Dear Schwarzenegger Children,
True identity, the failure of memory, and total recall are themes of one of the movies your father was in, and I would imagine it is a theme you are dealing with as you try to figure out the truth and the lies in your family story.
I have been there too.
By nature of being children of a celebrity, politician, actor, and a man with an unbelievable personal life story, the issues surrounding your parent’s marriage are so very public. There are others like you, who are adults, or soon to be adults, whose parents are divorcing amidst difficult real-life drama. You are not alone. Our situations just are not so well known to the world.
Your family name is so very recognizable, but even for those of us whose names are not, there is a sense of uneasiness now when someone asks our family name, which in my case is my maiden name. I wonder if they know my father and what he did to contribute to my family’s breakdown. I wonder if they know the name if they will judge me by my father’s actions. I hope they don’t know the last name I grew up with, so I can have my own identity aside from the bad decisions my father made.
You no doubt feel pain for your mother’s hurt. You have witnessed and are part of a very profound type of betrayal by one parent toward another. Others recognize how terrible it truly is!!
David Swanson, a psychotherapist says of your mother today, "You've gone on record saying you would vouch for his character, he was that good of a man, and yet everything you believed in, your marriage, the character of your husband, it all falls down around you. If that's not the worst sense of betrayal, I don't know what is." ( CBS news may 18 , 2011)
And you feel your own hurt and betrayal. In an article I read, the following made a lot of sense to me ,as a fellow adult child who felt betrayal. “... healing will take time, especially because the children are most likely experiencing a sense of anger and "betrayal," according to Philadelphia clinical psychologist Ann Rosen Spector, who specializes in marriage and families.
"They feel for their mother and for themselves," she said. "The times when their father wasn't available to them, they wonder if it was because he was engaging in the affairs -- it wasn't just that they had to work late. The children feel cheated on too. The soccer games missed, the movie nights without the full family participation."
It does not feel good to hear people talk about a father that you love , no matter how upset you may be with that parent, in a way that is derogatory. You realize there is truth though in some of the things people say, but it is still hard to hear. Someone who didn’t know my father and heard about his affair and the circumstances concerning it, called him a “slut”. That is a lot for a child , adult or not, to digest. Cal Thomas wrote an article begging the question as to your father’s care for you and the message he is sending you and then he calls your father a total reprobate. “ Lesley Stahl asked him why he didn't tell Maria about the affair. "I didn't know how," he said. Sure he did. It's something like Lauren Bacall telling Humphrey Bogart how to whistle in "To Have and Have Not." He simply had to open his mouth and tell her. Was it political expediency that kept him quiet? What other explanation could there be?
Does he care nothing about his children and the message he has sent them? Apparently not, or he would have behaved more responsibly. Cal Thomas Oct 7 2012 article....he’s a total reprobate”
That hurts to hear, even though you may believe it to be true as well…
In closing, I want to encourage you that you are not alone. Your last name is recognizable , as is the last name Edwards, or other names the public recognizes.
But there are many of us adults whose parents are divorcing, who feel your pain.
May you find help and hope as you try to figure out truth from lies, set appropriate boundaries and get the counsel you need at this time.
Someone’s true identity and total recall of an affair is life-altering to adult children or minor children in a family. May you determine to make a different name for yourself!!!