The one-year anniversary of Part One of our story airing on The Vanished Podcast just blew right past me. This episode, published on March 28, 2022, would kick off a chain of events that would land me back on American soil in September that same year, even though I’d promised myself not to return until 2024 at the earliest. I’m not in the habit of breaking promises to myself, but I figured reconnecting with the mother and sister I hadn’t seen in 25 years, especially since I’d presumed them dead for many of those, was worth it.
If you’ve been following me during this journey, you might be thinking something like, “Hey, you promised to keep us updated! If you visited your mom and sister last autumn, why are you just now letting us know?” To which I can only respond with feeble excuses like, “I’m an introvert,” “This isn’t my main job,” and “I was rendered absolutely speechless by the events of last year. I’m not sure whether I had some kind of trauma response, my throat chakra closed up, something else, or some combination of all of the above.”
Anyway, I am sorry for my extended absence from this platform, but not that sorry, because I think I needed it.
Despite what my last blog post says, I know I got the call on Saturday, April 30 because it’s on that day in my planner that a column of disjointed information is listed under the simple underlined phrase, “They found them.” These hastily scribbled bullet points include “mother arrested,” “parental kidnapping felony,” and “Bethany does not want to contact family.”
In the following days, I was overtaken by a desperate anger so palpable it seemed to grip me by the throat. I was angry that my mother was arrested for rescuing my sister while the very predator she rescued her from walked free. I was angry that I had basically been told to keep my mouth shut while congratulations and celebrations poured into my inboxes. I was angry that there seemed to be nothing I could do except sit and wait.
But as a therapist once told me when I was young, anger is a secondary emotion, and the underlying emotion is usually fear.
I was afraid that I was in over my head, and that my actions had led to seriously bad - like, jail time bad - ramifications for my mother. I was afraid that my mother and sister would hate me for at a minimum: disturbing, and at worst: destroying their lives. I was afraid that after all of my yearning and searching for a mother who loved me, I would find one who was indifferent, or even hostile towards me.
Most of those fears evaporated a few days later when I talked to my long-lost family members on the phone, but there were plenty of little fear particles left behind. These little bugs had months to worm their way through my Doubting Thomas brain, the fertile soil in which questions like these bloomed:
What if they were just being polite when they claimed to be happy to reunite with me?
What if I did all this work and came all this way just to find that they’re actually terrible people?
What if my mom is planning her second escape?
If I’m honest, it was this last question that really fueled my decision to jump at the offer to visit. Each call, each email exchange, felt like the last one on some level. I felt that with each day that trickled by, the chances grew that they would slip through my fingers and I’d never see them again. I realized that the answers to all of my doubting questions would be found in one source: them. So, actually two sources. Either way, I needed to meet them and get to know them.
Whatever dark and powerful force had propelled me to delve into the murky waters of my family history to find the truth of my past also propelled me to pack my bag and hop on a plane, dragging my husband and kid along for the ride, so I could find more truths.
This is what I found: My mother and sister genuinely seem happy to reunite with me. They’re both wonderful people with impeccable vibes. And my mom is not planning another escape. Actually, it seems to me that she never really wanted to disappear in the first place.
My visit was awkward at first, then mind-blowing, then fun, wonderful, and dreamlike - if at times slightly bizarre. I sat on my mom’s sofa and tried to let myself sink into the feeling of Being Home. But my thoughts were spinning in a whirl of sound and color that would later resolve, partly, into even more questions. Questions about my identity. Questions about what makes a person who they are. Questions about destiny, fate, and free choice. So far, no obvious source has surfaced as to where I can find the answers to these.
I published this website and started writing in this blog as a way to literally find my mom and sister. One whiplash-roller-coaster year later, it seems slightly ridiculous to be writing in this blog and paying for website hosting. But I think I’m going to leave this site up, at least for another year.
For one thing, I promised you updates and updates have been glacially slow / bordering on nonexistent. But also, I think there are more answers to be found and more to be learned from my situation. I think I might have found myself in some sort of naturally-occurring psychological experiment. And I happen to be the perfect combination of analytical and windbag that allows me to document and share my thoughts, feelings, and other experiences in a way that could be entertaining or even helpful.
I would love to get your opinion. Do you think I should keep posting and, if so, what do you think I should post? What insights could I share that might be helpful? What answers do you think I could seek, find, and share with you? What curiosities do you have about my situation? What angers you? What gives you hope? What touches your soul? I might later enable comments on this blog, but for now, please leave your responses on my latest Instagram post or just send me a message here.