20 and still caught in the middle

My parents split when I was 13, I had three older brothers two had left the house and one was 17 and was preparing to move out.

I was completely alone trapped in between two people who couldn’t stand each other and that hasn’t changed. Both of my parents are in happy new relationships but still have a raging animosity for each other over how they treated one another and the financial fall out of their divorce. My dad is engaged with a beautiful baby girl and my mother lives happily with her partner and I live with my boyfriend at uni. But that feeling of trapped in between doesn’t necessarily go away honestly I’ve found it getting worse as the animosity has grown thicker and my personal larger life events grow ever closer.

I’ve found setting healthy boundaries with them a near impossible task as I genuinely cherish my relationship with them. But balancing that whilst trying to build a new life for myself has been beyond challenging and their are nights like this where I find myself crying and frustrated for still allowing their conflict to affect me far more often than I would like to admit. But I still trudge through. This summer I found myself making a horrible but necessary decision for my own sanity and to avoid tarnishing the memories of my greatest accomplishment so far in my life. I decided to tell them both that neither of them would be invited to attend my graduation and that I would be bringing two life long friends to come and celebrate this with me.

On the surface they both took it well but soon and surely the guilt tripping comments began to seep through about how it wasn’t them it was the other so they didn’t see why they were being punished and I found myself at my wits end. Wanting to scream from the top of my lungs that this isn’t your accomplishment and how it wasn’t about them. That this was my decision so that I could stand up there and be proud of myself without the anxiety of how they would react to one another plaguing me. That the people I intend to bring would stand with me afterward take photos and shout from the rooftop how proud of me they were something my parents would be never be able to do amongst each other’s presence. As difficult as I found it and as honestly guilty as I feel I know I deserve that as a minimum.

So I guess I’m sharing this to reassure how you might feel when setting those boundaries and honestly to reassure myslef, it’s scary and anxiety inducing but you deserve that because you matter. And so what if they believe you are being selfish you’re allowed to be. Although that feeling of being stuck in the middle may never truly go away you are allowed to be selfish as you grow up because it’s your life and after nearly 10 years of feeling like nothing was in my control it’s scary but beyond liberating.