A few years ago, my mom found out that her father wasn’t her father. She and my uncle had taken a DNA test and it turned out he was her half-brother.
The relationship between my mom and grandma was already strained, so this bomb basically destroyed what little bit of communication still existed between them. On the few occasions they did speak, it always resulted in my mom insisting on knowing who her real father is and my grandmother insisting that either the DNA results are wrong or the hospital gave her the wrong baby.
While this revelation tore my mom up inside, it didn’t affect me at all. (Cue the stages of grief…)
I had never known her father… my grandmother had remarried by the time I was born and I had always thought of my mother’s stepfather as my grandfather. Even when my grandma divorced and remarried again, I considered her new husband my new grandfather. (I’m pretty adaptable that way I guess.)
I barely let any of it bother me and continued on with my life. After all, what did any of this have to do with me?
Whenever I visited either of them, I listened as my mom and grandma berated each other and recounted their side of the story over and over again. Each defended themselves as if I was the judge & jury and they were trying to avoid the electric chair. Still, it barely registered as a slight annoyance on my “things I’m going to stress about today” meter.
Then the day came when I got this text:
Call me. I have a dad.
I rolled my eyes and thought, here we go again, still disbelieving that this drama could possibly have anything to do with me.
I called my mom and as I waited for her to answer my heart dropped into the my stomach. My throat went dry and my brain started firing off a million questions at once. By the time my mom answered I couldn’t speak. I had no idea what to say.
Thankfully, I didn’t need to say anything… she had more than enough to say for both of us!
I soon learned that my grandfather, one uncle, and one aunt had all passed away from massive heart attacks. My living aunt and uncles also suffered from cardiac episodes, as early as in their 40’s. Having been diagnosed with tachyarrhythmia at a young age, this was significant to me, but still registered barely a nudge on my stress meter.
What DID start to stress me out were the questions flooding my already overactive brain.
Who are these people? Where do they live? Do they know who I am, that I exist? Did they know about my mom? Do they want to meet me? What do I call them? Are they my aunt and uncle so & so? How many new cousins do I have? Are they “new” if you always had them, but didn’t know the existed? etc.
This part of my family I never knew existed and couldn’t care less about suddenly made it impossible for me to concentrate on anything else.
And then I got mad.
When my mom got the results from her DNA test, my grandmother gave me many explanations.
Actually, she gave me the same two explanations multiple times in differing tones so that it sounded like she was giving me multiple reasons for the results. In truth, it all boiled down to she was given the wrong baby at the hospital and you can’t trust that DNA stuff.
I do not handle being lied to well. And by “not well,” I mean that I could see myself snapping and prison time being involved.
But it was my GRANDMA who had lied to me… and how can anyone snap on their grandma??
So I put on my big girl panties, held my tongue, and bottled my anger, only letting it come out on myself. It didn’t matter if I stubbed my toe or had a bad hair day… I silently yelled and criticized myself constantly. Even when I did something right, I found a reason why I’d screwed up.
All of that putting myself down inevitably led to getting REALLY down.
I no longer wondered if they would want to meet me, I started thinking why the heck would they want to bother meeting me? I’m horrible and not worth the effort. I feel bad for them having to find out someone like me is in their family.
It’s been a really long time since I thought those kind of things about myself, but that’s where I ended up.
I moped around the house on the weekends sighing loudly and my husband and kids were constantly wanting to know what was wrong, to which I had no real answer. My husband was especially concerned, since he takes any hint of me being anything other than happy as a sign that he’s failing…which made me feel even worse.
Then one morning I woke up and thought, this is ridiculous!
I mean, sure, my family could easily be featured on Maury, but I’m still awesome! I’ve got a great husband, two wonderful girls, and I’m surrounded by people that love me. If I was half as bad as I kept telling myself I was, that just wouldn’t happen.
Plus, so what if there’s some new family out there? They existed before I knew about them and they’ll keep on existing. Would it be cool to get to know them? Of course! But if they don’t like me it’s not going to make my world implode or anything.
Accepting all this was great. My blood pressure went way down and I felt like old self again… for about two minutes.
Due to my blood pressure issues (and some shortness of breath), my doctor ordered an echo cardiogram. The result: an aneurysm of the atrial septum.
At this point, I started wondering about how much of my personality and traits I had inherited from these people.
I had no idea what my diagnosis actually was and was thinking… great, my new family broke my heart. (Because it would have been flawless & perfect if I hadn’t known about them, obviously.)
I moved on from that flawed thinking pretty quickly, but nagging questions still assault me. In some ways, my identity feels like it’s been stolen. What I thought I knew, 100%, without question, about my family was wrong. It’s like being lied to on a spiritual level and I find myself asking silly questions like “Who am I?”
While I know the answer to that question, it’s still sneaking up on me. I’ve found a lot of comfort and assurance in these verses lately though:
Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
and Romans 8:16-17: The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Even in my silly doubts and endless questioning, in my heart, I know exactly who I am…