Pale Dawn of a New Day

Pale Dawn of a New Day

From Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul

Pale Dawn of a New Day

Recovery is a process, not an event.

Anne Wilson Schaef

I had always had a feeling of dread deep down within me. When it happened, it hit me with such surprise that you would never know that I predicted it.

At the time, I did not know how lucky I had been. I would lie awake at night before falling asleep, hearing my parents fight and yell at each other. Although neither hurt the other, it always ended up with my mother crying . . . and that always scared me. I suppose they never thought I could hear them, and they hid their tension from me as much as possible.

One afternoon, my mother told me she needed to talk to me. I never thought of the obvious. My mother sat down next to me on our gray couch with my father on the other side. My mother calmly explained that they no longer enjoyed each other’s company and that they would be getting a divorce. As I fought back tears, my mother continued to tell me how they had tried so hard to make it work—for me. They said they never wanted to hurt me. They could never know how much it did. They said that even though they no longer loved each other, it did not affect how much they loved me, and that my dad would move to an apartment nearby, close enough for me to walk to.

I could no longer hold back the tears, and I ran sobbing to my room, slammed the door and collapsed on my bed. I clutched my pillow to my chest. Everything flashed through my head, everything I could have done to make it work. I lay there, never wanting to leave the safety of my room, not wanting to accept my new reality. I stared for hours out my second-story window, not really thinking . . . not really looking, just sitting out of the reach of my own mind.

I woke up the next morning and trudged to the bus stop. At school, my friends comforted me and I hated it. I was trapped, and everyone made it worse. My friends tried to make me feel better, but they always reminded me of how it had been before. I began to associate the pain of the situation with them and it hurt. I pushed them away, enjoying the solitude.

I found I loved writing, though I shared my compositions with no one. Everything had been turned upside down. No one knew. I only suffered internally. I hid inside myself, remaining the same person externally. My parents, in separate places, acted as though nothing had happened, and that outraged me even more.

My father did not move to an apartment nearby. Instead, he stayed in our house. It was my mother who left and moved to the other side of town.

I was informed my father had fallen in love with a new “companion.” It hurt immeasurably to watch my father preferring to hold her hand instead of mine. My mother had found one as well, and moved in with him. I would spend long hours at her house waiting to leave, feeling alone and ignored. I thought I would die.

My writings began to be terrible stories of girls in far worse situations than I, making me feel more fortunate. I moved back and forth between homes every week, and when anything went wrong, it was always the other parent’s fault. I woke up every morning to meet the dawn, which seemed to be paler and more frail than ever before. Alone, not allowing anyone into my reality, I cried.

Now, two years later, I almost never cry, for I feel that I have cried my share. I have accepted and moved on. I’ve become closer to both of my parents, and throughout the trials they go through, I now feel involved and helpful. My mother’s companion recently left her and she came to me in friendship, looking for support.

But it still hurts quietly somewhere inside of me. I will never forget, and I will always miss how it was. Even though they fought, we were together and I never appreciated it when we were. As for now, I realize that there is nothing more beautiful than the dawning of a new day and that I must go on.

Katherine Ackerman, twelve

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