Lannie* is a bright and charming young woman. At 21, she is out on her own working part time, going to school part time at the local community college, and trying to find her way in the world. She and her family have been through some tough times. Her parents divorced when she was nine, which started the seemingly endless back-and-forth living between two different homes and trying to make sense out of a life that was spiraling out of her control.
She hadn’t known her parents’ marriage was in trouble. She doesn’t remember them arguing about anything in particular. In fact, she mainly remembers volleyball games with both parents cheering her on from the stands, birthday parties where they often embarrassed her with their crazy antics and speeches about when she was born, sleepovers with mom making s’mores in the fireplace, and working on math homework with her dad. Like so many kids, when her parents told her they were getting a divorce, she didn’t really understand.
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She loved both of her parents and couldn’t imagine life without either of them. She was scared and didn’t want to choose sides. And luckily, neither of them tried to make her choose. So when they told her she was going to live with both of them part of the time, she was glad. She understood that she would have a room of her own at both places—she was actually excited about decorating it! Mature beyond her years, she could see clearly that this was a fair and probably best solution for everybody.
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The problem was … it wasn’t. That first year after the divorce was the worst. Dad kept the house in which she had spent most of her childhood, and mom moved across town to be closer to her family. Still reeling from the loss of life as she had known it, Lannie enjoyed seeing both parents and spending more time with her grandparents. She relished the love and emotional support. Both mom and dad were moving through the grief and beginning their lives anew. And they both remained committed to staying involved with all of Lannie’s activities. By all outward appearances, things settled in as well as could be expected.
But after that first year, when the intense pain of the divorce had been replaced by a dull ache in her heart, Lannie began to change. Volleyball was the first noticeable casualty. She told everyone “it just wasn’t fun anymore;” what she didn’t say was that it was too much trouble juggling practices and games with her back-and-forth traveling schedule between mom’s and dad’s houses. What she didn’t say was that the girls she had spent much of her life with were different now. She said she wanted to pursue something else. And both parents agreed that she had the right to make that choice. So she quit the team and didn’t look back.