Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
What if you discovered that your ideas about who you are weren’t exactly accurate? Some have that experience when they are told, late in life, that they were adopted or find they were victims of an early kidnapping, or when they’re informed they were born with another physical gender that was altered surgically. Hollywood snickered pompously when Ben Affleck asked to have certain details of his genealogy deleted from view on national television. He was appalled that certain ancestors of his hadn’t been the high-minded humanitarians he had imagined.
In the foreign film THE OTHER SON (a DVD my husband and I rented from Netflix), two young men and their families have their worlds upended when they find that the son who was raised in Israel as a Jew was accidentally switched at birth with the son who was raised in Palestine as an Arab. Suddenly, concepts of hate and resentment are overshadowed by the simple fact of two young men, loved by the “wrong” families. The young men are left to sort out how they will adapt to their new realities. For them, the transition isn’t easy. (Note: We recommend the film.)
In my recently published novel DEATH LOST DOMINION, a young woman who was raised to believe her father was an altruistic Argentinian professor is finally told she was the product of a politically sanctioned rape. The remainder of the book reflects her struggle to come to grips with her altered sense of identity and what she does to balance her past. I had a friend who suddenly had to face the fact that her husband was secretly a serial rapist. I wonder if it’s more difficult to learn late in life that your father was a sadist or to grow up related to someone you’ve always known was a “bad guy.” What do you think?
We form our sense of Self as we grow up—from the reactions and comments of people around us that we think are important and from comparisons we make between ourselves and our peers. If the people who were significant to you encouraged and cheered you—even if only one significant person was on your side, you probably grew up with the ability to face trouble and know you could handle it. But if enough people cut you down—bullied you, perhaps—maybe you grew up feeling unworthy and inadequate. Do you have to continue a legacy begun by your family members? What can you do to expand your ideas about yourself to include new, better possibilities? What can you do to close one chapter of your past and start fresh?