I’ve often wondered what it was that possessed my father to cheat on my mother. What motivates a person to commit adultery, transgress the sanctity of marriage with such flippancy and leave your wife and children for another woman? As a father I find it inconceivable to acquiesce to a decision that has such devastating repercussions for the solidarity of our family unit. Was it lust? Did he feel trapped in a loveless marriage? Was he bored? Was there a genuine belief that infidelity was a preferable alternative? Or was he merely predisposed to his impetuous inclinations? A genetic trait that appears to afflict the men on my father’s side of the family? I don’t know the answer, and I’m not sure that the solution would give any kind of solace, but what I do know is that any burgeoning relationship we may have had, has been subsequently destroyed as a result of his actions.
The act itself was beyond my comprehension. For context I must have been 9 or 10 years old when my father left. Neither of my parents imparted to myself the particulars for his sudden absence, not voluntarily at least. But that day is a memory, vividly etched in my subconscious. Though my father was subject to limited noncustodial visitations on Sundays with my sister and I, it was evident that my father did this purely because it was required, not because he wanted too. Even though his desertion was a critical wedge between father and son, I think the real impetus for our estrangement was that you got the distinct impression that he didn’t like us. Perhaps that is a projection of my own neurosis. An understandable insecurity that can emerge from such a sudden, life altering incident. But the lack of correspondence between my father and myself over the last decade or so, despite the birth of his granddaughter, would suggest that my suspicions were correct.
The concern for me now isn’t reconciliation, but the apprehension that I might be capable of repeating the same mistakes. Considering the devastation my sister, mother and myself suffered because of my father’s betrayal, not to mention that his subsequent marriage ended in divorce anyway, the idea of emulating his mistake terrifies me. I realise we are not beholden to our parents mistakes, not destined to repeat the sins of our fathers. And though I do feel burdened by it, I’m emboldened to not repeat them. What gives me solace is the fact that the ceaseless devotion I have for my little family unit. That the preservation to their happiness supercedes the ostensible genetic predisposition for infidelity.
If at some point my partner and myself discovered through the natural passage of time that our paths become inextricably diverged, then that is a conversation we would have to engage in, however unpleasant, to decide the best recourse going forward. But to forsake such a privileged endowment, with such a casual regard for the people you should be protecting most, in the pursuit of satisfying your own lustful urges is inexcusable.
It’s fair to say that I am still aggrieved by my father’s duplicity. And I don’t think that will ever change.