- Richard Wenzel
There is something immoral about abandoning your common sense in matters of social importance. ― A.E. Samaan
My mother passed away in 2004, far too young, in her mid-50s. The bond between my mother and myself was strong, caring, and always evolving. Well, at least I thought so, until recently. Today, I have reason for doubt, at least in certain aspects of our bond.
In contrast to my mom, my bond with my father vacillated somewhere between barely tolerant of each other to outright hostility. At a young age I was unable to comprehend genetics, but I was aware that I looked nothing like him, acted nothing like him, and shared no intrinsic traits with him. At an older age, my “father” was so entrenched I no longer questioned the narrative. Worse, I no longer pondered why he often treated me with a contempt not aimed at my siblings (who looked just like him). I knew something, somehow, was awry between him and me. Hence, in dozens of childhood and adulthood conversations I politely asked, despairingly pleaded, or angrily yelled at mom to help me understand how he was my father. Through all the years my mom always assured me that he was my father, sometimes politely, sometimes pleadingly, sometimes angrily.
I now know that her retorts were lies.
Worse, my mother took her lies to her grave. I assume she was well-intentioned and believed that her secret would remain so. Forever! Unfortunately for her, as well as people harboring dishonesties, truth inherently endeavors to escape. Given enough time, suppressed truth can fight, claw, and ultimately maneuver from dark oblivion into the light of day. Such was the case with discovering the truth of my biological father. My quest was long and fraught with struggles, but ultimately irrefutable DNA evidence answered the question that I had rightly asked my mother for decades. An answer my mother refused to provide.
In this discovery’s aftermath, another saddening truth escaped: my mother is not the only person in my family that champions dark secrets. Upon disclosing to my aunt, my mom’s closest sister, that I had discovered my biological father, I asked her advice as to how to reveal this information to other relatives? Her response was, “Why would you tell them, what difference does it make?” I angrily responded that I would not propagate my mother’s falsehoods. Several heated conversations ensued in the subsequent days. My aunt offered me useless platitudes (“all I know is that your mother loved you”), personal attacks (“no judgement on your part”), self-centered victimization (“you’re breaking my heart”), and other statements that failed to demonstrate concern for my well-being, illustrated a lack of understanding of how I – the person lied to and about for decades – was impacted, and most importantly showed a flippant disregard for the truth.
I no longer speak to my aunt.
Despite our estrangement, by my nature I strive to understand other people’s points-of-view, particularly those opposed to mine. I have considered, dissected, played devil’s advocate, and otherwise re-considered my aunt’s comments as objectively and fairly as I can muster. As a result, I confidently conclude this: my aunt’s arguments are immoral.
Asking me to willfully deny the essence of my existence is immoral.
Criticizing me for speaking the truth is immoral.
Asking me to knowingly propagate false information to family members and friends about who I am, what I am, and how I came to be is immoral.
Asking me to continue a lie, and thus risk being ultimately exposed as an accomplice to a fraud, is immoral.
Asking me to prioritize my mother’s feelings – when she is buried underground – rather than prioritize my own feelings is immoral.
Asking me to risk my life by continuing to provide my health care providers with inaccurate Family Medical History information, especially since both of my biological parents died with cancer, is particularly galling and outrageously immoral.
Attempting to claim that your opinion of MY existence is of equal weight to MY opinion of MY existence is immoral.
Asking me to carry the burden and angst of my DNA discovery silently is immoral.
Most repulsively, asking that my mother not incur accountability for her decades of deceit is exceptionally immoral.
Indeed, at their core virtually every NPE story regards a parent(s), perhaps with other enablers, attempting to evade acknowledgement, if not accountability, for their past decisions, actions, and experiences. As well as a willful disregard for the consequences faced by the NPE, if not others. Pretending life events never occurred or have no aftermaths is immoral.
So, NPEs, take solace knowing we have the moral high ground! We advocate the value of honesty as well as for individuals to rightly bear responsibility for their past activities. Embrace those who share this advocacy. And remain confident in your moral judgements of those who push you towards lies. History is replete with doomed immoral arguments. Every day that NPEs speak truth aloud is one day closer to when genetic dissonance will be doomed, and authenticity-of-being will be the norm. A day when energy will be effectively focused on recovery, understanding, and growth, rather than today’s wasted energy on immoral DNA secrets.