I looked around my house. The walls seemed strong and firm. No holes to be seen. Where could they be? I knew they must be somewhere, but my search for a gap, or even a crack, yielded no fruit. So I thought maybe it was Daddy’s house that was punctured. But when I looked around his place, I was equally disappointed. Yet, despite this, people insisted that I came from a broken home.

That was several years ago, and now, as an adult, I know that they didn’t mean “broken” in the literal sense. But I can still remember the confusion, that burning question inside of me: if my home is as sturdy as everyone else’s, then why am I labeled as different?

If my home is as sturdy as everyone else’s, then why am I labeled as different?It’s a painful reality that has taken me all these years to accept: being different, being broken. I used to wonder: if it’s bad to break things, is it bad to be broken too?

I can see there is something broken about my family. Very broken. Instead of being one supportive unit, our home has been one of incessant fighting, friction and worry. It means that instead of following my parents’ directives, I am forced to decide which parent to listen to.

And I hate it. I hate being stuck in the middle of two sides, trapped in the center of the conflict, with no place to turn. I’m not on one side and I’m not on the other—I’m just lost in the middle.

When I close my eyes, I imagine that it’s all a game of tug-of-war. I am the rope that each parent is so desperate to gain. They each pull without compromise, determined to win me over. Each pull is a painful blow, a searing pain that pierces my soul.

Sometimes I think the solution would be to just go to one side—to give one parent the victory. But that means that the other has to declare defeat. And then I’m forced to choose between the two people I love most in the world—to decide which one I want to give up. How could I willingly tear a part of my heart out like that? And, as much as I just want one place to belong, I can’t choose—not with so much at stake.

But then I’m still stuck in the middle. And the longer I’m there, the more I feel myself tearing, one strand at a time. With each tug, those knots that bound our family together start to unravel. And I know that if I leave things this way, then I’ll eventually break down altogether. Soon the rope will tear in half, and as a result, both my parents will fall to the ground. Then I know that I’ve really lost.

I wish they’d stop pulling. I wish they wouldn’t fight over me with so much vigor. With each tug, they seem to be telling me, “We each want you so much that we’re going to fight for you, even if it means hurting you in the process.” It sounds ridiculous when I put it that way, but it’s true. I wish my parents would realize how much their love is crushing me. I wish they could just see things the way I do.

But if I want them to look at things differently, then I have to as well. And so, sometimes, in the middle of all the fighting, I just close my eyes and tell myself, “Smile. Appreciate all their love. Do you know why Mommy’s crying? Because she loves you and wants to be with you. Do you know why Daddy’s smashing the door? Because he loves you so much that he can’t bear to leave without you.”

I wish they wouldn’t fight over me with so much vigorWhen I let myself look at life that way, I feel infused with hope. In my mind’s eye, the rope changes into a piece of elastic. And the more they pull, the more I stretch. The pressure is enormous, and it’s so easy to just bounce back—but still, I am growing. With each tug, those painful blows, I become bigger, stronger, more resilient. And that’s when I know that I am the real fighter on the battlefield. I am fighting the odds, the friction; I am the one walking on the minefield. I’m not just a survivor—I am a fighter! I can win, and I will!

Life is all about choices. I could choose to be the rope, or I could opt to be elastic. I could be crushed by my parents’ love, or I could use it as a springboard to grow and flourish.

This is the mindset that keeps me going, and helps me appreciate the hard times in my life. I am no longer ashamed of my troubles, but I hold them high as my badge of honor. I can tell the world: These are mine! This is how I grew. It is through these that I developed my maturity and integrity, my love of life. Now what do you have to show for yourself? You might think I’m crazy, but it’s this mentality that gets me through life with a smile.

Sometimes, life seems so difficult that the maturity I might gain can’t possibly be worth this pain I’m enduring. Surely there is no way to justify my troubles, that knife that is constantly searing into me. But then I remind myself that each of us is a diamond, and it’s those cuts that allow us to shine and sparkle—to truly bring out the beauty within us. Yes, it hurts to be beautiful.

You might think I’m getting carried away describing how wonderful my life is. I won’t deny that life is difficult, and my reality isn’t as rosy as I make it sound. But I’ve been taught that everything happens for a good reason. So I’m sure G‑d has a very good reason for each of the challenges he gives me. And maybe it was good that my parents split up—after all, my home is a lot calmer now.

But I like to look at life through even rosier glasses—with the knowledge that everything G‑d does is good. Period. There is no such thing as “bad” at all. And all the wrong that you see is really an illusion—it seems that way only because our perspective is so limited. If we only took a step back, we could appreciate the beautiful masterpiece that G‑d is designing. Perhaps when we focus on one area of the artwork it might seem dark or plain, but those details are needed to bring out the true beauty of the painting. And perhaps they are as important to the masterpiece as the focal points—because without the simplicity of the background, the bright colors wouldn’t stand out. Because of the dark parts, the colors are able to truly shine.

It’s only now, years later, when I climb out of myself and view my life through a bigger and better perspective—through G‑d’s perspective—that I can see things in a much more positive light. Now I know that my home isn’t broken at all. On the contrary, it’s fixed. Maybe ten years ago, when my home was filled with shouting and arguments—maybe then it was broken. But not anymore. True, I might have two homes now, but they’re both as sturdy as can be.

Sometimes, the best way of fixing something is by taking it apart and starting anew.

Sometimes, the best way of fixing something is by taking it apart and starting anew. Like dismantling an old car and using the pieces to build another. And sometimes, the new car is so much more worthwhile that you wonder why you bothered with the old one in the first place.

I could say my home is broken, or I could say it’s fixed. I could view life from my limited perspective, or I could try and adopt G‑d’s unlimited viewpoint.

I choose the second option.

I’ve heard that before each soul comes down into this world, it chooses who its parents will be. I could never understand why I chose my family. Why did I decide to land with divorced parents? Why didn’t I opt for a calmer, more peaceful home?

But then I remembered to take the second option.

So I wonder: did my parents get married only because my soul asked to be born into their family? It’s a thought that warms me, because it reminds me that G‑d is always looking out for me. He arranged my family, made my parents marry even though they were unsuitable for one another—only so that I could be born into the circumstances I wished for, so that I could become precisely the person I am today.

All it took was that change in perspective to turn my frown upside down and to dry my tears. And it’s up to me how I want to view my life. I could wear the shaded glasses, or I could swap them for sunny ones. I could choose to smile or to cry. I could be an ordinary rope, or I could be the elastic. It’s my choice which one I want to be.

I choose the second option.