This I Believe

Kimberly - Northville, Michigan
Entered on May 2, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

When given the assignment to write an essay to be submitted to NPR, I first decided to do some research on the website to determine what types of essays were acceptable and which issues were frequently discussed. Most of the essays I read were positive, uplifting and inspirational; they focused on positive outcomes, finding the good in life and analyzing events that have shaped and/or changed lives. I tried to think of a situation that occurred in my life that would fit into one of these categories… but found few worth discussing. There was only one event in my life that has shaped and changed me, but it was not for the better.

I love my family with all of my heart. Not a day goes by without me thinking about them. My family has always and will always remain the most important thing in my life. Being so family oriented, the very idea of breaking up the “family unit” was devastating, and so when my parents announced their decision to get a divorce, my world had come to a complete halt. In the end, they decided not to go through with the divorce, but the doubt was instilled and I will forever be fixated on it.

My parents have been married for nearly three decades. The doubt of my father’s fidelity had first come to fruition when increasingly late work nights and constant text messaging had started consuming his life. The text messaging was especially odd, coming from a man who is anything but electronically inclined and also considering that I was the one who had to program his cell phone. The suspicion was confirmed after a call from his mistress to our house, the returning of gifts bought for her, the discovery of various receipts and other “evidence.” All of these things were family knowledge, but I know of other things that my father may not even know that I have witnessed. Most of these things include over-hearing phone calls made between my father and the “other woman.”

When my parents informed me and my sisters of their decision to get a divorce, I was afraid of losing everything that I had grown accustomed to and valued, all of the things that I lived for and aspired to attain one day. I thought of all of the family vacations that would never happen and all of the family dinners and game nights that would never be experienced. I did not put much energy into what I would have done if I were in my mother’s position, even though I should have. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest, I was also in a state of complete shock and denial for a short period of time. I had never felt these emotions before and was not even sure whether or not I should have. I was 18 years old and thought that my feelings may be considered naïve and selfish, that I was old enough to come to grips with the realization that “crap” happens and that my life was not over.

Despite my parents’ decision to work things out and stay married, the damage was done and the doubt will forever be in the back of my mind. Because of this “scare,” I will never fully trust my father when it comes to his whereabouts and intentions. I now find myself analyzing every action he makes. Whether it is his excuse for being late, the reason why he slept on the couch the previous night, down to checking whether or not his boots are laced up when he takes them off. I find myself checking his cell phone for received and dialed numbers and questioning every call he ignores when I am with him.

My father’s actions have forever changed our relationship and have caused me to obsess over details that I had no reason to dwell on before he strayed from the family. Due to my father’s actions, I believe that I will have a very hard time fully trusting another man, even though I know that all men do not commit the same lapses in judgment. From the very start of this entire ordeal, I had developed this idea that summarizes all of my feelings towards this issue, “When my father strayed, not only did he cheat on my mother, but he also cheated on me and my sisters.”