A Devastated Daughter's Dilemma
Let me start by saying that I am aware this site is meant for adults with marital experience. I am an 18 year old daughter who stumbled upon this site by Googling advice, and after scanning many topics on this board, I feel like this community may give me some of the comfort and advice I need in this difficult time. In short, my father is cheating, and while my mother and I have known this for a while, I actually overheard him on the phone with his OW myself while my mother was at work, and I am devastated. This is going to be a bit of a novel, but I have a lot to get off my chest.
The nature of the affair is this. My parents have been together since their senior year in high school, dated for six years, married, and have remained married for a total of 25 years. My parents were separated for a year when I was around 4 because my dad cheated with a woman he met online, and I lived with my mother. They reconciled, and have been together since. Sometime in the spring of 2011, my dad registered with a classmates reunion website. My parents have no contact with their old high school friends, have never attended the reunions, and are never particularly excited to run into old classmates, especially my dad—so this makes me think he was looking for an affair. He then began an affair with the high school girlfriend he dated before he started seeing my mom, even though she lives on the opposite side of the country. That summer, while I was at a college prep camp before my last year of high school, he told my mother he wanted to take a break from his stressful job of remodeling our house to take a weekend to himself and visit some of his favorite outdoors and sporting stores that are found the next state away. This was over Father’s Day weekend, and I tried to call him several times throughout the 4 days he was gone, and I was always switched to voicemail. I was legitimately worried he had an accident. On his way home days later, he called to cheerfully to spin some story about leaving his phone charger at home. I thought this was odd, since dad is really tech-savvy and would have stopped at the nearest gas station to buy a replacement, but I didn’t think anything of it. The summer went on.
Weeks into my senior year, the affair was exposed. My mom told me all the details of her DD and the sleuthing she had done, even revealing the OW’s first name to me. The next night, she confronted my dad and with divorce, announced that she had already found a rental home and could be out by the end of the week. My dad had a complete break down and promised to end it. My mom and I stayed. Things seemed to settle back to normal, but the whole thing kept nagging at me, especially the fact that he flat out lied to me after ignoring his own daughter’s Father’s Day phone calls. Eventually the nagging went away, but the lie still stayed at the back of my mind. My dad even had a tearful dinner with me while my mom was away for a weekend and apologized for hurting us. He seemed very genuine.
I’ve started college now, 40 minutes from home, and my mother told me in confidence that the affair is continuing. My dad has even mentioned going to see the OW. While I’ve been home this whole month for winter break, I’ve observed a lot of troubling behaviors in my dad. He is normally excited to spend time with me by watching our favorite movies, taking day trips to antique stores, and completely talking my ear off all day if I let him (he is a stay at home dad). This month, even when we’re in the same house all day, he holes up in his room on his laptop with the door shut and I usually can’t get more than a few words out of him until dinner when my mom comes home and he suddenly becomes social for a few hours, before retreating to his room while mom and I watch TV and chat. It’s like he doesn’t even want to be involved anymore.
My mom says she still loves my dad, but she is tired of being treated this way. She’s biding her time until he goes to visit the OW, and she plans to be gone by the time he returns. My mother’s best friend is also in a tumultuous relationship with her cheating ex husband who is now cheating on the original OW with my mom’s friend, and my dad is the first to criticize the man for being a sack of crap.
I’ve spent my break quietly taking notes on my dad’s behavior, but I’ve found nothing that proves anything and I’m always hoping my mom is wrong this time. As I said, I concluded without a doubt that my dad has continued the affair when I overheard him on the phone with the OW this afternoon. One thing that particularly struck me was him telling her, “I’ll let you know if things start going downhill fast these next few months.” Like he’s looking forward to wrecking his family. It’s odd because he flat out told my mom he has no intention to marry the OW, or move to her state, nor can she move to this state because she has joint custody of her young son.
Obviously, this was the thing that brought my whole world crashing down. Ever since my mother told me months ago, I haven’t slept much more than naps between classes, I’ve dropped nearly 30 pounds, I’m constantly starting fights with my own boyfriend of a year, my hair is falling out, I have migraines and frequently vomit from worrying too much. I’m paranoid about everything. Every time my mom calls me, I think she’s telling me dad is gone. Every time my boyfriend doesn’t text me after class, he’s sleeping with another girl. I’m worried about homework for classes in another semester I haven’t even gotten to yet, I’m extremely tough on myself academically, I cry myself to sleep most nights, I have gruesome nightmares of my dad literally butchering my mom, and I can’t get good sleep unless I’m drunk or overworked to exhaustion. I even literally hyperventilate thinking about everything from nuclear war to money to how I’m going to pay my rent 4-5 years from now when I’ve barely finished my first semester of college. I haven’t told anyone but my boyfriend, who I have only talked to about this once during a raging drunken meltdown. I am so ashamed. I have even gone so far as to stay up for an entire night hunting the OW down, discovering her full name, address, phone number, photo, work information, work email, and paying for a background check on her.
I know this isn’t healthy. I move back in to school this weekend, and I fully intend to make an appointment with the psychiatrist on Monday morning.
I am very, very close to my mom—she practically raised me on her own for 10 years while my dad worked on the road—and after a rocky relationship in my early teens, my dad and I actually developed a great relationship. I feel like all of that is shattered now. I am completely revolted by him, yet I keep acting like nothing is wrong. Today he heard me sobbing in the shower and immediately ran upstairs to check on me, and I lied about the noise coming from the shower. This is even harder for me to take –because— we have such a great relationship now. He isn’t a bad man, believe it or not. He did everything he possibly could to help my mom when her car went out this month, including driving her to work in a blizzard for three days after he got out of back surgery. He drove two and a half hours to pick me up from an out of control party at my friend’s college. He really loves me, and I know in his way he loves my mother, and that is why this hurts so much.
I guess what I need right now is to share my story and find some support. I haven’t told my mom about the phone conversation. I’m thinking of writing my dad a letter telling him exactly how I feel about the situation and about how much he’s hurt me, because I really don’t think he realizes his relationship isn’t just between him and the OW. I plan to ask him not to contact me for a few weeks, and that I won’t be coming home for a while. I honestly do not see a foreseeable time when I can forgive him for this, especially as long as the OW is in his life. I am angry, ashamed, and embarrassed of him, and I don’t know how I can trust him again. I hate to give anyone an ultimatum, but I don’t desire to share space in his life with the OW. If he doesn’t end things, I am prepared to cut contact with him until I feel like I can forgive—and that is not an empty threat, nor one I’ve thought up in a rage. It’s something I’ve known for a year since I found out about the affair to begin with. I’m even preparing arrangements to pay back what he’s given me for college tuition by the end of the year.
I am so, so angry and hurt. I really do want him to hurt like this, at least for a little while. I also honestly feel like keeping myself away from him for a few weeks will be the best for me. I’m mentally exhausted from being slammed in the face with his lies every day since I’ve been home, and I honestly want to focus on getting myself help and not needing to pretend all the time. I cannot let my life get any more out of control from this.