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!”