Would you search for the brothers who don’t know you exist if you knew there would be no negative repercussions? And how could you know?

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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?

MaitriSz4.4.16.09

 

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Comments

  1. Maitri,
    Hugs to you. I have no advice to give, beyond what to do is in your heart. Our families are what they are, however we claim them. You have 3 wonderful children and a former husband who is a friend.

    Your family of origin and the family that brought you up – they don’t sound so good to me.

    Sending you love and energy,
    LW

    • Thank you Lisa, I think that is what I am feeling as well, but it is very very hard to know that they are out there. Ah well, life is a mystery at best, perhaps it should stay so…

      Thank you love…

      Maitri

  2. Maitri….after all you have went through…I would most definitely reach out to perhaps the artist brother. Maybe he can be the one you meet first….and then tell you about the others and introduce you to them. We..as artists…are kind, loving souls….with so much to teach each other and with so much love and kindness to give. You speak of being lonely……meeting your brothers does not necessarily mean you would ever have to see your “seed carrier” if you chose not too….but it could open up a wonderful world of brothers and sisters in laws and nieces and nephews for you to love and spend time with. Ultimately, it is of course, your choice. Kind of like the new mint green hair, I say…why not now on the eve of your birthday? Best wishes in your decision. Love and light to you…❤️ Please post if you decide to meet your brothers!

  3. Growing up an only child is something I understand and being abused by my dad is something I understand. I fantasized as a child that I was adopted and perhaps had siblings and someday would be “rescued”. Now, if you look at me and pictures of my mom, no way I’m not hers. I was also blessed to have two cousins that I remain very close to. Perhaps that helped me not be lonely. But if I did have half-siblings I really don’t know if I would contact them. It would be a hard decision for sure. I have a friend who at 40, when his “mother” died, found out he was adopted and not long after that was contacted by 2 half sisters and met his birth mother. It was a happy reunion and they are a reunited family but I’ve also heard less happy stories, as is yours with your mother. I think I would be curious, naturally, and perhaps look them up but I don’t think I’d rock the boat and take it any further. I guess I outgrew my fantasy.

  4. you’ve been hurt so many times, hon. yet reaching out thru e-mail (safely) at first, and feeling out the waters… could be tempting… you will always hope for the best —
    but are you ready to give energy to these half-brothers? would you have them in your home? would you travel to see them? or would it just be an e-mail/text/occasional phone call? i guess i’m asking what you have the stamina for, what you think you would gain.
    in any case, i would be cautious in the way i progressed… keeping boundaries, keeping yourself safe, as i said…

    it hurts me to think of all you have gone thru, and yet you are so full of creative
    talent and kindness….

    xo
    ka

  5. First of all…birthday blessings to you!
    Since you know that I too was adopted…but was never able to find my birth mother even though I tried very hard, I would definitely want to reach out to any birth relatives. The only thing I know about life before my adoption was being in a catholic home like you, and that my name was Laura Hill, which was changed when I was adopted. I have a brother and sister that are my adoptive parents biological children and I tell you, that is a whole different kind of lonely. We are nothing alike. So I truly understand wanting to reach out to blood relatives, and I would, but you must do what is right for you. In the fifties, adoption records were sealed…how did you find out your bio mothers name? I am so sorry that contacting her was not what you expected. I guess we have to be prepared for all kinds of outcomes. I will pray for you, my dearest Maitri. Love you…

  6. I would send a connection invite through Linked In. The response will give you an idea about whether to proceed.

    If you choose not to I totally understand and support that too.

    Love and Birthday blessings,
    Victoria

    • What an interesting idea Victoria. Hmmmmm…. It’s so scary though. It is also weird to know. In a way these things were easier before this kind of information became so accessible…

  7. Thank you all so much dear ones. It is amazing what a wake up call it can be to read your dear sisters thoughts. It is easier to slip deep down into the what ifs when you feel that existential loneliness — I want to make that clear and unfortunately I didn’t in this post and I’m sorry — which is different than everyday loneliness which I seldom feel. With all of my issues I am happy in my life inasmuch as one can be when dealing with ongoing challenges that will be lifelong. I am grateful for everything in my life, my children and grandchildren, my darling pugs and parrot, my beautiful garden and the natural world around me, and the ability to write and paint and make art, and for all of you, and my friends everywhere, I am richly blessed. But with it all the strong pull to parents, living or dead, and siblings, known and not known, is strong. I did not have good relationships with parents and with no siblings I think it is natural to long for that connection. I get a reality check when I listen to all of you and I thank you for being with me during these times. I have thought I shouldn’t write about it but my blog is about honesty and things that we all feel and go through and a lot of people go through this.

    It is now 2 am on my 61st birthday and I feel far more at peace than I did last night. It is important to write it out, and each comment here is a gift that I treasure. Thank you all so much…

    Love,

    Maitri

  8. Dear Heart, I, too, am approaching 61 in a matter of days. It is a time of deep self awareness and inner contemplation. I cannot imagine the pain you have gone through and I am not sure I have much to offer you. I recently blogged about my sister who gave her child up for adoption. What I feel confident in saying is that a mother never “gets over” this separation. Even the unstable mothers. The psychological damage of being sent away and punished in this way does far reaching emotional damage. Not defending, but maybe shining a different light on a very damaged woman. You may have received the best gift she could have given and that is separation from her. I know you have worked through much of those feelings, but now there is the “what if”, the hope of family. I would encourage you to fully examine both sides of the coin. I believe there comes a time when we weigh the good of a situation with the bad – especially the potential impact to our own little nuclear family. We filter what we allow into that very precious space. Again, you are walking the edge of unknowing. I have always been amazed by your talent and the softness of soul. Please protect it. My heart walks with you on this journey – I know your decision will be the right one. Happy Birthday. Be blessed, my friend.

  9. Olive Appleby says:

    Hi Maitri
    Well that’s some story. And a difficult one to tell. I think making contact with the artistic brother on LinkedIn, that was suggested, is a good idea. You would then be able to get feedback (whatever it is) and who knows. It will be a shock all round I’m sure. As they say you can’t pick your family, we are your family here in blog land, whatever happens we will support you. I’m sure your instinct will give you the right answer, if you meditate on it all will be clear. Just be sure we are here for you. Much love & positiveness your way. Olive xxxx

  10. I have no advice because I can’t imagine any mother not wanting to know her own child, much less threatening to kill her. I want you to connect with your brothers but only if that connection is positive. You have no way of knowing whether it will be positive and you have to be able to live with whatever happens next. I’m amazed at the depth of love and courage in your heart, after all the storms you have weathered. I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you that I will support you in whatever decision you make. Welcome to sixty-one. I’ve been here for a couple of months now and I have high hopes that it will be a good year.

  11. First, Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing your story. Advise…well, I agree with one of the authors from above. You need to do with what’s in your heart. But I would follow up without expectation.
    I would also like to send you a sincere heartfelt hug and blessings.

  12. I so admire your ability and willingness to share so openly. I relate to the late at night loneliness. And I don’t have any advice either, except to listen deeply inside for the answer that is right for you. Have a lovely birthday. So far, I am liking my 60’s. I look forward to your posts. They make me feel less alone <3

  13. My heart breaks for all you’ve been through over the years with both your natural and adoptive parents….all I can say is just listen to your heart.The electronic world offers what are perhaps fairly “safe” ways to connect with your brother(s) , as those connections can be severed if things don’t go well, but can evolve into a more personal connection if things do go well. Bless you for your openness and your warm heart-happy birthday, dear lady (you share my dad’s birthday; he’s 80 today!) and prayers that this year bring you the best of everything.

  14. Happy Birthday!!! I totally hope you do it!! I think, at the ages these men are at, that you would hopefully receive a warm reception (after the initial shock wears off). What if you were denying them the gift of knowing you?? That hardly sounds fair!

  15. No one can offer real advice on this one, Maitri. All of life is risk taking. Some risks turn out to be worthwhile tackling. Others don’t. Without a crystal ball, you won’t know if contacting any of the brothers is the right thing to do. Follow your heart, but don’t do anything until you are feeling strong enough to deal with the various possible scenarios.

  16. Oh beautiful, loving, caring sisters, what comfort it has been for me to read all of your comments, I just can’t thank you enough…

    You know, my main inner knowing is that I should not contact them. For me it is not about me. These are 6 men, their families, and our mother who if she is still alive has suffered enough and doesn’t need to be hurt by this at the end of her years on earth. I can’t bear the thought of causing any pain. And, too, because I suffer all the things that I do and my own children are such loving supports to me, to open that Pandoras Box, even if it went well, and very likely not, wouldn’t be fair. Those of you who have spoken on behalf of my own family are exactly right. I just don’t want to be the cause of pain for anyone.

    Interestingly I have now found all 6 brothers online. Today’s technology is almost creepy in that way. And it makes it much harder than the days when the veil dropped at the time of the adoption and you had no way to ever find out. There was longing, sadness, and curiosity but it would go no further. My own story of finding my mother is such an amazing one that I would share it but I don’t want it on the internet. Parties involved could be hurt and I just won’t go there. Donna if you want to have a personal conversation we can do that honey but I won’t write it here.

    So we have this availability of information and oh Lordy it truly makes it harder. I have seen the faces of 4 of 6 of my brothers. The resemblances in some cases are stunning. And the thing is that when you are 61 and you have looked in your mirror your whole life long and have never seen anyone in life that matched that image, and then there they are, well, it is shocking and it is hard to not follow that thread to some kind of connection and knowing. Out of the 6 surely there would be some good connections, but I found, and it broke my heart, the youngest brother who raises money for veterans with PTSD and is very damaged and hurt himself, which made me very sad and also scared me. There is too much there to contend with because my own PTSD for other reasons kept me up all night last night terrified about the whole business because of this one wounded soul. That could be a disaster and you don’t contact one brother and not have it go through all 6 even if I only contacted one.

    Your wonderful comments and what they have spurred in me, made me think about, have helped me realize that I should not do anything about this. But I have opened the box on my side and it is heartbreakingly hard not to peek inside…

    Thank you again dear ones, thank you so very much…

    Love,

    Maitri

  17. I am not an only child. I am in fact one of nine, though the first girl died as an infant so I never knew her. Also, I don’t live close to any of my siblings and see them only occasionally. The only one I have seen more frequently is my twin sister and of course we have a special bond.

    At this point in my life, being 60 myself, my advice would be not to contact your brothers. It just seems to me a situation laden with potential for further distress. I feel for myself, that even though I have several siblings, none of them are part of my day to day life. My sense of belonging comes from the people I am around where I live, both from the family created in my marriage and by the friends and acquaintances I have here.

    I have not read the other comments left as yet, but that is my initial reaction. Try to find a sense of belonging where you are rather than seeking it far outside yourself.

  18. Thank you so much Joan. I have come to agree with exactly what you are saying. But it is hard. You may not be close to your siblings but you did know them growing up and for better or worse imagine knowing that you had them but you’d never been able to meet them and they didn’t know you existed. You would feel very differently then, I imagine. But my protective nature towards everyone keeps me from doing it, and so it is…

  19. Happy Birthday dear Maitri. I can see both sides of your issue. How wonderful it would be to connect with your half brothers and be able to share your life with them and their families. If they are loving and accepting and take you into their lives like loving family – these are the things we all dream of, especially if we suffered an abusive childhood. But, what if one or more of them are upset, angry, etc. when you contact them? Are you prepared to accept that? Are you emotionally prepared and able to accept any rejection on their part? For me, the only things I really regret in my life are those things that I was too afraid of to do or try. The “what ifs” can be haunting because you might never know how it would have or could have turned out. If things turn out well, what a gift for you and for them. If things don’t turn out well, then at least you tried and if you can move on without carrying the burden of rejection (which really has nothing to do with you but rather with them) then I say reach out to at least the one on Linked-In and test the waters before you step in any deeper. Much love, light and hugs to you. B

    • Maitri says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment Brenda and the what ifs are haunting and mostly the fact that I think I am ill-prepared, I know I am, to handle the worst, and the thing is there are 6 brothers and law of averages says some will be okay with it and some won’t but they were raised by the woman who wanted to kill me, our mother, and if one of them had HALF the response she did it could put me under forever. Reason is taking the place of the overwhelming longing of that night, but I’d be lying if I said the longing wasn’t still there.

      I have just had a wonderful birthday with my children and after that I knew I wouldn’t risk putting them through any possible fall out. But still, there will always be a sadness in my life to know that 6 brothers are out there and I will likely die one day never knowing any of them. So many children everywhere not knowing their siblings. Parents make the choices but the siblings also suffer the consequences. Intricately woven mysteries through time…

      • Have you come to peace with this issue Maitri? I’m in a similar position, Bmother deceased, and several half siblings, cousins, and aunts I found online. My Bmother had me as a single woman before these children were born.

        I’m an only child, so not only is there curiosity, but a sense of longing and wishful belonging.

        At my plus 50 age, I would like to know medical history. I’m very afraid of rejection.

        • Lizbeth,

          I have come to peace with this and decided not to pursue it. I am almost 62 and we have all lived lives now and it could cause problems I wouldn’t want to deal with. That is the main reason. My nerves just couldn’t take opening up a can of worms that could cause ongoing problems. So I have let go and it is the right decision for me. I hope you find peace too, whatever that means for you…

          Blessings,

          Maitri

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