*This is a work of nonfiction and opinion based on actual events as told to me friends, family, and myself who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
When I was growing up I lived with my mom, grandparents, and great-grandmother in the same little house I’m living in now with my daughter, parents, and grandmother.
I didn’t have a father figure besides my grandpa, my Pop-Pop, because I had never met or even heard the story of my bio-dad until I broke down one day when I was in the third grade because someone made fun of me for not having a dad.
I remember going home from school that day and crying to my mom:
“Why don’t I have a dad?”
She explained to me then that she and my bio-dad just didn’t get along, and that they’d decided it would be better for everyone, and everyone would be happier, if they didn’t stay together.
“But I want to know him,” I told her.
So, somehow, she got in touch with him and we started exchanging letters.
One photograph of him.
One last birthday card before I never heard from him again.
That was about the time my mom met the man who would eventually marry her and adopt me, giving me the real dad I never had as a child.
I pushed thoughts of my bio-dad out of my head.
Somehow I was mature enough to think, if he doesn’t want to talk to me, why should I want anything to do with him?
Still, it always nagged at me, what happened between my mom and bio-dad, and I broke down once and cried to my grandmother that I wanted the truth about what their relationship was really like, and she gave it to me.
In a nutshell:
“Your dad was married and already had a family. When I got pregnant with you, I ended things.”
Back in 2011, I had a year and a half long affair with my best friend’s husband.
It wasn’t an emotional affair — I was never in love with him, but that didn’t mean we didn’t have a friendship, too.
For a while I felt like he was my best friend, he was my ultimate secret keeper as I was his dirty little secret.
I didn’t feel much guilt then, while it was going on.
I told myself, of my best friend, What she doesn’t know won’t ever hurt herand to this day I don’t think she knows what went on.
Ironically, it wasn’t until their marriage ended and she started going off the rails that I started feeling guilty about what I was doing.
I had a total mental breakdown after that all ended — my affair with Nathan, my friendship with Marie — I didn’t know who I was anymore and I was adrift and feeling lost and hopeless.
I got the help I needed, hours and hours of therapy, handful after handful of pills, I got better and got back to myself.
But who is myself?
Who would ever choose to get into another affair?
A crazy person?
A stupid person?
A person with no moral compass?
A person who was built for this, maybe?
It’s not always the case, but I know a lot of times people who were abused in childhood go on to become abusers themselves.
Is that what is happening here, in my life?
Did finding out I was the product of infidelity lead me down the path of putting myself between other people’s relationships even though I know it’s wrong to do it?
Abusers must know that it’s wrong to hit their children or spouses, but they can’t help themselves and do it anyway, right?
I’ll go to my grave asserting that I never meant to begin an affair with my partner — I even told myself when I met him and started talking to him:
He’s married, he’s safe to talk to, I won’t be able to get involved.
But we kept talking, and kept talking, and the more I got to know him…
How could I help but fall in love with him?
He’s the most lovable person I know.
I know I should have stopped things in their tracks as soon as I realized I was developing feelings for him, but I didn’t.
I know that what I was doing, what I did to let the relationship continue, was wrong.
I was selfish.
I A.M selfish.
But was I born this way?
Does the apple just not fall very far from the proverbial family tree?
“Do as I say, not as I do,” is something parents think (and maybe say) an awful lot.
So why did I do as my mother did, why did I follow the same path she followed, and twice, even though it can have terrible consequences?
I just don’t know.
I did a terrible thing, twice, but I am not a terrible person.
Neither is my mother.
I may not know or understand all the reasons she did what she did in having that relationship with my bio-dad, knowing he was married.
But at least this time I know I did it for love, and the love that I’ve had and held on to, to me, is worth every floating shitty feeling I have about myself for what I did to get here.
My mother was able to forgive herself for the things she did wrong, move on, and have a very happy life.
I should be lucky to be able to follow her foot steps in that regard.