Going through parents divorce as an adult

First of all, I’ll try not to ramble…no promises, though.

Growing up, my biggest fear was my parents telling me that they were getting a divorce. I vividly remember being 8 or 9 years old, lying in bed one night bawling because my parents had gotten into an argument and I thought “this is it, they’re getting a divorce”. It terrified me.
The next morning my mom walked in my room where I was still anxious about their (looking back now) petty argument. My mom looked at me and said, “son, I wouldn’t take all the money in the world and a farm in Texas for your daddy”. My dad then walked in and also assured me that that was totally out of the question. He spoke of faith, the promise and bonds of love, and marriage on a religious level. He was/is a preacher. After that day I never once thought or worried again about my parents getting a divorce.

Growing up, we didn’t have much. As mentioned, my father was a preacher. Not a Joel Osteen preacher, but a preacher in rural America of a church that averaged 120 people on Sunday morning. Our family vacations usually weren’t too extravagant, we didn’t have the newest cars, gaming systems, clothes, etc. but we had each other and it was all we needed.
Fast forward a few years and my father feels that god has called him to run for sheriff and combat the drug problem our community was facing. For the next 8 years, he was sheriff of our rural county.

In those 8 years, he became “everyone’s somebody”.
He was the community’s counselor
He was who everyone called when they had a problem
He was still preaching nearly every weekend
He became, moreso than before, everyone’s counselor
Everyone’s therapist
Everyone’s person to talk to.
He was soooo looked up to in our community it was unreal.

One night while I was riding with him, we got in a shooting, where long story short, he shot and killed a man. After this we watched his mental health take a turn for the worst.

How do you go from being a minister to shooting and killing a man? “For the last 30 years I’ve saved peoples lives…I’ve given people life by leading them to the lord…tonight I killed a man” he said, weeping on the way back to HQ for a debriefing.

Over the next several years he spoke to us about his mental health. PTSD and general anxiety became a very real subject in our family. While still a minister, my dad began heavily drinking. Mixing jack Daniels with Xanax, Zoloft, and ambien isn’t a good combo- by the way.

Fast forward to this past November, I was out at a bar with some friends. My dad calls to tell my that his father, the only grandfather I’ve ever had, has a very advanced and aggressive lung cancer. My world came crashing down around me and I instantly felt more depressed than I ever have. We weren’t too awfully close- and that was the worst part. All of the regret.

Doctors say he has about a year…6 weeks later we have his funeral.

Fast forward again to 2 days after Christmas, my parents call all of us (myself and siblings) to the house. I was thinking “they’re going to tell me one of then have cancer”
“I just lost my grandad, now I’m going to lose a parent”
The last thing I was expecting however, was to pull up to their house and see my mom (who is a saint), broken down on their couch…a bag of her clothes in front of her.
She looks at us and tells us that things haven’t been good for them, she loves my dad and doesn’t want to do this, but he wants a divorce.

My whole world, again, crashed around me. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Literally, the last thing I expected to hear.

She goes on to tell us that my father is also suicidal and has come close to killing himself several times over the last few weeks.

I could keep rambling- but I’ll try to sum it up.
My worst fear is here, staring me in the face. As a grown man I never expected it to hurt me this bad, but it’s not just the divorce. Knowing my father- my superhero, in my eyes- the strongest man in the world, wants to die. Not even that, he wants to die at his own hand.
My mother doesn’t want a divorce at all…she has no family other than her in laws, children, and grandchildren. She is going to be so lonely, now in a rather large house all by herself.
I think of her sitting at home alone at night crying and I literally hurt for her.

I typed all that to ask, what’s next? How do I work through this? I can’t sleep because I’m in fear that I’ll wake up to a text saying my dad has killed himself. I have dreams about the night we were in a shooting and instead of the typical outcome (in the dream I always have, I’m shot in the back then wake up), I dream that my dad is shot and killed.
I have anxiety 24/7 thinking about how hurt and lost and lonely both of them are. I’ve tried praying, I’ve tried working out (I’m an avid gym goer anyways), and lately I’ve been drinking more which I know is no good and is even causing problems between my fiancé and I.

I was driving around last night and literally told God that I didn’t want to kill myself, but if I never woke up I would be fine with that

I’m sorry for ranting and Making this so long, but I don’t have many people to talk to about this outside of my immediate family.

Hey Friend,

I cannot imagine the hurt and isolation you must have felt and still feel. I’m so sorry for what you and your family have gone through and the anxiety it has caused. I can understand why you have fear and anxiety. I can tell you are an incredibly kind and compassionate person by the way you talk about your family and how much you care about them. I can also tell that you are very strong for being able to endure the trials that you have and being able to share them here as well.

When your greatest fear is right in front of you, it’s hard not to feel paralyzed. That being said, I would encourage you to take one day at a time and rely on God. I know it’s sometimes hard to when you’re scared now and wanting immediate answers, but He has His hand on your life and that includes the trials you experience. Its beyond difficult to watch something you never thought would happen take place, but know that you’re strong enough to work through it.

Taking note of how you’re feeling and letting your emotions flow is part of that process in my opinion. You can only control your actions. So being able to support your mom and dad when you can is something you can do. Just remember to take care of yourself as well and not do these things at your own detriment. You’re so very strong and we love you and are always here to support you.

Hold Fast,

Hannah Rhodes

I’m Morgan, I am an intern at HS. Thank you so much for sharing this, thank you for being a part of this community, and for being vulnerable with us here.

Man… all of this is so heavy and I think you could use a breather. Thank you for sharing your story.

I think you have a great opportunity here to show the man that your father has raised. It really shows how we men really are scared at times and ready to give up. I think you should share how you are feeling with your dad and your fears of losing him what that would cause. Being honest it the strongest thing you can do and be there for him.

Thank you for sharing what you are going through and seriously I will keep you and your family in my prayers.


Thank you so much, Hannah. Honestly even after just venting I feel better. I didn’t expect to type that much yesterday- and honestly probably would have kept going had it not been time to leave for church.
Thank you for your reply and kind words. As you said, ive realized that all I can do is take things one day at a time.

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Thanks for your reply Morgan. It has been hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.
I’ve been a heartsupport fan for several years now (2010 or so I think?). Usually I would just check the page every once in a while- the other day when I was feeling incredibly down I thought about the page again and decided to come here to share what I am feeling and hope for some positive remarks and advice.
I appreciate everything that you guys do.

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