In The Moment
I am married to a good husband, with two awesome children. I am an only child from parents who were 21 when they had me. They were not married until a year after I was born. I am fine with that, but I was never told. I found out by trying on a wedding band and looking at the dates inside.
I worshipped my parents. They were always cool parents because they were the youngest, hippest parents around when I was growing up, but now as a parent I realize being hip is not important.
Both my parents had affairs. I believe it was more than one for both of them. My mom does not know I know. I do not want to feel angry but I am. Because of their selfishness I missed out on having parents around me when I needed it most.
I remember being picked up after every kid at school—sitting in the parking lot by myself for what seemed like hours. My parents let me get away with unacceptable behavior. I had no boundaries, and nobody seemed to give a hoot about what I really needed—guidance, leadership and TLC.
I want to be the best wife, mom, daughter and friend to all around me, but I don't want to hear what my parents have to say anymore. I do not understand how people have time for affairs unless they neglect other things, and while I sit here, I feel they neglected me.
I would not say that to anyone, but I needed them during all those years. I needed them at track meets. I needed them to talk to me about how I should behave with boys and how drinking is not cool.
Now I remember things I do not want to remember. How can I heal because I do not want to feel sorry for myself?
Dusty, for some reason, a light went on in your mind. You see the past in a new way.
It's as if you didn't understand what the word "philanthropic" means. Now you look over past conversations, when you thought the word meant selfish, and reinterpret what was said.
One of your parents said something, or you had an aha moment. You don't know for sure you weren't picked up at school because of an affair. But it shows disregard, the kind of disregard that led them not to parent you.
It's legitimate to infer, since people have busy lives, that time taken to romance a third party steals from time that belongs to the family. It steals from time that belonged to you.
Now, as a wife and mother, you see how you behaved as a child wasn't right, and you know the reason why. "I wasn't being parented." As adults we come awake to our parents' shortfalls, and adultery is more than a shortfall.
But there is nothing all these years later you can do to change the past. All you can do is learn from it.
When you find yourself dwelling in the past, focus on now. Living in the here and now prevents you from festering. There is an urgency to staying out of the past, because it brings the hurt into the present.
You don't have to keep sitting on the curb at school waiting for someone to pick you up. Making every day now a day from the past, makes the day an unchangeable event.
Strengthen your mind. Change your focus. When you find yourself thinking of the past, think of good things, enjoy your kids, be grateful for what you have and for your understanding.
If you need to punish your parents, you can reduce contact with them, but remember, you won't teach them a lesson and you won't change who they are. They are unlikely to admit their failings to you in any meaningful way.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Send letters to: [email protected], or Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield MO 65801.
Coulmn for the week of February 10, 2014