A lie dies, a guide appears, and a journey begins.
For a confession, there must first be a secret. And with growing DNA testing so readily available, millions of secrets are under siege. Today the stories abound of lives turned upside down by the secrets this technology reveals. Adults can be traumatized by the truth of their conception, family ties torn apart by betrayal, and individuals crushed under the shame of discovered deceit.
But you will also find plenty of forgiveness, compassion, joyous reunion, and the creation of extended families. There will be unanswered questions, lost stories, and dead ends. There will also be stories of long-awaited personal integration for people who always knew something was wrong. People like me. The experience of the discovery of true heritage is as individual as each human being. In my case, it went well beyond a different genetic makeup and the fuller sense of self I had always longed for.
This might have been a story of me as another Ancestry.com statistic. Instead, it would bring together unknown family I could choose to include in my life, and be a part of theirs. It would begin to heal a whole childhood. More unexpected, it would integrate a far more powerful part of myself I did not realize was there all along. As much as humans tend to see family as everything, we are all ultimately alone in our journey of birth and death and alone within ourselves in our minds and hearts. Or are we?
Who I Am changes in an instant.
It felt like it came out of the blue, this 59-year-old secret. Like a sudden unleashing of a gust of wind, it tore apart the delicate dandelion head that had been my constructed life story. No matter the details that would unfold, that story, that me would not survive. And yet, as my grandmother used to tell me, “It’s an ill wind that blows no good.” And indeed, something would be reborn. My entire childhood was about to make complete sense.
In June 2018, I met my family at a cabin in Lake Tahoe for a small reunion. My mom, Diane, was there, brought from out of state by my little brother Bobby and his wife. Mom is becoming increasingly fragile with dizziness and early signs of dementia. It’s good she was able to make the long trip.