You see the images online of these beautiful family trees, maternal and paternal, all lined and filled in. A thing of genuine beauty. People frame these and put them up. Quite special and meaningful.
I wish I could have one of those family trees and not be so stuck on my gnarly, turned and scarred family tree.
My family tree is raw and brutal and ugly. Branches are missing. Three generations of paternal lines are missing, giving my tree a lopsided look that is horrible and shocking. I look at it and I look away from it. We can't help how we are created or who created us, but I don't know the answer to that question of who is the man who helped to create me? Who is the man whose DNA I literally have coursing through my veins?
How do you explain it to someone who sees your family tree? The occasional missing or unknown person is one thing, but several generations of it? I make light of it. "I am a 3rd generation bastard!" I proudly joke. Inside, I am still coming to terms with what those betrayals of lineage and partner mean to me and to my family. My heart aches for the past, for decisions made that we will never understand.
I know that nothing has changed in my life, honestly. I have the same family and they love me the same now as they ever did. My family has all said that to me. My sister has said that to me several times. I do not know what I would do without her gentle heart being there for me.
My sister is taking this a lot better than I am. She explains that the parents that we now have are the parents that have chosen to be there, so they are our parents. She is very kind and matter of fact about it. Her calmness is the anchor to my ship in the storm. It still makes me feel sad and angry and all sorts of emotions that I am still processing. I think about it a lot. I believe that is normal.
Snippets of conversations from people who are now dead come back to me like small pieces of paper scraps left on the floor. Are any of the pieces that I have worth anything? Are the clues that I have collected worthless? It is very frustrating. I want so badly to call a lot of the people from my past and ask for names and details. They took those with them, so I am a detective, piecing together what I can with what I have to work with. I wrote down a name today on a piece of paper, knowing that I heard it in my past, but not knowing what to do with it. So frustrating.
The more work that I do with my family tree and with my DNA, submitting it here there and everywhere, it is therapeutic. It is freeing. Perhaps a paternal family member will do the same thing. Perhaps I will get to know someone from that part of my life. I think that I hope that hope every single time I hit the upload button.
Additionally, I think that I, myself may have been entertaining a little bit of the Hollywood DNA magical thinking, where I would get the test done and there would be the name of the person right there, ready for me to simply make a phone call or compose an email. Of course, it is not that simple, now is it? Answers are not instantaneous.
DNA needs to be split. It has to be determined which line is maternal and which line is paternal. I read blog after blog where well meaning people list it all out, starting with knowing the maternal and paternal pieces to be able to compare it to.
My mother is my mother. My father is my father. Genetically, they are not my parents, but emotionally they are. They have loved me when I have not been lovable at all. They have tolerated me and so much more. I cannot thank them enough for allowing me to explore all of this and to not discourage me. I really mean that.
Tonight, I added my DNA to a new site. There were matches to my DNA. Biological matches. I should have been excited. I stared at the screen, and then I just turned away. I don't know any of the names there. But I don't know which side we are related on. They are so distantly related that I have no idea where to look for them. It is heart wrenching.
If you create a child, no matter how hard it is for your heart, please don't do this to them. Tell them who their true genetic parent is. That is their right to know. To not have a raw and ugly family tree. For all I know, my genetic father could be a complete waste of carbon (save for creating me) or he could be a pretty nice guy. I don't know that I will ever know. I would give anything for my complete family tree to be filled in.
I write a lot about genetic genealogy, family trees, DNA, and home life as well as the occasional product review. Comments? Email me at CocktailsAndSwagger@Hotmail.com