Erika’s DNA Surprise

Erika’s incredible DNA surprise journey starts with a mind-altering awakening. Erika always felt an underlying sense of ‘otherness’ in her family. After an experience with psilocybin, or “magic mushrooms,” she realized that there was a big lie in her life. Thanks to a DNA test and a potent dose of self-awareness, a truth emerges that casts her entire upbringing in a new light.

In this episode, Erika shares how she’s navigated the emotional fallout, reassessed her relationships, and grappled with her newly discovered Irish lineage. She also discusses how patriarchal norms in our society can create toxicity within the NPE community.

Thank you for sharing your story, Erika.

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Episode Transcript

Transcripts are AI-generated and may not reflect the final published episodes.

[00:00:00] Erika: The second you see the structure, you don’t feel so horrible. You don’t feel so horrible. Like, you don’t feel like it’s someone’s fault, your fault, that you need to throw an egg at someone or punch someone in the face.

[00:00:11] Erika: The second that you can release that individual part and you can look at the structure and then you’re like, I’m going to fight that. That’s what I want to fight, right?

[00:00:27] Erika: My name is Erica. I’m 42 years old and I live in and around North Bay, Ontario.

[00:00:34] Erika: I’ve been listening to your podcast now and gone through quite a few of them. So I do see a lot of similarities, right? And I see a lot of common threads, mainly, I guess, the unsettled feeling of just having a, a hint and nudge that something might not be right. And my DNA story is kind of wrapped into that.

[00:00:56] Erika: Feeling I think that’s guided me up until today and never really acting on it, maybe a bit of cognitive dissonance, maybe a little bit of reckoning with reality, my family is just, like many, very complicated, very challenged, very dominated by bloodlines.

[00:01:18] Erika: And I want to say that because bloodlines were something that, We’re woven into everything growing up, all my siblings, we come from a broken family, so it was very clear, who came from what lineage, who came from where, and by virtue of that, that created a whole framework in our family of who succeeded and who didn’t, the haves and the have nots.

[00:01:41] Erika: So things were really structured around bloodlines. And I think that’s a very common thing for many Catholic families, I think, that they’re kind of a rigid structure of patriarchy, if you will. Coming from a family of three kids, a divorce, and then more children after that, the world kind of was, uh, in front of me that was Step, half, full, that really dominated our lives.

[00:02:07] Erika: So, by virtue of that, there were the older siblings that, that were kind of riddled with baggage. And then the new ones that kind of came in that were more clean, more they were more pure, if you will, because they came from a patriarchal kind of structure.

[00:02:25] Alexis: So essentially, you had parents that were divorced, first batch of kids through them. And then did each of your parents remarry and have additional children?

[00:02:38] Erika: Mm

[00:02:38] Alexis: so those new the children that came from those new marriages were maybe favored

[00:02:45] Erika: Oh, yeah. You know, they would never say that.

[00:02:48] Erika: Yeah, so early on, there was a huge kind of break in our family really early on, and it was shortly after I was born. Now, that has an important part to it, Alexis, because it does matter. So, right after I was born, my family broke apart, then remarried, this happened.

[00:03:04] Erika: But in those times, a tremendous amount of childhood, like, stress, trauma. To the point where now, I don’t know if anybody listening has children where you look back at your own children and think like, my god, I would never want to impose that on my own kids, you know?

[00:03:18] Alexis: Mm hmm, mm hmm,

[00:03:19] Erika: It was a very chaotic childhood, really mirrored and really dictated by these bloodlines of who was more and who was less and who was succeeded and who didn’t, right? So I’d often walk into rooms and I just instantly felt That I was, there was a big dark cloud over my head, and I didn’t know what it was.

[00:03:37] Erika: So when you have that subliminal kind of subconscious messaging, when you’re weaving in and out of the family and going into certain rooms or attending certain functions, that you’re kind of like, dirty or not clean or not pure or not full. That message subliminal carries throughout your whole life. And that really is a part of my DNA story is that just general feeling, right?

[00:04:02] Erika: So, as I’ve aged, the, the relationships with a lot of the, the people in my adults in my life were really became fractured over time. As I developed and, put some time into learning and unlearning myself, it it just ended up just kind of fracturing a lot of those relationships. And some were held on by a thread, and some became a little bit stronger. But this, this just dominated my world. I felt like even reaching your 40s, as tragic as it sounds, you know, my parents still dominated my life, my psyche, the back of my head, like, they were just, A constant, not a good presence, like they were just there.

[00:04:40] Erika: My sister said this to me. She was like, imagine if, like, your daughter, imagine if she was 42 years old and her whole life is, like, stressed about you. Like, how tragic would that be, right? So anyway One day I’m gonna, I’m gonna give you guys the full, the full story.

[00:04:56] Erika: So one day, my kids go away to summer camp, okay? And I’ve got really good kids. They’re so well behaved, they’re good. Like, they’re not perfect, but they’re good. And I’ve got a pretty, Stable, good life and but one, so my, my kids go away and my brother goes, Hey, you know, Erica, I’ve got a birthday present for you and he hands me a little bit of mushrooms, so a drug, right?

[00:05:20] Erika: So a little bit of mushrooms. And so anybody who’s listening to this right now and they’re like, Oh my gosh, she’s talking about drugs. Yes, I am. And I think that, every adult does a drug, but it’s been a long time. I haven’t touched a drug in 20 years since I was really young, but I was kind of excited.

[00:05:37] Erika: I was like, Ooh, I’m going to take a small amount of these mushrooms, like just enough, not enough to launch me into this stratosphere, but just enough to like heighten the experience of watching a movie. Right? So just enough to just open up your senses so the colours look a little different and that maybe the reality in front of you is just slightly turned but nothing that was like, Erica’s going to space, you know?

[00:06:00] Erika: I’ve been there, but I was not launching myself to space that night. Um, So if anybody needs to know a little bit more about mushrooms is that sometimes they just like dissolve the sense of self, opens up a few doors once in a while, and just, just changes reality. So nothing scary. It can be scary, but it wasn’t scary.

[00:06:19] Erika: So the person I was with, I was sitting beside and , a calm sense of urgency came over me. This was recently. And I turned and looked at them, and they were just laughing at the movie, and I was like, Hey, hey, hey, hey, I’ve got to tell you something. I think my whole life’s a lie. Imagine being the other person and trying to like, relate to me.

[00:06:40] Erika: They’re like, Are you okay? Erica, what, did you take too much? And I was like, No, I’m totally fine. And I was completely fine. If you were to see me on the street, I would have been completely fine. But I was like, I feel like my life is a lie. I feel like there’s a dark cloud over me. And I feel like everybody knows this lie but me.

[00:06:58] Erika: And it has completely dictated my entire life. And I, I need to find out what this lie is. I need to find out what this lie is. And so for the other person, they’re like, Oh no, something’s wrong with Erica. But it wasn’t wrong at all. It was like all of a sudden something just cracked in the floodgate. Like it just cracked.

[00:07:17] Erika: The whole foundation just went like a crack just went up it. And

[00:07:22] Alexis: Yeah.

[00:07:23] Erika: I felt by virtue of the mushrooms I guess, is that I felt that I felt like I figured it out on like a cellular

[00:07:32] Alexis: hmm.

[00:07:34] Erika: And so,

[00:07:35] Alexis: what it was, but

[00:07:36] Alexis: you just

[00:07:37] Erika: idea.

[00:07:38] Alexis: there’s a lie.

[00:07:39] Erika: There’s a lie!

[00:07:39] Alexis: My life is a lie.

[00:07:40] Erika: My life is a lie. My life is a lie, everyone knows about it, and it has dictated my entire path, my personality, my politics, everything.

[00:07:50] Erika: Like, it’s dictated who I am and where I am today, and I feel like the jig is up, I need to figure out what this lie is, and I need to figure it out now. Anyway, we watched a movie, and then the next day, I was like, I’m adding to cart. I am adding one of these DNA tests to the cart. That was the very next morning.

[00:08:09] Erika: The very next morning, I order this I kind of forget about it. I get it back, and then I send it along pretty in quick succession. I think that day, because I was very excited to find out if there was something hiding up here. And then I got the results back. And you know how long that takes, you know, just a little while, enough for you to forget about it, but then enough for you to be excited when it arrives.

[00:08:29] Erika: And so it arrives, I open it all up, I click on all the things, as many of you know, you look at the screen in front of you, and it shows a circle, in the one I saw, a circle, and it broke my genetics in half. And I come from a very Like, my mom is straight from, like, not straight from Ireland, but one generation removed, very Irish, and but the screen was almost entirely green.

[00:08:52] Erika: Like, it said I was almost 100 percent Irish, right? And my dad does not have any of those roots. My dad’s, like, it’s, they’re strong Danish roots. Like, I’m talking white, blonde, blue eyed, very tall Viking man, and it just, I, I just couldn’t compute it. As many other people show, it says, like, you know, all the last names of my mom.

[00:09:15] Erika: Very strong Irish lineage. And then the other side that said 100 percent Irish had all these mixed names that I never saw. And I was going through the weeds, right? I’m scrolling down, looking for one hint of, of Danish ancestry or anything. And I was like, well, I can’t find anything. And then like many of your listeners and, and people is that I start getting messages from these first cousins, and they’re all from this tiny, tiny town in Ireland, right?

[00:09:39] Erika: So here I am sitting in, like, Canada, North Bay, Canada, and I’m getting all these confused messages from these people sitting in Ireland being like Who are you? Where did you come from? Are you, how do you fit into this story? I’m really confused. I, I didn’t know that, are you from this Waterford city in Ireland?

[00:09:57] Erika: You seem to be connected to me. It says you’re my first cousin. And I was like, ugh. Clearly. This is wrong. And I know that the listeners might be like, but Erika, you were on a quest.

[00:10:08] Erika: The mushrooms told you. But even then, like, even then, the power to, to disassociate from that reality is so strong. So I just shut it off.

[00:10:19] Erika: And messages kept coming in, but I did not, like, I don’t know, what’s the word for that? There has to be a word where you just refuse to accept what reality is showing you. I don’t know if it’s protection, denial. Because it doesn’t make sense, right? Like, oh, you’re, it says here that you’re, you’re, you were pretty much born in Ireland and you’re 100 percent Irish.

[00:10:40] Erika: So I just left it. And and about a month later, I go for lunch with my brother, who I’m quite close with, my younger brother. And by virtue of the bloodlines, my, my half brother, but he’s my full brother. We’re sitting down for lunch together. And I’m super casually talking about, you know, the past month, past two months, and I’m looking down at my soup.

[00:11:04] Erika: It was the end of our lunch, and I was like, you know, I did this DNA test, and this is like, Crazy. But all the results said this. And can you believe it? Like, what are these things? Like, they must be ruining people’s lives with giving them not right information. And no wonder people think that there’s all these hidden secrets.

[00:11:20] Erika: Are they just making this stuff up? Right? And I’m looking down at my soup, and I look up, and my brother is bawling. And he was like, Erica, I I, I, I know, I know who your father is, who your biological father is, and if this one man named John, he’s from Ireland. And it’s common knowledge, and a lot of people knew about it, but no one told you.

[00:11:45] Erika: And I found out, this is his voice, because of one time, when I was in my early 20s, I was convinced that my father wasn’t my father, and I kept asking my brother. I’m like, hey Colin, like, do you know something? Like, do you think that maybe my father’s your father? Like, I couldn’t fit in the box. Like, I couldn’t fit in there.

[00:12:04] Erika: So I started asking at around early 20s. And he asked his father, and his father said no. This is who her dad is. And he just felt like it was too big of a secret. I don’t blame him at all, Alexis, because it’s not his burden to carry at all. But that’s when I found out. And all the last names collected, like we looked at the obituary together.

[00:12:26] Erika: It was like the, the city, Waterford City, Ireland, the last names, all these people. And I was like, right, all the reality came together. But to know that there’s this whole culture, and I’ve heard you talk about the culture, the culture and world and reality that, my reaction was I fucking knew it. I knew it.

[00:12:51] Erika: I fucking knew it. Like, I was like, I was pointing my finger. I was like, I fucking knew it. Like, I’m sorry to swear, but I was like, I knew it. I knew that there was something there. Right? I knew it.

[00:13:01] Alexis: What was your reaction as you’re sitting there at the table?

[00:13:04] Erika: Like, maniacal. Like, ha ha ha ha ha. Like, I had like a, like a, like, I knew it. Like, I found out. Like, I almost like, I don’t know. It wasn’t laughing, like, ha ha, but it was like, almost like there was joy. And because I was like, finally, right, I, here is the key, but there’s also, you know, after that initial reaction of, I knew it, was so, so, no one, so dark, like, after that, it became a whole World of dark that I have.

[00:13:40] Erika: I live in darkness like dark is a very comfortable in that headspace, but it was like sub sub dark. Like when you when you know this, but when you get detached from your reality, it was almost like I was sitting in a in a in a sea of balloons and someone cut the balloon and I was floating away. Like I, I had no identity.

[00:14:01] Erika: I lost my sense of reality. It got to the point where, like, I questioned everything, like, everything to my marriage. Like, I was like, should I have married this guy? Like, my husband’s wonderful. But I was like, is this my reality? Should this path, is this the path I should have had? Should it have been a different path?

[00:14:20] Erika: Should I be living in Ireland right now? How come, like, is my name Erica? That doesn’t sound like it. That’s not my name. Like, I was at a massage a little while ago and they were like, Erica? And then they get, like, cause my, my last name’s very Scandinavian and she looks at me and she goes, you don’t look Scandinavian.

[00:14:40] Erika: I’m like, I know. Right. I know. I know. Right. And so I had this moment of like, is this my name? This shouldn’t be my name. Like total, absolute detachment from reality, which is like. Cannot be understated how much that royally messes someone up, like, royally messes someone up.

[00:15:03] Alexis: Yeah.

[00:15:03] Erika: that was really tough, and if I didn’t have some of the foundations of the work that I had done before then, if I didn’t have, you know, a solid partner you can just see, Alexis, if you took away one of my foundations, like, how much more difficult it would have been to grapple with this, right?

[00:15:22] Alexis: So your brother reveals to you that he knew,

[00:15:25] Erika: Mm

[00:15:26] Alexis: and he said everyone knew.

[00:15:28] Erika: Mm hmm.

[00:15:29] Alexis: Did all of your siblings know?

[00:15:31] Erika: The adults, The adults,

[00:15:34] Erika: in our life knew. So the history here is Back in the 80s and 70s, you know, I, I try to have a little bit of perspective of the time, right, the time that we’re talking about, and I try to have perspective, too. I work in, like, feminist organizing. I work for sexual violence assault centers. I have a lens of, of patriarchy and feminism here that You know, sometimes in other DNA communities, it’s why I’m actually don’t really jive in some of them because there is a layer of misogyny that I’m quite uncomfortable with, that I see threaded through a lot of these conversations, and I have a very nuanced, very nuanced look at this.

[00:16:11] Erika: Like, I don’t care. Like, I know that humans are complicated, Alexis. Like, I know that. Like, I know that I don’t have perfection. I know that morality is, like, A concept that, that is all just , a lot of it’s made up.

[00:16:26] Alexis: Mm

[00:16:26] Erika: And I know that being a woman during the 70s and 80s must have been really hard.

[00:16:31] Erika: Because you’ve got this, like, wave of feminism being like, you can do whatever you want, this is a good time. You can be a career woman, but then meanwhile you still had all these super structures of expectation of, like, being a mom, being a parent, it must have been a very challenging time to be a woman and a mother.

[00:16:48] Erika: And I know my mom, and even though we don’t have a strong relationship, I do have a lot of her personality, and she’s got a joie de vivre, right? And so, you know, here comes along this is my father’s colleague, by the way, which adds some insult to injury, but, you know, early 80s. Late 70s, you’ve got these physicians that were making a bit of money, they were younger, they all had young families the world was their oyster, right?

[00:17:12] Erika: So these two, my mom is Irish, meets up with this other very Irish man, and of course they’re gonna hit it off. I’m not shocked that that happened. So they had a very long relationship and they had a long relationship, and he ended up leaving town, because, I think, when you’re All of a sudden I start growing and I start looking a lot like him, like, what’s he gonna do?

[00:17:31] Erika: He’s gonna leave. So he leaves town with his family. I believe my mom knew, for sure. I mean, I look a lot like this man. I look nothing like my father. It was a common, everyone who now says like, Oh, yeah, well, we all knew that. Like, all the physician crew, they all knew.

[00:17:48] Erika: All of their families knew. My dad, someone told my dad. I think he didn’t want to admit it or hear it. My stepmother knew. She recited a story. Like, even, even when She found out, when she’s like, hey, Erica did this, and she found out, she’s like, and she blurted out the guy’s name right away. Like, everyone knew or had a really strong suspicion that this was the case.

[00:18:12] Erika: My beef, my beef, is that no one had the stones to reckon with it. Like, no one wanted to admit it, no one wanted to accept it, I guess. And so they would much rather just pretend that it didn’t happen, and life can go on, than make it more complicated, I guess? I, I, I don’t really know. I don’t really know.

[00:18:37] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. After you have this information, do you confront your mother, your father,

[00:18:45] Erika: The first person I told was my sister and I use all my siblings, like I’ve never understood people calling half and step and I just like my siblings, my sibling. So, but I told my sister and everybody who I did tell my siblings, like, well, that makes sense, right? Like, no one was surprised, but I told my sister and I really.

[00:19:08] Erika: I kind of worked out some initial thoughts with her and then because my relationship with my mom is so weak I knew that this would set off something a lot bigger and so I just texted her and said, Hey, do you know this man? And I linked his obituary. But I did a DNA test and, everything is pointing to me being related to this guy. Do you have anything to say? Right? And either way, I’m fine. I’m not here to fight with you. And she said yes, she had a long relationship. She said it was a very unhappy time in her life. You know, she’s really sorry and blah, blah, blah. And then when I told my dad, he said, yeah, I always had a suspicion that this was the case. You know, and don’t worry like, , his initial reaction was great.

[00:19:54] Erika: He was like, you’re always my daughter Like I I love you. It doesn’t matter you’re really important to me and we’ve always been really close and I hope this brings us closer together But what ended up kind of happening from that is that just other people got in the way of it. I don’t know how to explain it, but, egos got in the way, you know, my dad all of a sudden, then he kind of did a turn.

[00:20:17] Erika: He started to feel really sorry for himself. He started to really blame my mother, and then it turned into the whole baggage of my childhood, and fingers started flying across, everyone started blaming each other, and no one, Alexis, no one, not one of them paused and said, hey, how’s Erica doing in all this?

[00:20:34] Erika: Like, not one of them paused and said, Maybe we should apologize to her.

[00:20:39] Erika: Maybe we should talk to her. Like, no one, they were, they all got so consumed with, your mom has no morals and she’s always been that way. Like, it became this finger pointing nightmare and I cut them all off. Because I was like, how the hell am I supposed to heal from this while you guys are expecting me?

[00:20:56] Erika: To continue the long baggage of garbage that you dumped on me from a childhood. And you’re not, not one of you. I mean, it really explains their parenting. But not one of you is paused like, I’m still a child. You know what I mean? I’m still their child even though I’m 42 years old.

[00:21:12] Erika: My parents just seem to really want. Me to work through their garbage with them and I couldn’t do it Like I so I’ve cut them because I was like I need to have the mental space to process this because I’m not doing well And if I don’t process this and I don’t work through this mud, I can’t have their their noise Surrounding me,

[00:21:31] Alexis: Mm hmm.

[00:21:32] Alexis: Mm

[00:21:32] Erika: so I had to cut them off I had to cut them them all off and it hurt them But I can’t like how can anyone weave through this with their noise in the background at the same time?

[00:21:43] Alexis: Yeah. So what was that? So how long after your discovery? Did you say I need to cut you off and take space

[00:21:51] Erika: Oh, pretty quick. Pretty quick. I had to do it because you know what happened is like, all of the garbage from my childhood came flying up to the surface. All of the stuff that no one talked about, all of the the situations, the behaviours, like it all came up to the surface. I cracked everybody. It cracked everybody.

[00:22:14] Erika: It cracked my siblings because we grew up in a world of, like, You are not allowed to talk about your feelings, you’re not allowed to talk about childhood trauma, because it hurts my feelings, you’re not allowed to challenge the structure, because if you do, you’re looked at, I was looked at as a horrible, ungrateful daughter, like a daughter and children need to be subservient to their parents, never question them, if you question them, then you are a bad kid, ungrateful, I learned a lesson really early on, that you never challenge Especially my mother’s emotional, box that she carries, right?

[00:22:51] Erika: And so it was never a thing to, discuss feelings. Never. Right? And so you have 40 years of baggage, and then all of a sudden I come out. As the truth teller that I’ve always been and been like, Hey, guys, like the jig is up. Maybe it’s time we should all be truthful with each other. And it just set off this alarm and immediately,, had my dad had my mom had my stepmother and they’re like triangle of hate that they have for each other.

[00:23:18] Erika: And they were just, just throwing it back down on me and the weight. I was like, there was a sense of freedom, Alexis, where I was like, Hey. I don’t have to take any of your shit anymore. Like, my sister said, oh my gosh, you’re your own sovereign island now. You should be so excited! I looked at them and it was like all of a sudden I had an excuse and a reason that I’ve always wanted to cut.

[00:23:40] Erika: Because here I am, this, like, very, very left leaning, very progressive very outspoken, my whole world, and I’ve gotten into politics has revolved around that, and fairness, and transparency, and kindness, and I’ve got these, like, far right, irrational, cristo-fascist family members that these, like, happy.

[00:24:01] Erika: And so, thank God I’m not related to them. Like, no wonder I never fit in, right? Like, no wonder! And so the, the ability to just be like, ugh, like, ugh, get away from me as I, like, sort this out was actually really welcomed. And I wasn’t trying to be mean. I just, it’s just so, you don’t realize, like, the bag you’re carrying and how heavy it is until you put it down.

[00:24:25] Erika: Until you put it down! And

[00:24:28] Alexis: That’s such a good way of putting that. Yeah.

[00:24:30] Erika: tired of it. It’s like I was born with a backpack of rocks. Here’s, here, now go. And you’re like, no wonder. I was like a sad, depressed, like I was carrying around like my parents baggage and the cloud of this secret. It does a number to someone over time.

[00:24:44] Erika: So I was really eager to, in many ways, like just kind of cut them out,

[00:24:48] Alexis: So you cut them off. You said, I’m going to take time to work through this on my own. What are your next steps? Like, what do you do to start processing all of this?

[00:24:57] Erika: I think that if I were to summarize it in many respects, is that the ground underneath me feels incredibly firm. You know, the sea around me is stormy. There’s lots of chaos and stormy, but for the first time in my life, Alexis, I feel like I’m standing on solid ground.

[00:25:14] Erika: Here I am, I now know what the lie is, I now know how it maneuvered in my life, and I think back to all these little examples, and like, I just feel like all of a sudden the world makes sense now.

[00:25:27] Erika: It’s not fair, but it makes sense, right? And I’ll always rather truth than lying. Do I think that, like, my life would have been better Knowing that this other guy, like, I don’t think that other guy wanted me, which is totally fine. But I do think that truth really matters, right? And you can always grapple with the truth, even if it’s really, really hard.

[00:25:48] Erika: You can always make, like, the truth always is so much easier in so many respects. But the one thing is, I’ve had to really release part of my release from them is, like, a release of blame, I don’t have any interest in, in blaming anyone. I do have a lot of critiques for them when they knew how they handled it or what they did or didn’t do.

[00:26:10] Erika: Just been working through some of, some of those feelings I’m kind of hopping over the identity stuff, I don’t have an urge to blow up my, you know, biological father’s family, I did let them know, just because it was gonna get to them, and I’d rather that message come from me, but I don’t have any interest in, like, forming bonds there.

[00:26:29] Erika: And they were kind. They were kind, thank you for telling us, and I don’t think it was a surprise to them, but I, I don’t really, like, I’ve got a big, messy family. I don’t feel like it’s, like, I’ve already royally messed up a whole unit over here, and I don’t really feel like stepping into their unit and being the disruptor of theirs,, I don’t want to disrupt everyone’s lives.

[00:26:49] Alexis: I get It. Although I have to say I need to validate for you. You didn’t blow up your family

[00:26:55] Alexis: like that was their choice to keep the secret. You just uncovered it. So you said that you found an obituary. So your biological father is deceased.

[00:27:07] Erika: Mm hmm.

[00:27:08] Alexis: Have you been able to learn anything more about him and the family without necessarily wading into it?

[00:27:15] Alexis: Or are you not interested in learning more there?

[00:27:18] Erika: No, it’s a good question. I if you read the, the man’s obituary and you know who I am, it’s like, you know, the joke was always like, put me in the sea of my family and like, you know, that meme, it’s like, why is it spicy? Like I, like I was like, why is that one so spicy? But, you know, when I read it, uh, you can see.

[00:27:41] Erika: That I’m not glorifying this man because clearly he like, you know, I’m not glorifying him. I’m just talking straight up about the like, characteristics so I grew up I was I was a guide and outdoor guide. So I did extended canoe and kayak trips, for example, up until my mid 20s. You know, always really drawn to live being outdoors, always being with dogs, like always having these like, I just had these threads inside of me, and I read this man’s obituary, and it’s like, all me.

[00:28:06] Erika: Like, the whole thing was like, loves to go on canoe and kayak trips, does this, canoed all over the world never went anywhere without a dog strong principles, like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I was like, that, you just took, take out this man’s name and insert mine, and it would have been the exact same obituary, right?

[00:28:21] Erika: It would have been the exact same obituary. And so, I sit back and think, I have a beef. I feel a sense, where my anger lies is, when you remove someone’s, I mean, I know also I’m white here, but like, so I’m not super colonial, but when you remove someone’s culture from them, and then they reconnect with that, like, when I look at the Irish culture, which I’ve always had some sense of because of my mom, but I’m like, no shit, I’m 100 percent Irish, And I look back at the history of that culture of you know, the revolutionary roots of Ireland, the, the personalities the grit, like it, I, I identify so strongly with that culture that I do have a sense of remorse that that was, I wasn’t allowed to have it.

[00:29:07] Erika: I wasn’t allowed to be included in it. I was excluded from a culture, right? That I really feel like if I had a chance to embrace as a child, man, would I have, like, not felt so, like, is there something wrong with me? How come I’m like this? Like, where do I fit in here? Like, I definitely had some sort of, like, emotional Irish DNA.

[00:29:30] Erika: It was there, you know? And it just,

[00:29:33] Erika: When you remove that from someone, and you don’t let people experience who they are to their full context, like, that is like a, a grief that’s really hard to, that’s what I’m having a hard time getting over, right? That’s what I’m, that’s what I’m having a hard time getting over, that just feels so terribly unfair, and I know this might sound extreme, so bear with me as I say this, but I’m like a deep thinker. But I’m like, how is this not kidnapping? Like, how is this not criminal? I don’t know if you’ve had that thought, but it’s like, how, like, it’s like someone took me, hid my life from me, removed me from my reality, raised me under the guise of something entirely, like, how is that not the same?

[00:30:17] Erika: As like

[00:30:18] Alexis: yeah,

[00:30:18] Erika: taking a child And kidnapping them. Like, I know

[00:30:22] Alexis: I’ve totally, no, it doesn’t sound extreme.

[00:30:26] Erika: Part that burns me too is that like my father is a physician, I say father like when I speak of my father, it’s my father and I’m like, you had all these tools at your disposal to find out, like all these people who told you, hey, that’s, you know, that’s probably John’s kid.

[00:30:38] Erika: my Dad doesn’t like ruffling feathers, and we were quite close there’s stories of my mom, like, you know, attachment theory there’s stories of my mom not being attached to me as an infant, and my father always said, well, ever since you were born, you were attached to me, and the world has told me that my mom was detached from me, right, as an infant.

[00:31:02] Erika: So I’ve always had a good, strong bond with him, I can see, like, there’s love there, right? Like, there’s love.

[00:31:07] Alexis: yeah,

[00:31:08] Erika: We were always very, like, we were close in that regard. But, my mom, I just You know, I just constantly think, what was going on in her brain at that time, like, what, what weight is she carrying, what self worth and what, who told her, I don’t know, I’ve got some empathy for her, too, because there’s got to have been something going on, even though I don’t really appreciate how she acted on all these things, but again,

[00:31:30] Alexis: Are you the youngest child between, well, so to speak, were you the youngest child between your dad and your mom before they got divorced? You said you were young when they, when they divorced, right?

[00:31:44] Erika: yes, so I have two older siblings and, sadly, one of the sad outcomes of a traumatic childhood is sometimes family, like, siblings break, we don’t spend a lot of time together because I think we weren’t able to rationalize a lot of the things that happened, but I do, there’s an older sister, older brother, me, and then my mom had another relationship after that, had my younger brother Colin, and then remarried, And my dad had married someone much younger, polar opposite of my mother.

[00:32:13] Erika: My mom’s pretty, like, you know, free spirited Very fun, very outgoing and he married someone, the polar opposite of her, very loyal, very, much younger than him, very Catholic, very like happy to participate in the gender roles, you know, never wants to work, like, she loves that structure, and so that’s how things have played out, so there’s three more kids happened, and they were like blonde and beautiful, And prized. I have a really strong memory of going over to their house, which always felt like you were a guest. Going over to their house, and it was really early on at school. So you know how you measure your kids every single year?

[00:32:53] Erika: So they were measuring my three younger siblings for the beginning of school. So it was the first day of school, let’s line them up and we’re going to mark the mark on the wall. And so everyone lined up, and I go to line up, and my stepmother goes, Oh, this is only for this Anderson family. only going to measure this Anderson family.

[00:33:10] Erika: And so, I have to sit back and watch, , my younger siblings get, like, their milestones marked. Look at the message that it sends. Like, if we measure you, you’re going to dirty up this wall we don’t want to even add your name to there.

[00:33:23] Erika: So that’s how strong bloodlines were. Like, that’s how strong they, they dominated my whole childhood, right?

[00:33:31] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. Have you learned anything about, your mother’s affair, did that contribute to the divorce or did they just divorce for other reasons?

[00:33:44] Erika: I think they had a hard go at the beginning of their marriage. They married young. I think they’re compatible. You know, really early on, they got in a really huge car accident. rendered my older sibling disabled, it was a tough go. I just think they had a tough go and never really knowing my parents emotional maturity and coping skills and willingness to go through some of those issues together.

[00:34:08] Erika: I just don’t think they put in the time to fix it and he became a busy physician and she became like this busy mom, which I don’t really think is her thing. Like, she’s just not her thing. And, life comes at you fast. You’re sold a lot, a bill of goods as a woman. And especially back in the day, like, here, if you get married and you do these things, you’re going to be happy.

[00:34:27] Erika: And I just don’t think that was the case for my mom. I think that she did the things, followed the rules, and really quickly realized, ah, shit, this is like, This is a farce.

[00:34:37] Alexis: Yeah,

[00:34:38] Erika: a farce. And so they had a, they had a troubled go. So she had this relationship with this man. I think she had multiple lovers from my understanding and they divorced.

[00:34:49] Erika: And then he went on to marry and my mom kind of got partially punished. For the rest of her life because of those choices and everything from the level of child support to like social scrutiny. We lived in abject kind of poverty, while my dad, they had a lot of money, like a lot of money.

[00:35:10] Erika: So going through those two worlds was really stark and it’s not hard to zoom out and look at that. From a lens of patriarchy and punishment, right? So where that fits into my DNA story is that it, it just illustrates a larger point of how how hard we are in these rigid structures and systems that we impose on people.

[00:35:27] Erika: And I just don’t know if they’re actually how people are supposed to be.

[00:35:31] Alexis: I want to talk more about that because you mentioned that you don’t necessarily feel like you fit into some DNA surprise spaces because of your view on the patriarchy and how women are treated in our society. Can you talk more about that? Because I think that’s really interesting and frankly, I agree with you.

[00:35:50] Alexis: So I’m curious to hear more of your thoughts.

[00:35:52] Erika: Mm hmm. By no means am I excusing anything, right? I’m not excusing anything. And I, sometimes I wish my mother, if she ever does hear this, understands that I have, like, I have no intent on causing anyone harm or pointing a finger for, like, experiencing the spectrum of life, right? I just think that we’ve put people into these boxes, Really early on, and they’re quite rigid, and from everything from gender, to, to sex, to sexuality, and we’ve just created this system, and if someone steps outside of it, we’re just so fast to whack them, right?

[00:36:24] Erika: Like, we’re so fast to blame, and I just don’t know if that’s human nature, I think human nature is to be kind, but I just don’t know if these rigid structures and boxes that we put people in Are doing anyone a service. I think they’re doing a great disservice to humanity. And I think it’s, they’re quite unkind.

[00:36:41] Erika: So what I often see and I look into some DNA, like I went immediately to some of those DNA groups and like, you can see it. Once you start seeing the thread, you can kind of look back and zoom in, zoom out on it. There is an incredible amount of misogyny in those, in those spaces of blaming the mother and glorifying the father who didn’t know or, was cheated on.

[00:37:04] Erika: Instead of examining, like, man, what was it like to be a woman in 1978, 79, 1980? What was that like? And especially you add the layer of, what was it like for a racialized woman What was it like for a queer woman? What was it like? What are the layers, right? And yes, from the grander scope of things, you know, my mom was white.

[00:37:23] Erika: Married someone who had some money. So there was definitely some far greater advantages and privileges, But you can see it. You can just see the role of patriarchy in there. You can see the blaming. You can see um, people, and I cornered my mother. Like, like, imagine just for a moment?

[00:37:38] Erika: It doesn’t take much. Imagine being in an unhappy marriage. And you just, like, want just for a slice to feel some joy. Can I blame anyone for that? Absolutely not. Does that mean I’m like, everyone, free love. Everyone hurts your families. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that, you know, a little bit of humanity to look back, zoom out, look at structures, look at how we treat women, look at how we treat racialized women, look at how the expectations, the unbelievable expectations that we put on them, and can you blame them for stepping outside of the lines once in a while?

[00:38:11] Erika: Absolutely not. Because I’d do the exact same. I would,

[00:38:14] Erika: you know, and a little bit of grace there. Do I think my mom’s perfect? Obviously not. We don’t have a relationship today. But, you know, do I have some, you know, empathy for that time? I think it would have been a really challenging time. I just think that we are sold an interesting bill of goods as women and uh, we’re promised that, you know, do these things and life is going to be the exact, you should be happy and when it turns out to not be that way, you don’t really have a lot of options.

[00:38:42] Alexis: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

[00:38:44] Erika: So yeah, I can’t be in those spaces, I can’t be in the NP spaces, cause I, I, I can see it, it shoots out like a sore thumb.

[00:38:50] Alexis: Yeah, thank you for sharing that. Thank you. Because I think that that’s a conversation that isn’t really had. And I hope that we do start to have those conversations more as more people join this community. I think that compassion piece is just really important.

[00:39:06] Alexis: What, you know, we don’t have to agree with the choices that were made, but I think it’s important to, to look at it holistically and not just from that, yeah, patriarchal view of bad woman, basically. Yeah.

[00:39:19] Erika: You know, and my ultimate motto is, I try not to be hard on individuals, and it’s, I try to, like, be hard on the system. Don’t be hard on individuals. And that’s something that, you know, guides me in everything, the policy that I make and the things that I do.

 And the shame, right? The shame, we are sexual beings, women hold a lot of beauty and power in our sexuality, do I care who anyone had a relationship with and felt, a shred of maybe love and compassion and maybe passion with?

[00:39:47] Erika: No, I don’t. I don’t blame my mom for that at all. She doesn’t think that, but um, I don’t, but what I do have some sharp criticism of is not telling me the truth and hiding it and keeping that from me because of, again, the system of the patriarchy. Right?

[00:40:02] Alexis: What’s next for you in your journey? What do you see yourself doing to either connect more with your Irish heritage or just to, you know, take care of yourself as you navigate this?

[00:40:13] Erika: I explored looking at things like therapy, right? I need a therapist who like will go into the dark spots of structures with me and like Phil philosophical thinking because that’s where, that’s where the issue lies.

[00:40:27] Erika: But I haven’t been able to find that. But I would be interested in finding someone who can be able to deconstruct that a little bit more anything that I’ve ever experienced that is wholeheartedly crap, and I’ve been in the darkest spot, when I come out of it, like, I do so much good work. Like, when I come out of my darkness, which darkness to me is I exist in it, I’m 50 percent happy and 50 percent sad on any given day since the day I was born.

[00:40:51] Erika: You know, I’ve always been sad, and sadness has been a tool for me, and I know that’s not always the case for everyone, but my sadness has taught me a lot. I sit in it. I, I go, okay, let’s feel this. And I, it makes the world, people around me uncomfortable, but I feel my sadness.

[00:41:05] Erika: I really feel it. And so I’ve allowed myself to really feel sad. And so I can explore that. So I’m continuing to feel sad.

[00:41:16] Erika: And then. other things, you know, I’m exploring, figuring out how to maybe connect with some Irish heritage, I’ve kind of leaned on learning a lot more about Irish revolutionaries, the socialist Irish uh, and maybe going there just to not to connect with his family, but just to just put my feet on that ground, on that, on that earth, I think would be an important part of the next step, and other than that, it’s, really Uh, what this has done is it’s, really ignited a sense of urgency.

[00:41:44] Erika: My kids are getting older. they, as they age, time slips away so fast. And I remember when my first born was little, like, Older women would come up to me and be like, Oh, do you know, cherish this moment, and cherish this time, and I’d be like, Okay, thanks, lady. I haven’t slept in three days, and I’m exhausted.

[00:42:02] Erika: But now, you know, I’ve got a 16 year old, and, a 12 year old, and you could, like, I just feel this sense of urgency to spend time with them, and to put in even more good time with them. that has kind of, um, Just just shaped that. So I want to spend some more time with my kids. I want to put a little bit more time into ensuring that my partner and I have a strong foundation.

[00:42:24] Erika: And that’s, that’s the gift that this has brought me, I guess, is the space and the permission to, to really dive into those spaces.

[00:42:32] Alexis: That’s

[00:42:33] Erika: I keep fighting and keep fighting. Like I’m a fighter, right? Like a good fighter. So I’m going to keep like, putting my energy going home, having a good meal, filling up my belly, you know, spending time with my family, then going back out.

[00:42:44] Erika: Fighting the good fight for equality, for equity, going back out and making sure that we’re not, you know, sliding on a slippery fascist slope into hell. Like, I, I, you know, there’s like, I need to, I, I, it’s a balance, right? Go home, feel sad, get upset, eat a good sandwich, rally.

[00:43:01] Alexis: What advice do you have for a parent who is keeping a DNA surprise from their child?

[00:43:07] Erika: So I’ve had someone come up to me and say. You know, I’ve had lots of people, because I have a public platform, which I’m, for better or worse, I, I’m terribly authentic on it, and it either makes things, when you really connect well with people, or it gives people an opportunity to punch me in the face, but, for the most part, this DNA story, which I did share, has brought in some interesting questions, like, from the public, and a lot of people reaching out, being like, hey, you know, this happened to me too, or, what I did get, I have this, I’m hiding this from my daughter, and, my recommendation for anyone is that time doesn’t make it better, you know, as time goes on, people think, oh, you know, why is Erica so upset about this?

[00:43:49] Erika: Or, you know, enough time has gone, can’t simply go back 20, like, that was a long time ago, and I, I don’t know if I, you know, it’ll make their life better or worse if I blow up their world right now. I think people are underestimating how much that secret is dominating their lives now and how much that secret is actually living in between you and your child and you don’t think that they know, but they do know, and they know by the subliminal and covert actions, the tone of your voice, the way you love, the guilt and shame that you hold, they know, they know on a cellular level that something’s not right.

[00:44:27] Erika: And allowing them to know the truth sets people free. It makes the world around them make a lot more sense. And I guarantee you that if you navigate it with care and humility and some acceptance, that you can come out of it on the other side. And my parents are still kind of learning that lesson, I think. But there’s a, there’s an opportunity there that I think you’re, that some adults are missing. There’s an opportunity. And withholding that information from your child, you’re withholding an opportunity.

[00:44:57] Alexis: What advice.

[00:44:57] Alexis: Do you have for someone who just discovered that they’re an NPE?

[00:45:00] Erika: My advice for anyone who’s discovered that they’re an MPE would be to feel the feels. Like, if you’re feeling dark and you’re feeling sad, feel it. Obviously, if you’re feeling worse than that, then please get help. However, the darkness has a purpose, and that knowing the truth, again, the ground beneath your feet is firmer.

[00:45:25] Erika: And when the ground beneath your feet is firm, you can make informed decisions. You can see the path in front of you and so to not be afraid of that truth and to feel your feelings and not be afraid to take the time and space. And I hate to say cut people off because it seems to be such a thing these days.

[00:45:45] Erika: It’s like you don’t agree with someone, cut them off. But don’t be afraid to give yourself a lot of leeway and boundaries so that you can think your own thoughts for once and you can work through this whole process of understanding who you are without being distracted. That would be my recommendation, is to give yourself some space.

[00:46:03] Alexis: Erica, thank you so much for coming on to the podcast and sharing your story, your perspective on the systems that create these DNA surprises and the shame around them. I hope that you continue to process this and move through it


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