I was minding my own business tonight, folding all the laundry that I had gotten behind on folding- though it was clean and waiting in baskets for me. When I heard the familiar ding of a facebook message. Of course I checked and when I saw the name it was one I didn’t recognize. She was asking me about my dad and his condition, because she hadn’t heard from him in a while. Apparently, she hadn’t heard about his amputation, dialysis, etc. I noticed that she worked for a company that would have had dealings with my father.
Wrong. I started the message with “Im not trying to be rude, but I am not sure who you are….” but then in occurred to me. A memory came to me. An unwanted memory. A memory that brought me back to being a 13 year old. The message was from the woman that my father had an affair with back in 1991/1992. This woman was a nuclear bomb in our family.
Looking back I am thankful that she and my father had an affair, it may have been the beginning of the end, but I am thankful it ended. I had prayed my entire childhood that my father and mother would split up, there was so much fighting, so many times he hurt us. If he hadn’t had the affair when he did, my mother wouldn’t have been tempted to take up a relationship with the man I now call my step dad even though they aren’t married. So yes, I am thankful that she blew up my family.
So what did I do with the message? Well, I updated her, let her know where he is, the things he’s gone through (the reader’s digest version) and how to get a hold of him.
I then called my sister and told her. She told me I was more gracious than she would have been. She wouldn’t have said anything nice to her. After that I called my mother. I felt like I needed to be honest with her, and tell her. My loyalties lie with her of course. I told her what happened and I told her what I did. I made sure she wasn’t upset that I helped this woman. She said she didn’t care, and I believe her that she didn’t care, she is long over my father. Following all that I called my dad, to let him know. He was worried I was upset. I told him this was 26 years ago. That what happened, happened. My father was upset that “but I hurt you and mom, and I never meant it to happen”…. I said dad, stop. And then he was all worried how she found me. I told him it didn’t matter, that she found the right person because I would give her what she asked for, because I don’t hold grudges….
Which I guess isn’t entirely true, I don’t know what you would call letting your past haunt you, but I know I am not really angry with people in my past who hurt me. I just carry the weight of all the bad things that happened. And when I told my father that I wasn’t upset I wasn’t 100% true. The time frame when my dad was having an affair, was a horrible time in our lives. I remember being only 12 years old, and my dad, being the jerk that he was told my 9 year old sister and I, that we couldn’t have a Christmas tree because it was too much money.
Now let me tell you, growing up money was never an issue, we always had enough, most of the time more than enough. We went out to eat a couple times a week, we went on nice vacations. He was just being a jerk. Being himself. But it scared us as kids that we wouldn’t have a tree. My sister and I shared a paper route, and we took the money we earned from that and I made an envelope titled “Christmas Tree Fund” and we put our paper route money in that envelope. When it came time for the Christmas Season, we handed the envelope full of cash, with more than enough money for a Christmas tree to my dad and told him we could get a Christmas tree now, because we had the money.
This was definitely an unwanted memory. A memory that caused anxiety. A PTSD memory definitely. I remember that time as a time full of fear, full of hushed voices as well as raised ones. Voices of hurt and anger. Voices of not understanding why this would happen, why my mother wasn’t enough. I think a lot of my lack of trust, my worry that my husband will end up unfaithful is based on this time in my life.
My father told my sister and I that he and this woman were friends. We went on picnics at her farm together my sister and I and my dad and her. I got to ride her horse. We all went bowling. We met up at a local fair. I suspected there was more to the story than friendship and it was confirmed one night when I heard my mother on the phone.
For years my father denied inappropriate relations with this woman, but finally when I was an adult he admitted that they were intimate and he also told me had he not been unfaithful first, when my mother left him for my stepfather he would have killed them both.
The things that my father would tell me, and still tells me often are some of the things that have messed me up. I know things no child should know. I was exposed to things that I should never have been exposed to. And all these things have helped me come to where I am today. Untrusting, low self esteem, disorted self image and so many other things.
It’s the reason I have anxiety- the worry that a hair would be out of place and my father would beat me, the worry that my bed wouldn’t be able to have a quarter bounced off it, the worry that my toys would be out of place. The reason I have OCD, because order was the most important thing, because I was anxious that something wasn’t right, so I would have to check and recheck. The reason I am depressed, the reason I have PTSD. Now I am not blaming my father 100%, there were bullies at school, there were other factors. But I would say my home life was what affected me the most. Home is supposed to be your safe place, your sanctuary, where you are safe, and loved unconditionally.
My home was filled with lies, half-truths, pain, and suffering. I won’t lie and say every day sucked, we did do fun things, sometimes dad was nice. But for more days than not, I felt unloved, unwanted, unsafe, like I couldn’t trust the adults in my life (my mom worked a lot, she was the breadwinner and we were alone with dad most of the time).
This has become a lot longer than I intended, so I guess, maybe the message did bother me more than I let on, but I don’t regret what I did, I don’t regret helping her find my dad. That’s who I am, and who God wants me to be, and at least on God I can trust.