. My brother had just been given a car and was rarely home anymore and after a year he went to College. So he only experienced one year of after Divorce Hell whereas I was trapped for my entire High School years with it.  The sight of me just launched my Mother off into a complaining session.  She would talk non-stop about everything that was wrong.  One day as we were driving on the freeway in the car I pulled the latch on the car door and almost dropped out, just to get away.

My Mother dated every left over and every loser in the town.  And we lived in a tourist town so in the Summer she was pretty busy.  The first boyfriend collected guns and was probably a gambler. That was Bill.  Bill had the bulging eyes, a thyroid condition perhaps? My Mother met him at a bar. He had just broken up with his girlfriend who my Mother said was a Lesbian. This was a new vocabulary my Mother picked up after she started dating. All other single women were henceforth described as Lesbians. She let Bill move in for a while about 3 months after my Father moved out. It was too much for me. I became the family pitbull and refused to interact with Bill.  Something told me that after a lifetime of looking at people with those eyes he was used to it.  Besides I was at a really mean age and growing more emotionally stunted by my homelife by the minute. I should have let Bill live with us because he was needy but he was ugly. And he was drunk. And I had my own problems and I couldn’t even watch TV without a drunk, strange man sitting there with bulging eyes watching the TV with me. The part where he made his living collecting guns only added to his charm.

My parents put the house on the market and Bill moved out either because of me or because he dragged down the value of the house, probably both. My Mother’s friend set her up with a real man, a rich guy. He pulled up in some sort of exotic car that lifted up off the ground when he started it up. He was one of those red faced bulldog type guys. It was the 70s and I remember him dressed up in a white polyester leisure suit.  Maybe only the belt was white.  All I remember is red face, white clothes, white car, my mother laughing her head off as the door opened up from a hinge on the roof, blast off, they’re off and running.  My Mother said this man had no personality except for his midlife crisis and she didn’t go out with him again.

There was one guy who she met who I liked. He was East Indian who carried an attache full of tiny diamonds to be used for computers or something. This guy was calm. He had split from his wife and said he was going back to her.  He was philosophical and said that he figured that Life involves making compromises sometimes. I always liked that, my parents were fighting like cougars and this guy swings in and out of my vantage point with this single word “compromise.” At that point I think I figured I could still break up my Father’s relationship and get my family back so this gave me hope.

Then there was Joe. Joe was definitely a gambler. He showed up after we sold the house and were living in a motel while looking for a condominium to buy. My Mother loved Joe because he was wild and fun. He was from Louisiana and made us Gumbo to gain our trust.  My Mother and Joe were arrested in Mexico for skinny dipping and they would do things to annoy the woman at the desk of the motel. My Mother said she was a Lesbian and clearly having wild sex with the other woman who worked at the desk. My Mother broke up with Joe after his landlady told her he was bad news, a nice guy, but bad news.

My Mother’s dating life got crazy after that.  She bought a Suzanne Pleshette wig with curly hair.  One night she walked out to the bar with her Suzanne Pleshette wig on and that’s the night that she met John.  She never married John but they stayed together for years.  He was Ok.  I probably say that because he was rich and didn’t walk around with his butt crack showing.  And actually there were other John’s mixed in. And a Clark. A Howie.  And a Herb.  And some guys who will remain nameless.  And basically they’re all Johns in my memory.

Jen Abbas’ Blog – Generation Ex
December 30, 2007, 7:58 am
Filed under: Books, Uncategorized, Websites

Here’s a link to the Top 40 Divorce Songs as selected by Jen Abbas, author of Generation Ex. I haven’t looked at that book. There’s a link to her website.


Success Story – Barack Obama

Barack Obama, current Senator of Illinois and Presidential Candidate, is a indeed an exemplary Child of Divorce. He’s pretty much exemplary at everything. The New Statesman chose him as one of “10 people who could change the world.” And Time magazine has chosen him twice (2005 & 2007) for their “World’s Most Influential People” list.

Obama shows the intelligence and sensitivity that can come with growing up in a divorced home. I didn’t want to add him to my list of Exemplaries until after I had read his book, but I found a quote on Wikipedia about his attitude towards his screwy family dynamics at the Holidays which I think is really healthy and timely to include now. He seems to revel in the diversity of his extended family. The quote goes: “Michelle will tell you that when we get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving, it’s like a little mini-United Nations.” What a perfect training ground for a future political leader!

Obama has written a best-selling memoir, Dreams From My Father, in which he reconciles the struggles he felt as a bi-racial child who never really knew his Father. His parents separated when Barack was 2 years old. Barack’s Father was an economist from Kenya who left the family in Hawaii in order to continue his studies and his parents subsequently divorced. Obama’s Mother remarried and gave birth to Obama’s sister. The family lived in Indonesia for a few years and Obama moved backed to Hawaii to live with his Maternal Grand-parents until he graduated from High School. He attended Columbia University and then went on to Harvard Law School.

Both of Obama’s parents died young as well. His Father was killed in a car accident in Kenya in 1982 when Obama was 21. His Mother passed from Ovarian Cancer in 1995 a few months after the book was published.

Obama has been married to his wife, Michelle, since 1992 and they have two children, Malia Ann and Natasha. If he becomes the President maybe he’ll paint the Columns in front of the White House ebony.

Indifferent Parents
December 28, 2007, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Bad Step-Parent Stories, indifferent parents, Uncategorized

Once I read a philosopher, cant’ remember who, maybe Martin Buber?, who said that if he had to choose which kind of God is the worst he wouldn’t choose an Evil God but rather an indifferent God as the worst type. An Evil God will give a person something to work against, at least.  An indifferent God simply doesn’t give a shit, there’s no relationship really, thinking about God at all is pointless.

When you’re a kid you think your parent is a God. Or at least I did. Well, my Father’s ego was humungous and my Mother was Manic so they sort of insisted on this. But, I think that this might be the worst part about growing up in divorce. You have to remain indifferent a whole lot of the time in order to keep the peace. I remember my Mother telling me over and over again that I had no feelings. I was completely switched off.  To be otherwise would just provoke a situation.

On the stepparenting forums that I was reading last week the stepparents were discussing how evil their stepchildren are. This, of course, is a projection, fear that because they don’t love these kids that there’s something wrong with the kids. But I think what they are really surprised at is that they simply don’t feel anything for the kids. The kids are not theirs. But they are kids so they are needy and nothing’s more revolting than a needy person. Trust me, I had a needy stepmother, they’re disgusting.  At any rate, I’ve never personally befriended a person who came from a bad step-parent situation.  Most of my friends simply don’t discuss their stepparents as being anything other than “Dad’s new girlfriend” or “Mom’s 7th husband.”

Truth is, a kid will love his parents pretty much all the time and will take all kinds of crap from them when young. And if the step-parent just acts like “Dad’s Wife” or “Mom’s new boyfriend” probably the kid will feel close to nothing for that person. And this is good.  This is desirable.  Stepparents who demand feelings are just totally impossible people. And sometimes there is a truly great bond between stepparent and child and usually these kids are really boast it like trained seals and leave the rest of us looking like whiny idiots. If one’s Mother has married into a better financial situation so that one’s life has improved over all on some level, often the kids won’t complain. I heard a speaker once who was absolutely hilarious. I can’t remember the topic, something about writing, the whole audience was in an uproar. And then she made the trained seal comment.  She just had to start bitching about how her step-siblings couldn’t accept her Mother even though they were all adults. She didn’t mention why they couldn’t accept the Mother. Maybe being discussed and laughed at behind their backs in an auditorium full of people was common behavior in the family which was the real turn-off for the stepkids. Either way, it was a conference for Women only so most were old twice and thrice divorced bossy, non-guilt feeling women who were aiming to write their life story. You could feel the ceiling lift with all the guilt that was being released.  I do remember thinking that this writer’s books had all the elements of a writer except something truly honest to write about. She was charming, all fat and happy from all those sardine rewards from always saying the right thing, and she knew how to make you hate people without really examining why.

There’s something else that never seems to be discussed with regards to this topic, Indifference. Often you hear about parents fighting over custody. But, you never hear about the families where the one parent who will take custody completely resents it. Many people are not really that into their kids especially if they have to do it alone.  Single parenting is no joke after all and divorces and dating are very distracting.

be of love (a little)
December 28, 2007, 5:13 am
Filed under: Astrology stuff, Uncategorized

be of love (a little)

more careful than of anything.

— ee cummings

Astrologically speaking we’re in the middle of a very stressful transit right now. Mars, the planet of aggression, is undergoing a very long transit in Cancer (one of the waters signs, ruling feelings and family matters). And Mars is heavily afflicted opposite Pluto, the Sun (ego) and Jupiter (opinions). This could influence families to act out like crazy and say all kinds of dumb things (Jupiter rules opinions and is in the sign of Capricorn which rules Authoritarian behavior).

Mars-Pluto oppositions are extremely tense aspects as Pluto is considered a “higher octave” of Mars. It will react with aggression but in sabotaging, sneaky ways. Oppositions rule relationships. There is a contest of wills here.

This opposition is building all week and won’t be exact until January 2 so is coinciding with the Holiday Stress and Strain perfectly. Be careful driving, be careful with each other. If you use this energy immaturely you can be very destructive. If you use it wisely you can bring about great change as Mars rules Action and Pluto rules Change.

Gandhi had Mars opposite Pluto in his chart which includes a difficult aspect to his Moon (emotions) so you can see how a brilliant person can use reap benefits from these normally difficult aspects.

And e.e.cummings had Mars in Aries conjunct the Moon which is a similar very volatile emotional aspect. He was maybe using his poetry to talk himself down when he wrote the words quoted above.

“Split” edited by Ava Chin
December 27, 2007, 2:38 am
Filed under: Books, links to articles

A while back I bought a copy of a collection of writings by Generation X writers from divorced families.  It’s edited by Ava Chin and, I believe is now out of print. the full title is something like: Split:  Stories by a Generation Raised on Divorce.  My copy is lost in a storage unit somewhere kind of like my life but I remember that the stories were the first honest descriptions I had ever read about growing up a la divorce.  I’ve found a partial review of it from out of the Los Angeles Times (Oct. 2, 2002) by Maria Elena Fernandez called “Tales of the Walking Wounded.”  The link is here and might be full of typos:  http://lists101.his.com/pipermast/smart marriages/2002-October/0012393.html.  The title of the article reminds me of a the description that I read of the great Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh (sp?).  Can’t remember where I read or heard this but seem to remember that he describes children from divorce as “Ghosts.”  This made me pretty sad to hear because he generally has a pretty positive outlook on people. Unlike the psychologists, a monk is going to look straight at the person’s spirit, not by measurements of whether he’s kept up with societal requirements.

Here’s the beginning of the article.  Am afraid to copy more because of copyright laws:

“The divorce was like a car accident I heard happen behind me…. I couldn’t
say how it had happened or who might have been at fault … I could only
describe how they looked after the collision.”

–Jen Robinson, from “Split: Stories From a Generation Raised on Divorce”
(Contemporary Books)

The moment parents divorce, the life of their child becomes a succession of
splits: emotions ebb and flow from one parent to the other; home, in most
cases, is no longer one house but two; and memories are slotted into
“before” and “after” categories.

Much has been researched and written about the long-term impacts of divorce
on children–the facts and interpretations always filtered through the eyes
and ears of a social scientist, psychologist or academic. Some experts
insist the psychological and emotional damage on children is irreversible;
others maintain it is a traumatic event people can grow and recover from.

But little has been heard from the children themselves.”

more:  http://lists101.his.com/pipermast/smartmarriages/2002-October/0012393.html

Success Story – Rebecca Walker

Rebecca Walker is the daughter of the poet Alice Walker & Mel Leventhal, a famous civil rights lawyer. She is a feminist and writer herself and has written about growing up in a mixed race family(ies) and of her parents’ divorce in Black, White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self. Time Magazine has named her one of the 50 Future Leaders of America.

Rebecca’s parents divorced when she was in the 3d grade. She switched back and forth between her parents, 2 years with one then 2 years with the other which meant that not only was she living with 2 separate parental households, but she was living on different coasts in the U.S. every other year, as well as having to living with biracial ethnicity. “Exhausting” is how she now describes bouncing between families of two races and two religions. She went through a drug phase and got pregnant when she was 14. When she was 18 she switched her last name from her Father’s surname to her Mother’s.

She is bisexual and has currently had a baby boy. She is estranged from her Mother. Her most recent book is about her attitudes and experiences with Motherhood.

Here’s a quote and link from a 2001 article about Walker’s book:


Trapped in a destructive cycle, needing to re-invent herself every couple of years (and having had little clue as to who she was in the first place), Rebecca found she belonged simultaneously to two worlds and to none. Not surprisingly, some of the adjustments she made took on a racial twist: Denying part of herself each time she shuffled from city to city, from Jewish to black, from status-quo middle class to radical-artist bohe-mian, she trained herself to keep the code, not to say anything too white when she was with friends from the inner city, not to say anything too black when she was at Jewish summer camp.

But mostly Rebecca Walker’s story, as she tells it, is about raising herself. Her mother bragged in interviews that she and her daughter were like sisters, but as Rebecca points out, “being my mother’s sister doesn’t allow me to be her daughter.” So while Alice Walker was off on speaking engagements, sometimes for days on end, her “sister” Rebecca was choosing her own high school, taking drugs, having sex and generally fending for herself.

“Unaccompanied Minors”
December 25, 2007, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Books, links to articles, Movies About Growing Up in Divorce

Here’s a link to a special Holiday Story called “Unaccompanied Minors” written by Susan Burton from her website.  http://www.susanburton.net/unaccompanied_minors/.

It’s about being a kid from a divorced family and having to travel between Mom and Dad’s house during the Holidays.  I believe it was originally broadcast over NPR and then made into a movie.  So grap the popcorn, and Mom, or Dad, whichever one you’re with.  Warning about something that all kids from Divorce know but I’ll say it out loud because I’m feeling generous:  If you make them feel guilty they’ll accuse you of being manipulative (and so will the shrinks).

Elizabeth Marquardt talks about the impact that seeing this movie had on her in her book Between Two Worlds. She was around 2 years old when her parents split so this means that she spent 16 Christmases like this. I was 14 when my parents split and they stayed in the same town.  Two sets of dysfunctional families in one day is pretty intense as well.

Nellie Bly
December 25, 2007, 6:57 am
Filed under: Exemplary Children of Divorce | Tags:

Nellie Bly was a 19th century journalist, author, industrialist and charity worker. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1864 to an upper middle class family. Her Father died when she was 6 and left a great deal of his money to his children from his previous marriage so her family struggled with financial problems. Her Mother remarried an abusive man when Bly was 9 and then divorced him for this reason when Nellie was 14. Nellie had to testify at the trial and this had a deep impact on her. Bly became a journalist when she wrote a letter to the Editor of her newspaper in regards to a chavinist opinion in one of its articles. From then on spoke out on behalf of the underprivileged. She took her name from a Stephen Foster song “Nellie Bly.”

Bly reported on bad working conditions of female factory workers and took off to Mexico by herself to work as a foreign correspondent. She had herself committed to an insane asylum in order to report on the deplorable conditions in a famous Mental institution for her famous piece “10 days in a Madhouse.” This led to huge government reforms. Probably her greatest stunt was traveling around the world by herself in 72 days as inspired by the Jules Verne novel. She became a huge media star.

Bly married a man who was more than 40 years her senior and and took over his company after he died. She applied for several patents and was known for a time as one of the leading female industrialists of her time. It seems she wasn’t gifted with money management skills, though, and declared Bankruptcy. After this time she returned to Journalism and Charity work.