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My brother came to visit me a few weeks ago. Of all my family members, he would not have been the person I would have expected to be the first to meet my son. And yet, after an inadvertent disclosure on Facebook that my husband made, which somehow worked against the careful filter we had in place, the phone rang and it was him.

We hadn’t spoken to each other in three years, both casualties of being on the opposite sides of our familial split. I barely got through the conversation without crying, not because he was mean or cruel, but because in that space between us, I could still feel the genuine love and regard that he held for me. He was doing the right thing by reaching out, and making the effort to do what I couldn’t.

About a month or so later, he was at my door visiting. At first, I wasn’t sure how it would go or what I would be feeling. However, after a few hours, things fell into a comfortable pace and I began to relax. We had some good talks, mostly avoiding the difficult subject of our parents, as we were each estranged from one of them.

On the last night, however, he told me two things which struck me. The first was that my mother still has no knowledge of my son’s birth, which made me feel both safe in my secret, but dread because there will be some point of inevitable discovery. I was under the impression that she already knew about him, not that it changed my mind about our estrangement.

The second, though, was the big shocker. My mother had been saying for years how my brother never gave her a dime and was always complaining about not having money in the hopes that I would send her some. As it turns out, not only was he contributing, but his “rent” she imposed on him was more than my mortgage payment.

The validation at realizing what a liar she was and how she used her greed to not only get money from me, but also poison me against my brother, was overwhelming. I saw the ugly truth, and as much as I hated the last three years of estrangement from her, I know now I have made the right decision. Someone who would do this to their children is just sick, and not someone I need in my life.