I woke up this morning from my recurring nightmare – my husband cheating on me. The hardest part of the dream is that he doesn’t seem to care. In the dream I always struggle to punish him and make him feel bad, but he never does and I’m left feeling powerless. I know this dream is a reminder of my own self-betrayal, my lack of compassion for myself, but today I realized there was something more; maybe I’m angry at my father for turning his back on me, or maybe in seeking his approval it was I who turned my back on myself. This dream is a wake up call to let go of the skeletons in the closet and set myself free, not to be bound by what others think but to recognize my own truth. I’ve been shrouded in secrets since the time of my conception. I was a secret. I was carried in my mother’s womb disguised as the child of her husband, but in truth I was the child of her lover. In more clandestine conversations there had been debate with my ‘real’ father as to whether I would live or die. I’m not sure if my mom truly wanted me or if my biological father’s desire to abort me was the impetus to keep me alive. I was not the first child that had gone this road (I have an older brother born in the same circumstances) but I was the last to live. My mother had 3 or 4 abortions after me. When I asked her why she hadn’t kept those children she said she couldn’t keep them because she was no longer married (my legal parents divorced when I was an infant). It was not until I was 9 that I found out the man I had always called ‘dad’ was in fact not my father, and that actually ‘uncle Jerry’ was my father. This revelation – along with other secrets in our house – was a source of deep shame and I also feared that I might now somehow become separated from my 2 eldest siblings who were not from the same affair. I felt trapped between 2 worlds neither of which I felt safe in. My mother’s affair lasted 35 years on and off, during which time I tried desperately to punish my father. I withheld any love I felt for him – this was the only way I knew how to take my power – but I only ended up sad and angry.
In betraying their spouses both of my parents betrayed themselves. They lived in the fear and shame of others finding out their secret, and so I took on their shame believing that my existence was the embodiment of their shame. I have lived with this all my life and carried it with me, too ashamed to even tell my own children. When my eldest brother told me that he had told his 14 year old son about it I could feel my whole body go weak. At first I felt like I could never face my nephew again; He now knew my truth, that I was sub-human. If someone told me the same story about themselves I would not have the same reaction as I do to my own story, but for some reason it has been so hard to shake. Even thinking about writing this today made my ulcer (which has not bothered me in over a year) act up. However I must accept this part of me, and today to publish this online for anyone to see is a huge step for me, a step into the unknown. I don’t even know if there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it might remain the same but I cannot stay here any longer. I have already sabotaged my life long enough, and just as all children take on their parents baggage, it breaks my heart to know that my children will feel this shame unless I change.
As for my parents, they were only human. No one is perfect. We all have our fears and worries, and sometimes we cannot see a better way. It’s hard not to stumble in the darkness. There is no sense in punishment, when people are afraid to speak their truth only compassion can bring light to the darkness.
This summer I met a woman with a story similar to mine. She was also the product of an affair but had been adopted at birth by 2 people who deeply wanted her. At age 6 when she found out that she was adopted she was delighted! She felt so honored that she had been hand-picked. This change in perspective is where I want to be heading – to see my light not my shame, to help my children see their light and not to be burdened by my emotional baggage. So there it is; my dark secret, the worst of me, at least for today. There is only so much baggage I can unload at once.
I can’t wrap this blog entry up in a pretty ending because I’m not even sure yet what I’ve done, or what will happen by putting this out into the open. So thank you, dear reader, for shining your light on my words, I am truly grateful.