Welcome to a bonus episode of DNA Surprises. Michael Paul first joined me in Season 2, shortly after his discovery. In this bonus episode, Michael shares an update on what’s happened in his life since we last spoke. He shares his journey of discovering the importance of self-care and setting boundaries after a DNA surprise.
He also discusses his evolving relationship with his bio dad and the challenges he faces, along with the positive changes he’s made in his life, such as changing his last name and pursuing his career passions. This is a shorter version of our conversation – if you’d like to hear the episode in its entirety, join me over on Patreon at Patreon.com/DNASurprises.
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Transcripts are AI-generated and may not reflect the final published episodes.
[00:00:00] Michael Paul: I would really say what it has happened is I’ve gained a healthy level of selfishness. I grew up around Catholic people and I definitely was raised to not put myself In my needs at a healthy level of first. And because of that I’ve just done more for what like me, like when I think about it and how she might’ve judged me for the choices that I’ve made, or she might, like, I can still feel it in my head.
[00:00:30] Michael Paul: Like she, where it’s like, Oh, well, she wouldn’t have liked that you did that. Or she would have been mad at you for that. In my head, I go, well, guess what? She put me in a situation that she’s never been in before and I got to do what I got to do and that means relationships, career choices where I live and what I like, like she literally has not set any kind of level of accountability, growth, or perspective, like I know that she’s still only thinking about herself and so when I have those moments of anger it’s I got to do what I got to do too and I know that’s a simple way of handling it,
[00:01:07] Alexis: I
[00:01:07] Alexis: like that expression that the healthy level of selfishness, although really it’s not selfish at all. You’re probably just establishing healthy boundaries and doing the things right that are good to do for yourself.
[00:01:32] Michael Paul: My name is Michael I am 29 years old now, and I am from Columbus, Ohio.
[00:01:40] Alexis: Michael, you were on the podcast, I believe it was season two, and You shared your story. It was relatively fresh and you reached out to me and said you wanted to share What has happened since we last spoke and you know, I follow you on social media I see kind of what’s going on in your life.
[00:02:04] Alexis: For anyone who’s listening. What have you been up to?
[00:02:07] Michael Paul: I should say now I’m thinking about it. I introduced myself as Michael Paul and the other one. So, I’m still the Michael Paul that hasn’t changed. But a lot has changed. I think it really came down more to how I view myself. I think a lot about the no contact that I discussed that’s still happening. But the elements of it I think are different for me in that it’s not so much anger and rage anymore.
[00:02:36] Michael Paul: It’s a lot of the what now in my personal life, I definitely think that at the time it was so fresh, it wasn’t impacting things, but over the last year and a half that I have been grappling with the fact that I’m an MPE and all of the things that my mom did to not. Really share the truth with me and everybody else.
[00:03:00] Michael Paul: It impacted a lot.
[00:03:01] Michael Paul: It makes a lot of what I went through growing up and not knowing the truth feel very futile. What’s really changed with me about the NPE experience is having to go back and learn how to trust my gut is what’s really changed. There’s positives to it, especially with the Relationship with my bio dad. He still, he and I still text and talk every now and then. I haven’t met him and I’m not sure how that’s going to go.
[00:03:30] Michael Paul: It just, it scares me. And then my life ever since really may has just been a lot of whirlwind and a lot of variables I still talk to him and stuff. It’s just, I think for right now, considering the fact that I didn’t know, or like I had an idea and he doesn’t know at all, I’m not really upset about it.
[00:03:51] Michael Paul: I know some people would feel differently of like they want to meet this person right away and reconnect as fast as possible. And I don’t think that there’s really any rush. I think that he needs time to like grapple with that. And I think if it’s hard on me, it’s going be hard on him.
[00:04:06] Michael Paul: The relationship is still going. It’s not so much me just kind of being like, I don’t really know where I stand, which is really nice. I haven’t really gotten any photos or anything. But that’s been the discussion lately is, Hey, I’ve been going through some like old photos and stuff.
[00:04:20] Michael Paul: I think you might like them. Do you want them? I think for what it’s worth, I would say that the relationship is going really well . And so there’s like little positives like that. And I get to work on like the personal, like association with the word parents a lot, where it’s like, he’s not really out to get me. And that’s really looking back at it. How I felt growing up is that parents are like a bad word and you know, it is cool to have somebody that.
[00:04:52] Michael Paul: Like, I know I look like him, at least from the one picture I’ve seen. So, it is cool to at least know that, like, there’s somebody that looks like me and does, in a, in some ways, like, I think he does think a lot like me, which is interesting just from the conversations that we’ve had. I’m getting to uncover the path of me and re learning to trust myself, I think in a way that I was trained not to.
[00:05:19] Alexis: Yeah, that trusting yourself is big. So kind of, going back to your family, because one of the things that really stuck with me from our conversation was the decision that you made to go no contact with your family. Have you had any contact with your mother, your raised father, or your brother since?
[00:05:42] Alexis: We last spoke.
[00:05:43] Michael Paul: with a heavy heart. No. And that’s been really hard for me. Because, while all of this was happening, my personal relationship was falling apart. And what had changed more or less is I remember telling Chase, my boyfriend at the time this is really hard that you’re having these decisions considering what I’m going through, and it’s not his fault that this is the cards that were dealt.
[00:06:12] Michael Paul: But there was just so much… Of like, hey, like, you know that I’m going no contact, and him not being able to, like, he, I think, never really understood it because he would always give me… His rebuttal was always, well, you’re just mad at them. And it’s just made it like a lot harder and realizing like the gravity of that.
[00:06:34] Michael Paul: I lost my job sadly a couple of months ago and it has been really hard, especially in the like economy to support myself, especially when there’s no safety net. I’m doing it and I’m making it, it’s just like, there’s so many times in my life where I just go, man, like. If people were honest, I probably wouldn’t be in this situation and I probably would have a little bit more support and I know that some people, you know, might find that like privileged and stuff and like not everybody has access to that and I’m fully aware of it.
[00:07:06] Michael Paul: I just know for my family, like that is something that they could do is, you know, just be something that I rely on and I can’t rely on that family unit.
[00:07:15] Michael Paul: And so that makes it really hard. There’s days where I really do want to pick the phone up and call I just think that the problem really is that, like, it’s just… The lack of accountability and the willingness to side with my mom when I don’t think she had any real reason to do what she did. She just did it to do it.
[00:07:37] Alexis: Has anyone tried to reach out from your family?
[00:07:42] Michael Paul: I got a phone call around Christmas time, right, when I had like made the decision that I was going to go no contact, but I have not had any correspondence since that point, which also makes me think one of two things there’s a, well, he doesn’t want to contact us and he doesn’t really come around often anyways.
[00:08:01] Michael Paul: And then I think there’s another part where it’s like, well, he found out that he had a dad and he wants nothing to do with us. That’s something that I’ve been reflecting on a lot. Yeah, I could go back, and I could talk to them, I think that the response that I would get is that they would be mad that I left in the first place.
[00:08:18] Michael Paul: Like, there would be no understanding of, what this has done to me. In my identity and how I feel about myself. And that’s more or less why I think like, yeah, I’ve made the decision,
[00:08:30] Alexis: Is there a part of you where you see benefits to going no contact and if so, what are those for you?
[00:08:38] Michael Paul: That’s a good question. As hard as it is, and as much as I some days might cry about, I really do cry, but. I can say this over and over again. Yeah, it might be really hard right now, but it sure beats having people that you’re supposed to trust constantly not looking out for you. I would say it’s really hard right now, but at least I don’t have them breathing down my necks, making me feel bad for every choice.
[00:09:10] Michael Paul: They’re just not credible anymore. Like it’s, it was all wrapped around my mom’s. Little deck of cards that she wanted to control and that was the whole plot for her And so yeah, it’s hard at the same time like I have I get to make decisions for myself and instead of Constantly adding more pressure to myself around people being upset because of the choices I’ve made I don’t have to go to bed at night hearing them yell at me or be mad at me because I say hard stance, no, this is not appropriate to me, and this hurts me, and I don’t like the way that things are going, something needs to be addressed, instead of having no accountability, or like having to fight for that accountability, it’s just not in the equation anymore and so that’s really been the positive, is like, I’ve just a lot more, I think, peaceful, and I get to sit a little bit more with like, well, what do I want to do?
[00:10:07] Michael Paul: What about me?
[00:10:08] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:10:09] Michael Paul: Michael Paul want to do knowing X, Y, and Z? And it’s not about them anymore. And it’s more about me and making decisions for myself. And so that part is really good.
[00:10:23] Alexis: Yeah. It was a decision that you made to protect yourself and to take care of yourself.
[00:10:28] Alexis: Another one of the things that we talked about when we last spoke, you mentioned that was something you felt strongly about was changing your name. and to be honest, I had never really thought about that. I had never really considered changing my name.
[00:10:43] Alexis: I hadn’t talked to anyone who was considering changing their name and so can you give us an update on that? Did you change your name?
[00:10:51] Michael Paul: I did. I kept, I didn’t change my first name or middle. I changed my last name and I have got to say it was. It’s annoying from paperwork for anybody that’s ever been legally married and chooses to change their name. It a hassle. I will say that is the. single handedly the best choice that I’ve ever made for myself. I don’t regret it. I love the last name that I chose, and I’m really proud of me for choosing to do something solely for myself.
[00:11:26] Michael Paul: I do acknowledge where I’ve came from, and I thank the old me for getting me to where I’m at, but I think… Me choosing to make my own family name is a really fair statement and a really kind thing to do to myself. Considering how much time went by. ’cause I was 27. Yeah, it’s been two, it’ll be two years and at the end of October.
[00:11:52] Michael Paul: So I think it’s really fair. I get to say, Hey, this wasn’t, this was not me, and it wasn’t me because it wasn’t true and it wasn’t my fault. And I can accept that. At the same time has gone on so long that, you know, I’m not really bound to this other family either, and I get to start my own family name, and I think that’s really cool.
[00:12:17] Michael Paul: Like, it’s just something for me, and it’s no fault of my bio dad. It’s more, what do I do for me that’s not tying myself to the situation, and I think that’s what I did, and I’m still really proud of it. I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it at all. Honestly, with my new boyfriend, he’s a lot more understanding and he gets it. He has a little bit of a tougher relationship with his family. And one day I just sat him down and was like, look, like here’s what it is, and I need you to know too, like I did something for myself and I changed my last name and he was just like, Oh, well, that’s really cool.
[00:12:54] Michael Paul: The other thing that’s changed is for people with autoimmune disorders, because of my DNA surprise, I insisted for a while and like months that something wasn’t right.
[00:13:05] Michael Paul: I was tired all the time. I was progressively gaining weight and because of the DNA surprise, I trusted myself and said, something is definitely not right. And after I’d say about six or seven months of trying to get like a diagnostic standard and like working with nutritionists and everything finally got tested and found out that I have hypogonadism for people who don’t know what that is.
[00:13:29] Michael Paul: That’s where your body doesn’t produce enough testosterone. It’s commonly seen in, in males. I knew something wasn’t right and then affirming of if you have ever gone against your gut or you don’t trust your gut, start doing it because if you don’t feel right or something just. Isn’t working. There’s a, like, physically there’s a good chance if it’s just that, like I can trust myself a little bit more without needing the medical history. Because I do know like, hey, you’ve, you got half of the playing cards and half of the information. So if something is a little bit gray or something does feel slightly off, just trust yourself to know that something’s going on.
[00:14:09] Michael Paul: I was catching up with my bio father and he was like, Oh, what’s new? And I just randomly was like, yeah, well, I’ve had some like weird weight gain and come find out I have hypogonadism. And he goes, Oh, that runs in the family. And so I am just like, so much more willing to trust myself with health concerns because
[00:14:28] Michael Paul: I was right.
[00:14:28] Michael Paul: Like I was like, there’s no way. Yeah.
[00:14:31] Alexis: yeah, and it just really
[00:14:33] Michael Paul: I would have never
[00:14:34] Alexis: how important, yeah, how important that medical history is because not everyone is going to advocate for themselves, I think, in the way that you did, in the way that you do, where you knew there was something wrong and you pushed. That just must have been so validating to know, okay, yes, this is a part of my story.
[00:14:54] Alexis: I’m really happy for you that you found some answers and that you’ve persisted for yourself. Now, I’m hearing from you, you know, you said that you still have a lot of anger, particularly with your mom. How are you moving through that? How are you processing this anger that you feel?
[00:15:15] Michael Paul: Oh, man. Well, I could, so sometimes I do write sometimes If I’m really upset
[00:15:22] Michael Paul: I do want to say, too, there’s a lot of days where. This honestly would probably sum up a lot of times how I feel. I know that I’m positive. There’s still all of the, I really don’t want to get out of bed today. Cause I’m sad. Cause everybody has been lying to me and there’s not much I can do. I definitely get those days. I get them all the time. But, I wrote this over the summer this was right around the end of May, it doesn’t have a title, but I just wrote down how I was feeling, and what I end up saying in quote here, there’s no easy way to put it, I feel like a discarded shell.
[00:16:01] Michael Paul: Sewn in the fabrication of myself, lies of the mother. Replica of lies, identity, trials, difficulty that is not mine. Fractures, scars, error so deep this replica is not fit to keep. A loveless heap, job done, obsolete. And it was just like a reflection of like what I think my mom chose to do. And so there’s, there are days like that.
[00:16:26] Michael Paul: Where it’s really hard, and I try not to only just write those down.
[00:16:30] Michael Paul: So, on the counter side, I wrote this one and I did give it a title. Because I really tell myself like, yeah, you might be emotional, but like, do you really want to bleed permanent, like despair into the world? Or do you want to balance it out? And so I do write when I’m feeling good too, but I titled this one, when the days get better, things are good. The cycle of hurt has shown me the sunshine in life, the snare of the trap in my mind released, and I’m able to occupy less space with the injected darkness of the past. And so there’s days where like that clarity comes through of like the storm, isn’t the storm anymore. The reason that I chose the word injected is because I feel this is very much forced onto me.
[00:17:19] Michael Paul: I don’t think that any of this was my personal burden.
[00:17:25] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:17:26] Michael Paul: But it’s not, some days it’s not as hard anymore. And I think I have a good balance of, well, she did what she’s going to do. I’m going to do what I’m going to do. And that’s that. So there’s a mixed bag of how I handle it.
[00:17:39] Alexis: Yeah, thank you for sharing that and showing that Duality right because it’s true there’s still hard days and I think it’s important for people to realize that you don’t have to Never feel sad about it ever again if it’s something that brings you sadness But it’s good to have that hope and to move through it as well.
[00:18:02] Alexis: So thank you so much for sharing
[00:18:04] Michael Paul: yeah, I just think my poetry and like the writing that I have just shows where my mind has been over time. And so when I feel compelled to write, like it, it doesn’t have to be a whole life update, but. Yeah, that’s sort of where the picture has been and where it’s going and me being more or less at terms with it.
[00:18:22] Michael Paul: And I’m still I’m still super, and even more to this day, super grateful that my bio dad didn’t want to just not have anything to do with me. And I realized that is a reality for a lot of people, and so there is a little, there’s a lot of gratitude of that, that like the nature of the relationship is evolving where it’s like, Hey, I don’t have anything. And like, I might actually get some pictures of people that don’t know me and I’ve never met them, but like, at least I’m going to know. So it’s like just gratefulness for things like that.
[00:18:53] Alexis: I know you touched on it in the beginning, but I’m really curious to kind of dig a little bit more into your relationship with your bio dad. Because the last time we spoke, I believe you were hoping to go out and visit him. Now you’ve said you’re not sure if that’s going to happen.
[00:19:08] Alexis: So how has your relationship evolved since the last time we spoke?
[00:19:12] Michael Paul: So the reason that I didn’t end up going out to where he’s from in New York is because he still has friends here in the city that I’m from. So it was just logistically, he has somewhere to stay. That’s not going to like run a hotel. And so that, that was where the conversation left off of is when I’m ready to visit or when we’re ready to meet, I’ll just come to you.
[00:19:32] Michael Paul: Is where that ended up leaving off. But like, it’s cool.
[00:19:38] Michael Paul: I think I’m more willing to lean into it. I talked to him really about a lot of stuff. I talked to him about, the new relationship jitters of, I don’t know what we are right now and all this other stuff, which is cool. , I literally have never had that before. I was never able to talk to my family about.
[00:19:58] Michael Paul: relationships. And on top of that, I, we had very much a don’t ask, don’t tell, like the way that I can discern it now is I think they knew all along about my, about me being gay, but like, it was just something that wasn’t talked about. Like I didn’t talk about stuff with them. So like having somebody to at least be like, this is what’s going on.
[00:20:17] Michael Paul: I’ve never had it before. And that, that makes me really happy. There’s a lot of time lost, but I know that I still have time to know him.
[00:20:26] Alexis: What do you call him? Do you call him dad? Do you call him by his name? I’m curious about that because I think we all land in different places in our community, but you’ve had a little bit more time, so I’m curious where you are now.
[00:20:39] Michael Paul: It’s just George. I’m sure if I meet him and it’s just like perfect, I have no problem being like, yeah, you’re your dad. Sorry. But as for right now, it’s just, Hey George, how are you?
[00:20:51] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:20:51] Alexis: I’m very curious about how you now see Michael Paul because I’ve heard you throughout this last hour that we’ve been talking, reference your identity and how doing things like going no contact, ending your relationship, changing your name, all this change that’s happened since the last time we spoke has helped you step more into your identity.
[00:21:14] Alexis: So. Thank you. Who is Michael Paul today?
[00:21:17] Michael Paul: Honestly, gracefully tough. I just, I’m able, I think I’m able to understand people a lot better. And I think be more fair and not allow mistreatment that I might have before. I really just see myself as somebody that’s bold. Bold and strong, and at the same time, hopeful that, you know, things aren’t always, I don’t always have to be bold and strong. I would like… To have this be like the one adversity that I have other than like the great amount of change that I put myself through.
[00:21:55] 3Michael Paul: I really hope that one day I can take this and go, you know, I’ve had something really crazy happen to me too before. And find that next person taking on the storytelling for the people that are going to end up finding this as DNA tests become more and more commercially acceptable and accessible being that person that’s like, you know, I had that happen to, how did you handle it?
[00:22:19] Michael Paul: And just let them go and be like, I’ve been there. You know, so I, I see myself as like one bold person that’s tough, that’s not willing to shy away from things and I’ll take it as it comes.
[00:22:33] Alexis: absolutely. Michael Paul, thank you so much for joining me and sharing the journey that you’ve been on over the last year and a half since we last spoke. I’m so proud of you for taking care of yourself and I hope that you’re proud of yourself, and I just wish you the best as you continue to navigate all of this.
[00:22:53] 333cf917-7565-4ef1-b2f8-329c29e75d80: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you.