Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

I Will Live To Tell

on March 20, 2013


I’ve lived through a lot…good times, bad times.  Most of us have!  Once in a while, I’ve felt the need to write about my past, my childhood, my parents, my family.  However, if you go through my archives, you’ll find very few articles about my childhood and you might question why?   Because, I was taught “You don’t tell!”

That was the number one rule I learned growing up.  If you broke the rule; you paid a high price at the hands of my father.  My parents trained us to be silent about my father’s alcoholism; the beatings we received at his hands and his mood swings.  They instilled in us a fear of letting anyone outside our home know what was happening to us.  This fear was so deeply entrenched in my psyche that to this day, I find in next to impossible to write, and I mean really write, about my family and what it was like to grow up in our home.

My father passed away in 1996; my mother is 86 now and lives across the country. She is old and feeble and no longer has the capacity to silence me.  I have lost my older brother and my youngest sister; there is only one other surviving brother and he also lives out-of-state.  The chances of his being damaged from anything I disclose about our younger years are close to nil.  So, what’s stopping me from really digging down deep and pulling out those memories for others to see?

I’ve decided that the fault lies with me.  I become that small, lost little girl again when I try to describe living in our home.  I have buried those memories so they can no longer hurt me.  I still keep the secrets; I still won’t tell.

I realize that this affects my writing.  How am I ever going to develop believable characters if I don’t put some of myself in them?  People tell me to write about what I know; it’s the way to success in a writing career.  How do I write about things I was taught to keep silent about?

I’ve decided that enough is enough.  It’s time to open the gates and not worry about the consequences.  My mother will never read anything I write; the same goes for my brother (although he remembers, I’m sure he does, and he probably would not blame me for letting out the family secrets.)  No one alive can hurt me for telling the truth anymore.

I am hoping that writing about all the buried memories will finally let me deal with them and use them in my writing.  I can use the insight I gain from reliving those experiences and put it into my writing. And, perhaps I can begin to heal from the damage done to me when I was young.

I am determined to become a writer who is not afraid to feel and creates characters that people can relate to.  I will use my past to my advantage and live to tell the stories I have.

I will silence those voices in my head that whisper “Shhh…you don’t tell!”

20 responses to “I Will Live To Tell

  1. Susan says:

    Yeah, I understand this all too well. I grew up in a family where everything was “hush hush” and big secrets were kept from us kids, et cetera. Only now, after many of the generation before me have already gone, has my Ma revealed a few things, and from that I and my siblings figured other murky stories. But throughout our growing up years — Shhhhhh…………. 😦

  2. lellielieb says:

    Good for you! I LOVE the Anne Lamott quote. She’s great!

  3. andshelaughs says:

    Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! You took the words right out of my mouth. I am almost finished writing my first book, and have started a new one. The new one is what I NEED to write based on all the things I experienced in my youth. Courage. Fearlessness. Most of all…believe in prosperity, abundance, hope and joy. We’ve got your back 😉

    • Thanks so much for your kind words. Even writing that post was took me hours because it involved deep feelings. But, I’m determined! I am just starting to plan a novel for Camp NaNoWriMo and I’m petrified..but having a great time already and camp hasn’t even started. It’s a big step for me!

  4. Aurora says:

    I can totally relate to your post. We “don’t talk” about things in my family either, but as I’ve gotten older I care less about what people think. In my family my mother was the one with the issues, and well still is. The only good thing is I don’t live nearby and under her thumb anymore.

    I remember my first NaNoWriMo novel actually ended up being a semi-autobiographical novel about a good chunk of my childhood and teen years. Lots of parts are made up, but you’d have to know me to know which things are real, and which are just part of the story. I didn’t tell the couple of friend who have ever read it a lot was real, but they figured it out.

    It’s all on the blog, should you ever want to read it, just let me know and I will tell you what category to look under and give you the password.

  5. The best writing is something we can relate to, sympathize with and learn from…and while writing it it…I bet you will learn a lot about yourself.

  6. Please write more & open the gates of your mind. Relieve all your bad memories.
    I tried to engage people with my article
    Hope you will like it.

  7. Traci says:

    It takes a great deal of courage to own and then to declare the honesty of your past. Brava!

  8. Thanks for sharing this, truly. I have been struggling much in the same regard. Is there a boundary to sharing something so personal? Who sets that boundary if there is? You or them? I think it’s a course to tread lightly but if you are doing it with the right intentions (for the right reasons), I think it can be very healing. Our experiences in life can be less brutal if we use them for the purpose of helping someone else, turning something so destructive into something constructive and positive. It takes a strong mind to go back into ourselves and into times that created a lot of pain but I think there is a boundless amount of mercy and grace that will follow you there if your intent is to heal yourself and others and not to hurt those who hurt you.

  9. ladyofhope says:

    🙂 sorry I didn’t realize I commented under my real name. One of these days, I’ll get used to site. lol.

  10. The best thing I ever did was write a memoir. I haven’t published it yet, but writing it was very freeing and it put the past to rest.

  11. DebbyGies says:

    Reblogged this on Cubbys Corner and commented:

  12. Alexi George says:

    That is great. When we open up and begin to share our story, that opens us up for healing of our emotions. It will benefit others while we continuously experience a remolding of ourselves. I have been on this same journey for several months now and it has been wonderful. I look forward to reading your story.

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