I looked at my results in FamilyTreeDNA.
The first thing I noticed was that my regional breakdown, calculated by FTDNA, was a little bit different, but on the whole very similar.
Okay, 100% European. Right. Let’s expand that shit.
“Alright, so this one seems to show a bigger representation in Western/Central Europe, and significantly more in Scandinavia. Some of Dad’s countries are in “Central” Europe. Maybe not just 18%, but there’s still some. But, 11% Scandinavian…wtf? Maybe all these websites are just bullshit, or maybe this isn’t even my DNA sample. Something else could be going on. It’s still possible.”
I headed back to my dashboard, then clicked on the “Matches” button.
I barely had a chance to skim the list—the very top match was a cousin with my great grandmother’s surname.
I clicked on his family tree icon, which was active, to be sure.
There, on his tree, was my great grandmother.
It was my kit. My DNA. No question.
Another hit. I sucked it in. This was me, I was looking at my parts. I just wasn’t who I thought I was, and there was no denying it.
I paced the living room of my small, shotgun apartment, holding my insides in as they spilled out. Breathing in, holding me in, then against my best efforts, escaping back out. “Make it make sense. Please make it make sense”. Then, “WHO THE HELL AM I? WHO THE HELL IS IN ME? I DIDN’T INVITE YOU! Where have you been hiding?!”
I walked into my bathroom and again looked at the three people looking back at me in the mirror. “Who else is here? WHO ARE YOU??” I desperately both wanted to know, and didn’t. I wanted to push this new truth out, and away, but I also wanted to know what exactly had infected my life to start with. What was this other part of me, in what parts of me was it, where did it come from, and how did it get here? Where was it, in the world, right now?
Who could it be? How could this have happened? And why, why had no one told me? Do they both know? I could understand why they hadn’t told my brother back when he originally asked, and I could understand, a little bit, anyway, why they hadn’t told me when I asked, as a young kid, if I, like my cousin, was not blood related to my Dad.
But I’m 31! And when everything was going on with my brother, my parents TOLD me the reality of the situation, all of it. When they told me about his questions regarding our paternity (in their mind, he had made accusations about my mother’s fidelity), they were clearly distressed and angry. But they also called my brother’s questioning of our paternity “ridiculous”, never giving any hint that he was maybe in any way correct.
I’ve always had the kind of relationship with my parents where they could be straight with me. They’d tell me what all was going on in the family, trust me and my judgment when something was going on. We could be logical with one another. My opinion mattered, on the hard things, too.
So how could they not tell me this if they knew?
I knew I needed to know more, and I also knew that I couldn’t trust my parents to be the ones to give that to me. Either they had lied, withheld information from me, or there was something they didn’t know themselves (is it possible my Dad was either adopted, or his Mom had had an affair? I knew her relationship with my grandfather, who died before I was born, was at times strained). It’s pulling at straws, but it’s possible, and if that’s accurate, who knows if he would even want to know?
If I was going to find out more, I would have to first go it alone. Maybe, I figured, once I have more information confirming one truth or another, I’ll have enough leverage to bring it up with my parents in a way that they won’t be able to deny. Either way, I knew based on how they had reacted to my brother previously that chances were good that they wouldn’t be pleased with my knowing any of this or about their having to give up any more information.
But I needed it. This information was, after all, about me, my DNA. It was now mine, and after all this time, I wasn’t about to risk the possibility of their being able to build another roadblock to my knowing my full history. As much as I love them, and as much as they will BOTH always equally be my parents, I couldn’t let them take my ability to explore and know my own truth away from me.
I needed to reach out to another match.