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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

When Daddy Lies About Cheating

“You lied.”
Two simple little words that carry so much weight 
when spoken from a broken heart. 

In “The Legacy,” one of the short stories in Sins of the Father, Angie confronts her dad about an incident of adultery.

He lied. She knows he lied and she states it simply. It takes some decision-making, but she finally confronts him. But how often does that happen? It's not an easy choice for Angie, but I know self-assured women who probably would never dream of it!

I remember a friend of mine telling me that her dying father had said he really needed to tell her something, and she kept putting him off because there was a certain air of finality to it that was breaking her.

He insisted and told her that he needed to tell her something before he died.

Not a man given to true confessions, she tried to come up with the worst-case scenario, and the only thing she could think of was that he was going to admit to an affair. He was also not likely to cheat, but it was the worst thing she could imagine.

And as much as she loved her father, she was ready to tell him off (if it was about an infidelity), but she also couldn't even bring herself to say it out loud. I think most women would probably find themselves inside that maddening dilemma. 

It turned out to be something serendipitous but sweet (it’s not really my story to tell). Ultimately, it was a secret kept but its omission was no sin.

Catching a parent in a lie, and knowing that it points to a larger deception is a horrible burden to put on a child, made only more horrendous as the child matures. Understanding the nature of relationships, commitment, love and the honesty and trust required to maintain it all is crushing because it is also a constant reminder that one parent did not keep their end of the deal towards the other.

While there are support groups for adult children of alcoholics and adult children of divorce, there is no single therapeutic group for adult children of adultery. Though they experience a lot of the same emotional turmoil, I think the shame is so personal and so damaging to the core that many probably would rather not share it.

And seriously, isn't growing up hard enough without the added knowledge of a parent's infidelity, and its implications (many misguided as they are left undiscussed)? It's worse for kids who know the other parent is aware of the deception and accepts it without making their partner account for their dishonesty, I think. 

Certainly many carry their torment through a lifetime of failed relationships. Some, though, like Angie in “The Legacy,” get to look the culprit in the eye and say what she’d wanted to say since she was twelve, “You lied.”

Of course, Sins of the Father  is available at Amazon and other online retailers (visit the Facebook page for The Mistress for more links!).

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Triggering Nostalgia

One of the stories in Sins of the Father is about a woman’s relationship with a recurring boyfriend. He came and went from her life for years, and they maintained a relatively amicable relationship despite the recurring breakups.

His plan included booty calls into their late 80s.

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But nothing lasts forever. The relationship did not end for the obvious reasons, though…

Another story tries to tie in to current events – especially because the whole Ashley Madison hack amused me. Granted, I’ll say it again: doxing is wrong and I cannot endorse it. But at the same time, I can’t feel any sympathy for people who sought a service to help them cheat on their partners.

But then, that was not the focus of the story. I touched on something that I find troubling and hope that I did not contribute to the problem. I keep seeing stories where the female characters are victimized and they act as if that kind of thing is both normal and acceptable. Nobody ever leaves, fights back, falls apart under the weight of the horror, or goes to the police. More importantly, there are never any consequences to the behavior. That’s a little one dimensional, I think. I tried to break out of that mold.

Another story speaks of a woman facing her husband’s infidelity and, literally, staring it in the face daily for years. There is the remembrance of adultery when the heroine was a small child, and then from another character in her tween years. Another character faces the cheater in his deathbed.

I told an old friend that I inter-mingled truth and fiction in these stories and she is dying to try to decipher which is which. But for those people who may not know me as well, I wonder which character will bring them memories of their own.

I’m not saying that you must have had a firsthand experience with infidelity to get these stories. Knowing someone who knew someone will do, but mostly what I think people will respond is to a specific moment in time.
If any of my stories strike a match in the dark attic of your mind and you find yourself riding a wave of nostalgia because I triggered a memory of your own stories, then my job is done!
And this is precisely why I love vignettes. In the end, those little scenes that come to you and measure the value of your days in your heart, those are vignettes. I want to start liberating those for you, so you can chase more of them.