All Articles Tagged "family secrets"
The road to success for Gabby Douglas hasn’t been easy. Thankfully, the young gymnast relied on her mother, Natalie Hawkins and three siblings, Arielle, John and Joyelle. But one person’s been noticeably absent from her life, Gabby’s father Timothy Douglas, an Air National guardsman.
According to an interview with People, the Olympic gold medalist says she didn’t see him much growing up—especially after her parents divorced in 2007. And things haven’t changed much since then. “I haven’t heard from him,” said Gabby. “He’s doing his own thing. What can you do? Everyone has hiccups in their families.”
She hopes to receive an apology from him “at some point.”
Read what else Gabrielle has to say about her family over at ESSENCE.
When it comes to families, there are often a couple of skeletons that come tumbling out of the closet. But none are probably half as bad as the secret 60 year old, Valerie Spruill, of Doylestown, Ohio discovered after her husband passed away in 1998.
The secret was that her husband was also her father.
Yes, you read that correctly. Valerie unknowingly married her father.
So, how did all of this happen?
At 9 years old, Valerie learned that the man and woman she thought were her parents were actually her grandparents. The woman, who her family called “the night lady,” was not just a family friend but her mother. That’s when the true details of Valerie’s life started to unfold. Her mother left her in a taxi at 3 months old, shortly after that, she was sent to live with her maternal grandparents permanently.
Eventually, she met and married Percy Spruill, the man she would later learn was her father. Valerie admits that there were always strange rumblings regarding her marriage but she never understood them. It wasn’t until 6 years after her husband’s death, that her uncle came forward and told her the truth.
Valerie collected a hairbrush with Percy’s hair still in it. They tested the hair and found out Percy was, indeed, her father. Valerie said she couldn’t be sure whether her father knew she was his daughter or not, but said she’s inclined to believe he knew and just didn’t want to say anything.
As you may imagine, getting over something like this is no easy feat. Valerie has been in therapy since she learned the secret in 2004 and fights the urge the hate him.
You can understand her pain, considering every memory from her marriage was based on a sick lie.
By now, you may be wondering why Valerie decided to go public with such a gut-wrenching story. Don’t think she wasn’t warned. Her brother suggested she not, claiming it would expose all types of family skeletons. I don’t know about your family, but the skeletons don’t get anymore gruesome than this.
But Valerie was unswayed. She told Ohio’s Akron Beacon Journal that she replied with, “Well, I’m not a skeleton, and I’m hurt.”
Valerie says she wants her story to serve as an inspiration to others. She said, “If I’ve come through this, anyone can come through anything through the help of the Lord.”
She also wanted her story known just in case she has other brothers and sisters out there. It’s uncertain whether Valerie’s parents, who met when they were 15, had other children together. Valerie, who made amends with her mother before she died in 1984, has a message for any potential siblings she may have.
“My biggest goal is to find them and let ’em know that [their mother] loved them, no matter what. And [to tell them], ‘Thank God she gave you away like she did me, so you could have a beautiful life.”
If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering if you would have gone public with this story, if it was your own. I can’t really say, but I do commend Valerie for her courage. While her story is unbelievable, I’m sure there are others who are struggling with some of the hurt inflicted at the hands of their own parents. If her painful story helps someone else, then it’s worth it. If she connects with siblings who never knew they had a sister out there, then it was worth it.
Aside from all that maybe sharing her story in such a public way is additional healing for Valerie.
“If this old lady done come through all this, and God’s still got her here and still with a good heart — because you find so many mean, vicious people in the world, and you don’t have to be — you can love no matter what you’ve come through or where you’ve been in this world.”
It’s not just Valerie’s story, but her reaction to it that provide a message to all of us. No matter how bad it may seem, we can all overcome the hurt in our own lives.
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I’m a high-school educator by day.
In the teacher’s lounge, where I spend the menial amount of time I’m allowed for lunch, the Maury Povich Show is almost always playing. Before two months ago, I was not at all familiar with his signature “You are NOT the father!” refrain; now, it’s a running gag among the teachers. Though Maury, along with Jerry Springer and talk show hosts of their ilk have been around since I was my students’ age, the subject matter has apparently not changed very much: the show still champions the cultural detritus of the lower-middle class. Even when I was 14, I never understood the type of person who would allow themselves to be scrutinized in such backwards ways. It’s as if there’s a whole cross-section of America who has no problem letting the world know just how trifling their families really are. Today, the issue takes on a more sobering perspective: I look at my students and worry that many of them are itching to be a part of that cross-section.
Yes, I teach underserved, underprivileged black kids in the big city. My students are good kids, by and large, but I definitely see a number of them on the path to The Jerry Springer Show if no intervention is put into place. These are students who experience a dearth of positive male role models and are not taught the importance of education outside of school. I had my first parent-teacher conferences a couple days ago, and it was made crystalline to me why some of my students are who they are: their parents ain’t about a dollar.
So, for all you mothers out there, a simple request from a humble educator: Do everything in your power to keep your child away from daytime talk shows. Raise them to understand what most reasonable people do: that Maury, Jerry, Jenny, Ricki, Montel (the last three have come and gone) and all the others bereft of soul don’t have your best interests at heart when they exploit you and your problems. Teach your spawn that dirt is best kept under the family rug. Problems will exist, as they do in every family, but dammit…appearing on a talk show is the best way to make oneself incapable of being taken seriously, and of getting good employment.
Well, maybe second to getting a Mike Tyson face tattoo, but you understand what I’m trying to say.
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About a year ago my sister called me with some distressing news about one of our cousins. While she was more than willing to share, she let me know that my aunt and uncle wanted the incident to be kept secret. And not secret from friends and associates, secret from our other family members. I understand that you can’t share everything with everybody but far too often, in black families specifically, there’s an all too common practice of sweeping painful, embarrassing, hurtful information under the rug.