“The whole mentality in our family is to keep things a secret,” my friend tells me, sitting down across the table from me and sipping her coffee.
“I have a cousin, S. She and her brother both suffer from a genetic disease which impacts hearing and sight. S was raised with the idea that it was something to hide. That’s what she grew up with.” S’s mother taught her children that they must conceal their disorder, or else no one would ever want to marry them. “If it was revealed, that would be the end of their chances for marriage and children.”
So when S met a man and got engaged, she hid her disease from her fiancé. My friend takes another sip of coffee and continues, “So, they’re engaged, they’re about to get married in a week. Literally, a week before the wedding.” The families had a large gathering together, and somehow the secret came out. The fiancé cancelled the engagement and ended the relationship—not because of S’s disease, but because of her deception.
“It was a genetic disorder. If they had children, it would impact their life. That could be worked with. But he was going into a marriage, and she hadn’t told him something that important. It’s a betrayal of trust. That’s a lot harder to work with.”
My friend shakes her head and drinks the last of her coffee.
“It’s all about secrets and hiding. [A disease] is hard enough as it is; stigma just makes it ten times harder.”