24 January 2011

Secrets

I've been toying about writing about some pretty big family secrets for quite a while now, but I finally feel ready to share.

My parents, particularly my mother, are very secretive. From a very young age I knew that my parents weren't the typical parents. They were loving enough, in their own way, but I figured out that they were strange. As a teenager I started to do some snooping around in my parents' room. I knew that they weren't coming 100% clean with me and I was just tired about it.

From a very young age I knew that I had an older half brother. My dad was married before he was married to my mother and his first wife died when his son was quite young. I had put together pieces of the story with the help of an older cousin and while we were at a family wedding she filled me in on the entire story. Apparently my dad fell in love with her family's nanny and they had to get married (if you know what I mean). His first wife fell ill when my brother was quite young and she passed away.

My dad immigrated to Canada to get over his broken heart and soon after met my mom and the rest was history.

I remember my dad telling me about my brother and that one day he would come to Canada to live with us. When I started kindergarten I would draw pictures of a family of four and my mom would tell my teacher that my brother was just in my imagination. One day after my bath, I think I was about four or five, I was blabbering on about my brother and my mom snapped at me, "He's not really your brother, he's adopted."

I learned from a young age that I wasn't allowed to talk to my mom about my brother. I didn't quite understand why, but I just knew at a young age that the topic was off limits.

I don't know why my brother never came to Canada. He was definitely young enough to be sponsored by my parents, but for some reason he stayed in the Philippines with my paternal grandmother. I've met him twice and both times I did not feel any warm fuzzy feelings from him. I know that he's incredibly jealous of the life I get to live here in Canada while he's the hidden child. The last time my parents visited family in the homeland there were photos of both my parents with my brother and his family and they were all smiling, but who knows.

Then comes my secret sister.

Oh yes, my dad isn't the only one with secrets.

My mother also has another daughter, but the details are a little more fuzzy. My mother has never come clean that I have another sibling, nor does she even acknowledge the fact that I am not her only child, but my dad does when we're not around my mom. My cousins on my mom's side and my mother's siblings even refer to my sister in conversation. They all seem to think that I have full knowledge of how this sister came about, but I really don't.

While I was doing my detective work as a teenager I discovered pictures and letters, particularly around the time when my sister had her first child. The photos were addressed to my mom as the grandmother. But that's all my digging got me.

Today I went over to my parents' house because my dad was going to help me change my burnt out headlight. When we were on our way to the store to get the parts my dad told me that he was building a house for my sister and that my brother's house was almost finished. My parents are also building a house for themselves! I made a crack to my dad that he must be glad that he doesn't have to worry about building a house for me since I have a good job. He thought that was funny, but he did say that if we needed help that he would be there for us. It was strange that the conversation was so nonchalant! It
was like we always talk about my siblings in regular conversation!

As I was driving home I was retelling the conversation to Mr. JB and we were trying to figure out the circumstances of my sister's birth. We figure that my mother was married and her first husband must've passed away (my mother swears that divorce doesn't exist in the Philippines, and I know that she would not have had a child out of wedlock, not in the late 60's/early 70's!). Perhaps both my parents came to Canada to help heal their broken hearts. They were married in the church after all, so it would make sense that they were both widows.

I know that I will never know the complete truth from my mother. She has spent my entire life lying to me -- don't worry, I've gone to therapy, I've sorted through these issues at length -- and I know that BIG part of her craziness is that she has to keep up living this way.

So where am I going with this? I have no idea. I so wish that I could ask and find out the complete truth, but I think that it would destroy my mother.

Perhaps if Mr. JB and I ever visit the Philippines, I will hear the entire truth. Maybe it will take actually asking my sister who the heck her father is to find out. I don't know. She's wanted to be my friend on Face.book and I've ignored her request. It's just too much for my brain. I don't want to pretend that it's all hunky dory over here!

Please pray for my crazy parents. They seem to need it.

p.s. I think it's funny that today of all days that O.prah introduced her half-sister to the world today. Mr. JB even said, you could be on that show JellyBelly! Ha ha!

24 comments:

  1. You are Filipino? One of my best friends (an older women with 40 yr old daughters) is Filipino. Her husband is over there right now building a home for them. I am going to miss her once she moves in June. Saving up my pennies to go visit!!! You are right about the divorce. My friend HAD to marry her husband because they stayed out too late one night and caused all sorts of scandel. I guess it was considered that you were married. Think she was 16. I love her!!!

    And I just have to say that yoga is really hard. I finally decided to bite the bullet today and try it. Does it get easier????

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  2. Family secrets are rough, many many families have them in one way or another. Its okay. Prayers for your parents.

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  3. I am interested in your feelings on the matter - not just the details, but... knowing about your half-sibs, etc. and knowing the secrets that were kept - what are your feelings on it?

    (If it's not too nosy or intrusive, obviously. If it is, I totally understand.)

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  4. Jelly Belly! This is heavy! Wow! Is there any way to hypnotize your mother?! Ha. JK! Seriously, how about alcohol? Again - kidding. I'm sure it's cultural and generational (to keep such secrets) but I'm glad you're discovering them!

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  5. OH my GOSH this is just TOO much, I can't you have been piecing this together for so long. Families are always full of secrets, my brother in law just met his 1/2 sister last year, he didn't even know she existed. I think its wonderful that you dad and you can talk a bit about it though, that must bring a bit of relief!

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  6. This is WILD. Oh, family secrets are awful. I know so many who have been harmed by them. I think I go to the other extreme... Nothing is a secret in our family!!!

    Praying for all involved!

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  7. You win! I've always thought that our families were pretty tit for tat on the craziness but you win. I don't know how you keep it all in. For what it's worth, I'd encourage you to accept the friend request from your sister and try to get to know her.

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  8. Wow. That's unbelievable and what a heavy load for everyone.

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  9. Whoa, this is heavy and so intriguing.

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  10. Wow...that's a lot to deal with. I'll pray for your family.

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  11. WOW, family secrets..man! well, recently when i brought up the topic of adoption with my mom she finally tells me that her brother who lives in austrilia was adopted! apparently back in the day in China, when a family wanted a son so they would ask around the village to see where they can adopt a child..how easy is that? that is how he came about! crazy! she never once told us anything. She still says to me don't tell your dad/grandma...interesting.

    She always praised and said wonderful things about her older brother..how he took care of her etc.

    I'm sure there are many more family secrets but i just hope they don't throw the "secret bomb" on me when i'm not ready to hear about it.

    I totally understand how you feel! what a SHOCK! yeah, good though that your dad at least talks a bit about this with you. I mean if you have siblings out there you do need to know about this. Even if you don't have any contact with them but still it will at least help you to be able to move on from this. I think our parents should just tell us these things..we can handle it. Last time i checked we are not kids anymore.

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  12. Families are hard, and i can't believe your mom lives in denial of her daughter?

    My mother is the opposite, no secrets for no one.

    It must feel good to share all this,and I really hope you get to know your half siblings.

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  13. I often wonder what Bella will feel like when she finds out she has half siblings (assuming that she will someday). Her adoption is open so we should know about them when they are born, but I wonder at what age she might want to meet them and what her feelings will be about them. So many questions?

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  14. Wow. Wow.

    You have nieces/nephews?? Ohhh, it's a shame you don't know them!

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  15. My daughter will know about her half-brother forever because we're going to see him shortly after he's born. Her half-sister (bio dad's daughter) she will know about when she's old enough to process that SHE herself is a secret in someone's relationship and knowledge of her existence might destroy a marriage.
    But if she wants to knock on that door one day - she'll have my full support.
    Note to married men: One weekend 18 years ago could one day earn you a knock on the door which leads to the collapse of your marriage. No one's fault but your own. Think before you act.

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  16. Wow. My family behaves in all sorts of strange ways, and though there are things that are "not talked about" (which of course are talked about CONSTANTLY when the right people are around or not around), there is nothing that is not KNOWN. But I wonder whether this may be a cultural difference. This is a pretty thin basis for my hypothesis, but you know those commercials on hulu about "saving face" and Pacific Islanders not talking about HIV (I'm pretty sure nobody talks much about having HIV, so I largely ignore them) - you would know better than I whether that's an accurate reflection of a cultural difference from the way that people more frequently act in the West. I mean, of course people are ashamed of things, and there are subjects they don't often want to discuss, but I think for Americans (who are culturally America), permanently and totally keeping secrets about major life issues (children, previous marriages, sexual orientation, what-have-you) is considered pathological - the secrecy is weirder than the secret. I bet that's not the way it's viewed in other cultures. But it would be so strange for a parent to have a secret other life you can't ask about. And for your siblings, too, who were not allowed to see their parents or meet their sister or to grow up with the advantages of living in a wealthy country! That's a lot to come to grips with.

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  17. My dad is a bit of a...well...I don't know how to put it. Let's just say after my parent's divorced (maybe even before), there are a lot of 1/2's running around out there. My mom always says if I run into someone that looks like me, might want to ask if they know who their daddy is. All this after my parents were married for 15 years (should have been over long before since he was cheating). Gotta love families!!! :)

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  18. Wow, JB. There are so many thoughts going on in my head reading this, I can only imagine yours.

    FWIW, I know the sitution is different, but I have amazing relationships with my biological half sisters. I know being adopted is different than your situation with your half siblings, but in some ways, their situations are similar to mine in that they were not raised by their biological parents. You might have a wonderful relationship with your half sister at some point, when the time is right, you will know.

    She is obviously very aware of you if she knows enough about you to find you on FB. I am sure that a lot of the issues with your mother are because of the secrets and living without her other child. Would your dad tell you more about your half sister?

    I know that you have enough to deal with right now with infertility and decision making with all of that. Adding new family might be a lot to handle right now. But there may come a time when life is more settled for you and you may want to get to know them. It could really be rewarding for you in ways you never imagine.

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  19. I honestly thought at the end you were going to say something like...jk! I can't believe this really. I don't know how you do this. You are the strongest person I know. I can't hold things back at all...I'm horrible at it. Wow. I will pray for God to do his work in this whole situation.

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  20. My mom never knew that her dad was married before and that she had three older sisters until she was maybe 16 and they were planning to attend a family reunion. Her parents sat her and her two sisters down and told them. The rest of the family knew - even the older sisters, but they were always instructed to call their dad "Uncle Fred". How messed up is that? And who does it benefit to keep those kinds of secrets?!

    That's so crazy, but apparently every family has these kind of secrets!

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  21. You are a great detective. Keep the light of truth shining down and digging it all up.

    You are great!

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  22. Family secrets can be extremely revealing...that's a whole lot to deal with. I hope you find solace in it all!

    Also I tagged you for an award...see my blog!

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  23. Growing up, I would hope a half-sibling would show up at our door so that I could have a playmate. I was too young to know that would be very complicated.

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  24. Oh my word, I just read and re-read this post again and again to try to wrap my brain around this. This is so interesting and bless your heart, I can imagine weary on you and obviously on your parents as well! Are you an only child of your two parents? You are so brave not to ask!!! I can imagine it would be hard though, as well as it must be hard for your parents to keep the secrets half hidden.

    Family secrets...so interesting, I hope you have the courage to accept your sister's facebook request, your answers and a beautiful relationship could lie therein :)

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