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Parents For Cheating

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Last summer I went on a pub crawl with a friend of a friend for his 30th birthday. The plan was to hit 30 spots (and have a drink at each one) but well before the 30th mark I knew someone had had too much — not because we were drunk and stumbling around, but because the conversation had turned from fun in the streets to broken homes and daddy issues. There, in the midst of my Saturday sangria, I was asked about my relationship with my father as my friend explained she hadn’t spoken to her own dad since she was in high school. The reason: He cheated on her mom and she never forgave him.

Though my friend’s sister had moved past the breakdown of her family unit as she knew it (the girls’ parents divorced), she couldn’t accept what her father had done to her mother and to her family. And so, a decade-and-a-half had gone by without a word spoken between the two.

I thought about that situation again this week as I read an article on Amy Schumer’s memoir, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, which was released Tuesday. In the collection of essays, Schumer discusses the breakdown of her relationship with her mother, sharing in this excerpt on PEOPLE how her mother revealed she was having an affair with Schumer’s best friend’s dad:

“One day after school I came home and saw my mother slumped on the couch. She’d clearly been crying hard.” Her mother was a teacher of the deaf, and signed what she was in no shape to say out loud. “I am leaving your father. Lou and I have fallen in love with each other.

“I was a child, new to my teens, and she was treating me like a seasoned psychiatrist,” she wrote.

Like my friend, Schumer was a teen at the time — 13 to be exact — and also similarly, her relationship with her cheating parent hasn’t been the same since. She told USA Today of where things stand with her mother now:

“We love each other and I’m really grateful to her and for her, but we’ll never be how we were. I  wrote that family is a constant negotiation so it’s constantly evolving, but we’ll never be close again.”

Considering 22 years have passed since her mother’s revelation, it would reason Schumer is right about the outlook of her strained relationship with her mom. Often, when conversations of infidelity arise concerning parents, people forget the spouse isn’t the only one who was betrayed; children often feel cheated on as well. It’s not just the pain of divorce that brings about those feelings of abandonment and disloyalty, it’s the idea that your mother or father would sacrifice his or her relationship with you and your other parent in favor of this other person. And just as some husbands and wives never get over an ex-spouse cheating on them, neither do a number of kids who’ve witnessed their families torn apart (even if only for a brief time) as a result. What would you do?

 

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