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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum Archive

Re: When Family Finds Hurt Those Around


Wow, what a charged issue this can be. I don't envy your situation, but I'm sure you will make the RIGHT decision.

I had a similar situation when I published my book a few months ago. My mother has been telling a lie for over 40 years, so when I didn't tell HER lie in my book about the family history, she was furious, afraid of what people might think. Now understand, I didn't mention her lie, I didn't mention the truth, I simply didn't meniton the whole subject. My EXCLUSION is what enraged her, and she stopped speaking to me for several months. In my mind, everybody in the family already knew about Mom's lie, so I thought she'd be relieved to finally get it out in the open, but her reaction was venemous. My brothers and I couldn't believe the anger and hurt she exhibited.

My daughter suggested that I should have sent mom a slightly different version of the family history that I sent everyone else, but as a professional genealogist, I cannot do that. I'm bound by a set of standards in terms of research and the publication of information, which I will not compromise.

I had to accept that my mother's sense of shame, hurt, and anger were, in essence, HER feelings, and I was not obligated to modify my findings to placate her. Several months later, she's speaking to me again, though our relationship isn't as close as it once was, but that's okay with me. I know I did the right thing and Mom has had to learn to deal with it. However, she journals, daily, and I'm SURE that when this happened, she put her feelings (and the TRUTH of the matter) in one of her journals, so that once she's gone, we'll find them and will see, in her own hand, her admission of what truly happened -- sparing her the sense of shame that so haunts her. Poor thing.

No one in the family has ever judged her for what she did, in fact, we fully understand it. Her lie, though, has caused lots of pain within the family and ultimately led to my sister's suicide. As you can understand, Mom does NOT want to face that. But it's HER stuff.

I don't mean to sound cold or uncaring. I know that my mother did the best she could given a very difficult situation, and had she been honest with my sister, perhaps Laura would still be alive. But that didn't happen.

It's a tough call, but I had to be true to myself, my sense of honor, and my commitment to tell the ancestor's stories as honestly and as completely as possible.

Wishing you the best of luck, my dear. You WILL make the right decision.

- Lisa B. Lee
Oakland, CA

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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