So it’s been about a month since my registered letter asking my father to cease all contact was received, and I’ve heard… nothing. I’m actually kind of surprised, I expected at least a bitter letter denouncing my ‘betrayal’ and normally in this amount of time I’d get at least two letters (his writing is as prolific as it is bizarre) so this is definitely unusual. I hope that maybe he’s actually decided to honor my wishes and leave me alone, but I remain a bit uneasy… especially since I don’t know the dates of his planned trip.
My mother suffers from depression and has a lot of health issues, and I try to make a point of checking in with her at least every few days via text. It’s hard because sometimes my own flares of fatigue and pain can make me disappear into ‘radio silence’ but she confided a while back that I am the only person she really communicates with comfortably any more, so I try my best to engage. If I was a really good person, I’d call more, but talking with her on the phone is just too draining for me a lot of of the time.
Yesterday I realized it had been a few days since I’d heard much from her, and the last couple of times before that she’d not been very communicative, so I gave her a poke via text to make sure she was OK. She replied that she had just gotten some very shocking news and didn’t know how to handle it.
I don’t think I have ever mentioned here that in addition to my half brother and half sister (we all had different fathers) I actually have a full brother out there somewhere. He’s about a year younger than me and my mother gave him up when he was about two years old because she couldn’t manage him. It’s not my story to tell… but the short version is that she thought he’d be better off. She was young, had two kids one right after the other, and my father was violent and unreliable. My brother was… difficult. I would not be surprised at all if he wasn’t on the spectrum. It’s now obvious that both autism and ADHD run in our family, but back then those things weren’t even on the radar.
She has told me that my brother screamed constantly, destroyed toys, completely dismantled his crib, (ripped the wooden bars out and tore apart the mattress) would hit and kick me, and she had no real support for coping with any of this. by the time he was two, he was just too much for her and she wound up resenting him and feeling like she needed to protect me from him. The only help she was offered was to place him into temporary foster care; he then went through several foster homes until he came to one that could handle him, and then he really thrived… he seemed so much happier with the family he was eventually placed with that after a few visits she signed away her rights. I know she always regretted it and has beaten herself up over it ever since… She even put her name on a registry in case he ever came looking for his birth family, but it was so long ago that she’d pretty much resigned herself to never hearing from him.
Yesterday she got a registered letter from the registry, with my brother’s forwarded contact information.
She’s completely freaked out, and all of her old guilt has come back up to the surface, and she doesn’t know what to do. This is completely out of the realm of anything I have any experience with, but I’m going to try to help her as much as I can, even if that means acting as a go-between, partly so that I can try and figure out his intentions and partly to help explain why she’s scared to make contact. I think she also needs some counselling to process this.
My mother is fragile, mentally, and I don’t think she could take a confrontation. It’s not like I am assuming the worst, but the whole thing with my father has left me wary. Making contact with a brother that I have never met makes me more than a little nervous – hell, I don’t keep in touch very well with the family I’ve known my whole life – but I don’t have any emotional investment in the situation, so it might be better for my mom if I reach out on her behalf, for both of their sakes. The info she was sent included an email address, so I’d be able to make contact in a written form which is how I communicate best.
I just got off the phone with her and she sounded so relieved and thanked me over and over for helping her with it. I’m glad I could do something to ease the anxiety for her, I just hope I can find the right words to make this go right.
Is it excessively paranoid if I am planning to use a new, generic email account so that I am not revealing too much of my personal details, at least not right off? Damn my father for making me so gun-shy… but speaking of him, that’s an issue that is going to need to be addressed as well. How do you warn someone that their dad is a sociopath?
Funny, my partner and I were talking this morning and wondering “why now, after all these years?” and wondered if he’s having any of the the weird health stuff that runs in the family and looking for answers. When I mentioned that to my mom, she laughed and admitted that she also wondered about the timing, and her first thought was literally “Oh no! He has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome too!”
This is so weird… I may be about to make contact with a brother who is pretty much my age that I’ve never talked to before.
I guess life just got interesting. Like it wasn’t already.
Featured Image: Orangish ladybug with almost no spots on leaf. No filter.