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I'm not who I thought I was

(36 Posts)
thedowntontrout Mon 25-Sep-17 12:23:46

My older sister has been compiling a family tree for years. Our parents died a few years ago.

I'm the youngest of 3 by a decade and both my brother and sister remember me being born. It's always been apparent that I came along quite late and was probably unplanned- parents were both in their 40's. I had a difficult relationship with my mother for lots of reasons and for much of my childhood she suffered from depression.

To cut a long story short. My sister and few cousins have had DNA tests to try and shed some light on a mystery in our great grandparents time. I agreed to have one and never thought anymore about it. Except mine came back and clearly showed that I am only related to one side of the family. My brother and sister are my half siblings. Basically my/our Dad is not my father.

This is a huge shock. I'm nearly 50. None of us had any idea. Although as time goes by I realise this explains a lot, they have remembered events that didn't make sense. The outstanding thing for me is that my mum once told me she tried to kill herself when I was born. I carried that weight with me for years, all the guilt, wondering why she didn't love me- all the emotional crap that that brings with it have affected me all my life.

In lots of ways none of it matters, I was closest to my Dad, it doesn't change that, I'm sure he didn't know and I'm not about to go searching for another family. But I'm angry and I'm hurt and I just feel that all my life has been a lie and I'll probably never find out the truth. There's no one left to ask anyway. The issue is that this has opened up all sorts of emotions about my relationship with my mum that I've had therapy for and dealt with over the years and I'm struggling with it.

Long time poster on new account but have also name changed.

Kr1s Mon 25-Sep-17 12:45:12

I'm sorry, i know this is truly shocking news and no wonder you are reeling. It's totally normal to feel like this.

But your title says that you are not who you thought you were and that's wrong. You are EXACTLY who you have always been. The relationships you had with your family are the same they are real and genuine.

Your life is not a lie. You were lied to by your family , which was very wrong. However you know and understand why this was done - having a child outside marriage was a shocking thing and would have adversely affected everyone's lives, so it was covered up.

You are perfectly entitled to be very angry and upset at this news. But all that has changed now is some facts about biology. You are who you have always been. You loved your father and he loved you. DNA doesn't change that.

Please consider going back for a couselling to work this all through in a safe place .

MyBrilliantDisguise Mon 25-Sep-17 12:49:53

You know what, OP, if everyone on MN had a DNA I think you'd find an awful lot of us would be in your position.

What do you mean by: "they have remembered events that didn't make sense"?

Just because your mum had a fling with someone - without your dad knowing, from the sound of it - it doesn't mean your past has changed at all.

thedowntontrout Mon 25-Sep-17 13:08:04

You're both right of course. And I do know all that really.

Mums depression had such a negative impact on my childhood. My siblings had left home. Dad worked away and I was alone with a woman who didn't get out of bed, often neglected me, all that stuff. My siblings would never accept that she was that person because she hadn't been like that when they were growing up and they didn't see it. I spent years feeling "different" and like I was to blame for her illness.

Like I said, I went through counselling, sorted out in my head that it wasn't my fault, I couldn't change her- all that stuff. We were estranged for about 15 years but came together towards the end of her life when she had dementia.

Now it's like all those feelings I had managed to put away have come back, im worried that I'm slipping into depression myself. Im struggling with my DH and DC's and I'm quite tearful.

I do understand why it was kept a secret. I'm sad that my mum lived with that until she died and that it probably explains her depression. I get that she must have been terrified it would come out at the time- maybe it's why she wanted to kill herself.

tickingthebox Mon 25-Sep-17 13:48:59

different kind of advice/thoughts here.....

1) If you have done the Ancestry DNA, there will be familial matches coming up for you which may be from the other side of the family. Having done it myself I am getting loads of 3rd and 4th cousin matches from both sides of the family so think carefully if you want to know (I assume a sibling has done this for you?? if so they will be receiving the notifications).

2) I would be curious why you have been asked to do this in addition to your sister - if you had the same parents it is completely useless you both doing the test from a genealogical point of view. They cost £79 and it would be odd to both do one unless your sister suspected something all along?

Aquamarine1029 Mon 25-Sep-17 13:49:02

I am so sorry for all your emotional torment. I can't imagine the shock you experienced when you found out about your parentage. There are so many questions you will never have the answers to, and sadly you're going to have to live with that. In regards to your mother's depression, I wonder if it's possible that your mother became pregnant due to an assault. Back then, the odds are very good that she never would have reported it or told anyone. Whatever the case, your mother was NOT a "bad" person, she just had a huge emotional burden that she was unable to share. It's so sad. I'm sad for you and for your mother.

Offred Mon 25-Sep-17 13:54:59

I think this is, in the end, going to be a really positive thing.

You now know that your experience of your mother was really real and why it happened. You know it wasn't your fault or anything to do with who you are but to do with her own decisions and failings.

Of course it will take you a while to integrate this knowledge into your view of yourself and of course you are going to have a period of feeling insecure and sad and like you don't know who you are... that's ok.

You are not your mother, this is a different situation with different people.

You get to feel sad about this without being afraid you will become her.

thedowntontrout Mon 25-Sep-17 14:33:21

ticking yes ancestry. She actually had all 3 of us do it as percentage wise she thought that that would cover the full range of DNA across our parents. She was as shocked as I was. She bought the tests on a Bogof offer. We all thought it harmless. My cousins and uncles have done the same. I don't have any matches to any of them. We've had to hide it on the tree as they could see it as well.
The matches that have come up for me that aren't on hers are very distant. Nothing close enough to be able to link through our trees as yet. Also, mainly USA based. I don't think there has been a huge take up of it over here yet.

Aqua I had thought of that. Of course I'll never know. It is forcing me to relook at things that I thought I had put to bed.

offred my biggest fear has always been turning into my mother. That's why I'm afraid of how I'm feeling and the looming of depression on me. Everyone always said I took after my father. They divorced in later life and for lots of reasons, I took his side. My mother never forgave me for that.

Aquamarine1029 Mon 25-Sep-17 14:43:34

Have you told your husband and children about this?

PlasticPatty Mon 25-Sep-17 14:44:17

There are so many things you don't/can't know. The exact nature of your mother's illness and how it affected her behaviour (some bpd or manic episodes lead to careless sexual encounters); the details of your mum and dad's relationship which led to him working away and her having a sexual experience/relationship with someone else; the circumstances of your conception (not 'Was it in the back of a car?' so much as 'Was my mum a willing participant?').
I'm sorry it's shaken you up. My dad had his dna tested recently and I'll have mine done when I have £100 to spare. I might be in the same position as you - my mum was 'a bit of a goer'.
Definitely don't feel badly about yourself - none of this was of your doing and you are, as pps say, exactly the same person you have always been.

Offred Mon 25-Sep-17 15:17:15

But you have two things she either didn't have at all or didn't have enough of - self awareness and concern that you not make your child bear the brunt of your negative feelings.

ravenmum Mon 25-Sep-17 15:35:57

Do you know any aunties, older cousins, family friends who might have known anything? Any photos from the time with male friends who bear a resemblance? Are you sure you want to keep it a secret?

Maybe you do take after both your dads - if the other man was your mum's "type".

Have you had any counselling about your childhood? It helped me to realise that my mother's behaviour is partly because of her own experiences as a young person. She is not me. And instead of vaguely thinking that I am like her, and being terrified to look too closely, it was nice to talk to someone who went over some of my good points with me.

thedowntontrout Mon 25-Sep-17 21:40:58

I have told my husband and children. I have brushed it off as unimportant.

There is no one left alive to ask. Everyone is dead. This was 1968. My brother remembers meeting a man in a cafe who was an "old friend" of my mother. He brought sweets, flowers and a record. The record was Black Velvet Band by the Dubliners.

When they got home there was a big row between my parents. My DAd threw the sweets and the record in the fire. My brother was really pissed of because sweets were unusual and he was saving his but my greedy sister had eaten hers in one go.

This is what they both remember. It was a few months before I was born. It was a very unusual event. It turns out I am 79% Irish. My brother and sister are not. My DNA comes from a very specific part of Ireland.

Aquamarine1029 Mon 25-Sep-17 22:02:15

This is just my opinion, and obviously the way you handle this situation is up to you. However, you say you've told your husband and children, but brushed it off as unimportant. It is NOT unimportant. It has been shocking, devastating, confusing, and left you with an enormous emotional burden. Similar in some ways to the one your mother had, and look at what damage that burden did to her. Trying to bury how you feel will only cause more strain on your mental health. Why shield everything from your family? Why not share with them how painful this revelation and your childhood were for you? You are entitled to your feelings. Maybe sharing with your family will lift some of this terrible emotional baggage you have been forced to carry.

thedowntontrout Mon 25-Sep-17 22:13:17

Aquamrine oh god. Thank you. Thank you for saying that.

Kr1s Mon 25-Sep-17 22:30:51

Aquamarine is right, you can't bury it. Please think about going back to your counsellor, if you found it helpful before. As well as talking to your loved ones of course .

thedowntontrout Mon 25-Sep-17 22:33:47

The counsellor was 16 years ago. I don't ebpven know how to begin finding another.

Kr1s Mon 25-Sep-17 22:58:58

Sorry I missed that , I thought it was recent.

Of course the best recommendation is word of mouth, but not everyone feels comfortable asking around friends and family.

You may need to try a couple to find one you click with.

DinnaeKnowShitFromClay Mon 25-Sep-17 23:06:41

You might be wise to go to that part of Ireland to get a sense of self IYSWIM. We have have just discovered DH's family is from Ireland and it is actually been lovely as a lot of things make more sense now.

Offred Mon 25-Sep-17 23:15:30

Aquamarine is right.

There is a massive difference between allowing yourself to have your feelings and emotionally abusing your child by projecting your negative feelings onto them.

You are allowed to have your feelings. In fact it is essential for you to be able to grieve for what you have lost (a mum that loved you in the way that you needed) and come to terms with who you are now you have had this bombshell.

thedowntontrout Mon 25-Sep-17 23:28:09

I think I'd like to go to Ireland. Not to search for anyone.but I do feel I need some sort of connection to something. I really don't need another family or anything like that.

I don't look anything like my siblings and when I've travelled abroad people have always assumed I'm Irish. It's ridiculous really.

I'm having a tough time with my DH at the moment. I'm not in the best place to be dealing with this. I had a thread that was deleted a few weeks ago under another name. It all went wrong.and got in the press. I'm really struggling.

Offred Mon 25-Sep-17 23:38:10

Went wrong in what way?

Like as in he is a cock kind of a way?

I don't think people were meaning 'go and find your family' more that you might want to go and connect emotionally with that side of you. As a healing process.

Actually meeting family you didn't know you had is always something to give a lot of thought to and not something you should just do on a whim.

This is ok. You are ok. How you are feeling is ok and normal.

LuckLuckLUCK Mon 25-Sep-17 23:43:29

flowers this sounds so difficult. Have you shared with your siblings just how upsetting it has been?

sandgrown Mon 25-Sep-17 23:47:36

Hi Thedownton. I found out when I was 14 that my stepfather was not my biological father. I had always felt different. I asked my auntie who spoke to my mum who felt I did not need to know. I did not ask any more as I did not want to hurt my mum who loved me dearly. When mum died I asked all my relatives and her close friends if they knew anything about my dad but nobody does unless they are hiding something from me. Sadly I now think I will never find out. I feel bad as I have never told my children. I guess I was ashamed . I have spent time following mum's side of the family and I too have been to Ireland. It is a big thing .

thedowntontrout Mon 25-Sep-17 23:51:37

My sister has been great. We're not close but she's been supportive. My brother is abroad. We've had one conversation. I will see him at Christmas.
He, well they both, have been deniers in the past about how my mum was. She wasn't like this with them. They took her side when my parents divorced.
Mum and Dad were living with me at the time and I saw it all. I'm not blaming them. It's just- we all had the same mother but we all had differing experiences of that mother. Sometimes it's like we're all talking about different people.
My DH was my best friend, he's really let me down recently.

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