Reading through the blogs, so many repressed memories have come back, slamming me in the face. So many things that I've just set aside and moved past. Buried way back inside my head and heart. But a few days ago, I read lifesizevision's post about discovering his mother's affair, and so many things came back to me.
I really hadn't thought about my mother's affair in a long time. It had been so totally eclipsed by so many other hurts, abuses, and layers of pain, that it had faded into the background. In reading lifesizevision's post I was reminded about how much it had hurt me at the time. How betrayed I felt. And I struggled with why I had dismissed this offense and now, hardly even thought about it.
Mom and I had gone to pick up my little sister from a school function. It was dark, the rain poured down, and my sister was expected at any minute. And mom dropped the bomb shell. The next day, my dad would be looking for an apartment. He'd be moving out. They were divorcing. She didn't even have the decency to tell me this face to face, in a place I could process it. She ambushed me, knowing NSis would be arriving shortly. Knowing that I'd never let on, as I wouldn't want to upset her. She offered no explanation, no excuses, no reasons. Offered me no comfort.
I remember being devasted and scared and confused. I sat in my room for a long time, probably a month. I took my Dad's old T.V. from his room. I came out of my room only to shower and eat dinner. I remember my Dad checking on me once. I remember, that for the most part, they left me alone. No one came for me. I remember Dad falling apart. My stoic, unemotional, detached dad came apart at the seams. This terrified me. But where was my mother? Absent, gone....
I don't remember how I found out about the affair. I have some vague recollection that it was my father who told me. It's shocking to me how much I've blocked out. Like some war veteran who only has flashbacks. He was a man my mother worked with. It had been going on a long time. There were lots of secrets. My mother wouldn't answer any questions about what had happened. We were "children" and didn't need to know what went on, too young to be exposed to that. Ha. The irony must have been lost on her that we "children" had already been exposed to it and that she had expected us to grow up and deal with it like adults as we took care of ourselves because she was out cavorting around.
My sister read my dad's journal at some point and told me much later that mom had gone back and forth between this new man and my dad. Played them against each other. I always wondered what she had told the new man (now EStep-father, ESF). I believe she lied and told him it was all over. When his own daughter had an affair, and married the "new man", ESF disliked this new man greatly. I wondered how he reconciled that with his own behavior, or how much mom had lied to him to convince him he wasn't that man.
It was another surprise attack when mom introduced us to her new man. She often left us on the weekends to go be with him and his family. She never took us along, because it was too early. So she left us, two broken, damaged teenagers to our own devices for the whole weekend. She never thought about how much this would hurt us. How abandoned we felt. How it was clear she was choosing this "new family" over her own. She was having a grand old time while we drowned in the mess she left. I played mom to my little sister. I fed her, watched her, got her out of trouble. And my sister was a trainwreck at 14. Drinking, sneaking out of the house, sleeping with boys, throwing parties at my house. Problems that would be difficult for an adult to deal with. But they were my problems now.
So, one day mom pranced into the TV room with new man and new man's kids. They'd had a delightful weekend. She gave us no warning. We were laying around when they walked in. I remember feeling embarrassed that she had introduced us while we were just relaxing. She acted like a teenage girl with a crush. All giddy and smiley and happy. And she expected us to be too.
We had many arguments about new man. She argued that I was a selfish, horrible brat. That I had no right to be angry with him or not like him. That I OWED HER to be nice to him, accept him as my family, be respectful. I was not allowed to be angry, or hurt, or upset. I wan't allowed to have any feelings about the situation that weren't positive. She reasoned that she had put up with years of abuse from my father and that it was her turn to be happy now. She had found her "soul mate". She was finally happy and putting herself first. And how dare I suggest that she didn't deserve this. How dare I try to deny her this happiness. She railed against me for my betrayal of her by not being happy about it. I see the absurdity now. She had destroyed my family, betrayed me, my father, and my sister, forced a new man into my life, and I was expected to be HAPPY ABOUT THE WHOLE FUCKING THING. She never once admitted any wrong doing. She never once apologized. What did she have to be sorry about, she reasoned? She'd done nothing wrong except finally put herself first. She couldn't even separate out that while her commitment to my father and her betrayal of that was enough, that she had also made a commitment to us, as her kids. That by abandoning us when we needed her most, selling us out for her new found happiness, abandoning all of her responsibilities as a mother was even more of a betrayal.
When she married the new man, we also were expected to smile, be happy, not rain on her parade. How dare we have any negative emotions. This is what made her happy. She even bullied us into singing her and new husband's wedding song. It made my stomach hurt. Torture. Abuse. Horrific memories. She and new hubby had a secret number that they used to use to sign all of their cards. Some secret code number. I know, even though she refused to tell me what it signified, that this was the hotel number of the room they would meet up in. For years, they signed all of their cards with that number. For years, she would get us rooms at this hotel when we stayed in town. And I remember vividly how prominently it was displayed on her wedding cake. I remember thinking at the time how stupid she must've thought me to be. I remember thinking what a HUGE SLAP IN THE FACE it was. How I choked on that damn cake. How I wish now that she had choked on that damn cake. What a horrible wretch of a person. Who does that to her kids? Who betrays them and then demands that they be happy about it? Accuses them of disloyalty and feigns hurt if the kids dare to have some negative emotions about it? Who places the blame on her kids for not doing everything they can to make her new marriage and family work out? Who denies their kids any right to their feelings or reactions? My fucked up mother, that's who.
Years later, as we continued to fight about it all, she would claim she did it all for me. She would through it in my face that I was just angry about the divorce if I even disagreed with her. Like it was some flaw on my part. And yes, I was angry about it all still. I'd never been allowed to process any of it. Never been to therapy (mom would never have taken ME to therapy, what was there to need therapy about, this was a GOOD thing). The fallout from this one event still rained down around me. I was being forced to go back to the "way things were", not that they were that way to begin with. She had no idea how badly she had betrayed my trust, destroyed any notions of what I thought our relationship was, destroyed our relationship period. She just expected me to move on and get on with things. And so, if I dared get angry with her, I could have no valid reason, other than the divorce, which I actually had no valid reason to be angry about either. And then, in one fight, she blamed it on me. My dad was a horrible man, she claimed. Angry, no job at the time (he'd been laid off and was going back to college, and was working). She wanted a "better" life for me and my sister. New hubby would offer security (monetary). I was in shock to think that she thought she could just trade out one man for a new man as my father like it was a new pair of shoes. That she thought I could just disconnect and except the substitute and move on. That, when backed into a corner, she'd somehow placed all the blame on me.