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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!).

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