Deep breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. Where to start? Um. Probably I should start with the standard preamble. The story so far. Right. It’s pretty much all contained within the Family category of this site, but for those of you who just wandered in off the street, I’ve been trying to find my biological father who I haven’t seen since I was about five. A few months ago I decided to use a service called Traceline to see if he was still alive and to try and make some form of contact. To be honest, I’d come to the conclusion that he was probably dead. A couple of months ago they said they’d found him, I sent a letter for them to pass on (if he’d take it) and since then I’ve been waiting.
And then two weeks ago I got a reply. I noticed the letter on my doormat when I got up for work in the morning, but I had too much to do and so I only let it register a little in my brain before leaving it unopened on the floor. I didn’t hurry back from work, either. I can only assume I was scared. When I got home though, I opened it immediately and read it in two long gulps. My eyes caught on a few sentences of peculiar grump that reminded me all too much of myself and my clumsy mechanically articulated use of language. And then I read it again. My first contact in twenty-eight years with my father. Crap. Fuck. Wow. I felt… excited, I guess – like I was on a ride. Not really happy as such. But for a moment, everything else fell out of my head.
So this is the bit, I think where things get a little harder to write about. While my father was a creature only conjured by my mind, it seemed completely reasonable to write about my speculations. But it gets more difficult to write about a real person. And having a two page, handwritten, artifact in my hand makes him more real than I think I was expecting. And I feel more territorial about the contents of the letter than I’d expected either. I want to tell everyone about it, but I don’t want to drag the whole experience down into the mud and the murk by luridly exposing every aspect of it to any random punter who happens to troll around my site. So I’m not going to go into detail about what the letter says (just like I didn’t go into any detail about the letter I sent to him).
But I will say a few things about my sense of it as a reply and how I’m reacting to it. He sounds slightly shaken up and confused by receiving the letter, much as I have been by receiving a reply – hoped for but maybe not expected. But generally, although it feels slightly distant, I think it’s pretty much the best letter I could have expected. And I’m enormously glad that I got the gay thing out of the way immediately. Now there aren’t any nasty surprises further down that particular road, I feel that we can get on with whatever happens next. He was honest enough to state that the whole thing was a bit confusing and disorienting, but he also seemed prepared to suspend judgement. That’s a good foundation, I suppose.
I guess the main problem from my perspective is that I have absolutely no idea what to do next. I thought writing this post might help me get some perspective, but I’ve been sitting on the letter for two weeks now and trying to work out how to reply and nothing is coming to me. And as every day passes, I have a sense of him thinking about whether he said something wrong or alienated me or whatever. I suppose after talking into the ether up until this point, this has been the first moment where I’ve had to think about it as a conversation, and it’s scaring the hell out of me.
Anyway, I’d just like to thank everyone who has written to me or posted comments over the last few months sending their support. I genuinely don’t think I’d have had the nerve to continue with this process without the support of my peers out there in the wild. I’ll continue to post up general updates about my state of mind and this whole process until such a point where it feels too personal or invasive, because I’ve heard from people that it’s helping them work out whether they should try and find lost parents themselves. All I can say is that so far the experience has been unsettling and destabilising, but an important one for me, and I’m incredibly glad I’ve got as far as I have. And good luck to those of you still contemplating something similar. I hope it all works out for you.