Originally Published: May 28, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: I have known since I was a teenager that I am my uncle’s daughter. My mother and her brother-in-law, let’s call him “Simon,” had an affair while her husband, “Ed,” was away in the military.
I spent many summers at Simon’s house in New York and never knew why.
I found out one day when Ed got angry with me, threw me into a wall (not an unusual occurrence) and shouted in frustration, “You are just like your father!” That shook my world, as it would for any 17-year-old. I was told never to reveal my true origins and was never given an explanation as to why.
When I was 18, I confronted Simon with it while begging him to let me stay with him. He said that it had taken him almost 20 years to make amends with his brother Ed and that he would do nothing to jeopardize it.
Simon stopped talking to me altogether when I was in my early 20s. He had some kind of fear that I would come after his money. Maybe he’s also afraid of the waves this would create within the family. He’s been out here in Arizona many times to visit, but I have been purposely not told of those visits.
Because of this, I lost contact with him and my cousins, whom I treasured dearly. I found them on social media, but I’m too nervous to talk with them now.
Most of my personality traits and quirks and even my looks come from Simon. I look nothing like my sisters and look almost exactly like Simon’s son. I belong to both families and neither, it seems.
Ed and Simon are in their late 60s now. Neither is in the best of health. Simon had a stroke a few years ago, and Ed is suffering from Lyme disease. This is not something I want to just dump on the family after they’ve passed on.
I’ve carried this burden for so long that I don’t know how to let it go anymore. I’m now in my mid-40s, and my cousins are in their late 30s. I wonder whether I should ever reveal the truth, as it might be an unnecessary hurt for everyone. I do not want material things or money; I just want recognition and perhaps to rekindle my friendship with my cousins, who are in fact my half brother and half sister. -- Lost in Between
Dear Lost: We don’t get to choose our biological parents, but we do get to choose our attitudes, and I commend you on rising above the hardships you’ve faced without becoming bitter. You seem like an understanding, intelligent and conscientious person. Anyone would be lucky to have such a thoughtful daughter.
I know this probably isn’t the response you were looking for from me, but because of the complicated nature of your situation, I strongly recommend you seek the help of a therapist. He or she will offer you objective advice based on more than just the information provided in your letter and perhaps can even provide you with tips for communicating with your half siblings. To see a counselor poses no risk and offers potentially great rewards.
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