An original birth certificate would have been nice. Knowing my name, maybe my mother's name, maybe even my ancestry could have been helpful, but there were only some notes about hair color and height in a document with the heading: "Non-Identifiable Information."
There was scant evidence from whence I came, so I was encouraged to gravitate toward who I would become. As a child full of wonder at the world around me I didn't resist. Why would I? The here and now felt more likely to serve me well in the future than any knowledge of the past.
The families around me seemed to enjoy that quality of having proof of their existence, a sense of heritage and bloodlines. How many times did I hear the phrase blood is thicker than water. I had blood, didn't I? Yet I felt like I had water in my veins.
I found that water could sustain my body and mind and heart and soul through the feelings of otherness, the blank page of a past, and the insistence in my stomach that something was wrong, just wrong.
That water in my veins sustained me through being abused by my 4-H leader. Sustained me through my father's devastating heart attack and bypass surgery. Sustained me even as I added toxic chemicals and alcohol, mixed with daily spikes of adrenaline, cortisone and dopamine, from my nearly permanent fight-or-flight existence.
The water in my veins sustained me until it couldn't anymore, until it lost its consistency and I needed more. I needed plasma. I needed proof.
The story of my life now unfolds in a book, Dear Stephen Michael's Mother. It is a book some suggested I should never publish, never write, never even conceive. As I reflect back on the secrets I kept, and the secrets that were kept from me, I recognize the lack of proof for who I am and of where I came from provided a broken conception of how my own story should be told.
So today, as I wait in joyful anticipation as Amazon tracks the shipment, giving me minute by minute details of when my words will arrive on my doorstep, I recognize I am all the proof that I will ever need. I am here. I am crying as I write this. I am lifting myself up to the clouds. Today, right now, I hold my hand over my heart and comfort my child within, while celebrating the big child I still am.
I was asked many times by family and friends, "Do you want your family to know this story?" "Do you want your mother to read this?"
My reaction at first was defensive, as I sorted through the emotions and fears. Then the answer settled quite nicely.
"Are you crazy?!?" I now respond with a smile, "I don't want anyone to know these things! That's why I wrote the book."
"That's the point."