Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Dad's Marriage(s): Part 1

I felt it was appropriate to title this one "Part 1" because I know this is going to be one of those stories that, even though you think it's done, there's really more.

Let me begin with the most basic information. My parents were married--to one another--all my life. I was born (several weeks early after an unplanned conception--yay me!) a little over a year after they got married. I grew up as one of the only kids I knew whose parents were married to one another. It wasn't the greatest marriage in the world, but I figured they were doing a good job, because they were still together. I always knew, although it was almost never discussed, that my dad had been married before. It was short lived and there were no kids. In fact, it was very shortly after his first marriage ended that he met my mom; the story went that he was visiting a friend to "get over" his divorce, and they threw a dart at a map to decide where to go. It landed on Crystal Ice Caves, where my mom was a tour guide. And the rest was history. Until 2005, when, a month before Ezra was born, my dad announced that he was moving out. There had been stirrings in the marital waters to be sure; in 1997, when I was studying abroad for six months, we learned that he'd had an affair with one of his (graduate) students for pretty much the entire time. There had been speculation, mostly between the siblings, that this wasn't the first time. But officially things were back on track. And then suddenly they weren't. Officially they were taking a break, he was going to "find himself" or something for a year while living on his own, but it was pretty quickly clear to everyone but my mom that he wasn't looking back.

He told us all that this was a hard time for him, that he was really a private person who'd been living for the last 30 years as though he were a very social person. He was trying to be true to himself, to be the fundamentally alone person that he was. And no, there was no way on earth that he was seeing someone--not now, not while he was still with Mom, not at all. Those rumors that he was dating my friend--the one who had coincidentally gotten a divorce around the time he moved out, the one who was his student, the one who had kind of stopped calling me? Those rumors were completely false, and it was kind of insulting that we would think otherwise.

Until the day he told me they were true. And they were getting married. And, as I have tried over and over to explain to him, I don't have excesses of friends or family. And my dear friend, the first one to visit me in the hospital after Zachary was born, the first friend I'd made at my first grown-up job, the one with a daughter 9 months older than Zachary, my friend and my dad had chosen one another over me.

There's more, of course. There's always more. But that continues to be a crux of the situation for me. My mom is hurt and angry and insists that the only thing we can do to help is "be loyal." My brother, who has always looked up to my dad, is not speaking to him. My sister is sick of being the one my mom turns to, sick of being the one to take care of her and tell her it's going to be all right. And I'm the pushover, the easy one, the one who's always been closest to him--and terrifyingly, most like him in personality. And I'm the one they betrayed most, at least more than my siblings. And though I haven't actually spoken to her since all this happened, he has never once apologized. He's said he understands that people are hurt and it's too bad that things worked out that way, but he's never once said, "That must really be hard on you. I wish you hadn't beem hurt like that. I'm sorry."

1 comment:

Aunt Becky said...

Man, what a position for you to be in. I'm so sorry.