This follows on from the previous post, Early Teens.
My father’s affair lasted for two years and when he finally finished it, she went and told my mother. I was still living with her at the time. I had been told by my boyfriend, with her permission and I stayed. She persuaded me that if my mother wanted to, she would see what was going on in front of her and it was her choice not to. Having said at a party when she was tickling my father on the sofa, all innocently, ‘those two look just like they’re having an affair’, I let myself be persuaded.
I bitterly regret that betrayal now and wished I’d packed up my bags and gone home. My mother did eventually forgive me but at the time she kept asking me why I hadn’t said anything, why I hadn’t told her. My father was appalled that two of his daughters knew what had been going on. I think he found that harder than my mother knowing. He took me out to dinner and very briefly said sorry for behaving foolishly and that was it, never mentioned again.
I was angry with him for being foolish and for being weak, but I understood. After all I had seen the attraction and fallen for her myself. While at first I was very happy living with her, the cracks did appear. She was deeply manipulative and destructive, needing to be the centre of everybody’s attention and enjoying having emotional control of others. She was financially needy even though she earned a good living but she always needed more as she entertained most lavishly. In fact I think her trying to persuade my father that he should make a financial contribution to the upkeep of her children was what helped him end it. I realised I was being used, that she wanted to take me away from my mother so she could possess me as a trophy. I was uncomfortable with her but didn’t want to go home.
So I moved in with my new boyfriend. I didn’t tell my parents. She did and also told them I wasn’t a virgin anymore. I can’t quite remember the rationale for that although it allowed her centre stage in the drama but my father got very drunk very quietly. As an aside, he still find it awful contemplating the things that sis2 and I must have gone through in order to have children. We are still all his ‘little girls’, even now.
While all this was going on I was messing up my A’ levels as well. I had started doing four but after the first year dropped English as the books that I had loved or at least enjoyed before studying now made me want to scream. I had discussed it with my headteacher who had said go away, read the books again over the Summer and then decide, with no pressure. I was happy to do that until I got notified that I had to retake my end of year exam in August, so no gentle reading of the books. I felt the headteacher had lied to me as she must have been aware of this and just never went back to that class. It won’t come as any surprise that I wasn’t really concentrating. Not only was I not working hard, but I had a 2 hour commute each way to school on three trains (I must have been stark raving mad) that necessitated getting up at 6am. I was sleeping on top of a duvet as I hadn’t a bed which didn’t help my sleep either.
My father wanted me to go to Oxford, like he had and my sisters hadn’t so I was his last hope. I wanted to go to a vocational college for the profession I had chosen since I was 10 or so and had never varied from. He didn’t approve and we were arguing regularly. Eventually the school told him that I wasn’t going to get in so there was no point in fighting about it. So he gave in, but I had to make my own decision as to which college, not that I think I’d have taken any advice from my parents. He did support me financially while I was at college.
I chose a college with a world wide reputation, but unfortunately that was all it had. My boyfriend had moved from one side of London to the other so that I wouldn’t have to commute and we split up before we’d even finished unpacking.
I’m going to pause it there. I feel that I’ve only skimmed the surface of emotional turmoil that I went through in these years, that I need to go back and write more deeply about it all. A great deal happened in a relatively few years. I never caught up with it and I never really found the time to sit back and think about what was going on. I was on a rollercoaster and I couldn’t get off.