It has taken me a long time to even attempt to write this down and it’s an effort to condense my thoughts and feelings into something coherent. I’m hoping that putting pen to paper may alleviate some of my anxieties. It all started when I was about nine and your friend from work started helping Dad out with DIY projects and accompanying us on weekend wine runs to France and family holidays.
To begin with, it all seemed quite innocent. Dad needed a hand with things and your friend supplied his services in exchange for cups of coffee and evening meals. Early on, I remember you mentioned that you thought your work friend fancied you and as an easily embarrassed child I just giggled and ran off.
Since then, every Christmas and birthday, he has lavished you with gifts. You’re always happy to accept then, making excuses such as, “If he wants to waste his money on me, that’s fine.”
I can understand your attraction to him. You’ve always been desperate for attention and control.
Meanwhile, Dad is calm and reserved but resolute in his views. When you met somebody so eager to impress you, agree with you and take you for expensive meals while Dad was working the late shift, you couldn’t possibly resist.
You have no idea that I’ve seen the messages, lingering hugs and longing glances. I think the instance where you and I went away for my 12th birthday tops it off, though. I imagine it has slipped your memory but it’s firmly planted in mine. Your phone rang while we were in the hotel and I heard the voice at the other end say, “I’m just calling to say that I love you and I miss you” – except the voice wasn’t Dad’s.
Over the years, I’ve confronted you about the situation in my head on countless occasions. I’m not sure whether Dad knows. I’m sure he has suspicions but has chosen to ignore them in the hope of leading a quiet life in his later years.
I remember when Dad was in hospital, you said, “X thinks he could replace Dad if anything happens to him.” That will never happen. If Dad leaves us before you, I’ll be ready to cut all ties. I have to remind myself that I’d lose contact with Dad if I said anything now and I’m not sure how he’d cope with the commotion at his age.
I’m still trying to come to terms with the way that you continue to deceive your family and friends. You think that everyone is oblivious to your secret: that you have been having an affair for almost 15 years with a man whom everyone mocks for his lack of personality, gormlessness and general ignorance. It’s surprising, too, given that you left your first husband because of his infidelity.
Perhaps the hardest thing to bear is knowing that you are unaware of the damage that you have already caused. Our relationship is built on lies and you don’t realise that I figured that out a long time ago. Your behaviour has left deep wounds that will never heal. You often accuse me of lacking feelings but how could I ever share my thoughts and desires with anyone when the one person a daughter should be able to trust and count on for honesty and advice is all but a distant memory, and has been since your friend entered our lives all those years ago?
Your “darling daughter”
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