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Awakening the Authentic Self: Embracing the Road to Self-Discovery

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Welcome to Kim Miller Trauma Coaching, I am happy we can connect. When I first started exploring Trauma Recovery Coaching, I had no idea what it entailed. I was in search of a graduate degree in social work when this trauma certification program fell into my lap. The word trauma can mean so many different things, exploring the true definition is complex and personal for everyone. My mother is the root of my trauma, I have known this from a very young age. Something that I learned during my trauma training is that insecure attachment parenting styles, gaslighting and not being seen as a child can also create trauma. I often hear people tell me, "My mom tried her best when raising me. I love her but no, she wasn't there for me. I didn't feel like I could go to her with issues, problems or concerns.". This is where attachment styles play a critical role in an individuals development and shapes who they become as adults.

I was born in Canada, moving to Massachusetts when I was 4. My father (man who raised me, also known as birth certificate father-BCF) is Canadian and my mother was raised in Massachusetts herself. My mother was raised by an alcoholic father and an enabling mother. From what I am told, her brother was the only one who ever protected her. My BCF was raised by his father who was an engineer and a mother who I believe stayed home to raise him and his sister. My BCF was always very different and was later diagnosed with developmental disabilities.

Growing up in New England, I always felt like I wasn't in the right family. I can't explain the feeling but what I do know is that I would wait until my parents left the house so I could snoop in their offices and bedroom for paperwork telling me I was adopted. My mom assured me that I was not adopted. She was married to another man before she married my BCF and I always questioned if he could be my father. "NO" was always the answer she gave me.

Growing up my family was small, I had one sister and three first cousins on my BCF's side. Internally, I felt like I was from a much larger family. Again, I can't explain why I felt this way. Was it wishful thinking? Was I clairvoyant? My mom denied it so many times that I eventually stopped asking if I was adopted.

Fast forward to 2015. I took the at home DNA test from 23andme to see what my genetic connection might be to the illnesses my mother suffered from. Was I predisposed to diabetes? Was I a Celiac like her? The test did give me some of the medical answers I was looking for. I closed that chapter when I saw my medical information.

A few years later I received a message from someone on 23andMe asking how I was related to them. I need to preface this by telling you that I was naive and had no idea about the genetic connections that 23andMe offered it's customers. I only knew that Ancestry offered that feature. It wasn't until 2012 that at home testing was even possible, so I had no idea of it's capabilities. I told the person asking me questions that I had no idea how I was related to them and let the subject die. Again, a year or two later I had another inquiry about how I was related to Mexicans that live out west. Mexicans. Yeah, I'm not (or so I thought) Mexican so this made zero sense to me. I told them I had no idea about our connection. However, this got me thinking. I called my BCF and asked him if we had any cousins from Mexico. He told me no without hesitation and told me about our European lineage. Over time, I realized my Mexican cousin list on 23andMe was growing by leaps and bounds. So, months later I called my BCF again and asked him if it was possible I was not his daughter. His response was, "I know you are my daughter. Your mother took a trip to a ranch in Colorado over the summer, she came home late summer or fall and you were born in May". At the time, my BCF had no formal psychological testing but we know now that he is developmentally delayed which is why he didn't see any red flags in his response. The minute my dad told me about the summer ranch trip, I knew he was not my bioloigcal father. So, I called my husband who immediately agreed with me. Then, I contacted my sister. She agreed that if I paid for the DNA test she would take it. Sure enough, months later when we got back the results, it told us we were only half sisters.

The real journey began when one of my new family members sent me a family tree she had built. My husband and I worked that tree late into the night over the next several weeks. The end results were my biological father being from Mexico but worked on a ranch in Colorado the summer I was conceived.

My sister and I called our mom to ask her about these shocking results. Her response, "The test is wrong". We asked her again and again: How? What? Who? When? Her answers were always the same: denial, deceit, and flat out lies. For some reason I had hope that she would tell us the truth, but she never did. Through an odd series of events, we did find out that my mother had confided in a good friend about my biological father. My sister and I never got any information from our mom.

My mother had her own trauma. I don't discount that at all. Her trauma has greatly impacted her. She lives alone somewhere and her children barely speak to her. Her trauma is not mine or anyone else's to bare. How can a mother tell their own child such lies? How can a mother be so cold to her own children? Well, trauma. If she was never able to form secure attachment with her own parents, how could she form those bonds with her own children?

When you find out a parent that raised you is really not your biological parent, things shift inside of you. Your brain, that knew something for so long, has to rewire itself to understand where you came from. Everything you have known, that should be your security, is shattered. I was fortunate in the sense that my overall feeling about my experience was validation. Often, adults in the exact same position don't have that emotion, at least initially. Adults who discover a parent isn't really their bioloigcal parent are often angry, hurt, sad and confused. Their feelings are justified.

It's important to explore the ramifications of a DNA discovery: identity trauma, betrayal trauma, intergenerational trauma, moral injury, identity disruption, and identity reconstruction are all real things that have now impacted us. Our worth and identity are not solely defined by these challenges. These experiences have the potential to foster personal growth within us.

Have you recently discovered a family secret through DNA? Are you donor conceived? Has a new half-sibling just popped up on your Ancestry or 23andme page? If any of this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Finding out a family secret isn't a "thing" that has happened, but a journey that you are about to embark on.....whether you asked for it or not. Even for the individuals who decide not to go down the rabbit hole of DNA results, once you know about a family secret, it's hard not to think about it.

Trauma Recovery Coaching can be transformative. So many people with mothers like mine are often never heard or seen. Often we are the black sheep of the family or have no connection to anyone in it. After completing my training, my entire life changed. My mind shifted. I am committed to spreading empowerment to anyone who could use it.

I'm happy you are here. ~ Kim

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