United Kingdom

My dad married his mistress and then wrote me a letter cutting off all contact


I’d always had a close relationship with my dad. 

We shared so many passions and interests – like gymnastics and writing – and he helped me believe I could achieve my dream of one day being a published author.

But that all changed when, a few days after Christmas in 2009, the year I got married, I woke up to a voicemail message from him. It will be etched on my brain forever.

My parents had been married for over 40 years by this point. I believed he was incredibly loyal. I could tell from his voice that something was wrong, but the last thing I expected him to tell me was that he was having an affair.

He didn’t give any detail about who she was, how long their relationship had been going on or even where he was going to live. He just said he was leaving Mum to live with another woman.

He moved out that day.

I was 36 and my sister was 39 at the time. I thought my world had ended. My sister and I didn’t know where he’d gone or if we’d see him again.

Despite what he’d done, I loved him – and I was worried about him, too. He’d said he would be in touch, but his mobile was switched off and emails went unanswered. I felt abandoned and lost.

His leaving hit Mum hard so the next few months were spent building her back up again. It was a huge shock that had come out of the blue for everyone.

But as we started to think back, we put some pieces together about his behaviour. Trips away for work turned out to be days with the woman he was having an affair with.

We found out later that it had been going on for about five years by the time he left.

I was sad that he didn’t want my sister and I to be part of his wedding

Five years of him living a double life. His deception made me think everything I’d known about him had been a lie.

But despite what had happened, he was our dad  – so it was a relief when he finally phoned a few weeks after he’d left.

My sister and I wanted to know he was OK and work out how to move on from what had happened so we could continue to have a great relationship with him.

Initially he said he wanted to bring his new partner to our first meeting – but at least at first, we needed to meet with just him, alone. Until that point, he’d been the anchor in our family. The one I always went to if I had a problem. The one I looked up to.

After a lot of persuading by us, he agreed to meet us by himself.

We asked lots of questions and told him what we thought about what he’d done. But also laid the foundations for the start of a new phase in our new relationship.  

The next few years saw us finding our way in the new landscape. We met our stepmother and tried to make an effort.

But it was hard. She was someone from his past who we’d met before, but she introduced herself as a stranger. Any attempts we made to involve her in conversations were often met with one-word answers and we found it difficult to get to know her.

We started to get the impression that Dad couldn’t do anything on his own without her say so, which was so unlike the man we knew. Spontaneous phone calls became less and less. We couldn’t just ‘drop in’ to see him. Meetings had to be arranged and felt like we were in a stranger’s house.

They got married at some point after the divorce was finalised and told us about it afterwards. I’d have loved to have been there. I was very disappointed in him for the way he’d treated Mum, but I wanted him to be happy and hoped he would be with his new partner. So I was sad that he didn’t want my sister and I to be part of that.

About three years after he left, my dad and his new partner came to our house just before Christmas. My sister, her husband, and my two nieces came too. We had a lovely afternoon, full of laughter and smiles, and everyone seemed to have a great time. It felt like we’d turned a corner.

A letter was such a cold and calculated way of ending our relationship

But a few months later, my sister and I received a letter no child should ever get from a parent. I couldn’t believe the words I was reading. The letter was typed but Dad had signed his name at the end. 

He said that he was disappointed with us because of the way we’d treated his new wife. That we hadn’t tried to get to know her or build a relationship with her, and we were clearly not able to move on from their affair. 

He ended by saying he didn’t regret being our father, that he loved us, but he’d decided the best thing for everyone was to end our relationship.  

I was completely blindsided. Our last meeting had been lovely. I thought we were making progress. While we struggled to forgive the deceit, we truly wanted to move on. Mum had started to rebuild her life. She was happy and enjoying her new-found freedom. 

After our initial shock, we became incredibly angry. He didn’t even have the decency to speak to us in person or give us the chance to say anything. A letter was such a cold and calculated way of ending our relationship.

We decided we weren’t going to let him just walk away. We replied, telling him how we felt and that we wanted them to be part of our lives; and we continued to send birthday and Christmas cards.

And to our surprise, we received them in return. Every card was hand-written by him, signed with both their names. We hoped that meant his decision wasn’t final. And that, in time, we could get back on track.

My sister and I became carers for his sister, our wonderful aunty. She loved him dearly but struggled to understand or come to terms with what he’d done. We contacted him when she was close to passing so he could make his peace with her. When Dad and his wife came to see her, we thought that was the start of repairing our relationship.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t have been more wrong. A couple of months after my aunty’s funeral, my sister and I received another letter from Dad. The content took my breath away. 

This time he held nothing back and told us he wanted nothing more to do with us. He said he couldn’t forgive us for not involving us in his sister’s funeral, which we had. He’d helped us contact her friends and was involved in the organisation of the ceremony. We made sure the celebrant spoke to him so his words were included in the service.  

He again told us he loved us but ended by saying he didn’t want to see or hear from us again.  

Once my tears dried up, everything felt clearer. I’d been engulfed with shame and embarrassment for so long because the man I’d looked up to forever, didn’t want me. And I’d wasted so much energy over the last few years hoping he’d want us back in his life.

Now that I know he doesn’t, I’ve got closure. And while it’s incredibly sad, I can finally start to move on.



Degrees of Separation

This series aims to offer a nuanced look at familial estrangement.

Estrangement is not a one-size-fits-all situation, and we want to give voice to those who’ve been through it themselves.

If you’ve experienced estrangement personally and want to share your story, you can email [email protected] and/or [email protected]


MORE : I haven’t seen my baby brother since my mum abandoned me


MORE : How to know when it’s right to make up with an estranged family member


MORE : What to do if a family member cuts ties with you





Source link

Back to top button