Tuesday, 28 June , 2005, 13:03
Broken Home Makes Angelina Jolie Self-Reliant
Washington : Coming from a broken home has made Angelina Jolie the self-sufficient woman she is today, if she is to be believed. According to Femalefirst, her parents split when she was just three. She had infrequent contact with her dad after the divorce. "I don't know if my childhood was any worse that anyone else's. But it is disturbing and sad when you see one parent figure not respecting the other. That probably had a great effect on me wanting to be self-sufficient," she was quoted as saying. "I was raised feeling that I didn't want the ground to be taken away from me, and so by the age of 14, I was already working. I didn't want to ask for help from anybody, and that extended into my own marriages," she added.
In 1969, the first no-fault divorce law was passed. Within 15 years, all 50 states had adopted no-fault divorce laws. Marriage & divorce became matters of personal preference and the number of children experiencing parental divorce exceeded one million a year. In the years since, social ideas about the impact of divorce was seen primarily through the perspective of adults, particularly parents who really wanted to believe that their "resilient kids" had adjusted just fine, thank you very much.
One of the interesting trends to see, coming from the other side, is how often our coping mechanisms are lauded as evidence of how well we've adapted, and in some cases, proof that the "divorce was actually a good thing." And the fact that we aren't likely to refute our parents' assumptions only perpetuates the assumption. But what's difficult for our parents to understand is that our internal loyalty conflicts often drive our successes. When Mom and Dad tell us they don't love each other any more, but still love us, we are left with an uncomfortable realization that love is something that goes away. If Mom and Dad love us today, when they loved our other parent yesterday, than really, what confidence do we have that our parents will love us tomorrow?
In my conversations with other children of divorce, 3 common coping mechanisms to this dilemma emerge. Mind you, these patterns are subconscious responses, a way to makes sense of chaos out of our control.
1. The Rebel. The Rebel has received the most attention over the years. Children of divorce are more likely to drop out of school, have behavioral problems, get in trouble with the law, have sex at earlier ages, have children outside of marriage, etc. etc. What you don't hear as often is the driving force behind these actions. If a child believes that love (and the stability it creates at home) can't be trusted, then what motivation is there to "be good?" These kids are certainly responsible for their choices, but those called upon to help them often makes things worse by pooh-poohing the source of the hurt.
2. The Perfectionist. By far the most common, and least understood response, is perfectionism. If a child believes that mom (or dad) doesn't love the other parent anymore, then that parent must have done something wrong to become unlovable. (Most children of divorce don't believe the divorce was their fault, but they do wrestle to believe that their parents love for them will last when the love they chose in marriage didn't). If mom chose to love dad (and vice versa) by marrying him, and now she doesn't, how much more pressure does the child--who wasn't chosen--face to prove their worthiness of love--not only to mom and dad, but to everyone else in their life. Children of divorce are compelled to succeed, because success and goodness gives others a reason to love them. Unfortunately, in our quest for success, we can easily fall over the line to uber-independence. We experience success and then believe that we don't need anyone after all. As adults, we crave love, but realize that success in other forms is much easier to attain and sustain. And far too often, we deny our desire to love and receive love.
3. The Internalizer. This is the fastest growing group. The internalizer, hurt by the break up of his/her family makes a subconscious rule that they won't be hurt again. Instead, he, or more commonly, she, will hurt herself. Again, control is the name of the game. The two most common signs of the internalizer are eating disorders and cutting. With eating disorders, a smaller number on the scale offers compelling evidence of control over one self, and the affirmation of others fuels her motivation. With cutting, she still experiences pain, but at least she is in control of the how and when. Seeing her blood and feeling that pain assures her that she CAN still feel, and again, is in control of her pain.