When I finally stopped throwing up and gathered the strength to stagger to my feet, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and, with shaking hands, sent Grant a text:

“omfg get over here now 911 get over here”

Fifteen seconds crawled by; then a reply:

“wtf im on my way r u ok?”

WTF indeed, I thought. No. No, I am not OK. I may never be OK again.

What are you supposed to feel when you find out there’s a fairly high probability that the man you’ve been dating for three months — the man you’ve fallen hopelessly in love with, the man whose house you’ve remodeled, the man who is supposed to be your happily-ever-after — might be your long-lost half-brother?

Shove aside the ick factor. Don’t think about the number or intensity of the kisses you’ve shared. Superficial concern, that. Gargle with peroxide whenever you think of it, then put it out of your mind. It’s done. You couldn’t have known. Let it go.

But what are you supposed to feel? Normally, you break up with a guy like Grant, and you spend a week on the phone with your best girlfriends, drowning your sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s by day, sobbing yourself to sleep every night, and sooner or later, you get over him, realize he wasn’t The One, and go shopping for an upgrade. It hurts, but you grieve it through and move on.

Of course, getting over a normal breakup involves mourning the end of a relationship that was OK in the first place. Maybe not perfect, maybe not a good match, but it was OK to be in love with him, so it’s OK to miss him, to remember the way his arms felt wrapped around you, to remember the good times fondly and force yourself to be grateful for them. It’s OK to grieve, because it’s OK to want things the way they were before all hell broke loose in whatever direction and tore up the relationship. But in this case, you obviously DON’T want things the way they were. That’s the whole problem: Things shouldn’t have been the way they were in the first place, and you’ve got to try to undo them, erase the whole relationship, start over knowing what you know now.

And at the same time, you don’t know. Do you throw away a perfectly good relationship, only to find out, somewhere down the line, maybe with the help of a geneticist, that you have absolutely no DNA in common, you’re not related, you’ve proclaimed each other icky on the strength of a former drug abuser’s memory of a drunken romp with a rock star 42 years ago? But if you don’t end it immediately, maybe it turns out you are related, and you’ve just knowingly prolonged … yecch.

What the hell are you supposed to do with that? There’s not exactly an instruction manual. No Cosmo article: “10 Ways to Survive the End of a Potentially Incestuous Relationship.” Not a lot of precedent for that. The ancient Greeks would have solved the problem with a rope or a dagger … but the ancient Greeks didn’t have a motel to run or Joey to take care of.

As Grant so eloquently put it: WTF?

I sat in the bathroom for a long time, trying to figure out what I was supposed to be thinking, looking for a way out of this maze I’d blundered into through no fault of my own, hoping to everything that was holy that there was some way to sort it out.


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