Jill’s DNA Surprise

Something that I’ve heard more than once on this podcast is a situation that goes something like this: people are having an argument. A mother and child. A husband and wife. Both parents with their child, or some other combination. And then, in the heat of the moment, someone reveals the truth. So and so isn’t your real dad anyway. 

And then, just as quickly as it was blurted out, it is taken back. Dismissed. Forgotten about or explained away for years, until decades later, a DNA test brings the truth to light. 

In this week’s episode, Jill shares her version of this story. Her story is ultimately one of resilience. From childhood abuse to cancer diagnoses to her NPE, she discusses the truth as she knows it, and how she emerged from her challenges with the goal to inspire others to persevere in the face of adversity.

Thank you, Jill, for sharing your story.

You can learn about Jill’s memoirs and more at www.justbeingjill.com.

Join the DNA Surprises Patreon community! Listen to episodes one week early, gain access to exclusive content, use merch discounts, and more.

Episode Transcript

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

[00:00:00] Jill: even when I work with my therapist and she’s like, what do you want, Jill? What’s the end goal? What do you what do you really want?

[00:00:05] Jill: And what I really want is just for 1 adult in my life to sit down and tell me the true story. I’m tired of, having to come up with all of these, Fantasies in my head. I don’t I don’t want these fantasies and these unanswered questions. There are still people alive who can answer my questions, and

[00:00:22] Jill: Hello there. My name is Jill Krzanovich. I am 48 years old, and I am from Dunkirk, New York, which is just south of Buffalo.

[00:00:37] Jill: Well, I wanna start off by saying, just like everybody else, thank you for letting me be here and telling my story. Like all NPEs out there, I’m grateful for all of these platforms.

[00:00:48] Jill: And I have binged pretty much every episode out there. And I will admit there was a part of me that was trying to discount my story a little bit because I am an NPE who had a little bit of an inkling. And so I was trying to discount my story that it really isn’t a true DNA surprise, but I do wanna assure you that When I found my truth, through ancestry my ancestry test, it was every bit as shocking and pivotal and crazy as all of the experiences that I’ve listened to. And a theme that I heard in many of the, podcast interviewees is that there was something inside of them that always knew. And so I could relate to That and I realized this is where my story is similar.

[00:01:32] Jill: And I would love to start with a story of I grew up in a typical house with a pretty normal family, But that would be a lie too, so I’m not going to start my story

[00:01:42] Jill: like that. The truth of the matter is I was raised in An extremely dysfunctional and toxic family. My mother and father, uh, led pretty crazy wild Party lives back in the, mid seventies, and they were very, very big alcoholics. My mother, was extremely promiscuous. My father knew this. She was void most of the time. So as a little girl, We spent most of the time in our house with either a babysitter or my father when he was home from work. And when he was home from work, He was always drinking. Um, I remember him to be a very gentle drunk, but there was a big incident when I was just about turning 4 years old, where he did go into a drunken rage for the first time that I had ever seen. And I, unfortunately, was on the tail end of that drunken rage, and my father had thrown me at the ceiling. And, uh, I fell down You know, to the ground, and both of the bones in my leg were broken.

[00:02:47] Alexis: Wow.

[00:02:48] Jill: My mother came home and basically beat the crap out of My father and, you know, what are we gonna do? What are we gonna tell the the emergency room?

[00:02:55] Jill: And we then rehearsed this whole story about how I was going to lie, that I was jumping on the bed and fell off and and it went just like that, and we never spoke of it again. But I will say in hindsight that that is the moment that I disconnected from my father, um, in any form of father daughter relationship we may have had to that point. The craziness ensued and continued in my house, though it wasn’t physical toward me. My parents got divorced a short time later when I was just about 6 years old. And I wish I could say that my life took a turn for the better here, but, actually, things got way, way worse. My mother immediately remarried to a man, who happened to be the man that she was having an affair, on my father with already, And he was a complete monster. There was a lot of domestic violence in our house. And by that, I mean, daily occurrences of him just beating the crap out of my mother to a bludgeon. And we 3 children, had front row seats for that. I should mention I had a older brother, 2 years older than me and a younger brother, about 3 and a half years younger than me. Uh, This continued for several years. You know, cops at our house on an almost daily basis because the the neighbors would call and CPS visits with us getting pulled out, um, in the class of the classroom to be interviewed. And back then, police just didn’t dabble in domestic disputes like they do today. We were we were just left to live that life, and it was several years of sheer hell.

[00:04:30] Alexis: Did you still see your father during that time?

[00:04:33] Jill: We did. My we had Saturday visits with my father, and they were, difficult because my father also immediately remarried to a woman who had 4 children of her own. So It was almost like he left our life and assumed a new 1. And when we went there, because of this dysfunction we had at home, we already felt like outsiders. The visit would go quickly. He was 1 of the people that was calling the police on my mother and her husband. You know, he did make attempts to get us out of the household at that point. But I wouldn’t say I I don’t I don’t know that I could say that us kids going to his house would have been any better. Yes.

[00:05:11] Jill: There wasn’t, um, violence going on there, but he was still, you know, very heavy into drinking, and I just wasn’t comfortable being around him. But, yeah, we did visit with him on Saturdays. And then when I was about 11 years old, this is where my NPE story Actually begins. So when I was about 11 years old, my mother and I got into a real heated argument, And I was lashing out at her about, her subjecting us to this life, and I can’t stand living like this anymore. And I’m gonna go live with my dad. And her words back to me were, go ahead. He’s probably not even your dad anyway. And then she uttered the name of a man who potentially could be. Now I have to preface this with my mother was very mentally ill. I can give her that title now.

[00:06:00] Jill: Back then, I didn’t know it. I just thought she was crazy because she was on drugs and she was drinking. But she was a narcissist, and she had a very spiteful, hurtful tongue, and she would lash things out at my brother’s or my father or anybody at any given day. So when she said this, I really didn’t take it for gold. And the reason I didn’t take it for gold is because my little brother, the 1 that is 3 and a half years younger than me, is an NPE, And it was public knowledge. Uh, He knew his story from when he was very little. We knew that my dad was pretending to be his dad. And as a matter of fact, when I advance in the story here, my older brother and I leave the house, but my little brother doesn’t Because it’s public knowledge that he doesn’t belong to my dad. So when she says this to me, I don’t really take it to her. I’m just thinking, okay, lady.

[00:06:48] Jill: I’m sure that’s the case. But I did in fact ask her about it the next day, and she denied that she had that conversation with me. She said that she had never said those things, And it literally was tucked away and never spoken out again,

[00:07:03] Alexis: Wow.

[00:07:03] Jill: It made me come to the conclusion that There must be no truth to it because she told my brother his story at such a young age when he couldn’t even understand it. And if it was public knowledge for him, If mine was public knowledge or the truth, there would be some more meat to the story, if you will. So as I said, My older brother and I soon leave the house.

[00:07:23] Jill: We literally came home from school a short time later, uh, to our bags packed on her front steps, And she told us that her new husband was tired of us and that he said it was us or him, and she was choosing him. And my older brother and I were now shipped off to live at my dad’s house. Now as I mentioned, we didn’t really have a great relationship with my dad. So I was there for a very short time before going to live with his mother, my grandmother, who Thank God was a constant in our life and was just an heaven sent angel. Uh, We had really decent grandparents on both sides of the family. Neither were very successful in getting us out of the household even though I know it was their wish and dream to not have us there as well. I mean, for whatever reason, it we just we’re stuck there. But so when I was about 13 years old, I moved in with my dad’s mom, and I legally emancipated myself from my mom and my father. I, had had it. I didn’t wanna be with that toxicity, and my grandmother was in full support. My parents also signed up very easily. Um, at the Time, I guess, I didn’t realize why my dad was so eager to sign the papers. I became a ward of the court. And, basically, the government started taking care of me when I was 13 years old, and I would, like, essentially pay my grandma rent money to care for me.

[00:08:51] Jill: And they gave her, Government helped to help feed me and stuff until I went off to college when I was 18. So I I do have to say That our my relationship with my mom and dad was not severed, but it was very estranged off and on. Like, I would talk to them for a couple years, and then I wouldn’t talk to them for a couple years. When I graduated from college, I had, no, uh, connection with them and but several years later, I did. So so even though I emancipated myself from them, and tried to distance myself from that Toxicity as much as I could. I definitely had on off relationships. And it did help that Years later, uh, my father did, give up drinking, and he’s been sober now for, like, 30 years. Now I can’t say the same for my mother. My mother just continued on her, downhill A spiral introductory of drinking, and and her life has just always been a a real hot mess. But in these years of estrangement from them, I really never gave too much thought about The fact that, I could potentially be somebody else’s to the point that, I had very light eyes. My father who raised me had light eyes.

[00:10:03] Jill: I ended up getting diagnosed with a very rare head and neck cancer. Well, his mom, the grandma I live with, Didn’t have the same 1, but she also had a head and neck cancer. You know? And in the back of my head, I was building this case for if if there ever was an itch inkling in me. I was building a case for, okay, my mother must have lied that day because there’s just things here that prove he must be my dad.

[00:10:28] Jill: Another icing on the cake was um, my youngest daughter. She could read sheet music from a real early age and play multiple instruments. And My father who raised me or had a part in raising me, we should say, he was very musically talented and also, could read sheet music and stuff. So I spent, the next couple decades building this case that, you know, they’re they’re not much there must not be much to that and that he’s my father, and that’s The end of it.

[00:10:55] Alexis: You didn’t have the, you know, feeling so different. You know, I look so different. My dad had brown eyes, and I had blue eyes, and it didn’t make sense. And and the cancer piece is very interesting because we hear so much about the medical component, you know, when people are confused or they have their DNA Surprises, but then you had that kind of reflected right back to you. You’re able to make that connection and, yeah, build your case like you were saying.

[00:11:22] Jill: Yeah. It’s so crazy. Now mind you, uh, I was diagnosed with Cancer in 2013. And as I mentioned, it was this really rare form of head and neck cancer to the point that I did have to have an Extra extensive health history done because they were trying to figure out what was going on. Now mind you, neither my my mother and father were actually both semi present in my life at that time, and neither were like, hey. We might wanna talk here. And I myself Did not even for a second go back to, oh my god. Maybe, just maybe, somebody else’s medical history belongs here. I gave the the cancer hospital my information without skipping a single beat.

[00:12:05] Jill: You know? Like, it is what it is. And, You know, in hindsight, I guess I do question like, wow. How did they both sit there, and act like nothing when that could have potentially been something very, very important at the time of my diagnosis. But that’s neither here nor there, I guess.

[00:12:24] Jill: I continue on, and I have to say, I think everything changed 20 20. You know, 20 20, the big year that we’re all gonna remember for various reasons. But for me, it was actually Slightly prior to the pandemic. So I had mentioned that both of my parents were alcoholics. And in 20 20, My mother actually drank herself to death and died of liver cirrhosis at the very young age of 67. I had not spoken with her for 4 years’ time, and she lives 1 mile down the road from me. So it was very difficult to uphold that boundary being that we’re in the same small town. And her sister had drank herself Few years prior to her to death, liver cirrhosis as well at the age of 62. So come 20 20 um, actually, it was just before 20 20 hit. I had decided it was time for myself to stop drinking.

[00:13:19] Jill: Now I was more of a social drinker, but it did start escalating. And I was thinking a lot about the patterns of my father who eventually became abusive and my mother who just died from it. I was 1 of those people who, I could drink a a bottle of wine in 1 evening and be giggly entertainment, and it started to become More and more often, my daughters were, young adults in their late teens, and I just thought I need to be setting a better example. So in 20 20, I embarked on my own sobriety journey, and that was the absolute beginning to all of the healing that needed to take place. I did not realize what I was suppressing. I did not realize what I was shoving down and not facing. And when my mother died, it was the green light to finally know my truth. I felt almost as if she were itching me from the other side saying it’s time because had I made my discovery when she was still alive, things would have been nasty and messy because that’s the type of person she was. She would have made it all about her. She would have attacked people.

[00:14:25] Jill: It would not have been her fault, and it would have just been very ugly. So I do believe in the divine timing of things. So shortly after, started that sobriety journey, I decided it was time to know my truth for sure. So I have to preface this with, I had no idea about Ancestry dot com other than literally the commercials you see on TV or in your Facebook Like, I knew it was a test. That’s about it.

[00:14:51] Jill: I had never gone to the website. I had never looked at a tree. I knew nothing, But I had decided that I was going to do it. So I called up my older brother, and I just said, hey. Will you do an Ancestry dot com test with me?

[00:15:04] Jill: I just wanna see. I’m just dying to know if we’re full siblings or half siblings because there was no doubt that he was my dad’s son. They looked exactly like each other. Again, they had the The musical thing in common. They were just 2 peas in a pod. agreed, so I ordered the 2 kits. In my mind’s eye, I just thought that we were gonna get this report that said, like, oh, you’re a hundred percent brother and sister. Oh, you’re half brother and sister. I never in a gazillion years thought about all the other things that could come with it. So we do the test.

[00:15:35] Jill: We mail it in about a week apart from each other. So, 1 on in August of 21, I’m sitting home. It’s the evening. I’m by myself. I get the ding on my email.

[00:15:45] Jill: I I have my laptop on my app. I’m aimlessly scrolling, and it says your ancestry results are ready. And I really initially didn’t even get excited because I knew my brother’s results were not going to be in at the same that his would be a little delayed. So I was kind of like, what the hell are they gonna tell me at this point? But then I remembered that, you know, you get your heritage stuff.

[00:16:05] Jill: So I’m like, okay. I’m gonna click on the email. And I get to the site, and as you know from seeing it, you know, there’s all kinds of tabs up There, I didn’t even really know where to go, but I saw, like, your heritage or whatever. So I click it, and I see my little pie. And my pie basically says that I am, Uh, mostly Irish and Polish, and and that was not news to me.

[00:16:26] Jill: I knew that I was mostly those things or of those things. But I did Kinda find it funny that there wasn’t anything specifically German listed there because my dad had always prided himself on being very German. He knew a lot about his own family’s history from Germany. And so that part did kind of raise a a tad bit of a red flag. But I didn’t think too much about it because I thought, well, Germany, Poland, they’re pretty close.

[00:16:51] Jill: Who knows, you know, who knows where his ancestors are really from? He could have been misinformed. And then I saw the tab that said your DNA matches. And, again, all the way up into this point, I’m thinking my brother is gonna be the only person who’s going to be in this archive. I wasn’t even thinking.

[00:17:10] Jill: And in that moment, I said to myself, Duh. Of course, other people have taken this test or from your your family. You know? So I click, and there populates my list. So in you know, things change with ancestry dot com all the time.

[00:17:27] Jill: But in 20 21, the list already populated according to who had the highest percentage of matches. I look at the list, and the very first batch is my Mom’s sister’s daughter, so first cousin. And then under that, I have some more first cousins and other people, and All of the names that are populating are matched to the name of the man that she dropped when I was 11 years old.

[00:17:52] Alexis: What are you thinking? What are you thinking when you

[00:17:55] Jill: oh my god. So I didn’t tell you, uh, the real icing on the cake here, which is The man’s name that she dropped was, uh, 1 of my father’s best friends from back in 19 70. Not only was it 1 of my father’s best friends, it was my my father’s best friend who had been raised as his neighbor his whole life. These people, the neighbors, still lived exactly next door to my grandmother who raised me. So what this means is my grandpa and grandma who I grew up with, my real grandpa and grandma We’re right next door the whole entire time. So, immediately, I have this yin and yang feeling. You know?

[00:18:41] Jill: I’m feeling validated. Like, holy shit. I I think I knew this all along, and I’m having all these flashes too. All these little clues that were there, and then I have this feeling of disgust like, oh my god. Who the hell knew this?

[00:18:55] Jill: Did my father who raised me know this? Did his mother, my sweet, sweet grandmother who raised me and who I loved and Who laid on her bed and told me all of these stories about her people and her upbringing. Did she know that she was laying there with a little girl who didn’t even belong to this family. And just like everybody else, I had the body tingling. I had the out of body experience.

[00:19:17] Jill: I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk. I barely texted my husband and said, get the f home. My ancestry results just came in, and I swear it felt like a nanosecond before he was through the door. Like, He just knew I I need to get there fast. It’s so crazy because it was such a feeling of validation, But it was also just such a feeling of lie and deceit and disgust. I’m currently writing about it, Um, now and and I liken it to, you know, I couldn’t tell if my world was being turned right side up or upside down. And I’m 2 years out, and I’m still dealing with those types of emotions on an almost daily basis. I reach out to my brother. I’m like, okay.

[00:20:01] Jill: Well, I guess we don’t even have to wait for your results to begin because I just got my answer. You know, dad is not my dad. She was telling me the truth, and here here’s the irony. This woman who I had a horrible relationship with my whole entire life, Uh, was ultimately the only 1 who ever actually told me the truth. And had she not said that in haste that day and given me a name that day, I may never know what my truth was.

[00:20:27] Jill: I may have never figured it out or had this inkling to take this test. In 20 20, at that same time that I began my sobriety journey, I started writing, in 20 22, February of 20 22, I published a memoir self published a memoir called when the apple falls far from the tree. And I basically wrote a story about how, you know, you can be raised in adversity and still choose to come out on the other side. It’s all about self love and self loyalty and and understanding. We do not have to be like the families we are raised in, and I wanted to help other people who might be living in those situations understand that the choice is ours. And I had no idea that upon publishing that book that I was literally starting the next chapter, which was going to be this This whole, uh, Ancestry discovery, the whole thing has been absolutely

[00:21:21] Jill: surreal.

[00:21:22] Alexis: What did your brother say When you told him, okay.

[00:21:26] Alexis: I don’t even need your results. I’ve got the truth. What was his reaction?

[00:21:30] Jill: Well, there is a chapter in my book called it’s go that’s when it gets published, it’s going to be called The Last to Know. And I will tell you that both of my brothers said to me, well, are you really that surprised? I thought you kind of always knew this might be the case. And I was like, Oh my god.

[00:21:48] Jill: I know I didn’t know this was gonna be the case. And then I basically said to them, yes. I’m not surprised in that Mom was promiscuous, and we already knew we had 1 brother that didn’t belong to my dad. But I really just thought because his story was So well known that if if I were the same, mine would have been too. And I said,

[00:22:07] Jill: I spent an entire lifetime building a case that dad was my dad, you know, and for this reason and this reason and this reason. While I shouldn’t be shocked, I’m still very shocked at it. You know? But they were, comforting, but also like, yeah. We’re we’re definitely not surprised

[00:22:22] Jill: about it.

[00:22:24] Jill: So as I found out, And and currently now, still to this day, I’m still estranged from my father that raised me. We don’t talk. He was not happy about me finding out the truth of The story with his best friend, and, um, he’s not happy that I’m writing yet another memoir detailing, uh, the story. Now mind you, I do write in a pen name.

[00:22:44] Jill: I do not do it for anonymity. I do it out of respect to the people involved in the story. But, obviously, anybody who’s close to our, you know, circle of family or friends knows who these key players are. But I just feel like when I look back on all of these things that have happened throughout my life, It’s just this I just have this knowing, this purposeful knowing that, you know, um, I’m meant to go first, and I need to share how I got through these things because, Uh, you know, I too have followed behind people like you who are 2, 3, 4 steps ahead of me in this game, and this is what gives us the tools to navigate and go forward. And I just you know, I had a friend once say to me, Jill, you’re going to help so many more people than you’re going to hurt. And I was like, damn. She is

[00:23:32] Alexis: Oh,

[00:23:32] Jill: know, I’m gonna piss off maybe 1 or 2 people, but I’m gonna help a lot of people who are like, oh, I needed this. I needed this Or and and it was the permission slip to kind of go forward and and tell my story, and and I refuse to be a dirty little secret. I did have the privilege of sitting down with my biological father.

[00:23:51] Jill: He was willing to meet with me. I told him the story. He was not in denial. Um, you know, he claims that they were all pretty much crazy partiers back then, and I know that. He claims he didn’t know, but, like, his his parents were really close to me and good to me as my grandma’s neighbors back in the day, like, closer to me than they were to my siblings.

[00:24:13] Jill: And it’s like, Oh, part of me just feels like everybody even if they didn’t know for sure, I think all of the people at that time definitely I knew there was a chance, and they were covering their ground in case that could be the case because I I I strongly believe that my biological Grandparents knew the truth of me in hindsight, and, I’m gonna stick with that belief. I I don’t know that I will ever get the answers Because as I said, my biological father said he didn’t know and that my mother never told him, and I don’t know that I will ever have the chance to sit down with my raised father and hear the truth or his side of the story because there’s just so much shame in it for him that he’s not he’s never been comfortable talking about my mother or his

[00:24:55] Alexis: Yeah. Can you take me back to what led to the estrangement with your father. Were you already estranged when you went to him with this truth, or is the the surprise what kind of put you into this Place of distance.

[00:25:11] Jill: Well, I was estranged from him before I started writing the book. So I actually haven’t spoken to him since prior to COVID. So we’re actually coming up on 3, 4 years of not speaking. He knows of my discovery, but only through my brother telling him.

[00:25:29] Jill: Look. She knows she took a test. We have never spoken face to face about the whole thing. When, my book did hit and there were some, like, press releases at around town and I did some book signing around town and stuff, My younger brother, who is the only 1 that speaks to him, basically was telling me what his reactions were to things, and He was really upset. And my father actually said, who the hell does she think she is?

[00:25:53] Jill: Oprah Winfrey, you know, getting out there and talking like this. And I remember joking with my little brother, and I said, , oh god. He’s really mad. But then I thought, you know, shame on him for not thinking that I have the caliber to make a change and a difference like Oprah Winfrey because you shouldn’t have participated in this story if you didn’t want it to be, Uh, no. You know?

[00:26:14] Jill: And and that is not to say that, clearly, back in the seventies when My mother’s living this life feeding him lies, and he’s taking all of us kids under, you know, his wing and playing the role of father for Lack of being embarrassed that his wife is out sleeping around, I know he made that choice that day in good conscious. However, I feel like there has been so many opportunities, especially with him and I never having your typical, father daughter relationship where he could have just said, Jill, let me tell you what really happened, and and you do what you want with this truth. But, you know, here’s the truth my relationship with your mother and what might have been And I hope that maybe someday, my raised father and I can be adults and sit down at the table and say, you know, look. Maybe there is no moving forward from here for you and I because let’s face it, we just spent the last 3 decades fizzling out anything we had going for us.

[00:27:10] Jill: And, again, not that there was ever anything close Because ever since that abusive episode when I was a child, it was a very awkward and kind of forced relationship. But I do hope that maybe someday He will sit down with me. And I also have, the whole thing with my biological father is kind of a little bit of a mess too in that We are still in the same area. I know his 2 sons very well. I they know that they are my half brothers.

[00:27:36] Jill: 1 of them is in the circle of friends of my husband and I. And initially, they were super excited and, like, yeah. Let’s do this little sis. But because their father, our father, still hasn’t come to accept it or be able to speak it out loud, They’ve pulled back and are very reserved, because they’re obviously honoring their father’s wishes that he’s just not ready to acknowledge it. So 2 years’ time, there really has not been any forward movement, which is very disappointing.

[00:28:06] Jill: You know, my My daughters have Cousins that are here that they don’t even know, and I just I wanna end the generational, you know, cycles and patterns and lies that don’t serve anybody. And let’s just call a spade a spade. This was nearly 50 years ago. Let’s move forward. It’s my wish.

[00:28:23] Alexis: You kinda answered my next question, which was what connections have you been able to make with your biological father’s side? So you have 2 brothers there, but not particularly close now. You said that 1 of them Is in your social circle, so do you see him often and you just don’t talk about it, or what is that like?

[00:28:44] Jill: Well, it’s funny because We don’t not talk about it, but we don’t really talk about it. I mean, when he comes up to me in a crowd, he’d be like, hey, sis. And even his older brother who didn’t know me on a personal, level.

[00:28:56] Jill: He was very sweet when he first met me and was like, oh my god. I think about all these years we missed together. You could have, you know, been an aunt to my children and and it very, very touching. Everything initially had so much potential and so much hope. And then, like I said, it was just their their dad, withdrawing from what he originally said, which was his original statement to me was, Let me take this to my sons and see how they handle it.

[00:29:22] Jill: And if they’re okay with moving forward, then that’s what we’ll do. And then his sons were okay with moving forward, but he changed his mind. had to deal with the fact that so not only are my my brothers I had been raised with my whole life, they’re both half brothers. Now I just acquired 2 half brothers. I have no full siblings, and I often hear people talk about this on the podcast.

[00:29:42] Jill: Somebody who’s not going through it can’t understand how sad that feels. It just feels really sad That yeah. I’m I’m partially related to all of these people, but nobody is is a full sibling. I have 4 freaking siblings, and not 1 of them is my whole brother.

[00:29:59] Jill: So, um, My biological father’s sister was willing to speak to me when this all went down because her daughter was 1 of the ones that connected to me as a first cousin. So she was 1 of the first people I was, I’m texting back and forth with, uh, regarding the Ancestry Discovery, and she was very open and honest. And, you know, pretty much Everyone from that time frame does recall a possible, uh, affair going on, and it wasn’t like a hundred percent news to them, But they did not know that, I was was the child or at least that’s the story everybody is going with. Fast forward to 2 years now, and I told you there’s a little movement, but that same cousin and aunt are trying to work something out.

[00:30:42] Jill: There’s a family reunion coming up later in July, and I’m not gonna go to the family reunion, but they’re going to try to get some of my bio dad’s other siblings to sit down at the table and meet me and stuff because I guess they are all curious and more open to it. And, yes, they have been tiptoeing and taking it, cautiously because they don’t want to, you know, get their brother upset as well, but They seem to be ready to be a little more welcoming and get curious, so I’m I’m super excited about that. Cross your fingers,

[00:31:08] Alexis: Yeah.

[00:31:09] Alexis: Oh, I hope it goes well. What questions do you have going into that if it if it happens? I hope it will. I’m just gonna talk It is. When it happens, what

[00:31:18] Alexis: questions do you

[00:31:19] Jill: Yeah. I’m definitely going to be so bold as to say, did any of you have an inkling about this? Because I really do think there is more to what happened. I don’t think it was a 1 night stand. I think it was a short lived affair. I really am gonna be curious to ask them about my grandparents

[00:31:39] Jill: am I crazy in hindsight looking back and thinking that your parents were so so close to me? And, you know, I mean, I can remember them coming and giving me money and stuff, um, as a kid to, you know, go to the pizza parlor or the ice cream parlor. And, again, this wasn’t happening with the other kids that were hanging out at my grandma’s house, and there were other grandchildren there. So I I feel like I’m crazy, and these People may hold the key to helping me, you know, quench some of that. And and maybe they can and maybe they can’t, but I will be bold enough to ask questions and say, hey.

[00:32:10] Jill: Did any of you have an inkling? Do you think I’m crazy here, or do you think there’s a chance that maybe your parents might have known?

[00:32:16] Jill: And even crazier, my grandma and and those grandparents, they picked their cemetery plots together. So when I go to visit my grandparents, my biological grandparents are 10 feet away from their graves. So I’ve been going there, you know, for the past 2 years now and visiting both sites and just saying, please, all of you help me make sense. Why was I meant to know this now? What am I supposed to do with it?

[00:32:43] Alexis: Yeah.

[00:32:44] Jill: I feel I feel very, very much a longing to connect to them. And I don’t expect my biological Well, dad just step in and try to be the dad I never had. That’s not what I’m looking for at all.

[00:32:54] Jill: But for Pete’s sake, let’s be friends. Let’s know each other on some capacity. You’re the biological grandfather to my beautiful daughters. They should get to at least sit at a table and and meet you once in their life.

[00:33:06] Alexis: Was your biological father in your life As your parents’ friend as your dad’s best friend throughout your life, like, do you have memories of him?

[00:33:17] Jill: I do not. And that’s the interesting thing. And I point blank asked him about that because I do remember all of my aunts and uncles being in and out of my grandma’s house and very visible and present, but not him. And I basically kind of called him on the table about that. I said, listen. You were friends with my dad, And then you weren’t friends with my dad, which tells me something bigger happened than what we’re talking about. There’s, like, all of these Pictures of my dad together with him and stuff and then a point where it just stops right around when I was conceived. And his answer to that was, No. We didn’t really have, like, a blow up or a falling out. I just moved away.

[00:33:57] Jill: And by moved away, he leaves 30 miles down the road to a different town. And, You know, I just didn’t come back and hang out anymore after that. I grew up and got a big boy job, and the rest of them all kinda just started partying. So in hindsight, no. He was not around his parents’ house hardly at all because guess what?

[00:34:16] Jill: I was always there. You know, I lived there for a good chunk of my time. So I imagine if he had if he did in fact have any inkling, He wouldn’t want to be coming and hanging out in those parts if there was awkwardness. And, again, that’s just another 1 of those things that makes me think People knew more about this story than they’re letting on, and I hope all these years later, I can get some answers.

[00:34:38] Alexis: How does it feel to Look back and realize that you were kind of around your biological family all that time without knowing, because that’s Something that some NPEs, people in the DNA Surprise community can identify with. Right?

[00:34:56] Alexis: Whether it was a family friend or that kind of thing. And then Other people, myself included, no idea, had no connection. So what was it like for you now reflecting and going, oh, I I did know my Paternal grandparents. How does that feel?

[00:35:11] Jill: Yeah. It feels very cool. I’m very, very fortunate for it because regardless of what their family dynamic may or may not has been like, From my perception on the outside, they were a loving family. They were always together. They were always gathering for meals. My grandparents were awesome. My My biological grandmother died young, when I was, like, 8 years old, and then my grandpa that raised me died when I was 13. So my grandma that I lived with and my biological grandpa next door, they were like buddies. She would bake for him, and he would come over and fix her door if it fell off the hinges. I knew my biological grandpa probably the best out of all of them, and I feel extremely fortunate that even though I had, You know, I had never once looked at that man and thought, maybe that’s my grandpa, even even after my mother had planted that little tiny seed when I was 11 years old. But how damn lucky am I that when I go to his gravesite and I talk to my grandparents that I have that memory, and it’s a sweet memory, and I’m Super, super thankful to have it for

[00:36:16] Alexis: Yeah. What has helped you process and work through this discovery now that you know?

[00:36:24] Jill: Well, number 1 is all obviously, all of these podcast platforms. In any situation, even when I was, you know, surviving and thriving through cancer, The first thing you do is you go find groups of people who are in it in the trenches who understand it because there is nothing like Connecting to people who 150 percent get where you’re coming from. So, originally, the very first thing that happened was I I started finding these podcast communities And healing through listening to these stories and understanding that my feelings were, number 1, valid, and number 2, Still ongoing and processing and that it was going to be something I was never going to fully come to terms with, but but rather learn to live with every single day. And then for the first time in my entire life, about a year ago, I started formal therapy. And my therapist is trained in EMDR, and I have been doing some wonderful, wonderful, groundbreaking, moving therapy sessions To go back to that little Jill and help heal a lot of the trauma, that came in my life.

[00:37:32] Jill: I mean, obviously, the NPE thing is just 1 little piece of some truly horrific events that I have through in in life, but the therapy, has really helped me in forgiving The situations and forgiving my parents. You know, I had written my first memoir thinking that I was writing about the mother wound, And I had no idea that really I had a mother wound. I had a father wound. I had a sibling wound Because my brothers and I were never even allowed to be brothers and sisters. We were in survival mode our entire lives, not even standing how to be brothers and sisters. To be robbed of all of that, there was a lot of processing and healing that needs to be done. I’m still deep, deep, I definitely feel called to share this journey with others so that they can understand that, you know, healing is there. If you’re ready, healing is There for all of us for sure.

[00:38:36] Jill: spent a lifetime dealing with a mother who was Very mentally ill. And as a child, I was confused about that because she appeared to just be drunk or on drugs, and I didn’t realize what she was masking and covering up. If there’s anything I’ve learned through this whole uncovering and this processing is that secrets really do make us sick. And even with my own cancer journey, I wondered what kind of wake up call that was supposed to be for me. You know? And And it was a wake up All because my life ended up changing quite drastically after that journey was over. So I encourage everybody, To do the the hard work of digging deep and putting an end to the lies and and trauma and cycles that live within our Families because if we don’t actively choose to be the 1 to stop it, it just goes on to our children and the next generation, and it’s just not fair.

[00:39:31] Alexis: That’s so well said.

[00:39:33] Alexis: And I know that you are writing about your story now and perhaps by the time this podcast is released, your book will Actually, be out. So if anyone’s interested in your first book or your upcoming book, where can they find you?

[00:39:49] Jill: Well, thank you for letting me put that in here. So my first book, as I mentioned, was a memoir about Just a crazy you know, my cancer journey, my sobriety journey, my weight loss journey, my childhood trauma.

[00:40:00] Jill: It was just a memoir that Basically covered all facets of my life. And if anybody is just looking for general inspiration of how to get to the other side of, you know, terrible things, that’s a great read. And the book is called When the Apple Falls Far from the Tree, Discovering the Gifts Within the Chaos. And that is written in my pen name, which is Margo Riley. You can find that book, on Amazon, Or you can go to my web page, which is just being jill dot com.

[00:40:30] Jill: There’s a tab up there that says my book. You could even get First chapter free to see if it’s something you’re interested in. And, of course, go ahead and subscribe to that page if you go there because all the info about my upcoming memoir, which is going to be called When you shake the family tree, which is going to be all about my DNA discovery, I’ve been, uh, writing Raw right through the whole entire thing, this entire 2 years. So I I’m hoping it will be a a helpful compass, if you will, for others who are navigating these waters. Um, and that will also be published in my pen name and all of the information about when that’s released will be on my website too. So, again, that’s just being jill dot com, and the books are published under Margot Riley.

[00:41:12] Alexis: And I’ll be sure to link those in the show notes too for anyone that, wants to have a direct link.

[00:41:18] Alexis: What advice do you have for a parent Who is keeping a DNA surprise from their child.

[00:41:24] Jill: Have the conversation. I understand that it’s difficult to know when is the right time. Is it 16? Is it 18? Is it when your daughter is diagnosed with cancer? But I well, all I do know is that the conversation has to be had. Though you may be navigating hard waters, you will get through it. And I think you will get through it a lot easier than you will if the lie comes out in a different way, in a way that people are not prepared Or I think everybody deserves their truth, so have the hard conversation.

[00:41:57] Alexis: What advice do you have for someone who just uncovered a DNA surprise?

[00:42:02] Jill: Buckle up. buckle up

[00:42:04] Jill: Just go with your gut and and and have hope. It’s gonna be so many ups and downs, and, you know, you need support, Possibly a therapist. I’m glad to have mine there.

[00:42:15] Jill: Um, you need the supports of these podcasts and and the people who can nod along and understand, But it’s a ride worth taking. As messy as it is, I’m so glad for my truth. And I know that there are some people out there who may still be in in the spot where they’re not ready, and I respect that that we’re not the same people and our situations are different. But I will also go on record as Saying, um, I have no regrets, and I’m glad that I know who I am.

[00:42:42] Alexis: Jill, thank you so much For coming on the podcast and sharing your story. I just love hearing your perspective you are so Compassionate, I think, to everyone involved despite everything that you’ve been through, and it’s really admirable. So I wish you the And please keep us posted on your book and meeting your family.

[00:43:01] Jill: Thank you so much.


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