Welcome to Part Five. The genesis of the One’s Origin’s series was and remains the revelations of biological family members discovered through DNA testing and the accompanying smorgasbord of emotions. The inspiration to share this is, among other things, a longing to explore my many selfs (self-identification, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-disclosure).
At the end of Part Four I mentioned that in Part Five we would jump to the present time and examine the relationship between my youth and my future with what I am learning about my biological family. However, I would be leaving decades of events out that are instrumental to the impact this experience is having on me and why it has the impact it does. There remains no intent for this to evolve into a detail-laden autobiography; I don’t have enough street cred for that. However, as this series is about the experiences and emotions that are part and parcel with learning about my biological lineage, I believe the story would be incomplete without exploring the hell that was my adolescence – not only for me but for my family as well – followed by the journey back.
In Parts Three and Four I made assertions about visions I held for my future self as a child. These were real for sure. A significant part of what inspired these visions are, as we are learning, in my DNA. And that is no metaphor! The scientific community is aligned in the belief that there is a genetic component to talent and/or predispositions to particular interests. The clarity of those childhood self-visions was matched only by the utter lack of faith I had in myself to believe in and execute on them. Learning to understand the reasons for this lack of faith is one of my objectives for sharing this story. I wholly believe that at some level, nearly everyone can relate to such struggles.
Having abandoned music, I continued onward with life as your run of the mill high school student. Except! I was suffering immensely from the disconnection between who I was and who I was disallowing myself to become. I did not believe the dream I had had legs, and if it did, they surely weren’t my legs. This suffering is where I point my finger when reflecting where my life would soon go. It was brutally heart-breaking, for me and my family. As far as a vision of my future self of which I felt worthy, well, there wasn’t one I could identify.
In my mid-teens, I began innocuously as a kid with a rebellious edge. That edge would quickly get much sharper. And it would cut deep – especially those whom I loved and who loved me the most. I cannot recall the first time I experimented with substance use, but I know why. I wanted to escape the heartache I was feeling. My detour on this path had little to do with the substances themselves and was more about the reasons for them. Other than escape, the other reason was simply to do something wrong because I wanted the attention. Although I know this to be on the wrong side of healthy for any adjusted teenager, I also know this to be not uncommon – then and now. The manifestations are sometimes more extreme, but the underlying struggles are not new.
Relationships with childhood friends began to fracture. Eventually I got to a place where I was standing at the precipice of the point of no return. Along the way I had been to places and saw things I sometimes wish I never saw but it was very much for my benefit that I did. In the process I put my family through hell. Between the age of 17 and 19 (about 18 months or so) I was expelled from high school for disciplinary reasons and had minor run-ins with the legal system. Thankfully nothing was permanent. Most of my shenanigans occurred before my 18th birthday. The sacrifices my Mom and Dad made were beyond what I might imagine most people bargain for when they become parents. The worst of this is that, at the time, I almost resented this. I also developed a resentment for being a “good” kid. Always being told how “good’ I was in ways seemed patronizing. I could not take a compliment at face value. In my first year of high school Spanish, my teacher reported to my parents that she never had a student catch on to the language so quickly, so I stopped being a good student. I was angry at the world and I wanted my right to be angry. How dare anyone interfere with that. My Mom and Dad interfered. I am at once terribly sorry they had to and immensely grateful they did. I am among the very lucky ones. I returned from depths the likes of which most do not. Their immeasurable love for me was instrumental. Every now and then I hear of the passing of people I knew back then who never did fully return.
My time spent there ruined any prospects for college. Just as well, I figured. Since I had no ‘normal’ ambition, college would have been a waste of time and money. Correction: I had ambition. I lacked confidence in that ambition.
In September of 1986, I was closer to the precipice than I had ever been, and it was time to move in one direction or the other. Go one way and I likely would not have made it beyond my 30th birthday – and that’s being optimistic. No matter how long life would care to keep me around, a rap sheet was certainly in my future even if only for nonviolent offenses. Go the other way and repairing the damage I had done at so many levels would be possible.
Also, in September 1986, my Mom had a brain aneurism, the likes of which the vast majority do not survive more than a few minutes of excruciating pain. If I may digress briefly, she not only survived with a long therapeutic road in many areas of treatment, she thrives today. At eighty-two, she sometimes jumps in to give thoughts and feedback on many of the blogs I write.
In the months preceding my Mom’s aneurism I had been cut from communication with my Mom and Dad. I stood at the foot of my Mom’s hospital bed next to my Dad. Within seconds my head dropped to his shoulder and I cried like I hadn’t cried since I was last in diapers. I apologized for everything. For the first time in a very long time I recognized something I had been denying. I needed them. Both of them – and Andrew too. Seeing my mother sedated and on a ventilator, opened my eyes to something far too often overlooked. Life is fragile as hell. It can break and be lost in the blink of an eye. My Mom’s mother (Mom-mom) asked me through tears, “Do you think she’ll make it?” I said without hesitation, “Dammit she better!”
At that moment, I made a decision with unshakable conviction; I was going to make the turn towards damage repair. As strange as this sounds, I credit my mom’s aneurysm for my course correction. Indeed, I believe her aneurism saved my life.
At the time I was working graveyard shift (does irony have no mercy?) at a convenience store. I immediately began making 360º changes in just about every corner of my life. Where I should not be, I evacuated. Where I should be, I charged ahead. It was not easy. I had to unwind relationships with some people who I realized only enabled my toxic lifestyle. Sometimes recovery feels as painful as the fall. But I knew I wanted to leave where I was leaving and go where I was going. Correction. I needed to! The details of the recovery in the immediate aftermath are outside the purpose of this blog series. Suffice it to say, it was neither easy nor swift. The experience of it all influenced my id in ways that remain with me today.
On a new road, it was time to find out just who the hell is Matt Gorman? I am going to sound a tad selfish here but to heck with the meaning of life, I am staying a little closer to home. What was the meaning of my life? This question emerged front and center over thirty years ago even though, as we saw in Part Four the answer had already revealed parts of itself nearly ten years earlier. Learning a few fascinating factoids about my genetic lineage gets credit for pointing me back in that direction – with sights on who I was as a child – to answer the question of who I am now. I guess I should not be surprised to see the overwhelming similarities. Why a four decades long detour was in the cards full of pain and struggle vexes me. I cannot deny it. But I cannot allow it to define me.
I now feel I am getting close to an answer I can truly embrace and not an answer to fit in with the expectations of others. Getting here thus far has been as improbable as it has been amusing. If you have a penchant for a blend of disbelief and humor, stick around. You’re in for a treat. Again, I am not claiming to possess extraordinary literary skills. Simply, I lived through it and I remain amused and at times in disbelief.
In Part Six I will share a tale of a young man traveling from a death taunting lifestyle to a livelihood supported by client paid expenses for dining as well as traveling the world over having tackled an engineering undergrad degree and an MBA. The insights gained along this journey provide clues to the answer of ‘What is the meaning of my life?’ As this is about origins, it does make for a provocative journey, the underlying essence with which I believe will resonate with many.
I hope to see you in Part Six.