I grew up thinking I was an only child. You and me and the baby makes three. What a perfect little family. My mom and dad met, got married, thought they couldn’t have children, then thirteen years later, they had me. What a perfect little miracle. You know, I remember my mom saying that over and over again: “We tried for thirteen years then finally had Brenda. She’s our little miracle.”
Of course, none of that was true. Because my family tells lies with the ease others tell the truth.
Turns out, my dad was married before and had a kid. Apparently, his parents made him pay child support because they wanted to be a part of their grandson’s life. And he may very well have left his first wife for my mother.
That would all be bad enough, right? But that’s where my story begins. My mom, wanting the perfect family, decided to hide the fact that I had a brother and that my dad had been married before. And my dad went along with it. Why? I couldn’t tell you. But it’s obvious he doesn’t think for himself. I thought it was something that developed over time as he got older, but apparently, the passivity is a trait he’d honed to perfection years ago.
My dad told me about my brother a few years ago finally, out of guilt. I was 22. Yes, the truth (or some semblance of it) came out when I was 22 years old. Ridiculous, right? And as more details surface about the circumstances of his divorce, things start to click into place. Of course, my parents would lie to me. Of course they would. Because their relationship was born out of lies and if my mom was to hang onto the narrative that we were the perfect little family, she’d have to cover up the fact that she was the other woman. My dad would have to cover up the fact that he’d made some seriously bad choices. The burden of information would tarnish my image of them.
What’s funny, is if they’d just told me about my brother in the first place, I probably wouldn’t have dug for more information. But the notion of being lied to is toxic and eats at you until you have to say something, do something. Finding out the truth is imperative.
All of this rests heavy in my head but the real reason I’m writing this post is positive. I met my brother for the very first time last weekend. He’s 45. I’m almost 29. He’s known about me my whole life and I’ve known about him for about 6 years. That dynamic is weird enough. But seeing him face to face solidified a lot of things I’d been trying to avoid: my parents aren’t who I thought they were; they’ve lied to me since I could understand words; my upbringing was even stranger than I give it credit for.
The good news? My brother is pretty cool and damn if he doesn’t look exactly like our dad. That’s a weird thing to say. “Our” dad. Small things like that drawn attention of the strange situation we’ve been put into every time I open my mouth. His wife, my sister-in-law, is super nice and apparently, I have two nieces on that side. After reconnecting with my cousin recently, it’s nice to have even more blood-related family. After enduring a childhood where I was kept away from everyone I was related to because my parents were afraid I’d learn the truth, it feels good to be making these connections.
Don’t get me wrong. My in-laws have been wonderful. They’ve been there for me for the past almost 11 years, giving me the support I needed, being there for me, and giving me family experiences I missed out on as a kid. Still. It’s nice to know my blood line isn’t entirely tainted with the crazy.
During our late lunch, I felt oddly at ease. I’m a pretty high strung person but I think the fact we had so much to talk about and we had some shared knowledge drew the attention away from “OMG this is weird” and put it on “Can you believe this situation we’ve been put in?”
The truth of the matter is what’s happened to Todd and I wasn’t fair. We were denied the chance to be in each other’s lives from the outset. Nothing can get back that lost time but at least now we can connect and have some sort of relationship.
Because that’s what we deserve.