Join our email list.

(type your email address)

Share Your Story

Register to share your story
Already registered: login

Get to Know Your Parents

Recent Stories

Featured Stories

See the Film

51 Birch Street


Read the Reviews

"The triumph of 51 Birch Street is that, as you’re driving home past fast-food joints and strip malls, you’ll be thinking about your own life as well."


Valerie Matthis (age 53)

Mom lead me on. She did this for the first 18 years of my life. Then one day she admitted that the man who I thought was my father, wasn’t. I felt so betrayed after her confession. I wish that I could say that the situation brought us closer, but it didn’t; there was always a bit of unspoken tension between us. Shortly before her death, Mom started confessing things nonstop; I can honestly say that I guess that I never really knew her. Then there was the matter of her personal effects that told of a life that was far different than I could have imagined. I still remember the night that I was going through her things and found out that she had a child who died in infancy. I guess I never knew her.


Parents can be the ultimate mystery,I think.  Secrets (any side of life) kept from friends, coworkers, and acquaintences never have as much effect as they do on family.  Some people know too much about their parents; others don’t know nearly enough.  It’s a balance, I suppose, that is different for everyone.  One of my mantras: Having resentments is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies.  It never works that way.

By: boomer, on Dec 17, 2006

I think this comment would be a little different, I am a mother, who is living a life undercover, with secret wishes, secret loves, pretending that life is fine for those I dont want to hurt. I guess i will be like your mom when i pass in that my family will find my personal effects and finally see who I am. They wont understand and may be hurt but they shouldnt be I still loved them tremendously.  I love my husband as a human being as a friend just not as deep seated love. Neither one of us wanting to be the first to end it. Like a comfortable pair of shoes that are worn and torn but you just cant bring yourself to get rid of them.

By: sue, on Feb 28, 2007

Sue--I was so touched by your confession. I think there are so many people out there living secret lives because they are trying to protect others--but that those secrets often take a serious toll on the person who is hiding something. There are significant costs to such secrets--just as there are significant costs to being truthful about who we are and what we need/want. Thanks for your perspective.

By: Holly, on Jan 15, 2009

Leave a Comment



Your Comment:

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Comments are moderated and will not be viewed on the site until approved.