Friday, December 21, 2007

Confessions of an Identity Thief

I actually wrote this a few days ago. It had started as a comment on Addie’s blog, but then took a life of it’s own. I began to create a blog post, but it freaked me out too badly to post it. So I didn’t for two reasons. First, I was getting a lot of traffic from a site I couldn’t see. Access denied messages piss me off and make me feel unsafe. Gee I wonder why. The second reason was my own reaction to the face I created.

Truth be told, it scared the bejesus out of me. I felt I had created something so horrible, something pornographic, that I was a terrible person for making it. My reaction to the picture was really disturbing, so I posted it at the one place where I feel entirely accepted, or as entirely accepted as I’ll allow myself to feel. And then I got a migraine.

I felt a tremendous relief the next morning. No one ran away shrieking in horror. I wasn’t banned for creating something vile. Angry villagers weren’t surrounding my home with torches and pitchforks. I had not only created, but also shared with other people my arch-nemesis – the Theresa whose life I stole.


This morning Addie wrote this

I think about this a lot. I have writings on this in some of my draft posts. They never make it to published status. I don’t know if this one will.

I went back and read her post a zillion times over.

OK more like 20, but still.

The ghost me knows just what she’s writing about. I think about the ghost me a lot. I spend a lot of time feeling sorry for her. Someone in my family has to. The only one who knows the ghost me exists hasn’t shown a great deal of compassion.

And I think about another ghost, the ghost of Theresa, the woman whose life I’m living. She scares me, because I’m sure she’d hate me. I’d resent anyone who was living my life. Theresa is the one of the 8 children my adoptive parents wanted but could not have. I took the place of the first-never-born.

My name is Theresa, and I am an identity thief. I stole the life of a wish named Theresa H. I didn’t do it on purpose; it’s a life of crime I was sold into. My accomplices are the Philadelphia Archdiocese, a former high profile lawyer-turned-judge, and the State of Pennsylvania.

I’ve had a lot of privileges, living Theresa’s life. Thing is though, I think I would have had a lot of privileges living my other ghost life too.

Being Theresa, I grew up in Bucks County. If I had lived my ghost life, I would have grown up in Philly. Personally I can’t rate one higher than the other. I had adoptive relatives in Philly. I kinda liked it there. It’s really a wash that way.

Being Theresa, I moved to Chicago in 7th grade. My ghost stayed in the City of Brotherly Love. Plusses and minus both ways again. I’d have to say the biggest plus to being Theresa was the fact that my adoptive parents were council contributors of the Field Museum, so I got to see King Tut for free anytime I wanted to. I also got to go to the front of the line. It used to be an hour wait to get into to see the Boy King. But then again, who’s to say my natural parents weren’t council contributors of the Philadelphia museum? Maybe I would have gotten the same perks there too.

Theresa got a horse but from what the newspaper archives tell me, there was a bit of the equestrian in dear old mom, so I think ghost me would have been a dressage girl too.

I’ve done a lot of fraud in Theresa’s name. I used her birth certificate to get a social security card, a driver’s license, an education, and to get married. I showed Theresa’s birth certificate as proof of my citizenship to get the job I have now. Twenty years from now, I’ll be using Theresa’s identity to collect her social security benefits. I really should be arrested. I can’t count the number of crimes I’ve committed with a falsified birth certificate.

I feel sorry for the Theresa whose life I’m living though. I wish she had had a chance to live. I think she would have liked the life I lived for her, and probably would have appreciated it much more than I had.

I wondered what she would look like.

So I took a picture of my adoptive parents, when they were young and dating, and I morphed them together. It was interesting to me that the morphed face was much more masculine, but I don’t know if it’s just because I was looking for my adoptive dad in it. In any event, I used that face transformer to turn it into a woman, and then make her into an adult. I felt weird doing this, like this was some secret I shouldn’t be looking into. Something hidden and forbidden and obscene almost, creating through web apps the face of the life I've led.

She’d be 8 years older than I am now. I know my adoptive parents wanted to have kids right away, like all of their siblings did. If they did, she’d be a December baby.

Come to think of it, when I start counting, I think today could have been her birthday.

I showed her to my cool husband when he came home from work.

"Do you think she's pretty?" I asked him.

"Who's that, is she related to your dad?" he wanted to know. Aha, so it wasn't just me.

"That's Theresa H.", I told him. He didn't get it. How could he? He's a real kid. I had to explain it to him.

"You're prettier than she is," he said.

I looked at her again.

He's such a liar. She's superior to me in every way. With her faint never-born smile, she's realer than I could ever be.

8 complaints from ingrates:

Sang-Shil December 21, 2007 at 9:34 AM  

Oh Theresa, reading this made me so sad... I never thought of things that way, as if I were living the life of the first-born child my parents never had.

Thank you for sharing this.

Addie Pray December 21, 2007 at 10:44 AM  

I'm so glad you wrote this. Thank you.

I pooh-poohed ghost stories in my post, but your ghost story is much better than mine.
But Theresa, she's is a ghost, you are the real one. You've lived, you've bled, and most of all you've done all the work. No spirit can stand in the background and take who you really are away, you came into the world with that.

Anonymous,  December 21, 2007 at 10:15 PM  

I can see why you were frightened, because the idea of being a ghost is rather frightening to me, but says so much about how I feel.

You need to hang onto this...this is what I call cathartic. And catharsis for adoptees is scary.

I dont come near as close to making the point as you do in your writing.


Andie D. December 23, 2007 at 12:31 AM  

My ghost child was born two years after I was adopted. The "miracle" girl they'd always wanted. I then became the understudy. I've seen her, I've lived with her, I've been jealous of and loved and hated her.

Unknown December 26, 2007 at 6:54 PM  

Oh I know the Joy-girl, sigh, I know this one well.

Chris December 29, 2007 at 2:41 PM  

hey there....powerful writing...evocative....thank even prompted my very first blog post...from where i stand, your ability to beautifully contextualize this thread of 'realness' vs. 'ghostness' that haunts us all makes you real....i, too, see you, loud and clear...and seeing you helps me see me...thanks again

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