Last night, very late, and feeling very alone, I did something I never imagined I would do in my life. I searched for, and found, my eldest brother. Eldest of six. None of them know that I exist. I have written about the search for our mother before, it is a very hard, very dark story but I will repeat it once more, briefly, because it has merit, I think, and meaning, and why now?
Every mother’s day is hard for me. Not because of my own children who are wonderful, but because of my two mothers. I have the one I call “The Original Seed Carrier,” who gave birth to me when she was 20 years old having lived in a Catholic maternity home she had been shuttled off to in the 50’s as they did in those days, to wait out her pregnancy until she could give birth, relinquish her baby (that’s the proper term or was then, relinquish, I shudder…) and, when she had physically healed put her on a bus back home. She would write back to Catholic Charities for 3 months asking how her baby Kathleen Lynn was, and finally her life took her forward. I would tell kids in gradeschool that my real name was Kathy, having no way of knowing this save the inexplicable bond between mother and child that will never be completely understood by anyone.
I was held in a hospital in the midwest for one month and then was adopted by a couple who were on shaky ground but he promised he would stay until she got the baby. By the time I was 2 my mother was living alone with me. She was remarried when I was 4 to the man who would abuse me until I was 18. It’s not that there weren’t good times, certainly there were, but in the balance was so much abuse and so much unkindness and downright meanness and emotional abuse that I was a very broken lonely little girl from very early on.
Remember lonely, it’s what made me search last night.
I was the first child and only girl that my biological mother ever had. When I searched for her and found her at 26 I found out that she had married not long after giving me up and had the first of 6 boys not much more than a year after I was adopted.
I have 6 half brothers.
Because she had been alcoholic, suicidal, an extreme depressive and more and because at the time I found her she did not let or want anyone in her family to know about me, most certainly her sons — she told me their names, their first names, and I knew her married name and certainly her own name including her middle name — and because she tried to sue me, threatened to kill me in such a gruesome manner I was sent back into therapy 3 times a week and would have been hospitalized if I didn’t have a 3 year old and a 6 month old at the time — I never tried to contact my brothers, and am not certain I ever will, I really don’t think I will, but…
Sometimes I get so lonely, and I feel so alone, that last night I did a little search. I found the obituary of my mother’s long time husband and it had her name in it and all 6 of my brothers and where they lived. The eldest I looked up. He is on Linked In. He is an artist like me. My mother was a writer, like me. I.look.like.him. I can at least see a strong resemblance. Another brother is on Linked In but no picture. He.is.a.writer. I could go no further.
I have six half brothers and they don’t know I exist.
My mother hated me and wished me dead. She said that my turning up after 26 years would probably cause her to start drinking again and cause her to commit suicide. She described in minute detail and in a very gruesome fashion how she would kill me first. I went into shock. My husband took the phone out of my hand and hung it up. He looked at me and said, “My God you could have been raised by that woman.” But my heart just broke for her inasmuch as I was traumatized almost beyond repair myself.
She had been engaged to a man she called sadistic and cruel. When she broke off the engagement he raped her, he hurt her, he left her pregnant and terrified. I was sexually abused from 4-18. We both knew that kind of trauma, and she had lived with it and kept it a secret her whole life, from her husband she married a short time after giving me away, from her six sons that she had with him. And she paid dearly for it with depression, alcoholism, and suicide attempts her whole adult life. I have 5 mental health diagnoses and have been fragile and broken my whole life. We both suffered terribly. If she is alive she is about 81 and I have no idea where she would be. I know that she remarried and left the area where I found her when I was 26. There was a whole ‘nother story in my early 30’s when a car full of psychiatrists that were studying with Dr. Ira Progoff, founder of The Intensive Journal method, where I was the only lay person attending in the town my mother lived when I found her 7 years earlier, took me to find out information about my family there and obtained pictures of her from her high school yearbook. She had already left the area but my grandparents were still there. They are now deceased and I don’t know where she is but her ex-husband stayed there and one of his sons, my brother, still lives there. The other 5 are scattered across the country.
I get lonely, and I have 6 brothers.
I didn’t have any intention of contacting them when I started looking last night after finding the obituary and I guess I still don’t but if you grew up an only child and you had six half brothers out there would you want to find them? Please share any thoughts to any of this below, it would really help me. And think about this…
When we found her — my husband made the call, he said “We believe you are my wife’s mother. He gave her all of the pertinent details. He told her that I didn’t want anything of her, that I did not want to hurt her or her life in any way, but that we had two tiny girls and we worried about their medical history and so forth,” and this was absolutely true. I had never intended to search but once you have children it is very different. I had a mother and I didn’t need another one but still there was the little hurt scared girl inside of me who believed in the fantasy, “If I only found my REAL mother she would love me so much…” She did not, in fact, love me, she wanted to kill me.
We knew we had the right woman because we knew her name, who she was, where she lived, but also when she answered the phone and my husband asked, “Is this ________?” she said yes because she had written something for the local paper and she thought someone was calling her about that. But after she listened to everything my husband had to say she abruptly said, “You’ve got the wrong person.” and hung up. What followed was weeks and weeks of phone calls and letters and you know the rest.
So there are these men, my brothers, from a year younger than me to over 10 years younger than me. Would they like to know they have a sister? And more to the point I don’t want to hurt them either. It would change their relationship with their mother who never told them even if she is dead. Have I got that right? I think not. But I also think some of them may want to know they have a sister. And then…
My mother, The Original Seed Carrier, clearly had a lot of mental health issues. I have got a basket-full of my own. And the boys? I can barely get from day to day with my own stuff. What if they are crazy as loons and psycho killers. I say this tongue in cheek, I call myself crazy so this is not a mental health put down, but I think you can see where I’m going. I don’t want to open a Pandora’s Box. I don’t want to hurt anyone, and I don’t want to take on something I can’t deal with. But what if…
What if a brother and sister meet who never knew each other and could feel found, seen, heard, and even loved, for the first time in their life in that sibling way. None of those boys know they have a sister. I grew up with no brothers or sisters. What if it was good?
But there is no way of knowing.
If you were me, what would you do? I really want to know.
Thank you my dear ones for listening, and if you can, for responding. Tomorrow, the 30th, is my 61st birth-day, and Mother’s Day is just ahead. I’m sure this plays into my feelings about all of this right now, but this year it is bigger than ever, this desire to know. What would you do?