Growing up, a young girl always wondered why she looked visibly different from her parents and siblings. Her suspicions grew stronger with time until she decided to take a DNA test. Astonishingly enough, the results turned her world topsy-turvy.
As humans, we thrive upon exploring the world around us and feeding our curiosity. While it's good to plan and see things follow our desired path or a specific pattern, sometimes, we might be ambushed by soul-stirring, eye-opening, and life-changing surprises.
Deciphering life's many mysteries is easier said than done, especially if they strike a chord and unravel deeply shocking secrets. The story we're sharing with you today is about a woman who was oblivious to what lay ahead and its impact on her life. Keep reading to discover the whole story.
STRUGGLING TO BELONG
Ever since her childhood, Yvette Mystakas had always felt like an outsider. She always wondered why she looked different from her sisters. They had blue eyes, fairly thin hair, and snow-white skin that would burn when exposed to the sun. Even her parents had a fair complexion.
However, Mystakas was the complete opposite and looked nothing like her family. She had thick and dark brown hair, almond-shaped and chocolate-colored eyes, and olive skin that became darker the longer she remained in the sun.
AN ODD EXPERIENCE
Everyone around her questioned her looks, including friends, relatives, complete strangers, and even people at her school. When she was 13, she had an unusual experience. Mystakas said she was riding the school bus and staring out the window when a boy from the same year boldly asked her:
"Are you indigenous?"
She was taken aback and exclaimed, "Why would you ask me that? I am white!" However, her reply didn't convince him, so he flashed a wide grin and replied, "Because you look it, that's why." Mystakas couldn't believe what he had said, but his words continued to nag her.
Mystakas was born in Australia, just like her parents. Her mother was Croatian, and her father was British. They were born in Sydney, which made her as Australian as any other person born in the country.
While the process brought her healing and clarity, it also altered her reality.
She grew up in the countryside, which was a predominantly Anglo region. She recalled how the salespersons in chemist and clothes shops would always stop to check her bags, even though they didn't do the same to white teenagers.
THE LONGING TO FIT IN
Mystakas said she was the only Croatian in her school. A few school kids called her "wog, gypsy, commie, or Yugo." In addition to attracting unnecessary attention from her schoolmates, she also found herself in trouble with teachers. Regarding her childhood experiences, she added:
"For most of my life, I would gaze into the mirror, wishing I had a cute button nose, blonde hair, fair skin, and look like an Aussie. I would fantasize about how nice it would be to just blend into the crowds rather than stand out."
The mean remarks, rude names, and strange questions deeply hurt Mystakas. Eventually, she reached a point where she couldn't silence the questions in her mind. Once, she asked her mother why she didn't resemble anyone in her family and tanned so easily.
Mystakas noted that although she looked a little like her mom, her appearance didn't match her dad. However, her mother brushed off her questions and told her she got the genes from her Croatian grandfather, who was unusually dark for a Croatian. He had black hair, brown eyes, and dark olive skin.
In addition to her mother, Mystakas's grandmother also doted on how she resembled her grandfather and his family. That was enough to silence her doubts, at least for some time. While the young Mystakas was somewhat convinced, everything changed when she grew up.
She went on to find love and married a man named Steve. Together, the couple welcomed a little boy, Dimitri. Mystakas said she was always told that daughters looked like their dads and sons resembled their mothers.
But after becoming Dimitri's mom, people always told her he looked like both his parents. She noted how her son looked like his paternal grandparents but didn't resemble his maternal grandparents, especially her father.
CONFRONTING HER MOM
Suddenly, all the questions she had buried for years came rushing to the surface. She recounted:
"One day out of the blue, I called my mother and asked her if my dad was my real dad. She shrieked at me assuring me he is my dad. I wasn’t convinced. I wanted to know where I exactly got my darker features from. I wanted to know why my grandfather and his family are darker."
THE LIFE-ALTERING RESULTS
To put an end to the mystery, she decided to take a DNA test. According to the results, she had no British lineage. In other words, the man who cheered her on at her swimming carnivals and taught her how to ride a bike was not her biological father. Mystakas revealed:
"It was soul-crushing ... I was heartbroken."
For nearly 35 years, her mother kept her true identity and the truth about her birth a secret. Per Mystakas, the only three people who knew about it were her mom, her grandma, and her biological father.
FINDING THE TRUTH
Mystakas recalled feeling cheated, humiliated, and betrayed, and she couldn't come to terms with the life-altering secret. But a part of her yearned to know her birth father. After some online sleuthing, she discovered that her birth father had passed away 14 years ago from lung cancer.
He was born in Vienna, Austria, toward the end of World War II. His mom was Czech Jewish, and his father was Sicilian. Mystakas also remembered something from when she was 18 years old, a memory that seemed relevant to her current situation.
Back in the day, she worked at Westfield in Bondi Junction when a stranger approached her and introduced himself as Peter. He said he was her mother's friend. Per Mystakas, it was a weird incident. She said the man was "really tall, had a German accent, brown eyes, and a big nose."
CONNECTING THE DOTS
After the strange encounter, Mystakas said she called her mother and asked about the man, but she laughed and ignored the question. Finally, after so many years, it all made sense to her. Per Mystakas, the unusual encounter with the stranger at Westfield wasn't random. That man was her father. She added:
"It all makes sense now. Where I got my dark hair, Mediterranean features, and my olive complexion."
After a long search and years of harboring doubts and questioning her looks, Mystakas finally had her answers. She had unraveled the secret that changed her life. She drew up family trees, connected the dots, and found the courage to contact her newfound family members.
RECLAIMING HER IDENTITY
While the process brought her healing and clarity, it also altered her reality. When her DNA results arrived, Mystakas struggled with accepting the truth and couldn't recognize the person she saw in the mirror. But things started falling into place over time. She expressed:
"Now I can look in the mirror and instead of being the younger self who would pick herself apart, wishing she was something else. Now I look at myself with recognition and love. I am proud of who I am, how I look, and I look forward to learning more and more of my newfound heritage."
Mystakas, now 36, shared that while the secret and lies shattered her, the journey of finding the truth relieved her. She also added:
"I am learning what has happened in the past is not a reflection of who I am. I do not need to carry the burdens of the past. The secret, lies, and shame end with me.”
What are your thoughts on this story? Would you handle things like Mystakas if you were in her place? Click here to read another story about a woman who took a DNA test and learned that her dad was not her biological father.
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