As the Twig Is Bent
Certain rules have to be followed, or things go haywire. One of those rules is parents have to be the parents, and children must be allowed to be children. Children are not supposed to be their parents' friend; or worse, their confidant; or worse, their confessor.
That very basic covenant was broken. Ellen didn't stand a chance.
Ellen's parents got engaged while her father was in the Navy. Although they were engaged, he continued to date other women.
"They didn't get off to a good start," says Ellen.
And things went downhill from there. "My mother told me my father wasn't very attentive to me. She resented that. They argued a lot. He was a hot-tempered and it didn't take much to ignite him. He would fight with anyone, but she got the brunt of it."
When Ellen was 3, her father's boss called her mother to tell her that her husband was having an affair with a woman at work and he was very brazen about it.
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"My mother was vulnerable and devastated. She was a young stay-at-home mother, reliant upon him, responsible for me. Back then she didn't have much of a backbone. My father would taunt her about being a wimp. Arguing was their form of communication, their normal."
Ellen says her mother wanted to get divorced but didn't feel she could. She began having affairs -- many, many affairs.
"She confided in me. The final count would be in the twenties. One of the men was my boss when I was just a teenager. That one lasted for a year or so."
At one point, Ellen's parents owned a business, and her mother would get involved with the customers. Ellen worked there as well. "One of the affairs lasted almost 10 years. Another was with my dad's best friend."