How do I tell my parents about his affair?

March 1997

It’s been 2 months since JMF moved out, since the separation.  It’s been a few days since the news and I am still reeling that JMF has been having an affair for a year.  I begin to wonder and worry about how on earth am I going to tell my parents about his affair They are worried sick about me since I called them back in January and they continue to voice their need to see me.  I finally agree to fly to Knoxville and meet them in Pigeon Forge for a long weekend.

Wonder and worry are my friends for sure.  Affairs are not common in my family, non-existent.  How on earth does one talk about affairs with parents?  I speak with my therapist and she assures me that I will know what to do in the moment.  Give me the words for goodness sake!  I’m on my own.  I fly down, rent a car and drive over to meet them.

I walk into the house and before my Mom even hugs me, she puts her hands on my shoulders and squarely looks me in my eyes and says, “How old is she?”  I am shocked but I quickly answer, “I don’t know!”  So where did that come from?  My Mom is real?  She knows about these things?  How can that be?  I ask where Daddy is and she replies that he is out on the patio.

I walk out to the patio and sit down.  How do I tell my Father, my Daddy!?  I sit down and just tell him the story simply and succinctly.  Then I asked him a question.  I don’t know where this question came from but there it was.  “How is it that you never had an affair Daddy?”  He looks at me, smiles and with the softest face and loving eyes he said very slowly, “Sugar, I didn’t need to because I went fishing and hunting.”  And then there was silence!

And that silence was the sweet spot!  There was no judgement.  There were no reprimands.  There were no “he’s a dirty bastard.”  There was just silence, acceptance and the feeling of finding that sweet spot.

January 2017

As I look back on those first few months of separation, I can see sweet spots!  My heart is full of gratitude that both my parents reached out to JMF immediately.  I mean within 48 hours in January, to say that they loved him. Here’s the good news!  I was proud of my parents for that!  I just didn’t know to call it a sweet spot.  My Dad would call that “walking the high road.”

The other sweet spot was that my parents were finally seeing me as an adult.  It only took 46 years.  It didn’t happen when I received my BA or getting married, having children or receiving my M.Ed! It took this event to finally cross that bridge to being an adult with them and wow did it feel good.

Your thoughts?

What are your stories?  Have you ever had to tell your parents something uncomfortable, unpleasant?  When did you become an adult with your parents? Did you find a sweet spot afterwards?  I look forward to reading your stories.

My Mom and Dad.
This is my Mom and Dad, taken at their home, probably around 1998.

The first time I said f*#k!

February 23, 1997

JMF has been living elsewhere for almost a month, since he left.  I persuaded him to go to counseling with me the previous week.  It was a start even though the session felt flat.  We scheduled our next appointment for my birthday.

The Angel Cards

The night before my birthday was a struggle as most nights were during this time.  This night in particular was bad.  Sleep was not my friend.  I remembered that my Chicago friend had sent me some angel cards for a Christmas present.  I had admired them when I was visiting her the past November.  It was like her to remember and send me a set of my very own.  I had not opened them yet.  On this night I would open them.  I wanted solace, anything to shed light on this crazy thing that was happening in my life.

So I opened my new pack of angel cards, handling them with reverence.  I wasn’t rushing.  I was ready to accept, ready to make sense of this craziness.  I drew play, an angel playing on the beach with a red beach ball.  I was stunned.  I was mad.  I thought these silly cards don’t work and here was the proof!

This is the angel card that I pulled on February 23, 1997.
The Play angel card.

 

I began to gather them up and carefully put them back in the box.  I was closing the flap on the box when I noticed that one card was in the wrong direction.  Now I was just pissed.  I pulled that card out to place it correctly and I literally gasped!  SURRENDER.  Yes indeed I need to surrender.

Surrender Angel Card
This is the actual card that I drew on February 23, 1997.

February 24, 1997 

SL’s office was in Maryland.  I lived in Virginia.  Initially I was not happy about this drive but it proved to be a time of reflection and centering for me.  Today it seemed like a thousand miles.

On this particular day I arrived early and made me some tea.  To this day the smell of that tea reminds me of SL and her office.

And It Happens!  

JMF arrives and we exchange pleasantries.  He gives me a birthday card and a small box.  He looks and acts sheepish.  I can’t really read him.  Maybe it is more like he would like to be anywhere but here.  Anyway I unwrap the present and it is the smallest pair of amythest earrings.  I thanked him.  Later both the card and box would go in the trash.

SL came out.  I remember getting out of the chair, feeling like I weighed a ton and was being led to the slaughter.  My knee caps were literally shaking.  SL begins to talk to me.  “Have you ever thought of JMF having an affair?”  What a laughable question! “Of course not! JMF isn’t that kind of person. No!” She asks in another way, “On a scale of 1 to 10, where would JMF fit?”  “No way!  A zero!”  On and on this went and I began to feel agitated.  Around the sixth attempt something inside of me shifted.  I looked at JMF and then back at SL and back to JMF.  “Did you have an affair?” He can only nod his head.  He’s got no words. Now I am furious and this is the exact moment in time that I uttered the word f*#k.  “F*#k you!  F*#k you! F*#k you!”  Sheepishly he says, “it wasn’t with _____ (a colleague of his).”  I shot back, “Of course not.  She has principles you f*#k head.”  It’s just too bad SL didn’t count how many times I said this word.  It was a lot.  Just “f*#k you” over and over and over.  Gratefully the “therapist hour” was over.

Welcome to the new world.
Welcome to the new world!

My New Word, My New World!

I drove to my friend’s house.  Only the angels can answer how I arrived there safely.  I literally collapsed on the floor at her front door and stayed on the floor crying for hours.  My next memory is getting dinner for take out and arriving back at my home.  I opened the door, shut it and leaned my back on the door as it closed and surveyed my home.  I said, “thank you God.  This is all mine.”  Oddly I felt relieved, at peace.  At least I had the truth.  The past month was living a lie, a secret and secrets can kill you.  Thank you God that I was alive and well.  It was my birthday.  I thought it rather fitting in that I had just been re-birthed.  Thank you!

January 14, 2018

So I often think of that “play” angel card.  It was on the mark and I just wasn’t ready for it that night but the seed was planted.  That seed germinated over time and today “play” is in my vocabulary.  Playing in the sweet spot! Living in the sweet spot!

Where are you?

Do you find it hard to find play in your life?  Where are your sweet spots in the midst of sadness or loss?  Write me about it!  What do you find helpful to find the sweet spot?  I’m looking forward to hearing your stories.