In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

A Letter To My Father’s Mistress

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Life as the other woman is just SO hard. You can’t put pictures of your cute little getaways on social media, you can’t brag to all of your friends how awesome your new man is, and you can’t bring him home to meet the folks. Your sleepovers are few and far between and you know you’ll never get that goodnight or good morning text from him because he’s at home with his family. Oh shit — did you forget about those other people? Y’know, his wife? His children? You probably didn’t think it would matter; you probably figured it was just a little affair and we would never find out. We’ll just go on and live the rest of our lives completely unaffected by it, right?

Nope. I am the child of a cheating father and believe me, I’ve been deeply affected by the mistakes you’ve made. In fact the pain that you’ve caused me will follow me for the rest of my life. Soon after my father’s infidelities came to light I struggled with depression, anxiety, and binge drinking — problems that I had never had before you were around. I was in so deep I didn’t realize I was spiraling out of control until I had nearly destroyed my academic career, my friendships and my relationships. The selfish choices you made ruined my whole family. Not just my mom, and not just me or my sister either. But his parents too. His sisters, nieces and nephews. My mom’s sisters and her nieces and nephews. It ruined my relationship with my boyfriend of two years because I couldn’t deal with the stress you caused. People have openly mocked me about my dad being a philanderer and I can’t say anything back because it’s true. Do you have any idea how it feels to come home to your crying, depressed mother and have to be the one to comfort her because of mistakes YOU made? Members of my family (myself included) had mental breakdowns because of the pain that YOU caused. The worst part is that I had to accept you or face the threat of being cut out of my father’s life. Because, after all of this, he’s still crass enough to continue dating you. Yeah, he may have left her, but don’t you dare believe he ever did it for you.

THIS is not a little affair and you’re ruining people’s lives far beyond your own. It’s bad enough to disregard his wife, but the damage you’ve caused me and everyone else will haunt us forever and you will eventually pay for what you’ve done. You can attempt to justify your decision by saying he was unhappy and that, if it weren’t you, he would have probably just cheated with another woman. But it’s not your place to decide “If not me, someone else.” You let it be someone else.

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Life as the other woman is just SO hard. You can’t put pictures of your cute little getaways on social media, you can’t brag to all of your friends how awesome your new man is, and you can’t bring him home to meet the folks. Your sleepovers are few and far between and you know you’ll never get that goodnight or good morning text from him because he’s at home with his family. Oh shit — did you forget about those other people? Y’know, his wife? His children? You probably didn’t think it would matter; you probably figured it was just a little affair and we would never find out. We’ll just go on and live the rest of our lives completely unaffected by it, right?

Nope. I am the child of a cheating father and believe me, I’ve been deeply affected by the mistakes you’ve made. In fact…

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2 thoughts on “A Letter To My Father’s Mistress

  1. This young lady is obviously in a lot of pain. Pain that has/had become the core of her life. I truly feel for her. Her anguish over this betrayal is palpable and anyone who has a heart would want to reach out to her to help in some way.

    But we do not know whether this woman pursued her father, or if her father pursued this woman. Yet, even if we did, it does not matter who did the pursuing. What matters is that both her father and this woman agreed to be caught prey. In any such engagement it is always a choice made by two. This young lady misses – or conveniently forgets – that point. It’s as if she is still trying to believe in an imagined fatherly virtue that clearly does not exist. By uttering her final words, “You let it be someone else.”, she is tacitly admitting she doesn’t know (and, doesn’t know she doesn’t know) that her father is at least, if not more, culpable in her suffering. She would be writing the same letter to the “someone else”, and that woman’s “someone else”, and so on without ever addressing the real source of her altered life: her own father.

    Perhaps that is a pain far too enormous for her to bear. Maybe she DOES know his part in this clandestine passion play and is simply too afraid of the consequences to her own psyche to confront him. But to genuinely heal she must at some point acknowledge why she doesn’t want to.

    • While I am not unmindful or unsympathetic to this girl’s pain and believe the consequences tragic, I think her youth does not allow her to understand that yes, the mistress owed her a duty to be responsible about affecting other people’s lives, but moreso her own father. All people need to act with conscience and compassion generally. I find it interesting from a feminist perspective that she blames the mistress, calls upon her to lead with good morality and conscience, as if she expects that of the woman, who she assumes is the mmother, the strength, as she excuses her father and protects him as if lacking any culpability in not looking out for his daughter’s interst over his own. I have responded with a possible answer in today’s post: no one owes you anything. Make your own way with what has been given to you–though not everyone has the fortitude and constitution to do so.

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