Thursday, September 27, 2018
A Year On After Finding Out They Were Donor Conceived
The following is reposted with permission from the author Cassandra A. These words are not mine but hers. I enjoyed this post immensely and asked if I could cross-post it in this format. It is a long post but well worth the time.
"I am one year old. One year. It has already been one year. Yet it has only been one year. 35 years of one identity, one year of another. I am still only beginning, and I still have a lot to learn about an identity I have always had, and how Cassandra came to be. A trauma is a difficult thing to navigate: Intentional deception means losing trust in the people who first taught you what trust means. An exchange of money able to purchase away an ethnicity gives question as to what identity even means. To overcome years of shameful secrecy is something for which there is no timetable. Over the last year, I lost my entire family in one form or another. I lost friendships: whether friends were unable to handle the weight of the issue and so abandoned ship, or stayed and tried, or stayed and understood even as usual topics of conversation dramatically changed, or saw me go through some pretty crazy transformations, or whether they could not comprehend the losses of the journey and hence the job of back and forth explaining became too tedious on all sides, or whether they unintentionally made me feel more alone and misunderstood...or whether I could not tell them at all. All relationships changed somehow. I even lost a part of my daughter. A sense of recognition. Countless mental health professionals have admitted to never having met anyone in this situation, and often have very little knowledge surrounding the complex issues it creates. They may have little ability to validate in a way that is not based on the societal cliches that are actually a part of the problem. All these situations have caused, in their own ways, further isolation and trauma during a time that was already incredibly transitional and emotionally vulnerable, for countless reasons, even before this date last year. I am a very trusting person who now deeply trusts virtually no one. When you are forced to learn about the history of the ways we 'buy and sell' human beings, that will happen. In learning that, it pains me to say, it became a date that rivaled even the day I became a mother in terms of its significance in my life. The worst day of my life. The best day of my life. The best thing to ever happen to me: the trauma of the Truth of my life and my existence. The day I learned I could be free. Free to be who I am and who I have always been. Free to put the pieces together, for me and for my daughter. I have relived every age and stage. I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I will be okay. I am grateful. I am still ME, painfully so, but I will never be the same again. So much of what was left of my innocence, trust, and love was wiped away. I say again: 35 years of one life, one year of another. It has only been a year, though I almost can't remember a time before this was true; past memories seem so distant, while the present is so vibrant. Even in gaining myself, I have lost myself thousands of times over. I can't even recognize my own heartbeat. Yet somehow, that has been the only thing I can follow and the only voice I can heed during the last year, as untrustworthy, fake, foreign as it often feels. I am the only one who can lead this journey. And what I have gained: again and again, The Truth. I have gained new families: I have gained a community of people who have me feeling more than ever that I have found 'my tribe.' It is rare to find someone else who can comprehend what has happened to me, to us. It is so often only our community who can fathom the full extent of this nightmare. They have saved my sanity, made me realize I am not a freak nor a shameful secret. I have gained new family and a greater understanding of who I am. A greater understanding of who our daughter is. The joys I have received and been utterly blessed with in the last year are things that no one should have to be *blessed* with. They are the results of denied human rights. In a life of loss, I lost things I never knew humans could lose; I was naive. And I have spent time this last year making sure at least a little corner of the world is aware of it. I'm not ashamed to say all of this, though those who are likely ashamed to read this can't see it. I am forced to hide who I am. My life -- my identity -- is still somehow a shameful secret. I don't care. I'm fighting to disprove that by sharing bits and pieces of what I can with who I can. To shed the 35 years of trauma. To try to prevent this trauma from happening to the next generation through advocacy and open discourse and education. The last year has been spent meeting and forming friendships with new people, learning about new friends and family, contacting legislators and journalists and public figures, engaging in heated discussions with hundreds of people to try to change the prevailing thought process, networking with all of them to try make sure this scenario doesn't happen to anyone else. A year of art, writing, and advocacy. Because, when you see fellow human beings who have physically suffered, had inaccurate and delayed medical treatment, who have died as a result of having no access to accurate health history, who suffer on a visceral emotional level, who have suffered a primal wound and a form of psychological abuse from those they love the most, you need to act. Do not lie to your children. Shame and secrets keep us sick. Long term, massive lies and delusions can cause C-PTSD. Trust is lost. Don't lie to your children about who they are. Information about a person cannot ethically be held from that person. ANY integral information. Whether you know my story or not I hope my messages get across... that we all have the fundamental right to our own bodies. I will never look at $35 or $100 the same way again. Be grateful if you can look at childhood pictures without feeling sick, without feeling like a fraud. Be grateful if you don't have to worry about 'coming out' and the people closest to you desiring for you to keep the most basic facts about yourself and your identity a secret, because of their shame. I almost don't remember anything else being true; this has always been. Yet moments it remains completely unreal. Over the last twelve months I have learned more about the manufacture and the buying and selling of human beings than anyone should have to learn. It shouldn't happen that people have to learn about this; and yet we do. I've learned more about something many consider a legally- and socially-sanctioned lesser form of child trafficking, and the ways we as a society have found to justify certain forms of it through ignorance. To have a year of being talked about like a product, a purchase, a mystery... to have to prove to strangers, to myself, and to the people closest to me that I am in fact fully human in every sense of the word, except for how I have been treated. I was thrust into a world I did not know existed, a world I had always been an unknowing and unwilling part of, a sort of experiment in a world I can unfortunately now talk to you about all day every day, because I have lived it, educated myself, and been educated, in it. I learned about stigma and also about a sweet-talking industry that paints light to cover over the darkness it has created. I now live in this unimaginably pervasive brave new world; I now live in this surreally functional brave new body. Filled with the capacity for so much love, squashed under the weight of mistrust. This is MY story now, and while others' shame is respected, it has to be secondary to my message and my story about children's human rights. Appreciate your rights. Appreciate what you take for granted. Appreciate privilege. I am thankful for my fellow travelers who understand how the best thing to ever happen is also the worst, most traumatic thing to ever happen. The discovery makes life, and my past, make sense, as I work forward and backward in integrating the pieces. It is an experience that brings forth unimaginable waves of emotions that did not exist within me before last year, emotions that the human mind and human heart do not have the pathways to experience until they are forcibly created in processing such a trauma. It requires deciphering the complexities of what makes us human in the first place and what that means for our bodies and for our rights. I have spent so much time dissociating, an effect reflecting the pain of the realization that my whole life has been one of utter disconnect and lack of recognition. An awakening, realizing that there was a dismissal of all the clues. It is dissociation reflecting an understanding of the sickness surrounding me; the intentional deception of everyone I ever loved, all those consequences put on my shoulders through the willful ignorance of all those who violated me. It is the pain of some of the people I love the most telling me I am weak, I am an anomaly, when in fact I am stronger than any of them would have been in the wake of having their deeply ingrained core identity (an identity we take for granted even having, I might add) being shaken and pulled out from under them. Through all my understanding, empathy, and forgiveness, I still hurt. However, I am firm in my unwavering appreciation of the truth and desire to make everything better for everyone out there. I now have the freedom of being who I am and always was with pride and more clarity. To know why I am the way I am in every way, so much more fully. It is an incredible gift of fortune. Love is not enough to solve the world's problems; until we have dignity and respect and rights to go along with the love that we all strive to let shine through, we will continue to falter. There are so many simple every day reminders around every corner. Having to hide huge parts of my life and huge accomplishments and huge joys and huge let downs from some of the people I care about most is a mind trip. An ethnicity change, and a certain kind in particular, is a mind trip. Reliving every age, each stage, completing an analysis of identity is a mind trip. If you have never had to reexamine your face, your entire body, be grateful. If you have never had to relive childhood memories as if you were a fraud, or feel sick looking at old photos, be grateful. If you don't see unimaginable trauma and families ripped apart on a regular basis, be grateful. I am so grateful, much as I suffer. Thank you all, those of you know who you are, so so so much, from my heart. Now that I am grounded, with all my roots exposed, I have a difficult but amazing life to go live. I made it one year, time to step forward for more of the rough terrain."