Artwork for podcast Family Twist
An NPE's Journey Toward Forgiveness and Art
Episode 436th June 2023 • Family Twist • Corey and Kendall Stulce
00:00:00 00:47:30

Share Episode

Shownotes

We're hearing more stories about families that have secrets that go to the grave, including Cory Goodrich's. Cory is an NPE (aka non parental event), discovered after the man she knew as her father died. "Do I belong? What's wrong with me?" were questions Cory asked herself as a child. Cory is the author of the book, "Folksong: A Ballad of Death, Discovery and DNA," about her family journey and how she began to heal through art and performance.

"Trust your children enough to handle the truth. There's great trauma from making this discovery at a later age. The best thing we can do is talk honestly, openly. If we have something to share that will help the next person, it's our obligation," Cory says about family secrets.

Cory has become a voice for the NPE community, as she learned that storytelling brings connection.

An NPE's Journey Toward Forgiveness and Art

Guest bio:

Born in Wilmington, Delaware and raised in Clarkston, Michigan, Cory Goodrich is a Jeff Award-winning actress for her roles as Mother in Drury Lane Oakbrook’s acclaimed production of "Ragtime," and as June Carter Cash in the Jeff nominated Johnny Cash revue, "Ring of Fire" at Mercury Theater Chicago. A Graduate of Michigan State University, she is also a singer/songwriter, producer, writer, and mother of two, children's composer with her two award winning CDs, Hush and Wiggly Toes, and three solo folk albums: W.O.M.A.N, Wildwood Flower, a collection of traditional and original folk songs featuring the autoharp, and her latest project, Long Way Around, produced by Ethan Deppe of The Quiet Regret. She is co-producer of six Season of Carols CDs (Season of Carols, Holiday Music to Benefit Season of Concern, which garnered over $200K for the charity.) and The Second City Divas, Live at Mercury Theater CD with Eugene Dizon. Her memoir, Folksong: A Ballad of Death, Discovery, and DNA is available on Amazon.

Guest links:

https://corygoodrich.com/gallery

https://www.instagram.com/corygoodrich/

Join the Family Twist family here!

Listen, Rate & Subscribe

Apple

Amazon

Google

Spotify

Transcripts

Cory Goodrich transcript

00:28 Corey: Our guest this episode of Family Twist is Cory Goodrich, author of “Folksong, a ballad of death, discovery, and DNA.” Cory is also a musician, actor, painter, and in her words, all around bad ass bitch. Welcome to family twist, Cory.

00:57 Cory: Got that off my Instagram, didn't you?

Corey: I did. I did.

Cory: Yes, yes, I definitely labeled myself a bad ass bitch.

Corey: I know Lizzo's got the copyright on 100%.

Cory: Yep. Wow. She can have it. She is the queen of the bad.

Corey: But if you want to copyright, I say, you know, strike while the iron is hot. All right, I'll get right on that after we get off this call. Perfect. Well, I don't know that we've had a triple threat on before.

01:27 Like a painter musician and actor. So that's exciting. It's an unusual combination. You know, Kendall and I have dabbled in the arts over the years. We're certainly supporters of it. I think we're better supporters than we are participants, but we certainly appreciate the arts. Yeah. Well, I do too. I mean, if it's my husband calls me the creative shark because you know how sharks can't stop swimming or they'll die. That's sort of me. I can't stop creating stuff or I think I will die, so.

01:58 Keep doing it. For the painting, the painting is part of the story too, which I will be happy to talk about that. But I've been an actress. Yes, because I was looking at your paintings today and the female figure paintings in particular were extremely striking and like, you know, it's like your eyes know what your eyes like, right? So I was immediately drawn to those. Just, you know, fantastic. I mean, I guess we could start there and we can always backtrack.

02:25 Can you talk a little bit about the paintings? Sure. Well, I mean, that it connects to my DNA discovery. When I made my DNA discovery that I had a different which, you know, I'm getting the car in front of the horse here, but that's okay. My biological father was a chemical engineer, but he was also sort of an amateur artist. And one of his principles that he taught his other children was that anybody can be an artist. You just need to put in the work and learn the role.

02:54 So after I made the discovery and I was really depressed and trying to figure out you know, I would never meet this man because he passed away. The year before, I thought, well, maybe I'll just paint just to see out of curiosity if I have any. Any of his talent or maybe I can connect with him spiritually or something and lo and behold, I found a talent. I had no idea I had. I've never picked up a paintbrush in my life until I made this discovery.

03:22 And in part, it was a little bit of art therapy in order to connect with him, like I said, and to work through some of my grief. But then it just kept going. And I fell in love with it. And now I paint any chance I get, and that's sort of my other career here now, too. So, and it is truly a gift I never would have discovered, had it not been for the traumatic DNA discovery. Right. I think that's awesome. And I think that's probably one of those things I've thought about, you know, when Kendall and I retire it would be fun to just be too old men sitting there painting.

03:54 And you know, he could have some talent that we're not aware of yet because his father, well, we found out his birth father that, you know, we met 5 years ago. Does paint, you know, are painted, you know, and had some really good talent, as well as his half sister on that side. You know, she's a very talented artist. So it's very good. That might be something that Kendall discovers at some point if he ever picks up. Yeah, you totally should. Because it's amazing how much actually comes through jeans, you know?

04:21 Well, it's interesting too that and Corey might have forgotten this, but with my adoptive mother, I did actually take painting lessons with her, and we both enjoyed it. She was much more talented than I was, but I was a very small child too. So, you know, maybe I just hadn't developed yet, but we loved oil painting.

04:46 And for me, my fondest memories of her have to do with that setting, you know, with being in the art studio with her friend who was the teacher and how serene it was. Just it was calming. You could shut out the world and it was very moving when I think about it. And of course, when you're a kid, you don't really know what you're experiencing.

05:15 But I remember becoming a teenager and thinking, wow, that was, a, because I had lost her. She died when I was ten. And, you know, thinking back about those special moments that she and I had that she didn't really share with anybody else but me you know. It's really beautiful. Yeah. It's meaningful too. I had a conversation with someone the other day about, you know, what makes good art and the magic that sort of happens. But I think the magic is the doing. That's what's beautiful about creating.

05:47 And the product, the end result is great, but you make magic when you're making something and to have shared that with your adaptive mother is a really bonding, beautiful thing. Yeah. Well, we're definitely going to link to your artwork and our show notes for the episode so people can take a look. But can you talk a little bit about the female figure paintings? There's stars in there. I'm getting a very ethereal cosmic vibes from them, but I'll let you, you know, talk about your heart, but that's what I was getting from it.

06:19 It's funny because people say that they're very whimsical and happy. And I did those during the pandemic because I had nothing else to do. And so I could take all the time and make the little dots and the little stars. And it was sort of actually a manifestation of my anxiety of the pandemic. But each of them kind of tells a story. There's one he loves me. He loves me not and picking that one she's picking the petals off of a Davies, but everything is bleak in front of her, but everything is really beautiful behind her if she would just turn around and look instead of focusing on, you know, whether he loves her or not.

06:54 So each of those sort of tells each of the women tells part of my story a little bit. Very, very cool. Well, now let's go back to the secret that you didn't know about. So can you talk a little bit about just what it was like growing up for you and with your parents and siblings? Sure. So I am the youngest child of Tom and Ernie. Goodrich. And they were divorced when I was 7.

07:23 And I remember there were a lot of fights and there were drinks being thrown across the room and I tried to run away a couple of times because it was just chaos in the house and I was 7 at the time. My parents divorced. We moved to Michigan with my stepfather, my mom married Jim. And I always knew that there was something there was some secrets she would never talk about why they got divorced. I mean, and this was years later, of course, I'm asking her when I'm a teenager and when I'm an adult and she would never talk about it.

07:56 One time she said to me, well, there are things you don't know about your father, Cory. But she didn't tell me what that was, you know? Right. I pushed her and pushed her and she would just get mad and so I finally, after I had my own first daughter, I just kind of let it go because I wanted to have a peaceful relationship with her and so I let it go. But in retrospect, there were certain things that I remembered. I remembered being in a hotel room with my mom and a strange man.

08:25 I remember the carpet. I remember the crib that I was in in the hotel room. I remember being rescued from a fountain I had fallen in and do a little fountain by somebody and she would tell that story and like it was familiar, but I didn't know who the person was. And one time when I was 16, I was in high school. We were looking for a picture for a, I think it was a name that baby contest in high school. And I came across a picture of a man holding a baby, and I turned the picture over, and it says, Cory, 9 and a half months.

08:56 I'm like, oh, well, who's this guy? And my mom said, well, he was a friend. I will never forget forgive Tom for what he did to him. What did he do? And she said, well, he was jealous and he made him made him be transferred down south with his job. And then he died and had a heart attack and died. And so I remembered that picture. After she died, I immediately went through her stuff you know.

09:27 And the guise of looking for things for her celebration of life. And but I was looking for that picture because I knew I knew. I remembered this from when I was 16 years old. Right before she died, she had open heart surgery. We were out driving to go shopping together. And I asked her one last time. One last time because I knew it was very likely. She was not going to make it through the surgery. I said, why did you and daddy get divorced? And she said, well, I had an affair. You knew that.

09:58 No, I didn't you know. But she said, yes, and his wife came to the house and she asked me not to take her husband and she was very well dressed and she was very poised. And I really respected that. And I'm sitting and driving the car going, oh, okay. What did you do? Did you leave him alone? She said, yes. And that was it. That was the end of the conversation. I didn't push it because I knew she was about to be in surgery and I didn't want to upset her.

10:25 But in retrospect, I had all the pieces. All the pieces to this puzzle, but my mind would not allow me to put them together. So when I went through her things, after she died, I found the picture and I held it up to my brother and sister and said, who is this guy? Do you know the story of this? Do you know she had an affair? And my poor brother just turned completely white and he said, yeah, his name is Don Garnett. And I said, well, what do you know about him? And he said, well, how much do you want to know?

10:57 And instantly, I'm like, he's my real father, isn't he? And he said, yeah, and they confirmed it. My sister knew my mother had told her when she was 11. So the secret was me. And I had no, I had an idea, but I didn't have an idea, you know? I used to joke sometimes that I, you know, that my dad really wasn't my dad. But then I felt really bad because I thought, why am I making this horrible joke? You know, I shouldn't be and then it turned out to actually be true.

11:27 So what is the age difference between you and your siblings? My oldest brother is 12 years older than my sister's 11 years and my next closest is 7 years older. Gotcha. Okay, so they would have been when you were born, you know, they would have been old enough to understand what the situation was. Yeah, and that's what the fights were about you know. They remembered all those fights, but so your parents stayed together for 7 years. Right. I don't know why. That's the thing.

11:55 Like, I can't really, because they're both gone and because my biological father has gone to, I can't get answers to any of these questions. So I've actually found out that it was true. I have a new brother. And he confirmed this that my father, Don, was transferred down south. To Texas. And that's where he met his next wife and who was the mother of my brother, Lee. So I guess what had happened is my father, my father knew about the affair, too.

12:25 So he knew that I was Don's kid, but he chose to keep that secret as well, and to raise me and I am eternally grateful for that. But he had him transferred to Texas, and I think the relationship ended then. So did Don have children before you? Oh, okay. Two children with his current wife, which is the woman who came to the house and asked my mother not to take her husband. I'm actually meeting Michael, who's the oldest brother next week.

12:54 He's coming here to Chicago. So I'm meeting him for the first time. Oh, wow. Awesome. Yeah. So I imagine for him and his sister, I imagine there's a lot of pain surrounding this because I'm the child of an affair that broke up their parents marriage you know. So I totally, I totally get that sort of hesitance to meet me as opposed to my younger brother who we instantly like, he came to Chicago to meet me and we've traveled. We went to Thailand and Spain and valley and Italy together.

13:27 We've just like we're fast Friends. He's my best buddy now. And but it was different for him because, you know, there wasn't as much pain in his parents marriage. Wow. So this all comes to light after your mother's gone. So you can't ask her any follow-up questions. And I imagine your brother and sister only know so much because they were kids at the time too. Right. Right.

13:50 So I get little bits and pieces and my aunt told me a little bit and my childhood best friend, who also knew, who was my age, like how the heck did you know it, you know, she found out when she was 7 when I moved away and kept that secret for all those years too. So I get a little pieces of it. A lot of it, as an actress, it's easy for me to sort of imagine and step in her shoes and kind of put the puzzle together. I'm not entirely sure I'm a 100% accurate, but I can make a pretty good guess of what happened.

14:21 And who are these people that can keep the secret? I mean, I just, I don't know. I mean, maybe that's just me and my family and most of my great friends like. Don't tell us if you don't want somebody to know. Yeah. It would get out quickly and Corey's family. Yeah. It's amazing that they did. I mean, I don't know if there was fear in there or not wanting also to upset my mom or I don't know. I don't know. How soon did you reflect thinking about like, was I treated differently by my dad, but did my brother and sister treat me differently?

t he did. He had just died in:

15:25 So at first it was that. But then, I mean, yeah, you start going back and saying, oh, wait. Is that why he did this? And I think I think that the woman my dad lived with after the divorce, I think she knew because she would say things like, you don't know how wonderful Tom is. She was quite a character, but you know a very dramatic, but you have no idea how wonderful he is.

15:50 And now I think, oh, she was saying that because she knew my friend that I grew up with really hated my mother and I could never understand why she hated her so much. Well, now, of course, now I know why because it all clicks in. And yeah, I thought that about my siblings if they I wondered if they thought differently. I thought about my dad and you can't help but kind of just reframe your entire life thinking.

16:22 Yeah. Hi, it's Kendall. I just wanted to pause here for a moment to ask a quick favor. If you're able to safely look at your phone, not while driving, we would love it if you will subscribe to the podcast and if you'll give us a review. We'd love to hear what you think. Okay, back to the episode. I think everybody goes through that type of traumatic experience differently. And you mentioned morning, I mean, was there anger as well? Oh, yeah, sure.

16:51 I mean, not as much anger at my mother as people think I should have. Actually, she was the person I forgave the most. I guess the anger came from not trusting me enough to know the secret. You know, to know about my father. That I was furious. About. But I can't be mad at her for having an affair because I'm here. You know? Right. Right. Right.

17:19 And we never know the full story of people's lives and what's going on. So other people judged her very harshly for that, though. And I think that's hard for me to hear sometimes you know. Well, when we started doing this podcast, like we didn't know how big. The community, the umbrella of it is just there's so many people falling into different categories and but I'm sure at the time you felt like it was just you, when did you start to realize that there's like a community of folks who referred to themselves as NPEs or non parental event or I think there's like three abbreviated three ways to say it.

18:00 And D.C., so donor conceived late discovery adoption and not parent expected. Pretty quickly, somebody referred me to the Facebook group and from there, it was it was a lifeline to read stories from other people who were going through the same thing because the extreme emotions and how long it took me to get over it because nothing had changed in my life besides my mother dying, but nothing else changed really.

18:26 So why was I having an identity crisis and why was I so depressed and angry and you know two and a half years into it, I was still just raging at the reaching at the universe and why is this happening? And that was a godsend for me. Sharing our stories. I'm a big proponent of folk music and storytelling.

18:53 But sharing our stories about the things that we are ashamed of and our pain is really important for other people because it lights a candle in the dark for somebody else who is struggling. And it can normalize the situation. And it can make people feel like they are not alone because that is the worst feeling. And when you realize that other people are having similar emotions and experiences, it's a relief, I think, you know? Absolutely.

19:21 How do you feel about or what message do you have out there for women who are still keeping this secret you know from a child? And then what advice do you have for a child who's just found out you know, this bombshell? I don't think anyone had any idea what the repercussions would be for the child.

19:44 I think that especially people of my age and my mother's generation, I think they thought they were doing the best thing, that it was better to keep it a secret. To avoid the B word, the bastard word you know. Not only for their own reputations, but for ours as well, because historically, there is a lot of prejudice against children who are born of affairs. So I do believe that people were keeping it secret for the best intentions.

20:15 However, there is a huge need for the child to know their biological identity and their origin stories. And I can't tell you what a relief it was for me to find all these things about my father because I am just like him. And all the things that made me question whether I belonged in this family, what's wrong with me? I'm so different. It was answered like that. And that is a huge relief. So if you are keeping the secret, please talk about it.

20:43 Trust your children enough to handle the truth because there is great trauma for making this discovery at a later age. I think with adoptees, when children grow up knowing that they are adopted, it's a much different story from making the discovery when they're adults. It's trauma. And so the best thing we can do is to talk openly and honestly and share yeah.

21:10 And you know your story is not unique in that we've talked to several people who they either wanted to or they did take the secret to the grave. You know, and it was only after, you know, someone had died that it came out. But then you think about like, wow, I mean, had you been told when you were a teenager or even in your early 20s, you could have had a relationship with this birth father, who's an artist, who you could have shared that joy of painting together.

21:40 Yeah. And who loved me. I found a letter that he wrote to my mom, basically saying, he called me his most love child or whatever. So, I mean, that's heartbreaking for me to know that there was a man out there that could have acted like a father. When I didn't really have a father figure, you know, but my dad that I, Tom goodrich, you know, I was only with him till I was 7. And I would come back in the summers, but he wasn't really my parental figure, so.

22:10 Yeah. What was the order of the healing? Did you find the group first, the Facebook group, or did you start getting into art and stuff first? Like, what was the process? Oh, interesting. Um, I think I found the Facebook group first. That was pretty quickly. I think that was maybe 6 months into it. And I started painting probably around the same time. I actually started sketching what my depression looked like. And I sent those sketches to my brother who is an artist and he's like, oh, you've got something here.

22:41 So I kind of, with his encouragement, I started painting more. And then he was the one who told me, well, you need to do acrylics because that's what our dad did. So then I started painting with acrylics and then it just kind of blossomed for there. But I have a lot of my paintings really deal with that grief. And it's surprising to me when I show somebody else who is an NP or LDA, D.C., one of these paintings, they go, oh, they instantly recognize that feeling of what it is.

23:08 So I think there is something about those early paintings, though they were not didn't have technique or skill or anything. They had just raw emotion. And I think that writing or singing or anything that people can do after you've made these discoveries can be very beneficial. Even if you don't show it to anybody, but creativity in the arts is an excellent way to sort of tap into those feelings that you're not really necessarily ready to articulate.

23:36 Have you done any training or you just self taught and you're just improving as time goes on? In our journey in therapy. No. Although I'm really fascinated with art therapy, I would like to actually investigate that a little bit more. But I'm kind of I am self taught. That's how I do my instruments too and my music. I just kind of teach myself and YouTube is a valuable piece. It sure is.

24:04 Yeah, for learning how to sing or well, for me, it was trying to learn how to fix our snowblower, which unfortunately that failed, but oh well. He is not an artiste when it comes to snowblower repair. I think my approach to as a handyman and an artist would be abstract would be. But spark plugs do matter. They do. Yes. Did your love of performance come from this? Or was that always there?

24:35 No, I was always there. I don't know if that came from my mother's side of the family. My mother was a singer when she was, they were in an Andrew sisters type group with her sisters. So I think it came from her, but after the fact I also found out that my dad, my biological father, picked up guitar at about the same time in life that I picked up the guitar because I picked it up about ten years ago. So that was fascinating to me that we were sort of on the same trajectory there.

25:05 And he used to his favorite song. I hear was that old rugged cross by Johnny Cash. He's saying that for his mother's funeral and I'm a huge Johnny Cash fan, so yeah, so I think it came from my mom, but also, God, I can talk all day. I'm so sorry. No, no, please. No, it's good. This is gold. So I was in, I did hypnosis, hypnotherapy, which was actually really crazily beneficial.

25:36 But you sort of go back to these key moments in your life and your youth. And one of the discoveries I sort of made was just like, well, why did you become an actress? And we went back to the place in my past. And it's because I needed to be seen because my parents didn't see me as a child because they were also involved in their own drama. And when I realized that, I just started stopping. Because it'd be perfect sense, you know? That's why I did it.

26:05 That's not why I do it now, but it's a catalyst for it. Yeah. And theater is very much a home for lost souls, I think, especially in high school. So yeah, it's a great place for music directed a show at a high school here in Chicago. And yeah, it's the belonging to something from kids who don't necessarily belong to other things that's really healing. And that community is really important.

26:36 Absolutely, yeah. Kendall and I both you know have that performance as kids background and it's just you know the arts. I mean, it's so important. And so I just, you know, would love to see them get a little bit stronger in schools now you know, because it's just a lot of things have been stripped away, but just I'm thinking you know, wow, we had a reunion of like an impromptu sort of reunion of the theater kids from high school about four or 5 years ago when I went back to St.

27:05 Louis and it was just like looking around this room of like 25 30 people and you know only a couple were still working in what we would call performance professionally but it's like everybody was doing something amazing and it's like you got to wonder like how much of theater you know being involved like that made that impact absolutely yeah being tapped into that creative side and I said to the kids this last weekend I said you know you will go on to do bigger you think that this is the Pinnacle of your life right now.

27:33 You will go on to do bigger and better things and you will be brilliant in many areas but you will never forget the people that are in this room right now and the love that you shared. It's truly a miraculous thing. So you did theater too yes yeah that's actually how Kendall and I met you know. Did it in high school did a little bit in college and then got involved with small theater troupe you know when I was in my late 20s and they were the first thing I did with them.

28:02 They were doing an all drag version of steel magnolias. Yes. Called steel dragon. It was still called steel Magnolia so that's how we sort of teased it yeah. And then with the same company did a play called sorted lives a couple of years later and Kendall attended that and that's how we met at the Caster party yeah yeah. I know. It's crazy.

28:27 But yeah and you know I think that for me, well my mother, my adoptive parents said that I was always you know theatrical and a bit of a nuisance actually when I was like two or three you know watch me watch me you know and who knows where that came from but I know that as I got older and felt a little more disengaged you know from

28:57 I don't know like yes I ran track but I'm the least competitive person you know that you'll ever meet and so that wasn't I didn't care if I won you know what I wanted to do was like you said be seen and connect to people on a completely different plane I think than sports or you know sports have their place and it's great and for fitness and I get it but I just really found my tribe in the theater.

29:30 So well theater is a team sport you know. It's not a competitive sport. You are a team and you have to rely on each other. It's every bit as valid as the sports teams but also I'm in a I'm in a production company with a few friends of mine and we were talking yesterday about how we are all former well their former actresses. But that everybody thinks that we do this because we want to be stars and the applause and to be seen in that way.

30:00 But it's not about that at all. We do it because we want community. And that's what you got from them in high school too. Absolutely. That is the most important aspect of being on stage for us. It's not the razzmatazz pretty costumes. It's the communion between audience and stage. Yeah. Well, for me, it was kind of some of the razzmatazz too. I like that too. Sequence do help, apparently. What? No flowers? What?

30:31 So I have to tell you the first show that I did after my mom died was steel magnolias. Oh. Awesome. Cool. You were in it? Yeah. I played Malin. Oh. And that monologue at the end where she's talking about Shelby and how they pulled the plug. I mean, it killed me every night because that's exactly what happened with my mom. So I was basically reliving my trauma on stage in front of you know 400 people a night.

30:59 If it helps you want to take a whack at me, I was Weezer. If you want to take a whack at Weezer, you go right ahead. It's a brilliant script, isn't it? Oh my gosh. Yeah, yeah. And the movie too, like if I stumble upon it, it's like, well, I guess I know what I'm watching for the rest till. Oh, that's great. So how did you decide that not only did you want to be a member of the community, the MPE community, but then also be a voice in it?

31:28 Because you know you've gone on to do that as well. Well, it's partially because I believe storytelling is so important because storytelling builds empathy and builds connection with people. And since theater is my main mode of communication and music, that's how I communicate anyway. It was sort of a natural progression for me to do that. But also, I think that many of us who make this discovery after we get through a lot of the grieving process, we feel this calling to share with other people, to write about it, to talk about it.

32:03 I have somewhat of a platform from my acting and my music that I feel like I want people to know that this is trauma. I want people to know that there are resources that they can go to and stories from other people that they can listen to that will be helpful. And I want to educate too. And I think that's something that is pretty common among a lot of us. People don't know about the trauma of NPE discovery. And why would they you know?

32:32 So if we have something to share that will make it easier for the next person who's going through this, I think we sort of have an obligation to do them. I agree. I agree. And the community is growing every day. As more and more people are doing tests or those dirty little family secrets come out, you know, one way or another. Yeah. What do they say 10%? I think it's estimated 10% of DNA tests come up with a not expected or surprise. Yeah. Yeah, and that's probably low.

33:02 When you've talked about it, like with random people, doesn't everybody say, oh, I know somebody who you know. And it's become more and more common. I think you know the first handful of times we told the story when we because we moved from California to New England and so the first few times we told the story you know, people were fascinated or, you know, oh, they get goosebumps, or they tear up, but then it's like, oh my gosh, I just heard about you know such and such. I mean, it's hard to encounter somebody at this point who doesn't know somebody who has gone through it yeah you know.

33:33 What's good because in doing what you're doing, we are destigmatizing things. It doesn't have to be a secret, which is where I think for many of us, the discovery of my biological father is not the painful thing. That was actually very healing for me. The painful thing was that the betrayal of people hiding it and keeping that from me. So if we can encourage people to not do that, then something that's been really important to me.

34:02 And I didn't know that it was going to be important to me, but showing empathy for the people who aren't yet ready to really confront all of the issues that come up, that's been important to me too, because you know I'm not in your place, right? I was an adoptee who always knew I was an adoptee.

34:28 And I meet people with stories like yours and the people who, you know, haven't, they don't feel comfortable naming their family members. They don't feel comfortable having the conversations that they need to have. That that hurts me. You know what I mean? Like, for them, it really does. Yeah. I think in this situation there is quite a burden to protect everybody else.

34:56 And at some point you know, I was asked by my stepfather. He said, don't talk about this. Do not tell anybody. So, of course, I am here and telling everybody. Oh, oh, but people are on different timelines of when they can talk about these things because if parents are still alive, if they don't want to embarrass their mother, they don't want to bring shame onto their biological father's family, too. So yeah, we're all in different timelines. And right, right.

35:25 And it's good for me to hear that repeatedly because, you know, when I think about it, my biological mother's other son is very distant for me. And you're describing exactly what I think he feels. I think he feels it's his duty. You know, protect our mother and her, I'm just assuming reputation, although, you know, that's 52 years late.

35:52 But, you know, you know, and part of me, of course, judges him because of that. And I have to stop and think, I'm not living. I have to stop and put myself in his place, you know? He's the one that didn't know that I existed. And now I do, and I'm pretty forceful, forceful with my, with my love and gratitude, you know? Yeah. But it's not your fault, you know?

36:20 And you being asked to keep that secret or to protect her reputation is can be a burden you know. For people who are already suffering. And not that you want to call people out and be mean, of course, you want to be empathetic to the mothers and the fathers in this situation as well because they were going through things. Right. At some point, you, I, all of us who are experiencing this have to choose ourselves and do what is right for us.

36:52 Gently, kindly, with compassion for the people involved, of course, but it is important to prioritize our own mental health and the things that we need sometimes. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, one of the main reasons we started doing this. And granted, we're doing, you know, we're communicating in a more public way than a lot of people are, you know, in this situation because we're putting this out there for anybody to discover. But, you know, the beginning, that was to help Kendall with his healing, and to, you know, to capture his history.

37:25 And then it only took a couple of episodes after we, you know, were not interviewing people we knew we were interviewing, you know, strangers that was like, oh, there's this huge community out there. And there are these stories that need to be told because there are similarities and differences between all of them. And, you know, we're finding similarities in everybody that we've talked to, you know, I mean, like, the steel magnolias thing, you know, just like, I mean, there's been every episode almost, there's been something along those lines for us, you know, something that kind of ties us together.

37:56 But, you know, I think it's important that these stories are told. And even, you know, your story has, you know, is heartbreaking, but it's also heartening at the same time because you're getting to know your artist, brother, but didn't have the opportunity to, you know, get to know your birth father. However, you've got this community out there, you know, this, you know, social media community, which even if somebody does discover, unfortunately, too late, that there's nobody, you know, there's nobody in that family that's still alive.

38:26 That community is still there. And there are going to be other people in that community that are going through the same thing and that I didn't, you know, I found this out and it was too late. They were all gone. But now I've got these people, you know? There is so much power in sharing our stories for other people for ourselves. One of the things about writing my book is that I was sort of experiencing the trauma every time I would reread it and edit it and go through it again. And it was painful every time.

38:56 But every time it also got more of a story, and so each telling and each revision just put it on a different plane for me. And that helped me heal tremendously, you know? Because I could look at it. Instead of being all here inside, I could sort of take it out and look at it and examine it. And that was healing. And it's important for us to speak our truths and in order to heal in order to for sure.

39:24 I mean, I was going through the many, many reviews that your book has on Amazon and just the people that were coming out of the woodwork that just like, wow, you know, this is, you know, what a wonderful story. And I can relate to this, and thank you, Corey, for writing it, and, you know, all that out there. So that's, you know, that's great. Yeah. Thank you. I've been very fortunate. Well, I mean, I think it's, you know, kudos to you for being willing to share your story in such a big way.

39:51 You know, it's not closed into a small group of people gathering for you know some type of therapy, like you know, put it out there. Because I want to help. I do really want to help people who are going through it. So, but thank you for saying that. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. So what are you gearing up for next? What is the next performance or? What am I doing next? I'm doing a T this weekend. Where I'm singing some of the music from my album, which goes along with the book.

40:21 I don't know. I don't know. I'm auditioning for things. I'm sort of in a limbo right now trying to figure out what the next big project is. So stay tuned. Post pandemic is Chicago a good theater city. Great theater city. It hasn't come back fully yet. So we're still kind of in that weird place, but yeah, I love Chicago. I didn't want to go to New York. I'm not a big city girl. I knew I wanted kids and I knew I wanted you know room to breathe and green grass and everything.

40:51 So this was a fantastic place for theater. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, we love it. That was one of the places that we talked about. If we stayed in the Midwest, we had talked about moving to where are you now? Your east coast, but where? We're in New Hampshire. Oh, yeah, nice. Oh, it's beautiful. Yeah. It is. It is, especially now that we're getting into actual spring weather. Although when I woke up this morning, I asked the echo what the weather was like and it said, it's currently snowing and I looked out and it was barely, but I was like, it is April.

41:26 This is ridiculous. Let's stop. I'm done. I'm done with this. Yeah, yeah. But oh well. Well, I was really excited when I saw a couple of photos of you Cory with an auto heart because you don't see that very often. And my dad no way. Yeah. Now where's your dad from? Yeah. From St. Louis. From St. Louis. St. Louis, that's interesting. That's not a typical instrument for it's usually the Appalachian. No, he was, again, self taught, you know, got into strings.

41:55 You know, he played acoustic guitar banjo in the autoharp, you know, and just, you know, would sit in the bedroom and pluck away and I've got some of his music books and, yeah. We've actually got his, he had two guitars, my brother's a musician, and he ended up with all my dad's instruments, but he's not super sentimental, so he gave the acoustic guitar to my sister who gave it to my niece, who was learning to play guitar, and then we've got my dad's electric. So have you picked up the auto heart at all?

42:24 No, I mean, I think Kendall's probably more musically inclined as far as instruments go. I would love to like at some point you know when I'm an old man, take piano lessons. I've always thought about that you know. Absolutely. It's never too late. That's right. But the auto harp is just, you don't see it. And it was like, I didn't you know, like as a little kid, I'm like, what is this? 'cause you certainly don't see it being played on TV. Right. Can I tell you my auto heart story? Please, yeah. Okay. So I was doing ring of fire. The story of Johnny Cash.

42:53 And the music director said, I want you to learn. I was playing June Carter Cash. He said, you have to learn the auto harp, and you're going to play these songs with the harp. And I'm like, sure. What is this thing? I'm in Chicago. You can't find lessons in Otto harp. So I did some Google searching and I found a magazine called Otto harp quarterly, which there's not enough interest to do a monthly. Quarterly, we can get I'm surprised there's a quarterly. Annually, maybe.

ese things to possibly get a $:

43:49 And I won the thing. And I didn't have an auto harp. I didn't know how to play. And I had a year to make this album. So the first thing. So I'm like, I have to have an autoharp. What am I going to do? So I found two luthiers, one in Seattle, and one in Pennsylvania. And I drove to the man in Pennsylvania. His name was George earthy. And it turned out he was actually 1 of June Carter's pallbearers. When she died.

44:15 And he had made the auto harp and Otto harp for her sister, Helen, Helen had this autoharp, June came over and saw it took one look at it and said, that's mine. And she left with it. So Helen calls George crying, saying June took my auto heart. And so he made her another one. But he built one for me. That was the exact same type that June Carter has. So it is very special to me. Wow. Yeah, that's what a cool tie. And then to play June, you know, and how did it go with playing live in the show?

44:46 It was great. I got an award for it, so. Okay. And I have an album out now, but. Yeah, it's a quirky little instrument, but it's really fun. And that ties back into my love of folk music, which is storytelling and we get back to back to the head of the circle again. Wow. It's funny how things get that way. Yeah. Wonderful. Well, Corey, thank you so much for being open to sharing your story not just with us, but through your book and your social media output is fantastic.

45:17 So you know keep up the good work. Keep performing. You're an inspiration for those of us who don't do it as often as we'd like to, but think about it every once in a while and I'm sure at some point Kendall and I will find the community theater and start auditioning and ushering and whatever. Yeah. Whatever we need to do. Absolutely. We need you. You're my tribe. Yeah. And thank you for what you're doing, too, because that's important.

45:42 I mean, Corey told me this, Corey, told me a long time ago that, you know, this would be really therapeutic and it has been. To your point, we're both people who want to give back to the community, whatever community that is. And I have found so much gratification you know and hearing people's stories and getting them out there you know.

46:10 That's what I think to your point. I think that's what matters so much. Yeah, well, I'm excited that you get to see your brother and I hope that you'd be open to coming back on and telling us how that goes. That sounds exciting too. He sent me a recipe to make for dinner. So I'm like, okay. That's funny. We'll see how that goes. Yeah. Maybe some critiques involved.

46:42 And the next time you're on, you'll have to grace us with a little auto heart playing. Oh, I'd love to. That would be so fun. Yeah. That's cool. It's really great. Well, Corey, thank you so much. You put a smile on both of our faces you know. This has been a lot of fun. Well, I guarantee you you will not talk to anyone else about the auto heart in the series. I think you're right. I think you're right. I think you're right. Season three of the Ottawa. That's all you. Well, great. Thank you so much.

47:07 I really appreciate talking with you both, and this was really fun. Yeah. Thank you so much for listening to family twist. We feature original music by a cosmic afterthought, and family twist is presented by savoie fare marketing communications. Check out our website at family twist podcast dot com for blog posts and all of our episodes.

Links

Chapters