The silence in the room is interrupted.
“you realize you were emotionally abused?” My therapist says it more as a statement than a question.
Hearing this for the first time, after weeks of counseling, was something I needed to hear. It was something I finally accepted and wanted to hear.
Going to counseling is something that I put off for too long. It was suggested over the years by people that got to know me and yet I always brushed off. I was raised to believe it was weak. To admit that one had problems said they were weak as a person. This kind of thinking didn’t do me any good.
My life was on hold for fifteen years. Time wasted onthrough other people’s agendas and priorities. I dedicated years to a company that didn’t care about me. I put a wife through school only to have her leave after she was done. I went to school to follow a path that I didn’t want to take. After all this time I can’t say I know what I want out of life. I have things I enjoy doing. I don’t have any goals and live one day at a time only to find that tomorrow is just like yesterday. There have been surprises as of lately.
While searching for my biological father I found a sister I didn’t know existed. All of the leads I had were dead ends. Reading an obituary from 2003 I found a list of names for next of kin. I saw a list of aunts, uncles, cousins, along with the name of a grandpa that was gone from this world.
I sent out emails to three of the people on that list hoping they were the same people listed. One wrote back.
Hours after I wrote her I received a reply explaining that she was the daughter of the man I was looking for. The greeting came with, Hello Brother! While this was not the response that I was expecting, it was a better message than I could have hoped for.
She had contacted an aunt in order to find out who this mystery guy was that wrote her out of the blue. She learned that there was another person out there with the same father. While the news was good, the timing wasn’t. She was leaving to Florida in less than a week to finish her PHD.
I would not be able to meet my sister before she left. Looking at face book pages we learned what we could about each other. Seven years younger than me she had already accomplished more that I could have hoped to during my life. Still in college she is pursuing a career while I never had one in mind that I wanted to do. Our hobbies are eerily similar ranging from home brewing mead, archery, science, avid readers, and a healthy hatred of Twilight. Our lack of religious beliefs categorized by atheism was another comfort. Somehow, growing up in two different lives and having no contact the two of us had turned into nerds of the best kind. The differences I can see right away is that she likely grew up in a nurturing environment or at least had access to tools that helped her along the way to become the person she is today. I could be wrong and hope she didn’t deal with half of the things I dealt with.
While trying to learn about my sister that I never met, I came to realize that she is in a nutshell a better version of me. What I lack as a productive individual she has. I’m not saying that I’m a bad person, when comparing the two of us I’m an older Toyota Corolla and she’s a newer shinier Toyota Camry. Related, yes, but she received all of the bells and whistles.
I know she will do well in her endeavors as she has in the past. My job from now on is to move away from my past and try to create some type of future that is not dictated by my lost years and lack of ambition. I wonder how people think that painting a bleak future for a child is supposed to motivate them to succeed?
When a parent, teacher, or guidance counselor tells a child from a broken home they will end up becoming a janitor, why do they feel like they have the right to be disappointed when it happens?
There are still many mysteries to the early years of my life. One side of the family says that my sister and I are the only siblings by my father. The other side of the family tell me to keep looking because of a conversation that took place with a case worker decades ago. I already gained more than I expected from sending one email. The people who tell me there are no others have no reason to say otherwise.
Going down this path is like driving back to your home town. Thirty-six years later nothing is the same. You can walk around and try to figure out what it looked like back then. After searching you will find some remainders of what was there and what has been replaced. The old school is gone. A new McDonalds was built on main street. The old mom and pop shop has been replaced by Walmart. Search as you may you will never have all the answers because the clues have been lost along the way. You can piece together some things and ask around. The picture built might come close to what really happened. What I didn’t expect was to discover a new life while trying to figure out the old. After thirty-six years I now have a whole new family I haven’t met yet and I’m no longer an only child. The old reality is crumbling and my brain is still trying to process the change.
Matthew Gilman can be contacted on his author Facebook page and found on Twitter.