An open letter to the second family I never asked for.

Broken family concept

I’ve been sitting on writing this blog post for many, many months.  Mostly because, as you know there is a part of me that wonders how much sharing is “too much?”  So even though I’ve had all this on my heart since I was thirteen years old, saying these words out loud has been something I’ve shied away from.  But a situation going back close to two weeks now has made me realize that what happened to me IS my story and I can share it as I see fit.  This is my life.  It isn’t only your story or your reality, it is mine too. Besides I won’t be censored.  This is my blog, if you want people to know your story then start your own blog.  It’s that simple.

I was accused by my half sister that writing about my father’s (our father’s)illness for Huff Post and on my blog was a ploy to get followers and likes.  Excuse me?  Come again?  Nah, that’s just uncalled for.  She clearly doesn’t know me at all, which is why I don’t shout from the roof tops that she is my sister; she’s a half sister, I never lived with her, and we weren’t raised by the same people, or in the same manner.  She is not a FULL sister.  A full sister is somebody who knows you better than you know yourself.  So, the fact that she would come at me with a comment like that about my articles shows just how little she actually knows me.

My blog, my articles are written to bring a voice to those who might be too shy, or timid to voice their own feelings, thoughts, fears, worries about certain situations.  Situations that we have in common as human beings on this one earth.  I happen to believe when we talk about the things that frustrate us, scare us, or upset us, we give power to others who are in the same boat.  We help them find their voice.  I also believe that it is incredibly therapeutic for me to “write out loud” it quiets my doubts, it shines light on the darkness inside me to say things out loud, I write for me, but I also write for all of you. If she knew me at all she would know it has nothing to do with followers and likes.  Hell if I want to accumulate a whole whack of followers then I need to write about me and Yannick.  Does she know nothing???  I mean come on people, let’s just get real.

She also accused me of embarrassing them.  Not sure how what I share about how I’m coping with my father’s dementia has anything to do with her, or the entire second family, but there you have it.  An article that she not only retweeted, but told me was awesome.  But somehow she has now changed her mind and now it does.  She’s entitled to her feelings, and I honor them, but I don’t have to buy into them.

Another thing I don’t have to buy into is this notion that she, her mother, and on many levels my father have all bought into.  (For the record my two half-brothers aren’t as married to this as she and her mother are.) For the record we are NOT one big happy family.  We just aren’t.

I have my brothers.  I have a mother.

My father left them, and me, for the woman that would become your mother.  That does not make us a big happy family.  That makes us a broken family, or at least it does on my end anyway.  The three of you got to have an “intact” family your entire lives; you’re now in your 30’s and 20’s.  You don’t know what it’s like to have walked a mile in the shoes of me and my two FULL brothers.

Even though your mom and our dad had an affair that ended up with them being a couple, and subsequently having a family, my mother was the superwoman of the situation.  Somehow, even through all of that, she still had the heart of a saint and invited all of you to Christmas celebrations, Thanksgiving dinners, birthday celebrations, you name it.  If it was a family event you all were invited.  My mother, God love her, set up this fantasy life you all existed in, one where the mistress who becomes the wife gets to have her cake and eat it too.  She gets the man away from his wife and family, and then gets to add four people to her family by being included in the original family.  This is not normal.  Most ex-wives do not do this for the follow up family.

For the record, so you can stop having it twisted in your minds, she didn’t do it for you all, she did it for her three children.  My mother didn’t do it for your mother.  Or our dad.  She included all of you in all of it because she knew it was the only way we would get any time with the man who was half of us.  It was the only way we could get any time with our dad.  But somehow this became the expectation.  This expectation was carried forward as we became adults with families of our own; it was expected that we would still want to have Christmases, and all other big occasions with you.

I’m sorry if as adults with our own families we have let you down, but if you ask anybody who is part of a broken family they will tell you that having Christmases with your father’s ex and his first family are not normal.  Our mother and us three kids have given more than any other original family has given.

You got lucky.

Now we are in the present and the truth is this:  the three of us, the original three didn’t ask for this.  We never agreed to a lifetime of holiday dinners, birthday celebrations, or any other special occasions with you.  You are the family we didn’t ask for.  We’ve been kind, we’ve been accommodating and loving.  So don’t you dare, EVER send me another message for as long as you and your mother shall live, saying I’ve personally not done enough for you.

If I were to sit down with my 13 year old self and tell her what the future would bring her, I would never believe that by the time I was 48 years old that I would have ended up giving all that I’ve given; not only to a father who never wanted anything to do with me, but the second family he thrust upon me.  Make no mistake about it going forward; our dad is the thread that binds, and to be frank, he’s not a very strong thread.  In fact he is the weakest link of all of it.  You are a family of five, and we; my mother, my brothers and I are a family of FOUR.  You have your crew and we have ours.  Please stop trying to hold us to the same standard that our mother set up for you out of the goodness of her heart in her attempt to give us three older kids a semblance of a family life.

Please don’t mistake our father’s current health crises as an opportunity for you to hold me for ransom.  What you need to know is that I’ve made peace with the relationship I have with Roy, and if pushed beyond what I’m prepared to give I will walk away with not only a clear conscience, but knowing I did and gave more than I had to.  I sleep at night with an abundance of relationships in my life that are mutually beneficial, and knowing I’m good exactly as I am.

14 Comments

  1. Catching up after a vacation.

    I read your blog as it helps me to know my thoughts, feelings, experiences are not unique to me. I am not alone in this big world. Other people face similar issues, have similar thoughts. As I said once, it is like you pluck the thoughts from my brain but you are able to say them much more eloquently and coherently than I ever could.

    Keep sharing. Keep doing what is right for you and your family.

  2. Dear Shantelle,

    You and your mother have been more than generous in giving of yourselves in your own individual way in being inclusive. Your mother showed a lot of love for you and your siblings in endeavouring to give yo the opportunity to see your father whenever possible. She is a remarkable woman, as are you. You don’t owe your half sister anything, and if there is no appreciation for all you have given of yourself, then yes, the only think is to walk away. You have your lovely family and they are ‘number one’. And after all you have been through, a loving, family of your own is the least you deserve. God bless you, Yannick and your three beautiful girls.

    Love and hugs,
    Nattacia xox

  3. Another woman broke up my family when I was 5. He married her and adopted her two daughters. She treated my brother and I like we were the step children. She was after his family’s money, which she got. We got more because my mom is a strong, wise person who raised us well. The step sisters later complained he’d been a bad father and husband. They took him away from me and they complained….

  4. I read your blog. I think that you explained your family situation eloquently and with great class. I am sure I would not be as understanding and giving as you. Excellent blog!

  5. Kudos to you Shantelle – you are one strong, brave woman saying what you said. You, your mom and brothers are exceptional people for including them into “your family circle”. Most people would not have opened up their heart/home to include them.

  6. Omg, your words are perfect. I feel your pain, your anger, and the peace you have made with the situation. Thank you for saying everything I have felt over the years, amazing

  7. First, your sharing is never too much. It is inspiring and helpful for those of us who can’t put our thoughts into the right words. And Yes, this IS your story and you needed to share it because you were wronged for many years and this is the topper. From your description, your mother is a very good person. How could she not be with the person you have become! And I am sure she thought she was doing the best thing for you and your brothers to maintain a “family” connection. But this half-sister has not earned the right, and is Not your family. She was a product of a painful family breakup. Your family. She was graciously included where she did not belong. She doesn’t really know the meaning of being a sister.
    Your truth and caring made me a follower. Not a blog about your father and the difficulties faced with a family member with dementia. If they are embarrassed, then Shame on Them. Sadly even full siblings must be cut loose for your own health and happiness. It is not easy but I think that is what you should do. They were lucky to have any time with you and your mother and brothers. In my opinion, that should stop now. For you and your family’s sake. You have what I see is a loving husband and your beautiful daughters. And you said you have mutually beneficial relationships, So stick with those. And there are many loving followers out there as well :-), You do not need her in your life. Thanks for sharing

  8. Bravo! You are a strong woman friend and I admire you. I think these people are takers and your family are people that are givers. You don’t need to give anymore. They have exceeded the level required for this relationship. I say”Good Riddance!”

  9. Thank you for writing this blog! Saying things out loud that weigh heavy on our hearts is so healing – even when there are those that don’t see it that way. And it does remind us that we are not alone.

    I think what you have to say is brave and meaningful. Thank you for putting it out there for us to read.

  10. Amen sister. I suspect the wellspring of this jealousy is the lives you all have built for yourselves despite the fractured family. We don’t “owe” anyone anything ever regardless of the relationship. Bail on toxic ones, no regrets.

  11. Good girl for finally saying what needed to be said. I’m sure that wasn’t easy. Being pushed to the point that you were, had to have been both therapeutic and truthful. I’m sure they hurt you with their words and expectations. I cannot believe that they are treating you the way they are. Here’s a question, do they feel the same towards your full brothers? Or is it a female misogynistic thing? Hmmm!

  12. A very good and heartfelt ( as usual) musing! I think since it’s your life, and your story to tell, you have every right to express what you wish to or not wish to. I thought that’s what writers do!? I like to remember something I read years ago: when people try to tell you you’re wrong, then you know you’re on the right track! And yes, I think I can safely say that you are loved just as you are! Hey, YB, maybe it’s time to send Shantelle some cheer-up flowers!

  13. Good for you Shantelle. I hope finally expressing these feelings out loud will help you feel no guilt whatsoever because there is certainly no reason to have any at all. You have gone above and beyond as you so often do. xo

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