'A Tale Of Biology' Or 'Dear Sperm Donor'
I was wandering through the aisles. Around me bustling activity of people laughing, looking for stuff, asking employees for directions; a little girl pouting as her mother refused to accommodate her wishes, a couple unaware of their surroundings in a genuine, heart warming embrace, was kissing and quietly chuckling without bringing more than an inch distance between their longing eyes. I could relate to almost all of those emotions displayed here, still alienation perseveres even now. I mostly experience a weird remoteness to what happens around me. The music in my headphones was also playing another tune to what I was finding myself in, a melody that set my being into another world entirely, not one of fast-paced movement and getting things done. Roo Panes was feeding my innate escapism and transporting my being to a place of vastness, with wild winds tangling my hear uncontrollably; where ones feet can wander away from concrete streets over hills or alongside the sea; a place where nature meant being connected to harsh conditions and simultaneously in awe of their enchanting, mystic beauty.
Away to where my dog was, and a freedom unmet to anywhere I have ever been.
Browsing through what this store had to offer, slowly, attentively, so as not to miss what I was looking for and at the same time stay inspired by the sheer infinite things available for purchase. Initially, tape was on the shopping list, nothing else. To my shame I have to admit that I stretched by budget too far, although I believe that I can see it as an investment in deepening my understanding of the creativity that, for such a long time, was peacefully slumbering within me. The past weeks however marked the awakening of a pull to create again, reminding me of my teenage years when my only resort of sanity was exactly that, this pull to express myself in art. I would not dare to say I am an artist though, too deep are the wounds inflicted on my highly sensitive, tender soul by all kinds of teachers telling me over the years that I was no good, be it in music or writing or bringing my perception of life onto a canvas.
What I have learned through my journey of self discovery is the opposite and I refuse to stand aside any longer and believe what was instilled within myself all those years ago. I remember hours spent in my sketchbooks. I remember how time felt go by in a flash. I remember the contentment and pride I felt once I had finished a piece. Not only will I give in to this impulse within me that urges me to let it flow through me, out of me, I will also be proud of it and not hide it, and show it to whoever is interested. I will talk about it, debate, explain, listen and create some more. Something has shifted in the past two months and I am not yet able to pinpoint what, but I am gaining more and more confidence in my way of expression, in my way of being, in my way of creating.
While a notebook and bits and pieces started to get piled by unseen forces in my arms, I started to retreat into my realm of thoughts, the headspace that since I was little marked the only real safe place in my existence: Where does it come from, this creativity, this want to create, this need to express? In my family system containing mother and father (although not biological, still the most honest and genuine man that filled into that role without hesitation and who deserves to hold this title of father more than the one who contributed 50% to my DNA), sister and brother, I have found no explanation for why I am the way I am. And I have struggled my whole life because of it.
Admittedly I do not know my siblings that well, sometimes I would even argue that I don't know them at all. Thus, who am I to suggest that they are not driven and nourished by the same kind of craving to birth art. From my level of perception though, I cannot find answers for what I am judging from the family I grew up in.
Arguably, part comes from myself, as the independent and unique character we all are once we develop a sense of being while growing up. But books and movies and poems and other people's stories are telling me that they find partially an answer for who they are and what they like within family. The grandfather who liked to build and paint small worlds of train stations and did that with his grandchild, who then proceeds to enjoy carving miniature people and things in his free time as an adult. The aunt that loved to watch old, subtitled, black and white movies from the 40s and thus sparked something in her nephew to become an enthusiast about collecting movie posters from that period; all neatly rolled up, protected by plastic covers and filed in the attic. The free spirited 60s best friend of the parents that imbues the mind of his godchild with ideas resembling those of the French Revolution, unawares that in doing so he carved the vision of a Utopia into the child's soul that then goes on to become a human rights lawyer.
Who influenced me?
And what did this influence unconsciously made me do?
When I was ten my parents figured it was time to tell me the sad story of what had happened in my early forming years of being an infant. Hence revealing that my father was indeed not my father, at least not biological. And still to this day I am unable to describe the immense, the colossal impact this talk had on me. It was my favourite time of the year, or at least my mind seems to remember it that way: All kinds of Greens and Oranges and Reds and Purples were falling from the trees onto the pavement. After hotness and never ending days, now, one would indulge in cuddling up in warm coats outside or warm blankets inside. Smells of rain and frostiness in the morning once more found their way into life, indicating the arrival of autumn.
This new information was treated by my parents as though it did not really matter at all, for them it did not, I understand that. To me it mattered and it was no option to ignore the simple fact that the other 50% of my DNA was not within reach, unknown, a mystery. More than that, they made it seem as though it was unimportant. Now I do understand how painful these years were for them, I am able to grasp the trauma inflicted on them and why they were they way they were (and still are): Two people, just turned twenty, finding each other and falling in love, only to be drawn into a custody trial that was aimed to destroy not only their happiness but also their lives. The reasons for the legal battle do not matter at all, on which grounds concerns were raised do not concern me. In a weird way, probably because of myself being distanced and so young, not directly, consciously a part of it all, I feel as though I can see both sides. Now, at least. That wasn't always the case.
I have been raised with a picture of these people that did nearly destroy my parents with years and years of an ongoing war to ascribe the right to raise me as their own. They fought, hard and long. Nearly to a very bitter end until my parents were left alone and all claim was suddenly off the table. In my mind, nurtured by the hard emotions from my parents point of view about this time, the people who did this to them, were abnormally evil and not capable of anything good.
On this autumn walk, when I was told this story the first time, the tale itself did not matter to me. My parents tried to be careful about how much of pain they unloaded from their memories onto my ten year old self. But what stuck was the fact that I had always felt separated from my father anyway and here they presented me with a possible explanation as to why I felt that way. And within that same breath they also told me that this innate perception of mine, finding an explanation for my alienation, was wrong to have. Of course they did not say it verbally because how could they?
I had not shared anything of it in the first place. They were unaware of my ongoing struggle with alienation, not only from other children but also from them as parents. I am certain that they would not understand or respect this even today. I whole-heartedly and compassionately know that they loved me in their very own way and always tried their best. But there comes a point in life when you start to see your parents as adults, as regular people with their own demons, struggles, hardships, lessons of growth or lack thereof. Nowadays, I revisit the anecdotes of the dark times in their lives (and they have quite the lot, from childhood onwards up until way into their late 20s), and I see two unfathomably strong people, fighting for what they believed in and struggling to simply get by and go on.
Still, I never felt like them, or my siblings, or the majority of people I had in my life. Alienation was my family, my mind and imagination evolved into a coping mechanism machine, and the art created served as the visual output that in odd ways brought me to feeling somewhat 'normal' again (whatever normal is).
So, no, they did not know that I found an explanation for my experienced, emotional distance towards their hearts and souls. And they also did not know that by telling me it did not matter whatever and wherever those 50% of donated DNA are and were, they made me distance myself and question myself even more. To them 'father' is something to be earned, making it absolutely obsolete to believe in the myth of biological connections to the sperm donor.
And here we are, 33 years later. I am very confident when I say I do not have father issues. My dad was in his ways and to his abilities the best someone like me could wish for: He adores my mum and wants to make her happy. Her ignores his own health in order to provide, goes above and beyond and beyond and above for his family. His strong sense of responsibility is stunning, his will and discipline unrivalled by anyone I have met, his intelligence and deep interest in socio-economic development, languages, history, politics and so much more have always been a source of wonder to me (since I am more of a dreamer, aloof to most of human history and details of societal conflicts). He stayed with her even though by the time the legal battle started, they were dating for less than a year. They have been together for over 30 years, married more than 10. In a way, he showed me what a man is supposed to be like, loyal, loving, trustworthy, honest. A true gentleman. One of the good ones.
If anyone asked me what a male role model could look like, with all my heart, I'd suggest my dad.
So no daddy issues here.
Dear Sperm Donor
I know your name but we have never made an acquaintance closer than what the meaning of this title contains for me. I am pretty sure I have the right to decide what to call you anyway. If you would pass me on the street I would not know your face, thus I choose to address you as the only role you have every fulfilled for myself since I arrived on this Earth, the donor of 50% of my genetic material.
Isn't it strange how you were able to ignore me all of those decades? It is to me.
It wasn't until two years ago when I started rekindling the relationship to your father, my biological grandfather, that I started asking myself why you suppress my existence.
I was curious.
I asked myself a lot of other questions too, I am pretty sure you are not interested to hear them- lucky for me, you have no say in that because we don't speak, leaving me with the sole power to inflict on you whatever I decide to write about:
Was it a traumatic time for you back then? Did you love my mum or was she just a conquest? Did you promise her the world and then ditch her, relieved that the magnitude of becoming a father was removed by removing yourself from her and the responsibility? Were you young and carefree and continued to be young and carefree while my mom had to fight for years to keep the legal right to take care of me? Did you ever think of her? How could you become a father later and not think of me, and how you let mum down? How are your boys doing? Do you love them? What is the difference between them and me? Shouldn't they have a chance to meet the estranged stepsister, or shouldn't I have a chance to meet them? Am I the dirty, little, traumatising past secret that you don't allow your mind to ever wander to? Am I a relict in a box, dusted over by decades, in the shelves of regrets and remorses, stored in the depths of the department for shame and guilt? Have you ever in those 30 years felt compelled to think about your daughter? 50% of your DNA in my body and I know nothing of you, I know nothing except the picture my mother painted for me.
Did you feel no impulse to correct this picture, make up for what you missed out on?
Because I did not miss out on anything, really. You missed out on me.
Just to clarify this.
I evolved into a wonderful, caring, kind, compassionate, funny, intelligent, courageous, intuitive, inquisitive, status quo challenging, wild and free spirited woman, exploring the world.
You miss out on my point of view and my perception and simply put, my being.
And I feel very sorry for you.
Not because I think you are depressed or because you are a sad man: I do not know that, I do not know you.
I feel sorry for you because life is good and in one blink of an eye it is gone.
And with it go all the beautiful, flourishing connections with the people in our life (blood or not blood related). With it go all the possibilities, the thriving of your spirit and mind. I feel sorry because you have not forgiven yourself and thus you are not able to truly forgive others. I believe you do not love yourself either, because authentically forgiving yourself means that you have invested time in understanding why your are the way you are, why you shy away from things, why you shut out people and past experiences, why you shut down your darkest fears and why you have not opened a neutral space to revisit your life's decisions and the consequences they entailed.
I see you as I see my mom, just a person. Human beings thrown into this rollercoaster that life is. Back then young and in love. With me coming in and crushing the spring of your life, the carefree happiness of her life.
You both made decisions. You both have regrets. You both harbour shame and guilt and rage and all these other feelings that you were both told to bottle up, lock away; build a bridge and get over it.
You both created me.
Along these lines I will take my right to speak out and tell you this:
You are forgiven.
I forgive you for not being there whenever I felt lost and alienated, lonely, tired, scared, hopeless. Whenever I was teased and bullied, told I was stupid, not right in the head, strange, weird, odd, ugly, too serious, too childish, too whatever I was too much of for some other person. I forgive you for never taking care of me in my times of hospitalisation, for physical or mental issues. I forgive you for not being a part of my life, my happiness, my hardships, my ups and my downs.
I forgive you.
Because I know you are just a person. As much as I am just a person.
And throughout my life I always tried to deal with being a misfit, some odd piece of commodity, confused by a dazed, secret family puzzle. I struggled with my restless heart and a longing soul. My journeys add up to one simple conclusion: No one is giving me an identity but the people around us shape us nonetheless. You could have shaped me. You could have left your unique point of view as a legacy on this Earth once you are gone, within me. I could have shaped you as well.
Water under a bridge now.
But it is alright.
And this I mean.
Find your way, dive deep into your own thought palace, dissect your life's choices and the consequences, be brave and address the emotions. And some day, maybe, you will be able to love yourself truly and you will be able to forgive yourself for the pain you have caused by acknowledging that you have also, maybe, done good.
On that day, I will be here. And you still will be forgiven. And there may be a chance that we will reconnect as two adults, with different life experiences, that can learn from each other and grow from what we share with each other.
Never mind the 50% of the DNA we share, there is more to a relationship than what biology decrees.
From my heart to yours,
Love and Light