Inlaw family secret, need advice (sorry, it got a little long)

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Posted 9/26/2013 by Laurel Jean in NSBR Board
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Laurel Jean
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Posted: 9/26/2013 7:29:48 PM
DH was burned badly as a small child (2 years old). What the story is, he was wearing a snowsuit and got too close to a bonfire. The leg of his snowsuit caught fire and his leg was very badly burned (3rd and 4th degree burns). As a result, he spent a lot of his childhood in hospitals having skin grafts and orthopedic surgeries.

He has problems with his leg to this day (chronic bone infection, arthritis in the other leg due to overuse, skin problems, etc.) We were told by an orthopedic surgeon that he will eventually have to have the burned leg amputated or become wheelchair-bound. A second opinion has confirmed this.

Recently we found out that there is more to the story than he knew. He does not remember the "accident", just his hospitalizations.

He has talked to his older brothers and they became very evasive and essentially told him that "the person responsible is dead, and there is no point in pursuing it". Also, his father told the family to "never tell him what really happened". Even childhood friends seem to know the story, but when DH asks, they say, "I know what happened, but I am not going to be the one to tell you".

DH has an older sister who might possibly "spill" if talked to one on one.

My question is, how should we approach this? Knowing what "really" happened would not change his situation. But... For him it would fill in some history (although, if it's what I suspect, it may upset him terribly). It would also answer for me why he does some of the difficult things that he does.

So, if you were in this position, would you pursue it, or just leave it be?




Miss Ang
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Posted: 9/26/2013 7:31:54 PM
Holy cow. I don't even know what the right answer is. What a horrible situation for your husband to face. I couldn't read without saying I'm sorry.


-Angela

Oliquig
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Posted: 9/26/2013 7:42:47 PM
I would absolutely want to know, especially since you "know" there is more to the story.

Your husband should have been told years ago, what his family has done is awful.


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Laurel Jean
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Posted: 9/26/2013 7:50:13 PM

Your husband should have been told years ago


I absolutely agree. Whatever it is, I think it is best to know.

His father, who swore the family to secrecy, is deceased. So is his mom and one older sister. I would hate to think that it was deliberately done by a family member, but it could have been a terrible accident that happened as a result of poor judgement.

At any rate, his dad is gone, and I think all promises with him are off. But this is a very tight family, and spouses are still considered "outsiders".


marycain
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Posted: 9/26/2013 7:53:13 PM
Are there any sources other than family who would know the whole story and be willing to tell him? At this point I'd be suspicious of anything a family member might tell you.

Your husband definitely deserves to know the truth, however painful. If it was deliberate abuse and not accidental, his subconscious may remember it even if his conscious mind doesn't, and it could be affecting his behavior without him even being aware of it.

Laurel Jean
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Posted: 9/26/2013 7:57:19 PM

If it was deliberate abuse and not accidental, his subconscious may remember it even if his conscious mind doesn't, and it could be affecting his behavior without him even being aware of it.


This is what worries me. Some of his behaviors (drinking, wanting to control everything vs. assuming he has no control over things that are in his control, trust issues) have been a problem throughout our marriage.

I keep thinking (and maybe I overthink), that if we had some answers, moving forward would be easier for us.

UkSue
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:05:12 PM
I feel so sorry for your husband. My ex is literally crumbling at the moment, after learning a series of secrets his parents kept from him ( his father died 16 years ago, and his mother a year ago.) I have no advice but if it was me, I would want- and need- to know the truth so badly. Knowing how the lies have damaged my ex, and continue to damage him, I believe the sooner your husband knows the truth the better- even if he has to seek professional support to deal with it.


It's not the passage of time that heals. It's what you do with that time.

marycain
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:11:23 PM
Have you told the family members who are still alive what your husband is facing in terms of future surgery and disability? He has a right to understand why this has happened, and to get the support he needs from his family. How can he trust them when he knows they are lying to him by omission? Maybe if you explain it to the sister in those terms she will be willing to tell you the truth.

perumbula
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:13:28 PM
He is a grown man and deserves to know the truth, especially since everyone around him knows. The truth may hurt at first but lies never heal completely.

How can they watch him deal with the fall out from this for decades and still tell him he's better off not knowing?


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Laurel Jean
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:15:17 PM

Have you told the family members who are still alive what your husband is facing in terms of future surgery and disability?


I think many of them now know and this is what brought it on. My suspicion is that somebody wants to tell, but doesn't dare.

TiggerPooh2380
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:17:19 PM
I agree he should be told, if it will at all help him heal in his mind. I think it is mean that everyone is saying they know more, but they wont tell, they should have just kept that to themselves if they wouldn't say anything further.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If it was deliberate abuse and not accidental, his subconscious may remember it even if his conscious mind doesn't, and it could be affecting his behavior without him even being aware of it.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------




I know I am quoting a quote but I fully agree with this and I am proof! I went through a traumatic car accident at the age of 16, ( I was the only survivor with 3 friends from high school) and while recuperating my Aunt bought me a case of apple juice, I blocked most of what happened and the after, but anytime anything happens with bad feelings involved I crave apple juice like crazy. I had oral surgery a week and a half ago and all Ive been doing is wanting apple juice since.

So I totally think he could be acting differently then he would have had it not happened. Also counseling may help before and or after he finds out the truth if at all.

flanz
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:20:46 PM
Oh, I am so very sorry. It seems like a horrible situation made worse by being horribly handled. Best of luck moving forward! Hugs to you both....

Laurel Jean
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:21:07 PM

How can they watch him deal with the fall out from this for decades and still tell him he's better off not knowing?


I agree. I think he deserves to know the truth, and it would be helpful for me to know, also.

I am so angry over this, yet, I don't want to hurt him by pressing the issue if he doesn't want to.

Christine58
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:23:01 PM
If his childhood friends know and have not told him...shame on them and everyone else. He has a RIGHT to know...I wonder if there might be hospital records or newspaper article on it??? I'd be PISSED if my siblings knew and said nothing.



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LippyMans
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:26:48 PM
I think you need a big bottle of booze and figure out which family or friend is loose lipped when liquored up!

lucyg819
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:26:50 PM
I have no answers for you. I'm just sorry. Your poor DH ... what he has been through and will continue to go through.


LUCYG
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Laurel Jean
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:32:01 PM
His childhood friends (at least some of them) seem to know something, but are not telling.

We haven't found any police reports, and any newspaper articles we've found say it was accidental.

My fear is that is was within the family, either extended or immediate.

My feeling is knowing is better than not knowing, but I'm not sure he is there yet.

So, what if I was able to find out (I'm pretty sure the sister would tell me, if pressed), how would I handle that?

Christine58
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:33:25 PM
I think you, DH and sister need to have a chat. He has a right to know...



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SDeven
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:37:29 PM
For me, truth is always the most important thing. I would insist or it would end my relationships with people who withhold the truth.






OzAngel
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:39:37 PM
"The person responsible is now dead" - makes it sound like it wasn't the accident your DH has always thought it was. The guilty one is gone, so I can't see any possible reason for not telling him the truth.

If I were in your husbands situation, I'd be very angry that I was being kept in the dark, I wouldn't even want to see\talk to my family or the old friends again until they fessed up. This is the sort of thing that can ruin relationships.

Whether his family look at you as an outsider or not, if you think the sister will spill it, you should tell the her how badly this is affecting her brother (and all of you), and let her know that DH needs to be told so he can deal with it.

Good luck, I hope it works out for you and that your DH gets the answers he deserves.

ETA: just read your other post. If you've both been going through police reports and newspapers, it sounds like he wants to know. But if he's really not ready yet, I'd wait until he is. Or ask him if he minds if you find out. If he's OK with that - talk to SIL then wait until he asks.

But I would want someone in the family to tell him. They're the ones who kept the secret - they're the ones who should have to face him with the real story.


* ANGEL *

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voltagain
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:40:52 PM
but I'm not sure he is there yet.

So, what if I was able to find out (I'm pretty sure the sister would tell me, if pressed), how would I handle that?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Leave it alone until HE is fully ready to deal with whatever comes out. I know you feel like if he knew the full truth it would change him for the better. It might not. Even if it does some of his behaviors now have decades of becoming ingrained as unconscious behaviors so they aren't going to disappear.

If you wait till he is ready you don't have to deal with your own struggle to keep a secret he isn't ready, willing or able to hear.


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marycain
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:44:25 PM
Before you pursue it any further, make sure you and your DH are on the same page. With trying to come to terms with the physical repercussions of his injury, he may not be ready mentally or emotionally for more bad news. If he's not at the point where he is ready to deal with it, I would not push it. If you do find out, then you would either have to tell him or hide it from him, and that's a no-win situation if he isn't at a point where he can cope.

His family and friends' reactions suggest that the truth is something really bad, and they think, however mistakenly, that they are protecting him.

While he definitely has a right to the truth, finding out needs to be on his terms and his timeline, when he is ready to hear it. Otherwise, he may be too overwhelmed to deal with it.

Laurel Jean
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Posted: 9/26/2013 8:58:36 PM

he may be too overwhelmed to deal with it.


That's what worries me.

voltagain
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Posted: 9/26/2013 9:01:43 PM
he may be too overwhelmed to deal with it.


That's what worries me.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Why does it worry you? If you get his sister to spill the beans, then decide he is too overwhelmed to deal with it.. YOU become one of "them" guarding the secret from him.. just like they are doing right now. Why do you want to be like them in doing that?


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Laurel Jean
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Posted: 9/26/2013 9:04:26 PM
Volt, you have a point. Maybe I am overthinking.

littlefish
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Posted: 9/26/2013 9:06:27 PM
I would want to know.

Withholding something like that from a grown man, and him *knowing* they are withholding is cruel, IMO.


Julie

marycain
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Posted: 9/26/2013 9:11:29 PM
You mentioned that he already has trust issues, as well as alcohol issues. I think at this point, the best thing you can do is sit down and have an honest conversation with him. Let him know that you will support whatever he wants to do in dealing with the situation, whether it's confronting his sister, or letting things go. Give him a sense of control over what is happening.

Is he getting any type of counseling now? Knowing what he will be facing in the future, counseling might be very helpful for both of you, to help work through the issues that are inevitable with any type of major health crisis.

Mary Kay Lady
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Posted: 9/26/2013 10:49:22 PM

I agree that he has a right to know what the family secret is. Especially since it involves him. But, it's his family. He needs to confront whomever he thinks will share the secret.



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Alex M
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Posted: 9/26/2013 11:13:21 PM
Wow, thats horrible. I can't imagine not knowing what happened and I also can't imagine holding onto such a secret for so long. If your husband is having trust issues and problems with alcohol, this one event might be hindering him from fully dealing with his problems and being able to move forward.

I think it would be incredibly horrific if he suddenly had a flashback or different things started coming to his mind while in therapy. It would be much easier to make progress in therapy if they knew what they were dealing with. I think at this point if it had to do with your FIL and he is now dead then there is no harm in trying to get the sister to tell. Having a limb amputated or being wheelchair bound for the rest of his life is a BIG deal and I think his family owes him the full story



anniebygaslight
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Posted: 9/27/2013 12:20:13 AM
Could it be fear of litigation that is causing these people to withhold information?


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HannahRuth
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Posted: 9/27/2013 1:42:47 AM

Leave.It.Be.

Honestly what good could you possibly expect to come out of pursuing this?

The only thing that would happen is that a lot of old aggravation would re-surface and cause unnecessary anguish to the remaining family.

camanddanismom
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Posted: 9/27/2013 5:36:35 AM
Yeesh, everyone seems to know but him! I think that is terrible and would drive a wedge between me and my family. He has the right and I cant believe no one will tell him. Now is the time.


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ashazamm
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Posted: 9/27/2013 8:43:03 AM
I just want to say I think it's wrong no one is telling him. Wrong.

Rhondito
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Posted: 9/27/2013 8:58:16 AM
I'm obviously alone in my opinion but I just don't see what good can come of him finding out.

Yes, I think it's wrong that all these other people know what happened and he doesn't. But what happens after he finds out? Is it going to be like a magic switch is flipped and his life will become all sunshine and roses? Or, is it going to be something devastating that will hurt him and cause him anguish?

For the record - I think it's pretty shitty that these people let him know that the accident wasn't as he was told but yet they didn't tell him the truth. Everyone should have kept their mouths shut.


Rhonda



Mallie
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Posted: 9/27/2013 8:59:42 AM
If you have some big secret that you truly feel the person would be better off not knowing, then you shut your damn mouth and never say a word about it.

i think it's really cruel to tell someone you have a devastating secret about a critical event in their lives and then refuse to tell them. Just cruel. Sadistic, really.

I'd be heavily reconsidering my relationship with people who would put me or my loved one through this cruel limbo of veiled hints and patronizing faux confidentiality.

eebud
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:04:34 AM

I'm obviously alone in my opinion but I just don't see what good can come of him finding out.

Yes, I think it's wrong that all these other people know what happened and he doesn't. But what happens after he finds out? Is it going to be like a magic switch is flipped and his life will become all sunshine and roses? Or, is it going to be something devastating that will hurt him and cause him anguish?

For the record - I think it's pretty shitty that these people let him know that the accident wasn't as he was told but yet they didn't tell him the truth. Everyone should have kept their mouths shut.

I agree with all of this. I definitely think it was VERY shitty of anyone who told him that they had a secret that they were not going to tell him. Why the heck did anyone say anything at all? I don't get that.

As for trying to get someone to spill, if your DH wants to try to find out, then that is his choice. If he chooses not to, then I think OP should drop it.





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KatieBPea
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:08:16 AM
I agree with Rhondito and Mallie re people not alluding to any "inside information" in the first place.

And although I would follow my husband's lead and support whatever decision he made, I would find it difficult if not impossible to continue having a relationship with people who would be so cruel to someone I loved.



Dalai Mama
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:15:24 AM

I'm obviously alone in my opinion but I just don't see what good can come of him finding out.
It doesn't really matter if no good could come of it. Relatives keeping something from her DH because they think it is in his best interst, as if he's not an adult who should be able to make that decision for himself, is overbearing and patronising. He's not a child. If he (him, mind you, not the OP) wants to know, they should tell him.


Jo Mama

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scrappower
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:19:02 AM
They have basically let the cat out of the bag and are dangling it on a noose in front of him. They need to share and now. It isn't about what good can come from it but about him knowing the truth and maybe moving on at some point. This is one of the meanest and cruelest things I have read here. Shame on all of those throwing it around. That is not family, that is pure hate.



ukfan
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:20:00 AM

If you have some big secret that you truly feel the person would be better off not knowing, then you shut your damn mouth and never say a word about it.

i think it's really cruel to tell someone you have a devastating secret about a critical event in their lives and then refuse to tell them. Just cruel. Sadistic, really.

I'd be heavily reconsidering my relationship with people who would put me or my loved one through this cruel limbo of veiled hints and patronizing faux confidentiality.


This!!!

I cannot begin to imagine the cruelty this family is perpetuating.


Jennifer



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Annabella
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:20:03 AM
I would want to know. Sorry he's going through this.




MochiMochi
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:32:37 AM

If you have some big secret that you truly feel the person would be better off not knowing, then you shut your damn mouth and never say a word about it.

i think it's really cruel to tell someone you have a devastating secret about a critical event in their lives and then refuse to tell them. Just cruel. Sadistic, really.

I'd be heavily reconsidering my relationship with people who would put me or my loved one through this cruel limbo of veiled hints and patronizing faux confidentiality.


I agree with this too. It's just torture for him, whereas if they had kept their traps shut, he wouldn't even know he didn't have the whole story.

The thing is, it might be not as bad as they're alluding - without knowing, it becomes this scary, insurmountable, horrible secret. It might be, or it might not - the person who is affected should get to decide that.

That said, I hope your DH is prepared that the person who hurt him might have been his father, or mother, or one of the siblings. I'd be suspicious of anyone who hasn't said they know but can't tell. And that's the real trouble here - who the hell in his family can he trust with this kind of secret hanging over him? It is sadistic, I'm so sorry for you both that his kin are handling this so horribly.

cropduster
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:41:21 AM
I feel terrible for the both of you. I am also in the camp that family/friends are being cruel by saying that there is more to the story and then not say anything further. If I had my guess, in their defense, this is something that has been weighing heavily on their minds for decades, but each individual does not want to be the one to cause your DH immense emotional pain. I am sure if they were present when this happened, they have been traumatized as well.

Without going back and reading the thread, are you and DH in therapy? If not, I urge you to go. If anything to let you both come to terms with what lies ahead re: his disability.

I would not even know where to begin to find out on my own if there are actual records. Have you talked to the police in the town where this took place? Maybe a private detective?

At any rate, I will send prayers up for you and DH.

(((Hugs)))


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purplepackrat
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:45:54 AM
That is insane. I have never thought that information should be kept from the person involved in a given situation. You have to give people information so that they can move on, heal, make decisions, etc.

I'm just pissy enough, that I would gather those family members together. Give them the chance to tell me...and let them know that authorities were waiting to take their statements if they chose not to tell me themselves. Overboard? Sure. But I imagine it would be effective. And, if it killed the relationship, so what? For me there would be no relationship with people causing my loved one pain by hinting at and withholding information.

Non-overboard response: who spilled the beans? I'd go to that person again since they obviously want to tell. Also, I'd explain to the brothers exactly why it would matter to know. Give them the chance to man up so to speak. I'd also threaten the family relationship because as above, there would be no relationship with those people until they were willing to show the love and respect to my DH that he deserved.



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~*Laura*~
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Posted: 9/27/2013 9:56:59 AM
I'm really sorry you and your husband are going through this and that your husband has obviously been wounded- physically and emotionally- by this traumatic event and secret. There are a lot of people who are saying that no good would come out of him knowing what really happened, but I disagree. I believe that the rift and resentment that this family secret has caused can be repaired. I believe your husband can come to terms with his past and like you suspect, can finally discover how this event has caused him to live his life and make his choices as an adult. But, I think it needs to be handled very carefully. I think a skilled counselor needs to be involved in your husbands emotional and psychological care. Things can backfire and the relationships in the family can worsen if there isn't professional help involved. I believe that your husband will benefit the most if he is guided through this by a counselor. Please consider having a trusted professional in place, and that your husband has a strong, trusting relationship with them before you try to force the skeleton out of the closet.

Good luck to you. I hope you come back to let us know how things are progressing. I know this is one thread that I won't forget and will want to have an update about.







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StuckOnPeas

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Posted: 9/27/2013 10:31:42 AM


I am so sorry your dh is in this situation. I would definitely want to know the truth if I were him. And how rotten that so much of his family knows the truth and no one will tell.



*Stop the glorification of busy*

busypea
boring + nerdy

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October 2002
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Posted: 9/27/2013 10:44:21 AM

I'm obviously alone in my opinion but I just don't see what good can come of him finding out.

Yes, I think it's wrong that all these other people know what happened and he doesn't. But what happens after he finds out? Is it going to be like a magic switch is flipped and his life will become all sunshine and roses? Or, is it going to be something devastating that will hurt him and cause him anguish?

For the record - I think it's pretty shitty that these people let him know that the accident wasn't as he was told but yet they didn't tell him the truth. Everyone should have kept their mouths shut.
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I agree with this. But now that these family members are saying there's a secret but won't spill what it is... that's horrible.

I think it would have been better, though, if everyone had just kept their damn mouths shut and your DH would never have known that the version of the story he's always known is not the truth.

AngieandSnoopy
Michel's Mom ~ Sugar Plum's Mummie

PeaNut 52,307
October 2002
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Posted: 9/27/2013 10:53:22 AM

If you have some big secret that you truly feel the person would be better off not knowing, then you shut your damn mouth and never say a word about it.

i think it's really cruel to tell someone you have a devastating secret about a critical event in their lives and then refuse to tell them. Just cruel. Sadistic, really.

I'd be heavily reconsidering my relationship with people who would put me or my loved one through this cruel limbo of veiled hints and patronizing faux confidentiality.



I agree with this too. It's just torture for him, whereas if they had kept their traps shut, he wouldn't even know he didn't have the whole story.

The thing is, it might be not as bad as they're alluding - without knowing, it becomes this scary, insurmountable, horrible secret. It might be, or it might not - the person who is affected should get to decide that.

That said, I hope your DH is prepared that the person who hurt him might have been his father, or mother, or one of the siblings. I'd be suspicious of anyone who hasn't said they know but can't tell. And that's the real trouble here - who the hell in his family can he trust with this kind of secret hanging over him? It is sadistic, I'm so sorry for you both that his kin are handling this so horribly.


The above.

I had something more minor kept from me as a child and it made me hate and not trust my grandfather for something he hadn't done. Then my dumb grandmother said something one time that made me realize the truth and my stupid mother was shushing her up. I was on the other side of the room and pretended I didn't hear so I didn't have to rake them over the coals at a family reunion and never did let on I knew. But my grandfather did plenty of mean stuff but he was innocent of that. Then there was all the other stuff they "thought" I knew but was a shock to find out at 18.

He needs to know because his imagination might be making it worse than it is. It is cruel to hint there is more of the story but refuse to tell. I'm not involved in any way and I'm dying to know what the secret is.


Angie ~ Snoopy, Amanda, Michel, Davy, Benji, & Onkita - my fur kids!
Red, Black & Tan, & Double Dapple mini Dachshund's! Is it Snoopy or Snoopea?
Michel 9, Onkita 14, Jeannie the Chiweenie 14, and Sugar Plum 16 years!

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snugglebutter
dedicated chocoholic

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November 2002
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Posted: 9/27/2013 11:40:42 AM
I feel absolutely horrible for your Dh and the physical and emotional struggles he is dealing with. I would want to know and I hope that he is able to find out.

Also, I feel for his siblings because their father placed an incredible burden on them. Their baby brother was horribly hurt at the fault of someone else and they have to keep this big dark secret? That's a terribly unfair thing to put upon children. (I'm assuming they were also minors when it happened) It can be incredibly hard to wrestle with doing the right thing vs. loyalty to a parent - even as an adult.



Sara


doesitmatter?
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

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May 2011
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Posted: 9/27/2013 12:37:50 PM
If I was him I think I'd want to know and think I'd have the right to know, however I think it needs to be him.


Child of God, follower of Jesus, and so thankful for His presence in my life <><
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