One’s Origins: Part Seven and a half

Hello! And thanks, as always, for being here. I am sincerely grateful to those who were with me in Part Seven. Reliving it and sharing it were necessary for me and I would not have been able to do either alone.

As we have just completed Part Seven, I would like to invite us all to enjoy a seventh-inning stretch. (As of the date of publishing this part, we are just days away from the other July tradition in the United States, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. So, the metaphor is befitting.) In this part, I wish to level set things a little bit and discuss the essence of One’s Origins – both its conception and, in the best way I can, its path forward. Often, the meat and potatoes of any part does not show up in my mind until after its preceding part is published even though I close many parts hinting at what the next part will be about. This truly has been a day-by-day exercise in creation, and I do my best to maintain continuity. When One’s Origins is compiled for print, the odds of which grow with each part, better bridges will be built, and holes will be filled. I appreciate your acceptance of these imperfections thus far. I am human so there will be more.

In the beginning, One’s Origins was created with one mission: to admit to, and heal, wounds. My introspection was wholly predicated by learning about biological half-siblings and full cousins of whom I have lived in ignorance for over fifty years. If I inspire even one other adopted person to learn as much as they can while they still can, I will have succeeded beyond my wildest imagination. It is important that I make clear the wounds of which I speak are from the struggle of separation and identity that, at varying degrees, exists in in all adoptees and foster children. These wounds have no dependence whatsoever on adopting or foster parents. We all have emotional wounds. Adopted and foster children share a type of wound unique amongst them.

I recognize looking back on a few parts and what I have outlined (at least in my head) for the future fall in the fringes of looking like an autobiography. I am not disillusioned to think I have the fame necessary for such musings to have any literary traction. Nor is it the purpose of all this. However, the essence of One’s Origins is such that some background is necessary, for me the writer and you the reader, to fully appreciate this journey from adoption to identity. Indeed, “A Journey From Adoption to Identity” has recently been decreed by yours truly as the subtitle of this series. Everything I share with you exists in support of the mission of One’s Origins.

Earlier I confessed to breaks in continuity throughout the remainder of these live posts. It will happen again – as in here…. and now. I closed Part Seven teeing up Part Eight like this:

“In Part Eight, a whole new life begins with a heavy and guarded heart along with a commitment to become the person Tonia had the faith in me to become that surpassed my own faith. It’s been a labyrinth to say the least.”

That is not exactly how this part has unfolded. Nor is it how Part Eight will unfold. Part Eight will be an epic treat of the proportion matched only by meeting Dan and Scott for the first time. In just a few days after publishing this part, I embark on a four-day trip to meet, for the first time, a handful of first cousins – all children of brothers of my biological father, Lawrence. Moreover, and more exciting, is the anticipated, and deeply hoped for company of Lawrence’s one living brother, Bruce. We are still keeping fingers crossed that his health and strength cooperate, and he can make the trip. He is the only living person who grew up with my biological father. Oh, the stories I hope to hear. In Part Two we learned that Lawrence has been deceased for some time. His death is in large part the very reason for this upcoming trip and meeting of cousins. Sorry, no spoilers other than to tell you that Part Eight will be dedicated to this experience. Quite similar to Parts Two and Three when we met Dan and Scott for the first time, I know no details in advance because they have not yet occurred.

Ok, that’s about it for our seventh-inning stretch. I hope you got a refill of your beverage and your favorite snack. Based on some of the group messaging amongst the cousins meeting next week, a wild ride is on the horizon.

See you in Part Eight!

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One’s Origins – Part Seven

 

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Welcome back. Wrapping up Part Six I alluded to a bit of a heartbreak awaiting me on the horizon. In Part Seven we traverse through a land of sorrow on the road ahead to my origins.

During the rough years of my late teens, I befriended several young people who, like me, were just kids seeking their independence from all forms of authority. A few months after my eighteenth birthday I attended a house party at the home of a friend’s friend whom I had only recently met. Another guest there was a girl named Tonia and we struck up a conversation in the first floor living room of this split-level house. Everyone else was congregating and doing what kids do at these parties in the lower level family room. My time spent talking with Tonia that night can best be described as otherworldly. For the first time in my post adolescent life, I was sharing myself openly with absolutely no fear whatsoever of being judged. She seemed genuinely interested in spending time with me. What felt like no more than an hour was in reality several. It was after midnight before the thought of bringing this exchange to a close crossed either of our minds. Tonia might well have been like that with most people she met – I don’t know. All I know is that those few hours alone with her while over a dozen of our peers were elsewhere in the house, held me in a state of feeling simply accepted. She welcomed me into her space. It was this lacking hitherto that contributed to me becoming so rebellious.

From that point forward I made deliberate effort to hang out with her more frequently. On multiple occasions sometimes we would just sit out in her backyard at night and stare at the stars together. We would talk about anything and everything. Things that made us laugh and things that made us cry. If this what once-in-a-lifetime friendship is all about, I’m down with it! I tenaciously believe that part of why I felt so comfortable with her is that she too was adopted. We did not talk about it much but we both appreciated that we had this in common.

At one point, I do not recall exactly when or where, I tried to kiss her, and she backed away. Yes, it was awkward. Yes, it had a slight impact on our friendship for a little while. We lost touch for a bit but soon reconnected. I had to accept that what I meant to her was perhaps not what I might have wished but in no way would my ego be an obstacle for us to continue being good friends. What I valued from our friendship was worth much more than any desire I had to introduce romance into the picture. I did carry with me the hope that her reaction to my kiss was merely one of timing and that “no” merely meant “not then”. One thing is for certain; for how she made me feel about myself, I was willing to make all necessary concessions to keep her in my life. When a larger group of friends would meet up she would sometimes have another guy in tow whom she was dating but I was not bothered. If she was happy, that’s all that mattered to me. I loved her and my love required nothing in return. And I know she loved me but not in the same way. The depth of my feelings towards Tonia were never fully revealed to anyone; her friends or mine, her family or mine.

As time went by, my 21st birthday was just over the horizon and my parents offered to throw a party complete with a half keg of the beer of my choice. I cannot recall what beer I chose. As soon as we had plans roughed out, I called friends to invite them. Among the first was, of course, Tonia. In a rather still and monotone voice, she asked me to come over – she had some news for me. She lived a half mile away which was about a ten-minute walk. I arrived to a very small gathering of friends and family. She was sharing with those who were there that she had been diagnosed with leukemia. My heart sank in unison with every heart in her house that day. This was in March of 1988 and she had turned twenty-two a couple months earlier. The gravity of this, while powerful, left me not with a feeling of ‘My God, I am going to lose her’, but rather, ‘We have a long road ahead to help her get through this.’ There was no way on God’s earth that for even for one second was I going to entertain the thought that she was not going to get through this. I was NOT going to let her be taken.

The summer months of 1988 included frequent trips to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for me to visit her – and I visited every opportunity I had. Leukemia is marked by many things, one of which is an extraordinarily high white blood cell count. The only way to confirm the presence of leukemia is through a bone marrow biopsy. Once treatments such as chemotherapy begin, further biopsies are needed to monitor progress. Put bluntly, bone marrow biopsies are painful. Life was hell for her – and it was hell for me seeing her suffer both physically and emotionally. During one visit when I was next to her bed, she looked at me through tears and said. “Matt, I’m so scared.”. What I wanted was to be able to trade places with her. But if not that then at least I could be her rock of faith, her beacon of encouragement. It began to feel at times as if here too, failure was not just an option: it was my only option.

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Left to right: Tonia, Me, Jill (a dear mutual friend) circa 1988-1989

Later that year she went into remission and could once again begin to lead a somewhat normal life. True to her spirit, she did not hold back. Raised in a family active in the performing arts, she was quite comfortable in the lime light. She was full of life in a way I could only envy. I often wished some of that would rub off on me. Between jumping back into the night club scene and competing in fashion shows, she was going to show leukemia who was in charge.

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Tonia was comfortable on a stage. circa 1988-1989

Eventually, remission would retreat and back into the hospital it was to be. This time Pennsylvania Hospital, also in Philadelphia. Here her moments of lucidity were growing less frequent and my heart and soul were dying inside me. Once she fell into a coma, I was losing any sense of goodness in the world. One evening while I was alone with her in her hospital room, I took her hand and leaned over to say these words:

“”Tonia, I believe you can hear me although you cannot respond. I want to tell you something I wish I had had the courage to tell you long before now. I love you more than I can say…. more than I thought I was ever capable of loving anyone. I know your feelings for me are not the same and that’s OK. I don’t need them to be.
“You are the most giving and generous person I know. Right now, I need to ask you to stop thinking of others and focus on you. All your thoughts need to be directed towards winning this battle.”

I would never see her awake again. The following weekend I was at my aunt and uncles’ place about ten minutes from Bethany Beach in Delaware. It was my happy place in those days. On the morning of Sunday, May 20, 1989 the phone rang, and my aunt answered – only one tethered phone per abode in those days. It was my mom calling for me. I put the phone to my ear to learn that Tonia had passed away. I was completely numb. Every biorhythm in my body came to a complete halt. I put the phone down and only these words passed through my lips in a soft cracked whisper: “I am going to sit on the beach for a while.” I took no chairs, towels, or blankets. No beach paraphernalia of any kind. I simply picked up my car keys and drove away.

I sat on the beach watching waves crash on the shore with my arms bent behind me supporting my torso at an angle similar to halfway up in a sit-up with nothing but my clothes between me and the sand. With all my senses, I could see, hear, feel, smell and taste the sensation of Tonia sitting right there next to me just like those nights in her backyard beneath the stars. This time there was no laughter. There was no dialogue. Nor were there any tears – at first. Just the fullness of her presence in every way. My worst nightmare was coming true. I would have to continue on without the one person who was just getting to know me when I was heading for my worst and remained my friend throughout my battles. The one person who was teaching me to leave the past in the past. The one person who was teaching me to forgive myself and how to love myself. This is why I loved her. I suddenly felt insufficient in the words I spoke to her the last time I visited her. I told her I loved her (and I will never know her reaction), but she left this world without hearing why. For the first time since I heard the news of her death that morning, I wept. Without her I was completely lost. As I write this, the 30th anniversary of losing Tonia was less than a month ago. Worthiness of love and belonging remains elusive to me today. I am sometimes pained to think that I am letting her down.

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Tonia: January 3, 1966 – May 20, 1989

Later that evening I returned home from the beach in Delaware and went straight to her house where there were cars up and down the street and people everywhere. Her father came out on the porch and when he saw me he put his arms around me and we cried together for a while. Once we regained composure, he asked if I would be a pallbearer. I said yes without hesitation. My preferred role in all this would’ve been taking her place, but a pallbearer I would be.

During the viewing, funeral and interment I was inconsolable. I truly could not keep myself together. My sobbing was completely out of my control. For the entire day I saw the world through eyes blurred by tears. Even later that evening when friends and family adjourned to one of our favorite hangouts to celebrate her life, I still could not go twenty minutes without an upsurge of tears. The pain was so unbearable it left an indelible mark on my willingness – dare I say ability – to ever get that close to anyone ever again.

Ad nauseam I have heard, in every way possible, the virtues and pay-offs of putting yourself out there for all the glory a truly loving relationship has to offer, and I don’t doubt it’s true. I know what it feels like to have it – and I know what it feels like to have it ripped away from you. I am also sure that those who win at love far outnumber those who lose. No one need ever pontificate to me on this subject. The loss of Tonia drove my adversity to emotional risk through the roof. At the age of twenty-two having lost the first person who truly showed me how worthy I was of peer acceptance and self-forgiveness was so painful that I vowed that in no way whatsoever would I every expose myself to any possibility of experiencing anything like that ever again. I am aware of all I am forgoing – I’ve experienced it firsthand. For me, no price was, or is, too high to pay to guarantee I would never ever live through anything like that ever again.

While this is not the only reason for my disinclination to emotional intimacy, it is far and away the leading reason. I won’t be sharing these stories in detail but in future parts of this series observing the impact of this experience will be unavoidable.

In Part Eight, a whole new life begins with a heavy and guarded heart along with a commitment to become the person Tonia had the faith in me to become that surpassed my own faith. It’s been a labyrinth to say the least.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being by my side for this part of the journey to my origins. It means more to me than you will ever know.

See you in Part Eight.

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One’s Origins – Part Six

Welcome to Part Six. In Part Five I shared a very cursory view of a journey down a road from which few recover. With what can fairly be thought of as a new lease on life, I had some ground to make up. The only question for which I had no answer was this: In what direction do I go? One can reasonably assume that my childhood interests might be a useful compass. Did I consult that compass? Don’t I wish! Alas, wishing I had does me no good, though that does not stop me from doing so from time to time. I consulted the reactions of others. To some extent, I have always had an external locus of identity. Part of what drove me to make the decisions I did in my mid and late teens had a lot to do with the fact that they got me noticed. I was cool in the wrong groups who I thought were right and I distanced myself from the right groups who I thought were wrong. Carrying around the shame of the mistakes I made then and the pain they caused those who loved me the most only fortified that locus of identity. I would only love me to the extent others loved me. Regardless of how strongly I believed something to be right for me, I was guided by what I thought would please other people. I felt I had dished out enough disappointment for a lifetime in less than two years and I was not going to disappoint anyone whatsoever ever again. If that meant it was I who would be the least pleased, I could live with that.

The disastrous outcome from this approach is that I was throwing the baby out with the bath water. All that made me who I have been since birth (and before) I completely threw out the window. Making good on second chances is an opportunity too few people are offered – I am among the fortunate ones. I know this and I am grateful. My error was not keeping true to who I was at my core. I am not pig-headed or insolent at the core and never was – even when I was pretending to be exactly that.

Recall that this entire journey of capturing and sharing my story as it unfolds began when I received an email from an older biological half-brother I never knew existed. I grew up as the older brother but not having one. My brother Andrew with whom I grew up often made more rational life decisions during post-adolescence. I am convinced that his front row season tickets to the terror show I orchestrated had some influence on his decision-making about life. At times when a big brother should aid his younger siblings through the winding and trap-filled road of the teen-age years, I abdicated. Well, to call it an abdication is sugarcoating it; what I did was not even that noble. I abandoned my post – pure and simple. My only solace is that I served in some detectable role as teacher for him only by showing him what road not to take. In the more than thirty years since, I have strived to be the best big brother I can be for him.

What I lacked only due to circumstance, and not by fault of anyone, was someone in the role of older brother for me. In every multi-sibling family where the oldest sibling is male, there lacks a big brother for him. Most step up and take on the role graciously and courageously. For reasons that might be of interest to some psychologist or spiritual guru somewhere, I struggled without a big brother. Did knowing I was adopted influence this struggle? Is growing up without older siblings more challenging for adopted children? Or, as strange as it might sound, was there some cosmic or supernatural force, from which my struggles stemmed in part from knowing at a deeply subconscious level that I had siblings out in the world? I am not at the stage of ranking and yanking possibilities based on merit, so any explanation is fair game at this point.

Matt and Kevin Wurster

June 1969. Kevin (right) at 3½ and yours truly at two months.

Growing up, there were three older young men to  whom I looked as filling the role of big brother – even though at the time neither they nor I had any idea. First there was Kevin. Kevin’s father and my Dad have been friends since my Dad was twenty-four years old – thirteen years before I was born. Kevin was nearly three and a half years older than me. When he and I were introduced to each other, I was two months old. Our two families hung out with each other frequently enough for me to grow to look up to him. In 1980, at the age of sixteen, Kevin was in a freak motorcycle accident and died from his injuries within a few days. I had just turned thirteen a month earlier. When I heard his father tell my Dad the news on the phone I collapsed. Any meaning of life I was developing during those formative years fell to pieces.

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2017 at my Mom’s surprise 80th birthday party. Left to Right: My Mom; Michael’s mother, Marcy; Michael. (The surprise part of the party was a huge success.)

Prior to the loss of Kevin, Michael, whose mother has been friends with my Mom since the two were in high school, was staying with us for a while during the summer of my eleventh year while he attended an art program in Philadelphia. (His home was in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC.) On the day he was to pack his things to return home, I felt I was losing something, but I did not recognize what. Years later I realized that he was the second young man I saw in a big brother role. The day he left I holed myself in my room and wept.

Years later with the terror years behind me, I found myself on a path that finally had some semblance of normalcy. My employment as the overnight shift clerk at a 24-hour convenience store coincided with (and in part was influenced by) a friendship established with some folks who operated a convenience store in the same chain in an adjacent town. Oddly, their store is walkable from the house in which I was raised while the location where I worked was about 6 miles away. One of these folks in particular, Brian, was a regular night shift employee at this other location and we got to know one another quite well. We are still in touch from time to time and I consider him a dear friend. His brother, Bob, had followed in their father’s footsteps as a carpenter. It was the mid to late 1980s and new home construction was enjoying good health. Brian left the convenience store that employed him to work with his brother. Not long after, Brian asked me if I would want to join his brother’s company with him. For me, it was like a sign from the heavens – an omen. Working a job on the midnight shift was still a little too connected to the very recent past from which I was trying to escape. I needed separation from the job as part of the process. And heck, need I even mention the preferences for being awake and asleep the same times as the vast majority of society.

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Bob (right) and Brian (left) circa 1990.

In Bob, my new boss and owner of the construction company, I found yet a third person to be my pseudo older-brother. What I needed in those years, and he delivered, was someone to dish out the straight skinny on what’s up in real life as an adult and give me some advice I could sink my teeth into in the here and now. My dad certainly contributed here to the best of his ability. However, with thirty-seven years between he and I, there is enough of a generation gap to limit how thoroughly his contributions could be relevant to the nuances of coming of age in the 80s. Peer-bonding demands generational commonality.

Seeing Bob as a big brother model was unique from my earlier bonding with Michael and Kevin which both occurred long before my tumultuous time. While working with Bob I began to finally see myself as someone removed from who I was just a year or two earlier. I began to see myself as a contributing member of society rather than the maladjusted misfit I thought I was.

As a grown man, I now have an older brother in Dan. Does a boy’s need for a big brother role model attenuate as he ages? I don’t know. While it is not a belief held by all, there are plenty of academics and practitioners in psychology who boldly assert that it is complete drivel that by middle age, people are generally baked in their ways. People can evolve and become newer versions of themselves with the right effort applied the right way. I like the ring of that. I look forward to learning from Dan in the future. In both the past and present, I would look to Andrew when I sought support in areas where he was skilled and knowledgeable. Similarly, I look forward to looking to Scott in my lifelong pursuit of learning.

First there is the Fall

Between my ability to square up my cash register with ease and consistency each morning after my midnight shift at the convenience store and my ability to apply basic geometry and trigonometry to become more efficient in carpentry, I had to admit to myself I wasn’t as dumb as I had allowed myself to believe. Eventually I convinced myself I could return to school in a community college to prepare for what seemed like a good next step – working indoors away from the elements. Swinging a hammer and carrying around construction material and equipment was fun and kept me in shape as a young man. I also thoroughly enjoyed learning new things – especially from someone who was a true mechanic at his skill. Did I see myself doing this for the long haul? Not really. Reconnecting with old friends with whom I had lost touch, hearing about their progression through college and plans beyond, fired up that damn external locus of identity of mine. I needed to go to college if I was to make anything of myself. Question was, what shall I study? I had no idea. I know what I enjoy and have at times believed that was part of answering the question, but I still had no clear path. So still, I focused only on external cues and ignored internal ones.

In Part Seven, we’ll begin the wild ride of my twenties where I will continue to crawl out of the hole into which I dug myself. It starts off with unimaginable heartbreak with the power to change my life in ways that have had a long-lasting impact.

I hope you’ll stick around.

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One’s Origins – Part Five

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 substances, 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 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.

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