My family has a lot of secrets and I could always feel them. I think most kids can. You don’t know what’s wrong or why your parents act like they do, but you know something is up and then eventually, you stumble over enough half-truths until you realize that what you’ve pieced together is a bomb.
This week, Oprah told the world about her secret sister. Naturally, I took her side. If I had a sibling, I’d want to know too, but then I started thinking about things from her mother’s perspective. Didn’t her mother have a right to keep her secret? Maybe she didn’t trust herself to parent another child? Maybe she wanted to give her daughter the ultimate gift of a family that could provide for her in a way she couldn’t? Maybe she thought her secret gave her a second chance?
As children, we forget that our parents are just human beings – people making a lot of mistakes. Once I told a cousin something about her grandfather, because she had figured some stuff out. Her mother is a master secret keeper, which is why I suspect she came to me. Without even thinking about it, I blurted out the truth. Even though, I hate it when people tell my secrets. Even though, I now realize it wasn’t my truth to tell.
My logic was if you know what mistakes were made, you can learn not to repeat them. If you don’t know what’s really wrong, you can’t know how to fix it? I knew that who he was and what he had done had affected how she was raised. It didn’t dawn on me to ask her whether she had spoken to her parents first, whether she had spoken to her grandfather.
Now I wonder did I screw up his second chance?
Think of this scenario. A couple is married, young. Early in their marriage, he has an affair. Somehow the couple manages to get through it. They go on to raise a family and now their girl is grown and newly married. Now history is repeating itself and her husband has an affair. Should the girl’s mother tell her daughter about her own husband’s adultery and risk tainting the image the girl has of her father, or should she share her experience, woman to woman and help her daughter out?
What do you think?