So, I Have a Brother…

1350860_hand-in-handI 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.

After 29 years, brother and sister meet.
After 29 years, brother and sister meet.

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.

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18 thoughts on “So, I Have a Brother…

  1. Debi

    Dam Brenda, what a bombshell. I had no idea. I hope that your newly discovered family will be everything you are hoping for and more.

  2. Laurie Velkov

    So glad you got to meet him and have found a connection. Although, I know my sister and Mark have been a wonderful family, even before you married Matt, it is nice to have blood family. I hope that you and your brother continue to get to know each other and that soon you will meet your nieces. The age difference, at this age will not be as difficult to bridge at this age as it is when you are younger. I know because it appears it is about the same as Kayla and Lance. I am so happy for you!! Enjoy these moments. Love you.

    1. Thanks, Laurie. Yes, Lynda & Mark have been wonderful to me. That’s definitely helped! But yes, it’s quite strange having this other person out there with my last name and my dad’s face, you know? It’s going to take time to get used to but I know the hardest part is over now. We’ve met and broke the ice. I’m quite happy about that 🙂

  3. Todd Stokes

    My dearest little sister, I couldn’t be more proud to be your brother. I am sure some would ask that if I knew about you all these years why I didn’t try to reach out and make contact. As I explained to you during our lunch I made many attempts over the years with phone calls or just showing up at the house, not only to meet you my sister but also to try and reconnect with our dad and have some form of a relationship with the man. I was hidden from you as they hid you and themselves not just from me but the world outside thier own front door. I would understand if I was some sort of trouble maker or bad person, aressted? Never. Prison? Nope. Drug user? Not a chance. Just a normal guy who was trying to fill a void in his life. Do I hold a grudge? Not really.So much time has passed and so many things have gone on in my life that I just didn’t see the point of sitting around and dwelling on something that wasn’t going to change. My wife can tell you as can some of my closest friends, I have always said that I have a sister that dosen’t even know I exsist. But all that has changed and I couldn’t be happier about it. Brenda,you and I can only move forward from this and do the best we can to build a relationship as brother and sister. It’s true many years were stolen from us but it’s what we do with these coming years that count.
    Love Ya,
    Your brother Todd

    1. I know you tried to meet me many times and were met with obstacle after obstacle. I will never understand that. Ever! It wasn’t fair to either of us and I wouldn’t have blamed you for just giving up entirely! Because really. What a mess this all is! Still, I’m glad you let me know you were out there and understood it took me some time to deal with the sudden, “hey you have a brother” news. I’m glad to know you exist. I’m glad we met and I’m glad my future will have you in it. It’s only right! Love ya too, big bro!

  4. Jeanne

    Well, well, well! Nice to finally meet you, Brenda. I am one, of many many cousins of Todd’s on his mothers side. May I be the first to say “Welcome”! I have known about you for, let’s see, yep, your entire life. Actually, there are many of us on this side of Tood’s family that knew about you. I sure wish things would have been different for the two of you. But, wasn’t my choice. From Saturday on, make the best of what is to. For you two, don’t dwell on what wasn’t or what could have been. You have so much to look forward to. I have 4 brothers and 2 sisters, and don’t know what I would have done without one single one of them. We lost one of our brothers 2 years ago, and it’s such a huge hole in my heart to have “one of us” gone. Your wasting time and energy on something you can’t change. Go forward and love each other and their families. I used to love my favorite Uncle Bill deeply when I was young. He used to be a really “cool” guy. We may never know the why people choose, but they did. Let’s move forward! We welcome you and I so look forward to meeting you!
    Lovingly, Jeanne

    1. Nice to meet you, too, Jeanne! Thanks for the welcome. 🙂 I wish things had been different, too, but like you said, you can’t change the past. I’m looking forward to having a relationship with Todd and his family from now on. That’s the positive takeaway from all of this and I look forward to meeting you, too! 🙂

  5. Marilyn

    BRENDA, It is such wonderful news that you have found your brother and it looks like there is lots of other family members that want to meet you.You are such a wonderful young woman and a very sweet person.
    and I’m so glad you are in my family. Hugs GGMm

  6. Arlene Holman

    Hi Brenda and welcome to the Crazy Maddox family. I am sure in time you will hear lots of wild and crazy stories about the Maddox Clan. I grew up with Todd’s mom and your Dad. My husband and I used to bowl with them and we did lots of things together. I always liked your Dad, but haven’t seen him of heard much of him since the early 60’s. We have all made mistakes in our lives and now all we can do is go forward an try to have the best life possible with what time we have left. It is just great that you and Todd have finally met and can have a good relationship from this day forward. Hope you can make it to the next Maddox Family Reunion. It would be great to meet you. Take care and live each day to its fullest.

    1. Thank you for the welcome, Arlene! I appreciate you taking the time to comment and I look forward to a bright future, learning about this whole other side to my family. 🙂

  7. Coincidentally, I found out as an adult that my mother (a hoarder) put her first baby up for adoption. I grew up with two sisters, but somewhere out there, I have a third sister, and none of us know anything about her.

  8. Pingback: When You Can’t See Beyond Yourself… | There Was a Shopping Cart in my Bedroom

  9. Sonya

    My friend’s mom had Borderline and Narcissistic personality disorders, and when my friend was in her late teens, she found out that her mom had been married before and had four children! My friend was the youngest of a SECOND set of four children that her mom had. My friend was then able to connect and meet her half-sisters 🙂 BTW, it sounds like your dad had Dependent personality disorder. If you are interested, you could google it and see if it fits what you saw and knew.

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