The trauma of infidelity

'My mom is what they refer to as a homewrecker'

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Monday, October 30, 2017

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INFIDELITY by its very nature is destructive, inflicting long-term pain and suffering on its victims. And while to a large extent this means the victim and his/her spouse are not exempt from the ugliness of betrayal, children too are forced to face a legacy of betrayal that they must deal with. They are often the forgotten denominators when mom or dad decides to cheat, but below, five readers who were stung by infidelity as children share their stories.

Denise, 34:

Not only did it hurt me to see how daddy mistreated mommy because of his mistress and how she sank into depression and never truly recovered, I judged every man that I dated. I was the reason for the breakdown in my past two relationships because I was always so convinced that they were cheating and it is not because of anything that they did, but what my father did. These were two good men, but I judged them and treated them badly because I could not separate my experience from my reality. I am happy that I now have another chance with a good man and I am working on making sure that I don't make the same mistake a third time.

Derron, 38, carpenter:

I am the product of infidelity. My mom is what they refer to as a 'home wrecker'. My father had been married for 13 years when he met my mom, and they started something. Eight months later, my mom was pregnant with me and closer to the time of her delivery she told my dad's family about us. It caused problems and my dad's family didn't accept me, and I barely saw my dad even though he tried. I saw the pictures, saw all the vacations he took with his other children and wife (she took him back a year or so after I was born). I saw the graduation pictures (though he came to mine, we only took one), and I didn't have a relationship with my siblings until recently. This bothered me for many years and I felt unworthy, like I wasn't supposed to be born and like a burden. But now I am committed to making sure I am the best father to my children because I don't want them to feel like I did.

Celia, 29, caregiver:

My mother had this friend that we loved. He was dad's friend too. I remember one day walking in, and seeing mom's legs in the air and him between them while she uttered some very colourful words. Imagine her in there doing that, when daddy gave her everything she needed and helped this man all the time. All I could do was run from the room, and nobody said anything about it. They continued doing it many times after that. I have never stopped hating her. I have wanted to kill myself. I felt guilty when I watched her pretend that she loved daddy. Obviously she made him happy, or I would have told him everything.

Collin, 50, contractor:

Because of infidelity, all my life I was labelled a “bastard”. People don't know how I feel, but many nights even as a big man I cry because people see it as a nickname, but I see it as a reminder every day that I wasn't planned for and that my father never wanted me. My existence made him angry and bitter and after my father died when I was 11, I had to fight to survive because I didn't have any support. Even though his wife knew about me and they had money, she didn't care if I lived or died, and I can understand that. As for my mother, I was a thorn in her flesh. Even for her I was a mistake, and so most of my life I have been on my own and I guess that is why I live a life free of that kind of drama.

Katalina, 39, hair stylist:

I saw my mom turn into skin and bones — an angry, troubled woman, obviously lacking love and respect because she no longer cared. My father, because he could not keep his hands off anything that wore a skirt, messed my 'good good' mother up. Because of his first job, he could conceal it, but when he came home to start his farm store he was more stable and he didn't care — not even if we knew about it. It hurt us. I remember that as kids, my siblings and I wanted to hurt every girl who allowed him to put his hands up their skirts or who he took in the storeroom while he made us run the cash register. But as we grew older, we hated him. I think all the stress contributed to my mom's cancer some years later. Luckily by the time she died I was ready to migrate. To this day I haven't truly forgiven my father.

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