for years and years, i had a secret. i tried to ignore it, pretend it didn't exist. i tried to rationalize my behavior because of it, i tried to blame my problems on it. i tried to imagine my life without it; i compared myself with those who had perfect family lives, perfect parents, and i pretended i was one of them.
i was 12 when i found out that my dad had an affair. it was the late summer, and i was taking a nap in my bed. it was the afternoon and i still remember laying face down, soaking up the heat of my bedroom that faced the sunset. i remember the phone ringing, my mom screaming, and i remember the slamming door as she left.
i remember the weeks that my dad no longer lived with us. i had just started the eighth grade. i remember him calling and crying to me, i remember my mom telling us they were going to get a divorce, i remember going to dinner with my dad and my siblings, without my mom. i remember thinking about the friends i had with divorced parents and the hurt that i saw in their eyes. i remember fearing that i would become one of them.
it was never said, but i always knew. i always knew he had cheated, i didn't need to hear it from him and i didn't need to hear it from her.
i stayed up late one night doing homework in the office of the house i grew up in. we had a second phone line and it rang, past midnight. i answered it, wondering who could possibly be calling at such an hour. a woman's voice replied to my hello.
"is your dad there?" she said, angrily.
"yes, may i ask who's calling?" i said, as i was trained to do. we have good manners, my siblings and i.
"does it really matter?" she responded.
i didn't need to hear it from my dad, i didn't need to hear it from her, i always knew.
i was 18 when i found out about the child.
it was summer and i was working at nordstrom. i was home from college and about to go on my first trip to europe. i was counting down the days, filled with so much excitement and life. i was on my lunch break, walking through the mall, when i checked the new anonymous comment on my blog.
"you're such an idiot. don't you know that the reason you guys moved to coto is because your dad had a baby with someone else? don't you know you have a sister?"
and i stopped breathing.
i remember sitting on the bridge to the parking structure, crying hysterically. begging my mom to tell me it wasn't true. i remember feeling helpless, like my life was a lie, like i had been living someone else's dream. this couldn't be true. but it was.
i always tell people that to have a good relationship, you and your partner have to see each other on the best and worst days of each other's lives. this was the worst day of my life, and david came and saved me. he always saves me.
the truth is, i am not one of those people who have perfect family lives with happy memories and loving parents and laughter filled families. i grew up with a dad who was a cheater, a dad who wasn't around, a dad who probably could not name a single one of my favorite teachers or best friends or boys that i liked.
but oh how i lie! and oh, how good i am at it. for the longest time, i would tell you straight to your face that i have a loving father who is good as gold. for the longest time, i would die before i told anyone my secret.
and truth is, there is a 13 year old girl on this planet who shares half of my dna. i have never met her, i don't plan on meeting her, but in the most wrong way, a part of me lives in her.
ernest hemingway said that we should write about what hurts. and i like to think i'm making him proud with this post, because it hurts. it hurts that i didn't get the upbringing i deserved. it hurts that my siblings will have to put themselves through college, even though my dad makes an extremely comfortable living. it hurts that my daughter won't know her grandfather. it hurts that david has had to heal my daddy-issues over a million times. it hurts that there is a thirteen year old girl out there who doesn't know her biological father, the reason she's alive.
i like to think that there's a silver lining behind all of this. i like to think that because of this trial and this pain, God sent me david. i truly believe that.
i also believe that this experience has taught me how to be a mother. it has showed me first hand the pain and heartache that a parents' choices can have on a child, however unfair it may be. years ago, when i sat on the bridge to the parking structure and thought that life as i knew it was over, i promised myself that my future children, my daughter, would have better. it's a promise i made and a promise i will go to the grave keeping.
this trial has empowered me to know that i can deal with hard things, and that is the concept behind this blog; there can be ugly, terrible, wrong, unfair things in my life and i can choose to be happy. i can choose to see the silver lining, to deal with hard things, to come from a dysfunctional family and be happy anyway.