I rarely needed to scroll beyond the first screen in my text messages to find the last one with my dad. From the minute I found him, we were in almost daily contact. Finding a dad who didn’t know I existed after 50 years who wanted to be found was pretty life transformational and we had half of a century to make up – or at least try. And given what I thought at the time to be trustworthy information, “your dad’s health is a ticking time bomb,” you’d better believe this girl was gonna die trying.
Even though that day was just barely over 3 yrs. ago, I’m still in awe of how it all rolled out. Almost 20 yrs. prior, my biological mother told me that my dad was a different dude – someone she still feared and she told me someone I should fear.
For almost 20 yrs. I believed her fiction.
If not for DNA, I would’ve taken my last breath believing that my entrance into the world was due to a forced situation with someone my mother feared decades later. My heart completely shattered when I began to connect the dots – the lies, deception – decades missed with a dad who wanted to be found.
This was the last straw.
Everything that I’d been stuffing for the last half-century in my adoption bucket with the rattling lid barely secure exploded. I couldn’t have found the lid to replace even if I’d tried.
The “what if’s” plagued me.
They were a constant torment.
“What if I had found my dad 20 yrs. earlier?” He could’ve been a huge part of my adult life and my kids’ early years. I could’ve attended weddings of my brothers and held newborn nieces and nephews.
“What if my birthmother hadn’t lied to me?” It would’ve meant finding him at a different point in life – one where I was 30 and he wasn’t even yet 50.
“What if I hadn’t been so naive, trusting my birthmother who didn’t want to be found?” It would’ve added decades of life with my dad and brothers.
“What if I’d found him earlier?” The dynamics of present relationships would be different, possibly making it possible for us to maintain a close relationship.
However, after months of being consumed with the “what ifs,” I knew that I had to figure out a way to move from “what if” to “what is.” I had to get a grip. The “what if’s” were literally taking my health away – depression, anxiety, biopsies, thyroid problems and hair loss to name a few.
I knew my pulverized heart and the rage that boiled on the inside was working its way out in my body. I knew I had to let it go – to learn to live with my present state of reality – the reality of lies and deception and finding a dad 50 yrs. too late.
How do you even begin to make sense of how someone can literally hijack years of life with a dad, brothers, nephews, nieces and beyond? And that someone happens to be your mother?
My mind can’t even compute. I couldn’t find a folder to file this kind of mother. The kind that can let me go to my grave believing a lie – never knowing the other half of my biology – a dad and brothers who had no clue I even existed.
That was 3 yrs. ago, and I still haven’t found a folder.
I never will.
While I have extreme empathy and compassion for a 16-yr. old girl who found herself in a surprise pregnancy without any support from family, I will never be able to find a folder for the 16-yr. old girl who grew up and 50 yrs. later decided she should still control the trajectory of my life based on what is best for her.
There simply is no folder for this.
I asked myself this 24/7 for a couple of years. I wrestled with this question almost daily until I slowly began to turn the corner of “What is.” Initially, I didn’t want to – I vehemently resisted. I felt that turning would mean condoning. You see, there’s no closure – no end – no acceptable answer to the question here of “What if?“ There will never be an answer that I find – never – where I’ll finally reach the state of “Oh, I get it. I completely understand. That makes so much sense! Everything is totally fine now!”
No! Far from it!
But, I have to get to the place of being ok with everything in spite of not having any answer that makes sense.
In spite of not having the answer I want.
In spite of a mother who cared more about her own self-preservation and secret-keeping than her adult child’s answers to basic human rights questions.
In spite of the missed decades of knowing my brothers, attending weddings and swaddling newborns.
In spite of others who pick up where my biological mother left off – those who continue to sabotage the relationship of a daughter and a dad.
In spite of the whole entire half-century debacle, I have to find peace in “What. Is.” There’s only one letter difference between “What if” and “What is” but the shift in my mindset is colossal.
Thankfully, I’ve learned that this life event didn’t roll out overnight so I can’t expect myself to just suck it up buttercup and get over it. I’ve allowed myself time to feel, scream, cry and throw things (nobody got hurt lol).
My healing comes after my feeling. I’ve had to wrestle through every IF in order to move beyond to the IS.
I also realize that I have to live in and fully embrace each moment I have here on this earth. God has blessed me with people who want me here and want me to share life with them here. People I love dearly – my family. They’ve watched me reach my wit’s end and return trip.
I’m so thankful they haven’t given up on me.
While I definitely needed my time to grieve – and nobody can tell me when I should be done or how to do it – I believe that 2020 is my time to move on.
No looking back – pressing on!
It’s time to turn the corner and burn the bridge!
I love the lyrics to King and Country’s song, “Burn the Ships.” If you haven’t listened to it, well, you should! https://youtu.be/pOVrOuKVBuY
How did we get hereWe’re castawayOn a lonely shoreI can see in your eyes dearThat you can’t takeA moment moreWe’ve got toBurn the shipsCut the tiesSend a flareInto the nightSay a prayerTurn the tideDry your tearsAnd wave goodbyeStep into a new dayWe can rise up from the dust and walk awayWe can dance upon the heartache, yeahSo light a matchLeave the pastBurn the shipsAnd don’t ya look back
Burn the bridge. time to move on. Turn the corner.
Be encouraged, fellow sojourner….the darkness only lasts for a time.
You will make it.
You’re strong and brave and you will know when it’s time to turn the corner of What. Is. and burn the ships.