Hi, My name is Bradley hall and I’m an NPE.
I like to start my NPE introductions out this way. It’s a title I’ve come to embrace. I’ll explain more later.
The NPE Fellowship has been pivotal for me in my NPE journey. There are many reasons why but the connection with our people, our tribe, was without a doubt the most critical.
Wherever you are in your journey, especially if you’re in the beginning, take it all in. Take your time and think about what everyone is saying. Even if it doesn’t yet make sense, doesn’t yet click, or resonate, it will. Trust the process. Trust your fellow NPE’s. Trust the NPE Fellowship.
My NPE status was confirmed June of 2018
On some level, like many of you I suppose, I suspected for a long time. I knew I was different. I just didn’t understand why. This actually had a tremendous impact on my confidence, identity, and my own mental health, all through adolescence and into adulthood. I now know why.
When I was younger, I would often joke that I was adopted. It was a half hearted joke. I would ask, but I was only half kidding. Of course, my mother denied it.
Then I began to hear rumors. I heard that my mother may have had an affair. I heard that I may have a different biological father than my sisters.
One day, in 2004, my BCF (Birth Certificate Father, the man who raised me) told me that he suspected that I was not his biological child. He gave me a name. He also reiterated the rumors I had heard before.
Of course, my mother denied it. Vehemently, calling my BCF a “fucking liar”.
My BCF had offered to take a DNA test if I wanted. I was torn. I desperately wanted to know the truth. However, the very fact that he offered was the exact reason I did not want to. At the time I didn’t want to disrupt his peace of mind, as well as our relationship. As I look back, he probably wanted to know the truth as much as I did.
In an odd twist of irony, a few years later, my mother asked, out of the blue, if my dad and I had ever gotten a DNA test.
In 2017, my wife, Michele, and I had friends who had both taken home DNA tests to determine their ancestry. I’ve always been fascinated with genealogy. Michele and I decided we would take the tests and have some fun sharing the results with our family during our annual Christmas gathering.
What I didn’t realize, is that there was another side to the DNA tests. When I logged on to explore my results, there I was, as I’m sure many of you can relate, staring at a list of names, over half of whom I didn’t recognize.
I told my mom. She told me that I misspelled my BCF’s biological family name wrong. Obviously, she wasn’t listening, only hearing what she wanted to hear. She again, was unapproachable.
I told my dad. He calmly said, “I’m not surprised.”
At first I was sad and extremely upset. I cried. I apologized to my dad. Which is a classic symptom trauma survivors, taking ownership of their abusers behavior. That’s another topic for another blog post.
For the next few months I tried to resume life as normal. I sporadically tried to figure out who my biological father was. His name was probably one of the most common names in America. I sent messages to some of the DNA connections. Most didn’t respond, those who did, didn’t have any idea.
Then one night, I had had enough. I literally stayed up all night digging and researching. I made great progress but continually came up just a few steps short.
When my wife, Michele, awoke, she came in, completely confused and obviously concerned. I explained I had not been to sleep and I couldn’t make this work.
With a freshly rested mind, and no emotional influence, she calmly sat down, asked a couple of questions, and found my biological father’s obituary. Sadly, he died around the time that my BCF told me that he suspected I was not his biological child.
This was it. This was the missing piece. I connected the dots and sent messages to my closest connections. My closest connection, replied almost immediately. She and my biological father had been very close growing up. They were first cousins. She told me how wonderful it was for her to know that he had a child.
She opened up her family tree to me. Much to my surprise she is an amateur genealogist. Her tree had 40,000 members in it.
There is was. All of it. My entire heritage, dating back hundreds of years. Literally just less than an hour before I was tired (that’s an understatement), frustrated and stuck. Now, I had all the answers I could have dreamed of.
During my CBS interview with Rita Braver, I was quoted as saying, my mother was completely unapproachable. She still is.
Bradley speaks to Rita Braver about his NPE status on CBS Sunday Morning
She continued to deny, deny, and deny. Then, she blamed everyone else. After half heartedly admitting it might be a possibility in an email previously, she now claims that she was completely blindsided when I told her. She claims that she was as shocked as I was.
We are currently no contact.
Which I’ve since been told that she now blames my BCF for our strained relationship. Stating that since he suspected I may not be his biological son for many years, that he had a responsibility to tell us (her and I). She says it is his fault we aren’t speaking and that I never had the opportunity to meet my biological father.
I’m sure many of you can relate to this type of delusional denial and unwillingness to be validated by the one person that we should least expect such behavior from in our lives.
As I uncovered the layers of the story suddenly everything in my childhood began to make sense. Suddenly I understood why my mother quarreled with her family members over the years. We would often go years without speaking to them. They were always to blame, of course.
I understood why I felt different.
I understood why I felt like I was always treated differently
I understood why I was different
Finally understood that my relationship with my mother was extremely unhealthy.
I also understood that I didn’t deserve any of this.
You don’t deserve any of this.
However, we have unfortunately inherited it
Literally! (pun intended)
Where we go from here
Now, as you’re reading this, you are forced with a decision
You can just attempt to deal with it the way it is. Unfortunately, a product never goes back in the box the way it was before you opened it and took it out.
You can try to make others happy. Run around putting everyone else’s interests before yours, keeping their secrets, trying to make everyone else like you…
If this is the route you choose, good luck.
You can do what I did, and take ownership of it!
When people hear the phrase “own it”, they typically understand this as a sense of just finally admitting something to be true; to “own up to it”, so to speak; to acknowledge it. But it’s more than that.
By definition, ownership is: “ the act, state, or right of possessing something”.
The key work here is “possession”. Possession is: “the state of having, owning, or controlling something.” Key word here is control.
Control is defined as the following:
to exercise restraining or directing influence over : REGULATE
: to have power over : RULE
: to reduce the incidence or severity of especially to innocuous levels
By the way, innocuous means “not harmful levels”.
This is exactly what I did. I took it.
I took my results, I took my confusion, pain, I took my anger,
I took all of my feelings, I took my responsibility for my happiness, my responsibility for my inner peace
I took it all.
I took power over it
I was stingy. I was no longer sharing.
It’s mine. I shared it, unwittingly, for far too long.
I regulated it.
I took ownership of my past, my present, and most importantly my future.
And something amazing began to happen.
I began to feel liberated.
I began to shed the guilt, shame, fear, and conditioned responses out the window.
I reduced the incidence, AND the severity of it to innocuous levels.
I began to do what I needed to do, to heal. Not what my mother, or anyone else thought I should do, but what I thought that I needed to do.
I practiced self care.
Now, I willfully admit, this is very scary. I won’t lie about it, or sugar coat it.
This involves mindfully being aware of just how conditioned we’ve become to dance in someone else’s theatrical production. Then, it requires stepping out of the normalized comfort zone and doing something different. It involves learning a new dance for your own theatrical production. One where you write the script. You decide which characters get to be in it. You choreograph the dance.
It will change everything but let me let you in on a secret.
What we’ve discovered as NPE’s is that it was never truly what we thought it was to begin with. You see, reality is based solely on our perception. Who we thought we were doesn’t exist, anymore, not in its purest sense anyway.
But that’s ok. Actually, it’s more than ok.
The beauty about all of this is that we created who we thought we were. Over the years, we accepted the information, advice, and opinions of everyone around us, and used those to create this persona of who we are.
For many of us, it wasn’t based on truthful information
Here comes the blessing.
If you created who you thought you were then, albeit unknowingly, just stop and Imagine what you can do now, with the TRUTH!
With this information we now see that the emperor has no clothes. He’s naked as a jaybird. And everyone else who is playing along is a fool.
We know better. And as Maya Angelou said, we do what we can until we know better. And when we know better, we do better.
Well, now we know better. We now stand, armed with the truth, at a fork in the road.
One path is one of regret, shame, and never ending pain. Path leads back over the same terrain you’ve already been going over your entire life. The other, is the path to being who you want to be. To be who you need to be. To be who you were born to be.
Now, it may not be easy. Change is always hard. That’s where the term growing pains come from. But it will be worth it.
Your circle of friends and family may change. And there may be mourning the living if that happens. Just because people may be toxic and not good for us, doesn’t’ mean there are strong emotions. It doesn’t mean we don’t love them. It means we love ourselves. That we put ourselves first (despite many of being conditioned to believe that is wrong!)
One of the things I say often is that it is not our job to make others happy. It is solely our job to make ourselves happy THEN share that joy with others. If we get the two confused, in the end, no one is happy.
I want you to think about that. Think about who you’re trying to make happy. Is it you? Or is it everyone else around you?
When you bought your DNA kit, you thought you were buying just the test. But, in reality, you were buying your true identity. You bought it. You own it. Now, use it, and become who you were born to be.
Because as I’ve shown you, you get to decide. You get to make the choice. And now you understand, that being blessed is a choice.