My brother shared a family secret with me and now I don't know what to do with it.


I apologize if this isn't the right forum in which to share this. I found this site in 2013 when I was caring for my dad at home. It was a godsend, this site. After my dad passed away the members here were gracious enough to let me stay. Other than a question about taxes I haven't posted anything personal since my days as a caregiver are over.

My parents were lovely people. I had a great relationship with them both and I loved them both very much. We had a wonderful childhood, took many trips as a family, and my memories are all good ones. However, since as far back as I can remember I have had a reoccurring nightmare about my mom. In it she's the bad guy and I'm trying hard to get away from her. I run to my dad but he's no help as he's being tormented by my mom as well. I've had this dream into my adulthood and never, ever knew where it came from since I was never abused as a child and had always had a loving relationship with my mom.

About 20 years ago my mom went into a deep depression and never really bounced back. As difficult as it was on her it was also hard on my dad. My dad was an empathetic, loving, and understanding man who never experienced depression. But he supported my mom as much as he could. Gradually my mom came out of it but never really bounced back 100%.

My mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. It hadn't spread and the surgeon was able to get it all. She went to rehab, did well, and came home. Once she got home and the enormity of what she had been through hit her she took to her bed and never really got back up. I was trying to care for her from my place 10 min. away. I was constantly driving over there, helping her off the floor when she fell, begging her to get up, etc. The longer she stayed in bed the weaker she became until every time she'd get up to use the bathroom she'd fall. My dad would call me to get her off the floor, I'd go over there and get her up. I was dealing with my own illness at the time and wasn't in good enough shape to be doing this several times a week so the last time she fell I pretended that I couldn't get her up and I called 911 over my parent's objections. The hospital admitted my mom.

Several days later I was admitted to the same hospital, on the same floor, as my mom. I visited her when I could as my illness allowed. The last night I spent with her we watched The Wizard of Oz, an old family favorite. I knew this was going to be the last time my mom and I ever watched it together and I was grateful for that time with her. I was grateful that she was lucid and was able to understand what was going on around her. The next day she fell very ill. I was holding her hand as she died.

I made my mom a promise that I would take care of my dad and I kept that promise. Most of you know that he moved in with me and as a result of my caregiving I became very attached to my dad. The caregiving drove me nuts and the NH he had to go into drove me nuttier but my dad was the sweetest, kindest, nicest person I ever knew. I knew this growing up and I knew it at the end of his life. Everyone loved my dad.

Last year he died. I understand why I felt like I was grieving more for my dad than for my mom since my mom had been gone so much longer than my dad. But over time, over the months, as the grief lessened somewhat it was always my dad I thought of, not my mom. And this bothered me. I loved my mom very much and I wondered why she didn't cross my mind as often as my dad did.

So I was talking to my brother about this, asking him if he felt the same way. Did he grieve more for dad than for mom? And my brother told me that he gives mom very little thought these days and I was shocked that he would say such a thing and I told him so. Then he told me that before mom died she had unloaded all kinds of poison onto him about how she never wanted to marry (she didn't get married until her 30's which was 'old' back then), she never wanted children, that she "settled" on my dad because she was getting pressure from her family, and that she never led the kind of life she wanted to lead.

When my brother told me this I wanted to throw up and demanded to know why he hadn't told me this before, why he had been hanging onto this for 7 years, and he said that he didn't want ME to carry it around but since we were having this discussion he decided to finally tell me.

Now my memory of my mother is ruined. I'm so angry at her but I know she was speaking the truth. Somewhere in me I knew but until it was brought into the light I had never examined it before. And I think about my poor, poor dad. He deserved more. I'm not sure she ever loved him.

Even though deep inside I sensed something (hence the dreams) I'm so upset with my mother for leaving us with that I get physically ill every time I think about it. Then I hurt, then I get angry. What my brother told me has been on a loop in my brain for days.

I don't know what to do with this except dump it here. Thank you for reading this.

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Lass, I'm a big believer in the therapeutic value of great fiction. I want you to go to the library and read Three Junes by Julia Glass (I'm pretty sure that's her name) I think it will help.

Thank you all so much for your comments. While I've talked to some folks who know me well and knew my mom it was really a great gift to hear objective responses.

And my thinking has come around to this: I know my mom loved me. There's no doubt in my mind about that. I'm sorry that she felt the need to dump her feelings on my brother right before she died but now, 7 years later, with this information and some perspective I'm sorry she felt that way at all. I wish she had been happier the last 20 years of her life but she did know some happiness during that time. She may not have thought of herself as successful at life but she raised 2 great kids (if I do say so myself), had a devoted husband who loved her, and saw the coming of 3 grandkids.

My memories of her have always been limited to the last week of her life. I've had to dig deep to think of her as I grew up or when I was a little girl. And now those good memories are more at the surface. The one of her dancing when the Cardinals went to the World Series. The face she made to imitate the fish we were catching when we went camping. Packing a picnic for the family when we'd go to the pool. Things like this are coming back to me and I'm not sure they would have had I not hit a bottom where her death was concerned.

Thanks again for your comments and graciousness. I'm moving on.

Eyerish, I am so glad you stayed here after your loss. You have shared lots of wisdom and kindness in your time here. This is the perfect place to vent, and I'm glad you were able to get it off your chest. Now that it's out....let it go.

Unfortunately a lot of people settle for a life they don't want and depression is a big part of that. Chemical depression and situational depression feed off each other.

Are YOU happy with YOUR life? I think that's what matters now. Continue to love them both, know they both loved you.....and go live your life the best possible way you can. It's your turn now.

I have always said the sign of growing up is realizing exactly what Maggie said.... Your parents did the best they could do with what they had at the time.

mom shared with me in her waning months that the reason dad used to nearly cause accidents when hed find a book lying on the roadside is because many of them were perverse and at the time , illegal porn stories . mom would read the books to dad as a turn on for both of them . this divulgence actually made me feel closer to mom because i could see her and dad as average humans with average curiosities .
i also found out a few years ago that my grandma had left grandpas drunken ass at one time and moved in with a man who was more able to feed her and her 11 kids .
did she love the guy named gene? it doesnt matter , it was a matter of survival as these were some extremely difficult times before america had any kind of social safety net .

Dreams are definitely a part of who we are! They tell us things at times that unravel years later. Maybe you feel guilty for what seems to you like you loved your Dad more than your Mom. It's hard when we have to accept the fact that our perfect parents are human just like the rest of us. And the old adage can be inserted here that if thats the worse family secret they had your pretty safe here! lol...I know that doesn't help much because what is easy for one person to handle maybe something totally different for someone else. But maybe your Brother was being a little protective and maybe stretched the truth a little to make you feel better about your feelings. That is what they are however "Your" feelings and we have to own them before we can analyze them and make sense of them...

Yeah, I know, Vstefans. I thought about it before I clicked. But I wanted to kind of shock her. Some of us go our whole lives never thinking about our parents' hidden lives -- before and after us. Realizing we love them even though they have feet of clay is part of growing older and, sometimes, having a past of our own.

There are things I've done in my own life that I would shudder to think my mom knew about. It would shatter her perception of me. But. Would she really stop loving me for what I did as a young woman? Oh, I so doubt it. Perhaps Eyerishlass has had some less-than-proud moments in her OWN life that she wouldn't want to share with mom or dad. Yet they would still love her. They would seek to understand.

Maybe that's where Eyerishlass is headed . . . toward understanding. I sure hope so...

So Eyerishlass, if you took offense at what I said, know that I was throwing cold water on you. Mom (your mom, your dad, my mom and dad, everybody's, for the most part) did the best she could do with what she had at the time. She's no worse than any of the rest of us: Human.

I'm betting she loved you a thousand times over. Don't let her humanity stand in the way of loving her back.

Aw, Maggie - that's a little harsh - but then, what you found out was more than a little harsh if tis evne true... I'M glad you're here too though, FWIW!! Blessings to you and yours, sounds like it has not been easy.

Really. That's all it took for you to ruin your memory of your mother??

When my dad had a stroke, he lost all his filters. Mom and dad had been divorced for thirty years. One day he said to me, "Maggie, I'm sure glad the doctor wouldn't give your mom an abortion like she wanted. You've been such a wonderful daughter."

Do I care? Not a tinker's dam. I'm an only. I love my mom to pieces, and I always will. Like your mom, mine will never know I know that. I could care less.

I hate to say this to you, but I will: grow up.

Eyerishlass, try not to be too mad at your mother. Women's options used to be pretty limited. It was expected that they would marry by a certain age and have a bunch of children by the time they were 30. There used to be such pressure on women to fulfill this role. I remember how the women over 25 who weren't married were called old maids. That is such a hoot now, but it hasn't been long since this was happening.

It sounds like even if your mother didn't really want to embrace the wife/mother role that she did a good job. It sounds like she internalized her unhappiness.

I don't know what the point was of letting you know at this late date. Maybe your brother needed to share something that had bothered him. I'm sure if you know whether it is true or not. And maybe you have to figure out inside you if it really matters. You are still the same person as you were before you knew, and so is your mother. I'm sure many people didn't want kids back in the day, but here we are. They apparently did a good enough job.

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