Apple didn’t fall far from the cheating tree
BY CHERYL LAVIN firstname.lastname@example.org May 14, 2012 6:50PM
Updated: June 16, 2012 8:03AM
Certain rules have to be followed or things go haywire. One is that parents have to be the parents and children must be allowed to be children. Children are not supposed to be their parent’s friend or, worse, their confidant or, worse, their confessor.
That very basic covenant was broken. Stella didn’t stand a chance.
Stella’s parents got engaged while her father was in the Navy. He continued to date other women.
“They didn’t get off to a good start,” says Stella.
And things went downhill from there. “My mother told me my father wasn’t very attentive to me. She resented that. They argued a lot. He was hot-tempered, and it didn’t take much to ignite him. He would fight with anyone, but she got the brunt of it.”
When Stella was 3, her father’s boss called her mother to tell her that her husband was having an affair with a woman at work and that he was very brazen about it.
“My mother was vulnerable and devastated. She was a young, stay-at-home mother, reliant upon him and responsible for me. Back then, she didn’t have much of a backbone. My father would taunt her about being a wimp. Arguing was their form of communication; it was their normal.”
Stella says her mother wanted to get divorced but didn’t feel she could. She began having affairs — many, many affairs.
“She confided in me. The final count would be in the 20s. One of the men was my boss when I was just a teenager. That one lasted for a year or so.”
At one point, Stella’s parents owned a business, and her mother would get involved with the customers. Stella worked there as well. “One of the affairs lasted almost 10 years. Another was with my dad’s best friend.”
Stella says she grew up with “a lot of tension, stress, fighting, insecurity and sadness. Oddly enough, we were very close. I was the bridge — sometimes the voice of reason — in the middle. I was made to feel guilty by both of them. After all, they stayed together because of me. They would discuss divorce but never did it.”
At some point, Stella began to play the role of wife to her father because her mother had “checked out.”
“He turned to me emotionally — not sexually. My mom got jealous. This went on for many years. My mom and I grew apart, even though I knew all her secrets.
“Eventually, I couldn’t take it and I told my dad that my mom was unfaithful. He never confronted her, just made her life more miserable. My mom continued her affairs.”
Stella married for the first time just shy of her 21st birthday. It was a way to get out of the house. Her husband began having affairs. Stella knew about it but never confronted him. She had an affair and then got divorced.
She remarried, had an affair and got divorced again.
“I tried to make my marriages work. But when they weren’t working anymore, I left. Having lived with so much turmoil as a child and adult daughter, I just didn’t have it in me to be miserable. My tolerance was depleted.”
Today, Stella is 43 years old, with two young daughters. Her father is dead, and she and her mother barely speak.
She’s been in therapy for two years trying to learn how to deal with her upbringing. “I’m a work in progress.”
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