Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

November 20, 2006

my shunned stepbrother

Siobhan was 12 when she was forbidden by her mother to keep in contact with her step-brother, Brendan, when he left home at 18 to join the marines.

"My mother told me that she never wanted to see Brendan again and cursed the day that she ever married a man with a kid," explains Siobhan.

"My mother's outburst didn't really surprise me," says Siobhan, "because she had separated Brendan from me all of my life and never let me forget that he wasn't my real brother."

"Brendan was sent to boarding school shortly after I was born," says Siobhan, "and when he came home on vacations my mother would farm him out to other relatives - she just didn't want him living with us."

"My father never disagreed with anything my mother did to keep Brendan out of her sight," sighs Siobhan.

"I have no idea what happened to Brendan's mother but I think it must have been something very bad for my dad to allow Brendan to be treated so badly by my mother."

"In my first twelve years of life I must have seen Brendan about twelve times - and I only got to speak with him on my own several times," says Siobhan.

"The last time I spoke to Brendan on my own he told me he was going to join the marines," says Siobhan, "and he was very happy to be starting a new life."

"He asked me to write to him and I said I'd love to," sighs Siobhan, "but my mother tore up the first letter I wrote to him and she never let me read any of the letters he wrote to me - she tore them up in front of me."

"My mother also tore up the letters than Brendan wrote to dad," sighs Siobhan. "I saw her do it."

"And then Brendan's letters stopped coming and I forgot all about him," says Siobhan. "I went through high school and college and had exciting things going on in my life."

"Mom and dad had started a new business and were wrapped in it - and life at home was very ordinary and uneventful for the next eight years. Brendan's name was never mentioned."

"I left home permanently three years ago, at 21," says Siobhan, "and one day at work - bored and with nothing much to do - I looked through my boss's magazines on boating and fishing and saw a picture of a group of men - one of whom looked vaguely familiar to me."

"It was Brendan!"

"A flood of emotions hit me," explains Siobhan. "I felt terribly guilty for forgetting about Brendan and yet I felt so proud that my big brother had done so well with his life."

"My first instinct was to find out where Brendan was living - and that was easy to do," says Siobhan, "but something stopped me from making a call to him."

"I can't explain what held me back," says Siobhan. "On one hand I was an independent woman - free from the curse that my mother had put on Brendan - and yet on the other hand I was my mother's daughter - cursed with all of her prejudices."

"I asked myself what good could come from my contacting Brendan after all these years," explains Siobhan, "and the disadvantages far outweighed the advantages."

"Knowledge that Brendan had made a success of his life - independent from a family that had shunned him - was good enough reason for me to leave him alone in peace."

"Holding that picture close to my heart I closed my eyes and begged for his forgiveness and I felt a wonderful sense of peace."

"If our paths ever cross in the future then I am sure we will reconnect as brother and sister," explains Siobhan, "but until then I believe that things are better left as they are."

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